The process of how to write a grant is a long one, and it can seem overwhelming at first.

Final decisions about which proposals are funded often come down to whether the proposal convinces the reviewer that the research project is well planned and feasible and whether the investigators are well qualified to execute it.

The proposal needs to be divided into predictable sections that provide answers to these questions:

  • What’s the purpose or goal of your project? 
  • What is the need you’re addressing, or the problem you’re solving?
  • What are the expected outcomes of your project, and how will you achieve them?
  • How will you assess or verify the success of your project?
  • Why is your project important?
  • How much will it cost?

This 'How to Write a Grant Checklist' should be used alongside the proposal document you are planning to submit.

Use it to make sure that all elements have been considered, that the proposal contains everything it needs to, and that it meets all stated requirements. 

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Complete checklist details

Complete the checklist details in the fields below. 

Enter funder details

Enter details about the potential funder in the fields below. 

Pre-Proposal Tasks:

Study the criteria

Upload the request for proposal guidelines, study them carefully, and list out the key RFP requirements in the field below.

They may specify evaluation criteria and allocate a certain number of points to specific sections or components. 

Missing or incomplete items often result in outright rejection or at least a lower score, limiting your chance for funding

If there are many new requirements, in addition to those included in this checklist, consider updating this checklist with each requirement as a new task.

Read this to find out how. 

Research the funder

The more you know about your (potential) funder, the better you can tailor your proposal to meet their requirements.

Look at the following sources of information to find out more about your funder:

  • 1
    Their website
  • 2
    LinkedIn profiles
  • 3
    Annual reports
  • 4
    Success stories of previous grants
  • 5
    Staff biographies

Answer the following questions to make sure you know your funder inside out: 

Conduct a GAP analysis

Conduct a GAP analysis to assess the current situation as it is with no funding, and the desired situation if you were to receive funding. 

Conduct a SWOT analysis

Identify and record the strengths and opportunities that will exist as a result of your project/program/ activity. 

Identify and record the potential weaknesses and threats that will exist as a result of your project/program/ activity. 

Define the problem/need

Think about the need/purpose of the proposed activity/project/program.

Answer the following questions to get your thoughts together so you can begin writing your proposal with some clear direction. 

Plan your proposal

Grant proposals are often organized in distinct sections. These sections have different titles depending on the guidelines specified by the granting organization, but they frequently serve the same purposes.

Review the guidelines to see if they have specified a structure to follow.

If they have asked you to follow a specific structure, make sure you have a plan for each section they have requested.

If they haven’t specified a structure, list out what you might include in the following sections:

Choose a title

Your proposal title needs to be catchy, descriptive, informative and pre-dispose the reader favorably towards the proposal.

Brainstorm potential title ideas and record them below.

Run each title option through the below criteria and choose the final title by selecting the title which best meets the criteria. 

Record your final title in the field below. 

  • 1
    Is it concise?
  • 2
    Is it descriptive?
  • 3
    Is it informative?
  • 4
    Is it catchy?
  • 5
    Does it predispose the reader, favorably, towards the proposal?

Add this to your proposal document cover sheet 

Writing the Proposal:

Write your introduction

The introduction section in your proposal document should cover the key elements of your proposal and contain a clear, concise description of the problem or situation. 

This is what you planned to include in your introduction: {{form.Introduction}}

Make sure your introduction includes the following: 

  • 1
    A statement of the problem/need for your project/program/activity
  • 2
    The purpose of project/program/activity
  • 3
    Project/program/activity goals or objectives
  • 4
    The significance of the project/program/activity

Write your need/problem statement

Develop a clear, concise description of the problem or situation in the need/problem statement section of your proposal document.

This is what you planned to include in this section: {{form.Problem_Statement}}

Describe the problem's impact, both in social and economic costs. Show how the situation has changed the way people live. You must convince the funder that what you propose to do is essential and that your organization is the right one to do it

Use the SWOT and GAP analysis to explain why your proposal is important. 

GAP analysis findings: {{form.GAP_Analysis_Findings}}

Strengths & opportunities: {{form.Strengths_&_Opportunities}}

Weaknesses & threat: {{form.Weaknesses_&_Threats}}

Answer these questions to help pinpoint your problem statement: 

  • 1
    How it is responding to a gap in resources, knowledge, or opportunity that needs to be filled?
  • 2
    How will the project/action/program make a wider, positive impact?

Confirm your goals & outcomes

In the goals and outcomes section of your proposal document, explain what your organization plans to do about the problem identified.

Define what will occur as a result of your project - in terms of goals and outcomes.

This is what you planned to include in this section {{form.Goals_&_Outcomes}}

Grant proposal goals and outcomes should be SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Answer these questions to help shape your goals and outcomes:

Check your goals & outcomes

Answer the following questions to check that the goals & outcomes you have included in your proposal are clear: 

These are your goals and outcomes: 



  • 1
    Are there one or more goals that reflect the need for the project and clearly show its purpose and direction?
  • 2
    Are there at least one goal and outcome for each need or problem in the problem statement?
  • 3
    Are the goals and outcomes realistic and appropriate?
  • 4
    Are the goals and outcomes stated in terms of outcomes and not in terms of methods or activities?
  • 5
    Do the goals and outcomes describe the population that will benefit?
  • 6
    Do the goals and outcomes state the time by which they will be accomplished?
  • 7
    Do the goals and outcomes describe the outcomes of the project in measurable terms?

Write your methodology

In the methodology section of your proposal, walk the funder through exactly HOW you will achieve the goals and outcomes.

Give a clear description of how you plan to achieve your desired outcomes, with a timeline and a detailed work plan if possible.

This is what you planned to include in your methodology: {{form.Methodology}}

Complete the following sub-tasks to make sure you have included everything and covered every angle: 

  • 1
    Research what others have done - no need to reinvent the wheel.
  • 2
    Look at the failures as closely as the successes. Knowing what does not work is often more valuable than knowing what does.
  • 3
    Look at the press and from professional journals
  • 4
    Search the Internet and contact professional associations

Check your methodology

Read through your methodology and answer the following questions to make sure you have a sound methodology: 

  • 1
    Have you established how you are going to achieve those outcomes?
  • 2
    Have you established what methods you will use?
  • 3
    Have you established how you will measure or recognize your project’s achievements?
  • 4
    Have you explained how you can be sure that your project will productively respond to the need or problem you have identified?
  • 5
    Have you given a timeline for your project?

Establish expected results

Use the expected results section in your proposal to let your funder know what impact their dollars are likely to have if you were to get the grant.

This is what you planned to include in this section: {{form.Expected_Results}}

Answer these questions to determine how you will evaluate the success and prove the impact of the funders contribution, and include them in your proposal:

Confirm the budget

Provide a breakdown of all direct and indirect costs involved in the budget section of your proposal.

Include costs that directly relate to the benefit being created, including production, marketing or distribution costs. 

Include indirect costs that are not directly identified with the project benefits, including facilities use, utilities, support staff, insurance, and legal /accounting expenses. 

This is what you planned to include in this section: {{form.Budget}}

Make sure that your budget meets the funders requirements: {{form.Funder_Company_Budget}}

Establish relevant experience

In the relevant experience section, include information about your past experience with similar projects/activities/programs, talk about your successes and list any awards.  

Be sure to include client testimonials or short case studies.

Describe the team

Within the 'Meet the team' section of your proposal document, you are trying to make the potential sponsor/funder feel like they are getting to know you and your organization.

Include brief bios and a photo of each team member. 

Write your conclusion

Use the conclusion section to convince your sponsor/funder of the potential impact of your proposed project/activity/program.

This is what you planned to include in the conclusion: {{form.Conclusion}}

Make sure your conclusion includes the following: 

  • 1
    Limitations and weaknesses if you don't implement the project/activity/program
  • 2
    How these limitations/weaknesses might be overcome with time/financial support

Write the abstract

The abstract should explain the key elements of your research project in the future tense.

While it may be the first element of your finished proposal, it’s often best to write it last - as its simply an abbreviated version of your project. 

Write your abstract in your proposal document and then check it includes the following: 

  • 1
    The goal of your project
  • 2
    The problem you’re solving
  • 3
    The expected outcomes and how will you achieve them
  • 4
    How you will verify the success of your project
  • 5
    Why your project is important
  • 6
    Who you are

Pre-Submission Tasks:

Check the aesthetics

Read through your proposal and check for the following aesthetic/formatting errors: 

  • 1
    Is there a title page with all the necessary information describing this document?
  • 2
    Does the organization of the proposal enhance the content and make it easy to find/avoid types of information?
  • 3
    Are the margins consistent?
  • 4
    Is pagination accurate?
  • 5
    Did you use a consistent type-style?
  • 6
    Did you use sign-posting and color coding where appropriate?
  • 7
    Have you used visual aids such as charts, tables, diagrams where appropriate?

Check the structure

Read through your proposal and check it follows the EXACT structure stated in the guidelines.

If the guidelines do not specify a structure to follow, make check your proposal has the following sections at least: 

  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Problem Statement 
  • Objectives
  • Methodology
  • Expected results/Evaluation 
  • Budget
  • Relevant experience
  • Meet the team
  • Conclusion

Check the language

Read through your proposal again and answer the following questions to make sure your proposal reads well, is informative and interesting to read: 

  • 1
    Is the language uncluttered and concise?
  • 2
    Have you avoided using technical terms and jargon wherever possible?
  • 3
    Do you use objective language?
  • 4
    Have you avoided subjective terms?
  • 5
    Is the tone friendly but informative?
  • 6
    Is it written in a storytelling style?

Send your proposal to a "cold reader" to review

Upload the first draft of your finished proposal document and send it to a "cold reader" to review. Give them a copy of the proposal guidelines/requirements, but little other information.

Ask them to read the proposal quickly as this is how the sponsor/funder is likely to view your proposal and ask them to answer the following two questions: 

  • Do they understand it?
  • Does it make sense?

Implement their feedback

Update your current proposal document and record the feedback you have received for future proposals.

Check the proposal against the RFP

Read the proposal through for the final time. Double-check it is aligned with the RFP guidelines:


Answer these questions before uploading the final proposal document, ready for internal approval: 

  • 1
    Have you presented a compelling case?
  • 2
    Does your project seem feasible? Is it overly ambitious? Does it have other weaknesses?
  • 3
    Have you stated the means that grantors can use to evaluate the success of your project after you’ve executed it?

Send for internal approval

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Check the proposal against the RFP
    Will be submitted

Submit the proposal

Submit your proposal in-line with any requirements. 



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