Topic Name Description
Course Syllabus Page Course Syllabus
1.1: What is a Nonprofit Organization? Page The Role of the Nonprofit

Read this section to learn about the roles and purposes of nonprofit organizations.

1.2: How Grant Funding Supports Organizations Page What is a Grant?

Read this definition of grants.

1.3: Planning Your Approach – The Grant Application Process Page The Grant-Writing Process

The last step in the process is to apply for funding, which most likely involves writing a grant proposal. Read this article for an overview of the grant proposal process and a sample budget from the perspective of academic research. Your approach will often depend on the requirements the grant-funding agency has outlined in its request for proposals (RFP).

Page Get Your Project Approved and Funded

Read this description of types of grant proposals to help determine how to approach your search for grant funding. The article also offers a useful overview of the typical sections of grant proposals.

Page Grant Lifecycle Timeline

Read this page for a big-picture overview of the grant lifecycle.

2.1: RFP Guidelines Page RFP Example 1: Eligibility Requirements

Read this RFP from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pay close attention to the eligibility requirements here. You should always study eligibility information carefully to make sure your project and organization are eligible to apply before you invest too much time in your proposal.

Page RFP Example 2: Instructions

Read this RFP from the National Science Foundation. Notice the succinct instructions on proposal preparation.

Page RFP Example 3: Details

Read this article which reminds you to pay close attention to every detailed requirement listed in the RFP. Even basic text formatting can make a difference in the success of your proposal.

2.2: Submission Deadlines Page Using Deadlines Strategically

Read this article, which reinforces the importance of planning for deadlines.

2.4: Grant Application Review Process Page Writing Tips for Grant Reviewers

Read this article, which explains what reviewers look for in a proposal. As you write, think about how reviewers could perceive your proposal.

Page Review Guidelines

Read this section of an RFP from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for National Leadership Grants for Libraries. It gives applicants information about how proposals will be reviewed.

2.5: Scoring Matrix or Rubric Page Scoring Systems and Procedures

Read this example of a scoring rubric. Note in particular the different potential categories of scoring (impact, criterion, and so on).

Page Scoring Rubrics

Read this next example of a scoring rubric, which guides grant reviewers through the scoring process by posing a series of questions about the grant proposal.

3.2: Principal Investigator (PI) Page Principal Investigator

Read this brief description of a principal investigator (PI) for a grant-funded project.

3.3: Abstracts and Project Descriptions (Executive Summary) Page Writing a Grant Abstract

Read this article, which describes the basic components commonly requested of a grant abstract.

Page Project Summary/Abstracts Guidelines

Read this document from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which provides tips for writing project summaries/abstracts and two sample abstracts. The text states, "the narrative must not exceed one-page, single-spaced, and should briefly describe: 1. the needs that will be addressed, 2. the proposed services, and 3. the client population group(s) to be served".

3.5: Organizational Information or Institutional Narrative Page Best Practices in Grant Writing

Read this article, which describes what to include in the organizational information section of your grant proposal.

3.6: Statement of Need Page Developing Your Statement of Need

Read this overview of grant proposals. Focus particularly on the advice for developing your statement of need.

Page Sample Need Statements

This page gives examples of strong and weak need statements. Think about the consistent characteristics of the better need statements.

3.7: Goals and Objectives Page Objectives, Outputs, and Outcomes

Read this short article, which succinctly differentiates between objectives, outputs, and outcomes.

Page Implementation Objectives vs. Outcome Objectives

Read this short article to see the difference between implementation objectives and outcome objectives.

Page Aims vs. Objectives

Read this article for its distinction between aims and objectives. It also provides useful advice on "what not to do" with aims and objectives.

Page SMARTER is better than SMART

A good rule of thumb is to use the SMARTER management framework for writing your objectives. Make sure the objectives of your project are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, evaluated, and recognized.

Read this article which was written to help managers prepare to implement a company-wide strategy. Its guiding principles also apply to writing a grant proposal.

3.8: Implementation, Operation, or Management Plan Page The Planning Cycle

Read this article about the stages of project planning. Planning should be ongoing and iterative.

3.9: Project Timeline Page Timeline Examples

See these examples of a simple table timeline and a chart timeline from Unit 1.

Page Method, Schedule, and Qualifications

Review the following method, schedule, and qualifications sections of this article we read in Unit 1 to reinforce some best practices in project planning.

Page Example Implementation Plan

Review this detailed implementation plan for a project at a hospital. It provides a good, concise example of laying out steps, team members, and their responsibilities.

3.10: Budget Summary, Narrative, and Justification Page Preparing a Clean Grant Budget and Justification Narrative

Watch this video for guidance on how to create a budget and justification for your expenses.

Page Budget Justification Tips and Hints

Read this article for more tips on how to justify your budget. The section on common mistakes specifies a few pitfalls to avoid.

Page Indirect Cost Overview

Indirect costs (also called facilities and administration) are expenses your project will incur that are not directly part of the project operations. For example, indirect costs may include the amount needed to maintain your physical plant, computers, library resources, or general administration. Grantees usually calculate these costs as a percentage of the project's total direct costs. Be sure to read the RFP carefully, since some funding agencies have precise restrictions on which indirect costs are allowed.

Read this article for detailed definitions of direct costs, indirect costs, and cost-sharing.

Page Work Plan and Budget Plan

As you create your budget, be sure to include all of your expenses, including taxes and shipping charges. For example, if you need to buy computers or technology equipment for your project, remember to include labor and maintenance as indirect expenses. Many include an additional 10 percent overage to account for these added costs.

These elements are typically included in a standard budget:


  • Salary and benefits, including taxes and benefits, such as retirement and health insurance costs


  • Car mileage for gas and expenses
  • Airfare, hotel, per diem or daily meal expense, and ground transportation to attend conferences


  • Consumable
  • Equipment. Refer to the RFP for allowable major and minor technology equipment


  • Printing, postage, photocopying, and other office expenses


  • External evaluators
  • Speakers
  • Instructors

Read this article on how to plan and present a budget. Though different grant proposals may require specific budget formats, this article gives several formatting examples.

3.11: Project Evaluation Page Planning Your Project's Evaluation

Read these articles, which offers several experts' advice on planning for your project's evaluation.

Page Including Data Analysis in Your Grant Evaluation Section

Read this article for an overview of data analysis for your grant evaluation section.

Page Assessing the Impact and Outcomes of Projects

Watch this video, which provides program-specific training on the importance of evaluating projects and demonstrates ways to provide low-cost evaluation.

Page Hiring an Outside Evaluator

In the United States, many federal agencies require their grant-funding programs to hire an external or outside evaluator to review the projects they support to make sure they meet their stated goals and objectives. Remember to build these costs into your budget.

Read this article with advice on how to choose an evaluator. It covers a number of factors, including the complexity of the evaluation and professional versus volunteer evaluators.

3.13: Partnering Organizations Page Memo of Understanding (MOU)

When other partners are involved you should provide specific, detailed information about the role they will serve in your initiative. For example, include a copy of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) – a business document that details the scope, monetary and other contributions, and work they will perform. These details will lend further credibility to your agreement and demonstrate you plan to work together to achieve your project goals. Funders want to see that partners are truly participating and not just lending their name because they are your friends or have similar interests.

Read this definition of a memo of understanding (MOU)

3.14: Outside Letters of Support Page Writing Good Letters of Support for Grants

Read this article for additional advice on specific features for letters of support.

3.16: Award Letters and Funding Announcements Page Grant Award Letter

Read this example of a grant award letter that lists some specific requirements for accepting the grant.

Page Sample Grant Annoucement

Beyond sending out personalized award letters, grant-making organizations frequently distribute press releases and other announcements to publicize your program. This announcement brings attention and recognition to your organization. It can also demand a level of scrutiny and transparency to your organization, which some may find intrusive.

Read this example of a press release that lists grant recipients for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, which the United States Department of Education and Department of Labor awarded in 2011.

Page Write Your Application

Read this page for a thorough overview of the grant process from the perspective of health/science projects.

4.1: Funding Organizations – Individual Donors File Key Facts on U.S. Foundations

Read this overview of funding data from foundations in the United States. Useful infographics present data on different types of foundations, which issue areas receive the most money, and funding by geographical location.

Page Creating Sustainable Funding for Your Nonprofit

As part of your search, consider cultivating a relationship with an individual in your community who might help fund your project or organization. It is worth looking for someone with appropriate financial resources and who knows or can relate to the people who will benefit from your project.

Watch this seminar, which describes a systematic process for engaging individual donors and building lasting relationships.

4.2: Funding Organizations – U.S. Federal Government Agencies Page Federal Grants in the United States

Read this article for an overview of federal grant opportunities in the United States. Notice in particular the different types of grants, such as block grants and earmark grants.

Page Locating and Choosing a Funding Source

This document has a list of different funding sources, including government agencies, foundations, associations, and research centers.

Page Lobbying

How do you and your organization maintain contact with your elected federal, state, and local government representatives? Their staff can provide invaluable guidance on how to navigate the government funding process and alert you to available grant funding opportunities.

Your government representatives may be able to introduce you to those who work at grant funding organizations or help monitor the progress of your proposal. As we mentioned in Unit 2, these local politicians may write a letter on your behalf, describe the good services your organization provides their constituents, or otherwise support your grant application.

While the U.S. Internal Revenue Services (IRS) prohibits nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations from getting involved in political campaigns, you can "educate" your political representatives about your activities and describe how you help their constituents and contribute to your community.

Read this notice from the IRS which outlines the restrictions on nonprofit organizations' lobbying activities.

4.4: Funding Organizations – Foundations Page Philanthropic Foundation

Read this listing for more details about the definition, goals, and types of philanthropic foundations, along with several examples of prominent foundations.

Here are some examples of some popular foundations that demonstrate a wide range of philanthropic and charitable goals.

  • The Knight Foundation is a corporate foundation that the founders of Knight Newspapers created to promote excellence in journalism, and foster "informed and engaged communities".
  • The Ford Foundation is a corporate foundation, created by Edsel Ford the president of Ford Motor Company, which aims to "reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement".
  • The Sinclair Foundation is an academic foundation that makes scholarships available to the students who attend their community college.
  • The Lilly Endowment is a state-based foundation that donates funds to support religious causes, educational institutions, and community development in the state of Indiana.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a family foundation that partners with international organizations to tackle the challenges of "extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries, and the failures of America's education system".

Candid provides training for grant writing and publishes a directory of thousands of foundations across the United States. These books are not freely available, but you might be able to find copies in your local library. You can also access the directory online at varying levels through a subscription service, or for free at some public libraries.

Page The Basics of Grant and Prospect Research

Read this article for tips on how to research foundations and other types of organizations that offer grant funding. The article lists several tools for both grant research and management.

4.5: Building a Relationship with a Grant-Funding Organization Page How to Write a Letter of Introduction

This article presents a brief overview of what a letter of introduction to a grantmaker should include.

Page How to Write a Letter of Inquiry

Read this article for a list of the necessary components of a letter of inquiry. It can be used as a kind of template for a letter of inquiry (LOI).

Page Establishing Relationships with Grantmakers

This article gives five basic steps in establishing a relationship with grantmakers. It also offers advice on how to maintain that relationship after the initial contact.

5.1: Grant-Writing Tips Page Writing Research Grants

Watch this video that offers ten tips for successfully winning grants. It focuses on proposals for scientific research, but you can apply its advice to most grant programs.

Page Grant-Writing 101

Read this brief summary of grant writing that gives reminders on how to identify funding sources and put together your proposal.

Page Ten Key Ingredients for Writing Research Grant Proposals

Review this academic article that specifies ten key ingredients for scientific proposals, which are relevant to grants in other fields as well.

Page Twelve Steps for Writing Competitive Grant Proposals

Watch this video on of how to write a competitive grant proposal. The video walks you through a step-by-step process, with useful advice at each stage.

Page Grant-Writing Overview

Watch this short lecture with a practitioner's advice on good grant-writing.

Page Best Practices in Grant-Writing

Read this article, which offers additional general grant-writing advice. It is a short review of many of the most important points we have covered.

Page Successful Grant Proposal Writing Tips

Read this article for some useful big-picture practical advice before you start and after you finish writing your proposal.

5.2: Proofreading, Revising, and Finishing Touches Page Proofreading and Revising

Read this article for a step-by-step process to follow as you revise your work. It has useful advice for carrying out multiple rounds of proofreading.

Page Giving and Receiving Criticism

When you are satisfied with your corrections, print a copy of the revised rough draft. Recruit a friend, family member, or colleague to read it and give feedback. Most writers solicit feedback from peers before they submit their work to a magazine. Think of this step as a way of doing that.

Read this article to share with your critic to help your friends or colleagues provide you with constructive feedback. Note in particular how to take into account different cultural attitudes toward criticism.

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