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Find Tips for Writing Proposals

All grant requirements and proposal components vary, depending on funding entity; however, many ask for the same information such as a program narrative, evaluation plan, and detailed budget. Careful examination of all application materials prior to starting the writing process will ensure that you meet all the grant requirements.

  • Carefully review the terms in the Request for Application/Proposal (RFA/RFP) before you begin writing. Make sure you adhere to all details, including deadlines, page limitations, font size, margins, attachment limitations, etc. Most often, applications will not be accepted after the deadline or will be rejected if they do not strictly follow the instructions as outlined in the RFA/RFP.
  • Take time upfront to conceptualize the strategy and write a detailed outline. Writing to the outline will keep the proposal flowing, even when you get stuck on a particular section.
  • Do not use jargon. Keep your words clear and concise.
  • In some cases, humanizing the proposal by adding in stories, quotes, or other anecdotal data may give the reader an insight into your problem or your community. This might not apply for all grant opportunities, especially those in which a standardized form is used.
  • Never submit additional items that are not in the RFA/RFP. Often, they will not be reviewed or could make your application ineligible for review.
  • In most cases, every section of the proposal is interconnected with other sections. Double check your application before submitting to ensure that all sections are linked and build on one another.
  • Really know your organization’s mission and vision. Always ask before you decide to apply for a grant — “Does this funding opportunity align with the mission of my organization?”

Often, federal agencies offer tips and suggestions on applying and writing winning grant proposals specific to their requirements. Always check the federal website prior to applying for a grant.

Resources

A Guide for Proposal Writing
Practical proposal writing guide from the National Science Foundation.

Apply for a Grant: 10 Tips
Practical grant writing tips prepared by the Health Resources & Services Administration.

Grant Application Technical Assistance Resources
Practical grant application resources from the U.S. Department of Education.

Grant Writing 101
Academic article outlining the grant writing process.

Grant Writing Advice and Sample Applications
Practical grant writing advice from the National Institutes of Health.

Grant Writing Tips (PDF, 3 pages)
Practical grant writing tips from the Office on Violence Against Women.

How to Apply for a Grant
Practical grant writing application tips prepared by the Health Resources & Services Administration.

How to Write a Winning Grant Proposal
Practical tips by a former senior review administrator at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on how to write a winning grant proposal.

Plan Your Application
Practical tips for preparing and submitting a biomedical research grant application by the National Institutes of Health.

UP Templates
Templates and samples from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that can be used as a starting point for project management documents and customized to meet the unique needs of each project.

Writing Implementation Research Grant Proposals: Ten Key Ingredients
Academic article addressing the challenges of preparing grant applications that succeed in the emerging field of dissemination and implementation.