Writing grant proposals can be a stressful process for many organizations. However, it's also an exciting time for your nonprofit to secure the funds needed to deliver or expand your services.
In this article, we'll dig into successful grant proposal examples to show how you can start winning grant funding for your organization.
By the time you finish reading this, you'll understand the characteristics of successful proposals, examples of grant proposals in a variety of program areas, and know exactly where you can find more sample grant proposals for nonprofit organizations.
Ready? Let's dig in!
Why Should You Find Successful Grant Proposal Examples?
Whether you are a seasoned grant writer or are preparing your first proposal ever, grant writing can be an intimidating endeavor. Grant writing is like any skill in that if you apply yourself, practice, and practice some more, you are sure to increase your ability to write compelling proposals.
Successful grant proposals not only convey the great idea you have for your organization but convince others to get excited about the future you envision. Many follow similar structures and developing a process that works best for your writing style can help make the task of preparing proposals much easier.
In addition to showing what to and not to do, finding successful grant proposals can help you see significant trends and structures that can help you develop your grant writing capabilities.
What Characteristics Make a Grant Proposal Successful?
"Grant writing is science, but it's not rocket science." - Meredith Noble
There's a lot that goes into creating a successful grant proposal. If you're feeling overwhelmed, Meredith Noble, grant writing expert, shares a straightforward step-by-step process to win funding.
1. Successful grant proposals have a clear focus.
Your first step when searching for funds is to clearly understand why you need those funds and what they will accomplish. Funders want to invest in programs they believe will be successful and impactful.
In your proposals, you want to instill confidence in your organization's commitment to the issue, dedication to the communities you serve, and capacity to fulfill the proposed grant activities.
Some questions that you may want to consider include:
Are you looking for funds to establish a new program, launch a pilot project, or expand an existing program?
Will your proposed program be finished in a year, or will it take multiple years to achieve your goal?
Who is involved in your program, and who will benefit from its success?
What problem will the proposed program address, and how is that solution unique?
What are the specific, tangible goals that you hope to accomplish with the potential grant award?
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2. Successful grant proposals are supported with relevant data.
Before starting your grant proposal, you want to take the time to do your research and make sure that your action plan is realistic and well-supported with data. By presenting yourself as capable and knowledgeable with reliable data, a thorough action plan, and a clear understanding of the subject matter.
It can also be beneficial to include data that your organization has collected to show program impacts and staff successes. Conduct regular analysis of program activities, grant deliverables, and collect success stories from clients and community members.
Include diverse data. There may be some statistics where the numbers are enough to grab the reader's attention; other times, it may be helpful to have illustrations, graphs, or maps.
In addition to quantitative data, qualitative data such as a story from an impacted community member may be extremely compelling.
Make sure that the data you include is relevant. Throwing random numbers or statistics into the proposal does not make it impressive. All of the included data should directly support the main point of your proposal.
Make sure to pay close attention to all of the requirements that a potential funder includes in their grant details and/or request for proposals (RFP). Your submission and all accompanying attachments, which may also include any graphs and illustrations, should adhere precisely to these guidelines.
Frequently the RFP or grant description will include directions for dividing and organizing your proposal. If, however, it does not, it is still best practice to break your proposal into clear sections with concise headings. You can include a table of contents with page numbers as well.
Standard grant proposal sections include:
Proposal Summary: Also called the Executive Summary, this is a very brief statement (1-3 paragraphs) that explains your proposal and specifically states the amount of funding requested.
Project Narrative: The bulk of your proposal, the Project Narrative, will do most of the work introducing your organization, the program, and describing your project. - Organization History: Who you are, what you do, where and how you do it. - Statement of the Problem: Background information on the problem and how it will be solved through the grant. - Project Description: Detailed explanation of the program you intend to implement with the grant, including a detailed timeline.
Budget and Budget Justification: A breakdown of the project resources into specific budget categories, the amount allocated to each category, and appropriate reasons for that breakdown.
4. Successful grant proposals are tailored to the funder.
In addition to finding the basic details on the funding opportunity and application guidelines, you should also look into the funder, their giving priorities, and history.
Funders are much more likely to select your organization among others if they clearly understand and empathize with your cause and recognize the impact your work has in the community.
The first step in determining whether a funding opportunity is a good fit, do some research to ensure your organization's programs and financial needs meet the funder’s interests and resources.
A few questions to ask include:
What are the organization’s values, written mission, and goals?
How is what you want to do aligned with the overall mission of this agency?
Do their giving priorities match with the vision of your proposed program?
Will this grant cover the entire cost of your program, or will you need to find additional funds?
Does the grant timeline meet the budget needs of your organization?
Are there other considerations that might be useful for us to know in preparing your application?
5. Successful grant proposals are proofread!
If you have been in the grant writing game for any extended period of time, chances are that you’ve dealt with tight deadlines. Nonprofit staff often have a lot on their plates, and if you happen to find an attractive funding opportunity when there’s only a handful of days before its deadline, it may be difficult to walk away.
It is crucial to plan an appropriate amount of time to review and proofread your proposal. Grammar mistakes can make or break your submission and they are easy to fix.
General strategies for editing your proposal include:
Use one of the many available grammar-checking software such as Grammarly or GrammarCheck.me. These online tools are often free to use and can help you quickly and accurately review your work.
Ask other members of your team to peer-review the proposal. It is especially important to have staff working on or who are directly impacted by the program proposed to ensure everyone is on the same page. Additionally, these staff members have the most information about the program's implementation and can catch inconsistency or unrealistic promises in the proposal.
It is also helpful to ask someone unfamiliar with your program and the subject matter discussed in the proposal. Sometimes the grant reviewer may not have the same level of knowledge you or your staff have about the subject matter, and so you want to ensure you stay away from overly-specific jargon and undefined acronyms.
Read through it (again!). A final read-through, maybe out loud, after all the edits have been made, can help you catch overlooked mistakes or inconsistencies in the proposal.
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The Ultimate List of Grant Proposal Examples
As stated early on in the article, every grant proposal is unique. We have curated a list of sample grants for various types of projects or nonprofit organizations. This list is in no way exhaustive, but several examples cover common program designs and focus areas that receive philanthropic support through grants.
Research Grant Proposal Samples
Finding a grant opportunity to fund research can be a challenge. These types of grants are typically intensive and require in-depth expertise, a proposed research design, explanation of methodology, project timelines, and evidence of the principal investigator(s) qualifications.
The following are examples of grant proposals in support of research projects or studies.
Researchers at Harvard University proposed to research the “growth of policies in the United States around the use of genomic science in medicine and racial identity.”
For grants focused on research, it is important to ensure that the proposal can be understood by different kinds of stakeholders. While the research may be very specific and require some expertise to understand, the purpose and need for the research undertaken should be able to be understood by anyone.
For example, being cognizant of jargon and when it is and isn’t appropriate to use is incredibly important when developing a research grant proposal.
This proposal to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, while very detailed and specific, still lays out the intent of the proposal in laymans terms and includes the appropriate amount of detail while ensuring that a broader audience can read and understand the request and purpose of the study.
For individuals or organizations who are interested in developing a great grant proposal in support of a research project, Northwestern University has a catalog of grant proposal samples with annotations denoting notable strengths and weaknesses of the application.
Linked above is one such example, a grant proposal in support of a project titled “Understanding the Stability of Barium-Containing Ceramic Glazes”. Review Northwestern University’s catalog of sample proposals here for additional guidance and inspiration.
Clinical Trial Grant Proposal Sample
Clinical trials are important research projects that test medical, behavioral, or surgical inventions to prove or disprove hypotheses about their efficacy. These trials are an important component of scientific and medical advancement. Oftentimes, hospitals or research institutions require robust funding from grants to initiate a trial of this kind.
While clinical trials are highly specific and require a great deal of expert input to develop, reviewing a grant proposal sample can help you prepare should your nonprofit organization decide to pursue a funding opportunity of this kind.
If your nonprofit organization is seeking funding for a clinical trial, a great place to begin for tools and resources is the University of Alabama’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science.
The Center’s website has several sample proposals submitted to the National Institutes of Health. For professionals hoping to submit a grant proposal in support of a clinical trial, you may find one among these excellent examples that aligns closely with your work and can guide the grant development process.
Community Garden Grant Proposal Sample
Community gardens are idyllic cornerstones of their neighborhoods, cultivating lush, green spaces where residents can build a thriving community. Some community gardens are run by nonprofits such as land trusts or are born out of special projects initiated by nonprofit organizations.
Either way, to ensure the sustainability of local community gardens, gardeners and community garden managers may need to apply for funding through grant opportunities. Below is just one grant proposal sample in support of a community garden that may help you develop your own winning community garden grant application.
This grant proposal submitted on behalf of Stockton University does an excellent job of illustrating the success of their community garden project and justifies the need for funding to sustain the momentum of the project going forward.
This proposal is also visually compelling and well-designed, incorporating photos and color schemes that directly evoke the image of a flourishing community garden. Ensuring your proposal document is easy to read and incorporates a strong layout and design can sometimes make or break an otherwise strong proposal that is being judged in a competitive pool of applicants. Strong design elements can set your proposal apart and make it shine!
Government Grant Proposal Samples
Government grants are some of the most complex and challenging funding opportunities that a person can come across. Funding from government entities is allocated from tax-payer dollars, and as such the government employs strict requirements and rigorous oversight over the grantmaking process.
Having a successful template or sample in hand can help position you for success when you need help applying for a government grant.
Developing a grant narrative is a challenge regardless of the opportunity. Government grants, which require very specific detail, can pose an even greater challenge than most opportunities. Linked here is a successfully funded project of the Alexandria Archive Institute, Inc. through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
This project is a great example of how to develop a grant narrative that successfully addresses the stringent requirements associated with grant proposals. Note how each section is laid out, the double spacing, citations, and other key elements that are required in a government proposal to adhere to specific standards.
Even though this is a great example, also be aware that every government agency is different and while this proposal was a successful application for the NEH, other agencies may have different requirements including specific narrative sections, attachments and work plans, among other key items.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers an example grant for potential grantees to review. This sample proposal envisions a project by a local municipality to procure buses, snow removal trucks, and bulldozers that produce less emissions thereby decreasing air pollution in the region. This sample proposal is a great guide for developing a compelling narrative and weaving in evidence-based data and information to support throughout.
Conference Grant Proposal Sample
Conferences are an important aspect of a nonprofit or educational institution's operations. Conferences can help bring together like minded individuals across sectors to find solutions and sharpen their skills, and they can facilitate the formation of powerful coalitions and advocacy groups.
Identifying funding for conferences can be difficult, and requires a thoughtful, strategic approach to achieve success. Following a template or grant proposal sample can help guide you through the application process and strengthen your chances of submitting a successful application.
This sample proposal provides an extensive template to follow for writing a successful conference grant proposal. The proposal follows an easily understood, structured narrative, and includes a detailed budget and key personnel profiles that will help anyone applying for grant support strengthen their chances of developing a high-quality application.
Dance Grant Proposal Sample
There are countless arts and cultural nonprofit organizations in the United States. According to Americans for the Arts, there are over 113,000 organizations (nonprofit or otherwise) devoted to promoting arts and culture in communities throughout the country—including dance.
Whether a theater that focuses on dance performance or a studio that teaches beginners how to appreciate the art form, there are a variety of dance-focused nonprofits that exist. Identifying strong grant proposal samples for dance-focused organizations or projects can be helpful as you work to help your dance program grow and gain revenue.
This is an example proposal for an interactive dance/theatrical puppet project that focuses on engaging families. While this example captures a very unique and specific project, it also provides a good example of how to craft a case statement, write a strong project description, and develop a detailed project budget.
Daycare Grant Proposal Sample
In the United States, daycares are a vital component of childhood development, but unfortunately many families are unable to access them due to cost or accessibility. Studies show that in 2020 alone, over 57% of working families spent more than $10,000 on childcare while 51% U.S. residents live in regions classified as “childcare deserts”.
Given this, nonprofit daycares are vital to supporting future generations and providing accessible and affordable childcare for parents throughout the country. Many nonprofit daycares rely on generous funding through grants. Nonprofit day care professionals can use all the help they can get to submit winning proposals and sustain their daycare’s operations.
Relying on a high-quality grant proposal sample or template can be a huge help when working on a grant application or writing a proposal in support of a daycare.
While not a straightforward grant proposal sample, this grant template provides detailed guidance and helpful examples of how to respond to common questions and how to craft essential elements of a grant proposal focused on childcare and childhood development.
For example, the template provides easy to understand steps and bulleted lists for every key component of the grant proposal including a case statement, organizational capacity and information, project sustainability, project budget, and project evaluation.
Literacy Grant Proposal Sample
Promoting literacy is a very common mission for nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. and the world. Literacy projects and programs are typically provided by educational institutions or education focused nonprofits.
In fact, according to the Urban Institute, Education focused nonprofits made up 17.2% of all public charities. With numbers like these, it can be helpful to gain insights from a grant proposal sample that will help you win grants and grow your organization.
This sample proposal to the Suburban Council of International Literacy (Reading) Association (SCIRA) is a great example of a strongly developed narrative that makes a powerful case for how fostering a love for reading among young students can result in improved educational outcomes. This helpful guide provides a framework for drafting a high-quality grant narrative while also giving examples of other key proposal elements such as a project budget.
Successful Educational Grant Proposals
Educational programming can be highly diverse in its delivery. Check out these examples of successful grant proposals for education to help you get started winning funds for your next educational program.
Kurzweil Educational Systems: In addition to this being a successful grant proposal, this example also includes detailed explanations of each section and provides useful guidelines that can help you frame your proposal.
Salem Education Foundation: This foundation has posted a sample application of a school seeking funding for increasing youth enrichment opportunities for their annual grant.
This is a great example for funding opportunities that ask specific questions about your organization and the proposed project instead of requesting a general proposal or narrative.
Successful Youth Grant Proposals
These examples of grant proposals for youth programs can help you tap into one of the largest categories of charitable dollars.
Family Service Association (FSA): This example of a grant proposal that is well-written and comprehensive. It is for a community block grant focused on youth development to expand services and cover staff salaries.
The Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA): This is a sample produced by the national office of the BGCA to assist local branches in securing funds for youth programming and expanding services.
Successful Health-Related Grant Proposals
There is a large amount of funding for health-related initiatives, from healthcare grants to individuals, operational support for organizations or clinicians, and supporting researchers advancing the field. These sample grants give a bit of insight into this diverse sphere.
Centerville Community Center: Follow this link to read a grant to support community-based programming to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease prevention. This proposal does a great job of breaking down the project description, proposed activities, tracking measures, and timeline.
Prevention Plus Wellness: This is a sample grant proposal for nonprofit organizations to assist those looking to secure funds to address substance use and wellness programming for youth and young adults.
Kennett Area Senior Center: Submitted to a local community foundation, this proposal requests funding between the range of $1,000 to $10,000 to provide critical services and assistance to local seniors.
In addition to being very detailed in describing the program details it also carefully describes the problem to be addressed.
Region 2 Arts Council: This comprehensive grant proposal requests funds to support an artist to continue expanding their skills and professional experience. This is a useful example for individual grants or scholarships for professional or scholastic opportunities in supported fields.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church: This is an excellent example of a faith-based organization’s proposal to secure funds for a capital project to repair their building. The framing of this proposal and the language in the narrative can be used to help shape proposal letters to individual donors and to foundations, which can be especially useful for faith-based organizations or other groups looking to secure funds.
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Tips to Get More Successful Grant Proposal Examples
If you are interested in finding more grant proposal examples, especially those directly related to your organization's priorities and service area, you can look at a few places.
1st: Foundation Websites
Sometimes a foundation will include past proposal submissions publicly on the website. These are especially useful if you are seeking grants from the organization. You can see exactly what kind of proposals they found compelling enough to fund and see if there are any trends in their structure or language.
2nd: Online Tools and Workshops
Sites like the Community Tool Box or Non-Profit Guides offer free online resources for organizations working to support healthier communities and support social change. They provide helpful advice for new nonprofits and provide a whole suite of sample grants to help you start winning grants step by step.
You may also be able to ask other members of the Instrumentl community for their past successful grant proposals by attending our next live workshop. Hundreds of grant proposals attend these every few weeks. To RSVP, go here.
3rd: Collect your own!
As you start submitting grants, you are also creating a collection of sample grants tailored to your subject area. Every response offers an invaluable learning opportunity that can help you strengthen your grant writing skills.
Perhaps there are similarities among proposals that do exceptionally well. If a submission is rejected, ask for feedback or a score breakdown. Then, you may be able to see what areas need improvement for the future. Read our post on grant writing best practices for more on how to evaluate your past proposals.
Wrapping Things Up: Successful Grant Proposal Examples
Grant writing is a skill that anyone can learn. And as you begin to build your skills and prepare to write your next proposal, let these examples of successful grant proposals act as a guide to successful grant writing. Don’t however mistake a useful example as the ultimate guide to winning a grant for your organization.
Make sure to keep your unique mission, vision, and voice in the proposal!
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