A Proposal-writing Outline

The following outline is to assist you in writing a grant proposal and implementation plan. This was created in association with the Taos, New Mexico community and  the Kellogg MIRA project (Managing Information for Rural America, www.wkkf.org)

Grantwriting tips and funding sources available to help you: http://lone-eagles.com/granthelp.htm

In 500 words, or less, give the essence of your proposal so the reviewer understands your implementation plan. As a rule, if the grant reviewer can get their minds around what you hope to accomplish, and how, from reading just your abstract, and it’s a workable plan, you’ve got a good chance of being funded. If the reviewer is still confused after reading your abstract about what you plan to accomplish and how, you’re at risk of not getting funded. The abstract is the most important part of your entire grant!

Assume the grant reviewer has seen so many poor grants that people threw together without thinking them through, that the reviewer already assumes you may not have not invested the effort to think through your implementation plan. The reviewer wants to give you money, that’s what they do. They love well-written grants that are easy to fund because they are easy to understand and the reviewers look good when they fund good projects! Really good projects are hard to find among the many inadequately planned projects.

Who is proposing the project and asking for funding?

What’s the goal of your project?

When will what happen?

Who will benefit, how many, and how? (Your Best Guess)

What partners does your project include? What did they contribute?

How will you measure what you’ve achieved once your project has ended?

 Example Abstract:

To raise the multimedia authoring skills of Taos youth, and to provide a quality alternative for how they spend their time after school, the Chamisa Mesa School will host three 3 hour workshops to teach youth how to create Ecommerce websites from June-August, 2000 while maintaining an open lab 2 hours/day MTWTH and all day Friday from June 10th 2000 – June 10th 2001. Over 300 youth are expected to benefit directly, daily logs will be kept on who participates and the number of hours they spend in the lab.

Youth will create one CDROM project, 12 local Ecommerce sites to showcase their multimedia authoring skills, and create a directory of Taos Ecommerce Web Pages for the Chamber web site. Partners contributing are the Chamber of Commerce (providing project promotion assistance to attract as many youth as possible), and La Plaza (providing Wireless Internet Access). $15,000 will be spent on high speed access and contract services to provide lab training and supervision during the one year period of the grant.

Give details on the problem your project is attempting to address. Use numbers, statistics, and demographic figures to show you’ve researched the need. Include your knowledge of any similar programs, or past programs, to convince the reader you’re not duplicating existing programs or trying something that already failed. Briefly describe the solution you’re providing. Include who will receive the money, typically (99% of the time) this has to be a non-profit organization with 501c3 status. Grants are not usually made to individuals and organizations without tax exempt 501c3 status!

Exactly what IS your implementation plan and timeline?

What exactly will you do for how many and exactly how? The grant reviewer needs to know whether anyone will actually benefit. Even if you can’t guess at the exact numbers, if your grant sounds like few will benefit, you won’t get funding, but if your grant sounds like lots of people would benefit, you’re likely to get funding. Your "plan" is to make sure lots of people will benefit and should reflect the fact that you’ve carefully thought through your implementation plan.

Grant reviewers know the most common mistake is not to have thoroughly thought through the implementation phases.

Visual Timelines Example:


DreamTree Project Timeline:

2000                                       2001

June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June

Classes x------x x-----x x-----x

Wilderness Exp. x—x x—x x—x

Housing x------------------------------------------------------------x

Evaluations x------------------------------------------------------------------------x

Media Promotion x------------x x-----------------x

 Your Project Timeline:

2000                                        2001

June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June


Linear Timeline with Phases:

Phase One: June, 10th , 2000-April 10, 2001:

Housing will be secured for a minimum of 12 youth

Phase Two: June 1st, 2000 – Aug. 30, 2000

Eight youth will participate in 3 separate classes

Phase Three: June, 10, 2000 - Aug, 30, 2000

Three Wilderness trips will be conducted

Phase Four: June 10, 2000 – June 10th 2001

Evaluations will be collected and presented in a grant
proposal to extend the proven benefits of this pilot project

Who have you taken the time to include in your project? Are you including people and organizations in your goals or are you going it alone? Grant reviewers prefer projects who bring lots of partners to the table, for sustainability reasons, particularly. Projects without partners generally fail, so reviewers will be reluctant to fund projects whose leaders have shown they have not make the effort to create important partnerships. Who are your contributing partners and what do they bring to your project to make it better? Partners can donate money, or "in-kind" services such as staff time, web space, office space, advertising and marketing assistance, expert advice, etc.


Your Partners In-Kind Contribution Monetary Contribution




Grant-givers love to be acknowledged for being the good guys who help make good things happen. How will you use the media to get the word out about your project, and to attract more partners and participants?

Once you receive the money, will you ever be heard from again? You want the grant reviewer to know how you intend to promote and grow your project! You want them to know how you’ll make them look great for funding your project!


Your Media and Promotion Timeline:

2000                                      2001

June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June







How will you conduct your project to make most effective use of the requested funding? Do your expenses match up with the phases and goals of the grant? Have you shown where ALL the resources will come from for each component of your grant? Would you fund a project that promises the world on a shoestring budget?

A small project successfully implemented is better than a grand project that is poorly implemented. Remember that above all else, foundations don’t want to be embarrassed!! Are you a risky bet, or a safe one?


Presuming you’ll have $15,000, list as closely as you can guess how much you’ll spend for what.

List all Project Staff: Who is a volunteer? Who will be paid; How many hours per day/week and at what cost per hour?


Equipment, limited to $5000:

Rent or office Space? Sharing facilities?

Printing, Misc. expenses,

Web page design fees? Detail all this includes:

Internet Access and/or web hosting fees?

Other costs?


How will you measure your success, exactly? If your great project model may require more funding, you’ll need to carefully document what you’ve accomplished after spending $15,000! Before you even begin your project, you’ll need a tight plan for exactly how you’re going to measure the outstanding impact your project has made on your community. What will you measure, when, and how will you measure it? To put it another way, how will you prove you didn’t waste the money? This should influence your overall project design!


Press Release Announcement

This is your promise as to what you will actually deliver. Using what you’ve learned from all six MIRA workshops, make sure everyone on your team is ready to share the following on what your team intends to make happen. Keep in mind having your "story" ready for the media is vitally important.