• Course Introduction

        • Time: 12 hours
        • Free Certificate
        In this course, we explore how to write a coherent, persuasive grant proposal to obtain funding for a project or initiative. We focus on nonprofit organizations since they frequently depend on grant funding to support their mission. We begin by introducing the basics of nonprofit organizations, why they need funding, and the steps to acquire funding. We explore how to interpret calls for funding, known as requests for proposals (RFPs), followed by a step-by-step examination of the elements of a grant proposal, from writing the abstract to the evaluation plan. Then, we examine how to find funding sources and build relationships with funders that may support your organization. Finally, we review practical tips to help you write and revise your proposal.

        By the end of the course, you should have the tools you need to craft a strong grant proposal. While most of the references in this course are specific to the United States, the principles of writing a strong grant proposal are the same in most countries.

      • Unit 1: Nonprofit Organizations and Grant Funding

        In this unit, we examine the role of nonprofit organizations since they are primary recipients of grant funding in the United States and around the world. These organizations leverage the grant funds they receive to carry out projects that support their mission. We also consider some resources that outline the grant funding application process.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 1 hour.

      • Unit 2: The Request for Proposals (RFP) or Request for Application (RFA)

        In this unit, we examine key features of grant funding announcements. Most funding agencies issue a formal announcement – a request for proposal (RFP) or request for application (RFA) – to advertise their readiness to receive applications from organizations seeking funding.

        Many organizations have a grant administrator, such as a grants manager, grant writer, grants coordinator, development officer, or fundraiser on staff to research opportunities and apply for grant funding. They need to be prepared to respond quickly since the deadline for the receipt of proposals is typically 4–6 weeks after the funding agency releases its RFP. It takes time to gather the information and support materials for a comprehensive proposal. Note that many funding agencies and foundations have the same annual deadline for the programs they administer, but you may need to respond to guideline changes.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 2 hours.

      • Unit 3: Key Elements of a Grant Proposal

        As we discussed in Unit 2, you should carefully prepare your grant proposal based on the guidance, instructions, and requirements outlined in the RFP. When a grant announcement lacks an accompanying RFP, try to include all of the elements that are part of a well-thought-out proposal. In this unit, we detail the components of a typical grant proposal.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

      • Unit 4: Researching, Approaching, and Maintaining a Relationship with a Grant-Funding Source

        Now that you understand the elements that go into a grant proposal, you need to conduct some research to find a funding source. You are charged with finding a funding agency whose mission best matches the mission of your project, initiative, or organization so you can convince them that you are the most qualified candidate to address their needs. Your proposal should build a case and tell a compelling story about your organization and the project.

        Good deductive skills are essential for locating the information you need to support your grant writing efforts. As you conduct your research, keep the following three elements in mind.

        1. Focus on opportunities that match your organization's goals and objectives with those of the funder.
        2. Never try to create a program to fit the goals of the funding organization just to obtain money; think about what you want to accomplish with the funds. However, depending on the circumstances, it may be reasonable to tailor your project to align with funders' goals.
        3. Only write grants for projects you would attempt regardless of whether you receive external funding.


        Completing this unit should take you approximately 2 hours.

      • Unit 5: Writing Your Grant Proposal

        Grants are like a puzzle: you need to connect all of the pieces in the right places to capture the full picture. In this unit, we help put the puzzle together. You should go through this unit before you sit down to write your proposal and review it after you have written your first draft.

        Remember that you are writing to convince a specific audience to fund your project – namely, your grant-funding agency and the individual grant readers or reviewers who will examine your proposal. A key ingredient for success is understanding all of the funding agency’s guidelines, so you can present your best possible case that convinces them to support your project. The internet has a wealth of guides and lessons on grant writing. In this unit, we review some resources to help you write a winning proposal.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

      • Course Feedback Survey

        Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses.

        If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org or post in our discussion forum.

      • Certificate Final Exam

        Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

        To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.

        Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.