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Tips and Resources

General Grant Development Tips

  1. Follow directions according to the guidelines or RFP exactly. Headings should match the funder’s request in order.
  1. Request for less than 30% of total project costs from private and corporate foundations are more favorable.
  1. Requests including no more than 50% of total project costs to support personnel expenses (salaries, benefits, etc.) are more competitive.
  1. Grant requests for project support are more commonly funded than requests for general operating support.
  1. Funding requests are expected to primarily support assistance to constituents or target populations.
  1. For government funding proposals, identify the legislative and regulatory requirements associated with the funding agency and project funds (purpose, goals, allowable services, allowable costs, etc.) as a reference during grant development.
  1. Calculate in-kind or matching funds utilizing all sources that will support the project (% of organization staff time, equipment, supplies, donations, volunteers, etc.).
  1. Understand the funder. Know their mission, purpose, initiatives, priorities in funding, previous projects funded, average grant amount awarded, etc.
  1. Before contacting the funder, do your research. Don’t ask questions for which answers can be found on the funder’s website or in the RFP unless you have one in need of specific clarification.
  1.  With team grant writing, ensure consistency by having one primary author or editor (writes but also reviews and edits team’s contributions for consistent writing style).
  1. Don’t search for grants by dollar amount. A small organization with little capacity or a novice in  grant implementation may have difficulty meeting expected deliverables.
  1. Sit, read, highlight, tab, note-up, and re-read an RFP thoroughly before planning and writing anything.
  1. Your abstract or project summary is always the last thing you will write.
  1. Sustainability is a key factor with many funders. Show sustainability by noting your current capacity, fiscal strength and processes, non-federal external funding, partnerships, and accountability success.
  1. Identify qualifications of project staff by position titles, job descriptions, and minimal qualifications rather than naming and identifying actual qualifications of current personnel unless required.
  1. Educate the funder. Stay away from acronyms and jargon that is specific to the social issue that the funder may not be familiar with. Don’t assume the funder/reviewer knows about your cause.
  1.  Think like the funder. Ask yourself, “Would I be convinced if I were reading the proposal? Did I cover all of the criteria and requirements?”
  1.  If your proposal easily meets the RFP page requirement or is less than the maximum, review it again for omissions or responses that may need more details. It is, most times, a squeeze to include all of the requirements requested by the funding agency (particularly with government grants) in the page limit.
  1. Use bullets and charts where most funders will allow single-spacing. Make sure that charts and single-spacing are an acceptable format by the funding agency first.
  1. Let charts tell the story as well as provide a quick visual reference for the reviewer denoting that you met the criteria. You can then briefly elaborate on specific requirements in your narrative.
  1. Follow up with funding opportunities found in a database resource by going directly to the funder’s website for details.
  1. If your proposal to a private or corporate foundation will be more than five pages include a table of contents. If a government RFP does not specify to include a table of contents, then don’t.
  1. To inquire if a foundation may be limiting funding you could check their public 990 records for current financial status or recent loss.
  1. Once a grant has been awarded, take advantage of workshops and training opportunities sponsored by the funding agency or its affiliates.
  1. If you are not sure that the funder provides general operating support and are unable to get clarification from the funder, do not request general operating support. Simply propose a request for project support to be safe.


Template for Letters of Commitment or Support

Project Planning And Proposal Development Worksheet

Top Ten Frequently Asked Questions

Proposal Writing Websites

Data Resources

Texas Workforce Data

Census Data - American Factfinder

Texas Post-secondary Enrollment Data