Whether you’re just beginning your career as a grant writer, or you’re a seasoned vet, it’s sometimes daunting to sit down and write a new proposal. To help spur your creativity, we have compiled some winning grant writing examples for nonprofits.
Get guidance, refine your craftsmanship, and learn from others by looking at our list of successful grant proposals and grant writing samples.
What to Learn from Grant Writing Examples for Nonprofits
Everyone is excellent at something, but not everyone is excellent at everything. For instance, you may be a terrific writer but grind your teeth when having to state sensible outcomes.
Looking at grant writing examples for nonprofits can help you hone your craft and strengthen your areas of weakness.
Taking the time to look over winning grant writing examples can help you learn:
How to compose an impactful cover letter or letter of inquiry
How to make your case for support more compelling
How to develop meaningful outputs and outcomes
Ways to weave data into the proposal narrative effectively and naturally
How to tell success stories in an effective, emotional way
How to make the ask succinctly and compellingly
How to create a transparent budget—both for a program and for an organization
Ideas for effective words to include in a call to action
When or if to use charts or graphs
How to make your case when constrained by a word or character count
By reviewing successful grant writing examples, you’ll draw from the best of the best and get the tips and techniques you need to raise your own grant success rate. Read on to learn more.
How to Best Use Grant Writing Examples for Nonprofits
If possible, download the guidelines or the RFP for each grant writing example you review. Take note of how carefully the grant writer followed the guidelines and accompanying instructions. Successful grant proposals follow the funder’s instructions to the “t”. In fact, not following instructions is a common reason for a grant request to fail.
Check your math. Nothing is more embarrassing than having a program officer contact you because of an error in the proposal’s budg
When reviewing grant writing examples, take note of how well the budget was presented, and if a budget narrative was required, how it was presented. Always consult with your chief financial officer before submitting an organizational or a program budget with a proposal.
Check your spelling and grammar. When reviewing successful proposals, you’ll probably note that they are error-free. We like Grammarly’s free version to check for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as plagiarism. Hemingway is a similar tool that utilizes a colorful interface which makes it easy to spot any “oopsies”.
And if you’re on the latest version of Microsoft Word, their built-in editor tool offers some of the same features of the previously mentioned apps.
Take note of how the best grant writing examples handle jargon. What may be an everyday acronym at your organization may be as clear as mud to a foundation’s proposal review team. Learn how to explain terms simply and succinctly.
Notice how the best examples of successful grant writing explain their outreach methods. For instance, what might work for a large university, may not work for a soup kitchen. Not all outreach needs to be online. Take note of how outreach is contextualized to the target audience.
When reviewing grant writing examples, also look at how the winning proposal addressed how to measure success. In business, these are sometimes referred to as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Understanding the difference between outputs and outcomes is key to funding success.
Outputs record the numbers of people served, meals served, units delivered, etc. Outcomes show progress toward meeting goals, such as increased percentage of students graduating, or number of full-time permanent jobs secured. Even for experienced grant writers, the subtle differences between outputs and outcomes can be confusing. Our post about evaluation methods may also be helpful.
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Here’s our list of 21 excellent grant writing examples for different types of nonprofit organizations. Take a look.
Grant Writing Examples for Higher Education
1. William T. Grant Foundation: The Foundation was kind enough to provide a compendium of recent successful proposals to its Scholars Program. All are excellent examples of well-written and well-presented funding proposals.
2. Purdue University: Purdue shared a winning proposal with OpenGrants, a free GitHub-powered resource sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Moore Foundation. The detailed and scholarly proposal for a university-wide inclusivity project includes a budget that is very clear and easy to grasp. (You’ll also find other good proposals here, although many of them are extremely technical and complex.)
Grant Writing Examples for K-12 Education
3. History Alive: Salem: This educational organization submitted an application for a small grant to the Salem Education Foundation and received their request. This proposal demonstrates an innovative approach to engaging kids in learning local history while engaging with their community.
4. Kurzweil Education: Kurzweil is a U.S. company that develops educational software for people who have learning differences, as well as those who are blind or partially sighted. They also offer grants that allow schools to access that software. This proposal includes a great example of a program abstract (also known as an executive summary), a succinct statement of need and an excellent explanation of how Kurzweil software will have an impact. It’s got a compelling cover letter, too.
Grant Writing Examples for Human Services
5. Kennett Area Senior Center: This senior center in Pennsylvania submitted this successful proposal to the Chester County Community Foundation. Take special note of the section outlining key achievements during the prior year. They’ve set forth their successes in a simple, easy-to-understand format.
6. Family Service Association of Western Riverside County: The Association submitted a winning proposal for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for a resource center they operate in an underserved community in Southern California. Note the concise, well-written project descriptions and how the writer followed all the proposal’s requirements closely.
7. Neighborhood Impact: Here’s another successful application for a CDBG to fund an affordable housing development in Bend, Ore. This proposal is a great example of using data effectively to prove the need for services and offers very clear outputs and outcomes.
8. Redacted sample proposal: This sample proposal provides a complete and detailed example of a cover letter, budget documents, and narrative. The proposal has been redacted to keep the participating organizations anonymous, but if you’re looking for a good example of a request for funding for affordable housing, this is worth your time.
Grant Writing Examples for Health
9. Prevention Plus Wellness: Prevention Plus Wellness is a for-profit company selling youth fitness curricula to nonprofits. To help organizations raise money for the curriculum, Prevention Plus offers a well-written sample proposal for funding here. Note the project description as well as the statement of need, both of which are well-researched and cite respected sources of data.
10. Rainbow Teen Safe Space: This sample proposal is for a proposed LGBTQI+ youth center in Seoul, South Korea. It’s another great example of incorporating data into a compelling proposal. The statement of need pulls no punches and really makes the case for a safe place for gender-diverse youth.
11. University of Arkansas for Medical Science: This funded proposal to the National Cancer Institute focuses on engaging community pharmacies to increase the number of vaccinations against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer. The project abstract makes a strong case, states the compelling need, and explains why the proposed program will make a positive impact on community health outcomes. Other great proposal examples are also available on the same site.
12. Lake Health District: This Oregon nonprofit received high marks for its winning proposal to fight against the growing opioid epidemic. Their introduction documents the need and the challenges of the older, rural area in a factual, yet very readable manner.
Grant Writing Examples for the Environment
13. Green Climate Fund: This complete, very detailed funding proposal template can be used to guide any proposal for an environmental nonprofit. Check out the template’s protocols, especially their outcome format.
14. The Adaptation Fund: Here you’ll find an application sample from The Adaptation Fund, a climate and environmental funder that helps developing countries move away from producing CO and other harmful emissions. The sample draws from successful applications to provide examples of the sort of data and content the funder is looking for.
15. The Conservation Trust for North Carolina: This winning funding proposal to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is worth a look. This solidly constructed proposal includes excellent project, program, and stakeholder descriptions.
Grant Writing Examples for the Arts
16. Ballet Austin: Ballet Austin provides this sample template for smaller ballet companies wishing to gain funding for holiday performances of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic, “The Nutcracker.” The program implementation and evaluation sections are worth a look.
17. Imagine Fund: The University of Minnesota’s Imagine Fund offers faculty and students the opportunity to apply for funding for arts-related projects. Their website offers up some of the winning creative proposals. Take note of the proposal for “Toward Culturally Sensitive Designs”. It focuses on the large immigrant populations of Hmong, Somalis, Mexicans, and native Ojibwe people in Minnesota and their unique contributions to the arts.
Grant Writing Examples for Youth Organizations
18. Community Initiatives Fund: Although this example is from an organization in Saskatchewan, it is still an excellent template to follow. We really like the color callouts that highlight areas where folks might have questions. Pro tip: The Saskatchewan incorporation number correlates to the U.S.’s EIN (employer identification number).
19. Camp Twin Lakes: Here is a terrific (and award-winning) funded proposal for a network of camps for youth with a variety of special needs. Notice how clearly the writer sets forth the value proposition. She also provides a bibliography of statistical references in the proposal (something many people fail to do).
20. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida: This is another strong example of a youth-serving grant proposal. The funder required submission of both a letter of intent and a full proposal at one time. The community need statement is particularly impactful.
Bonus! Another Sample Letter of Intent (LOI)
21. Nonprofit Guides: Wait–there’s more! In good conscience, we can’t let you go without including another example of a really strong letter of intent. The letter offers a compelling program description as well as just enough financial information to let the funder know the need is real. You’re welcome!
Wrapping Up: The Best List of Grant Writing Examples for Nonprofits
We hope this list of grant proposal examples will be helpful for both newbies to the grant writing field, as well as seasoned vets. No matter what your experience level, anyone can find writing a winning funding proposal a daunting task. With a little study, you’re sure to sharpen your skills.
Speaking of skill-sharpening, check out Instrumentl’s free resources, including our library of webinars.