Grant Proposal Writing


Govt. vs Private Grant Proposals
Background and Credibility
Locating the Source for Funding
Understanding the RFP
The Narrative
The Final Product
The Abstract/Review Process
After the Grant is Funded
Local Corporations & Financial Institutions
Possible Funding Sources – Local Foundations/Trusts
Public Library Grants Resource Center
The Foundation Center
Sources and Suggested References


Nonprofit organizations seldom have enough money to expand their operation or to develop and implement new programs. For this reason, the grant has become one of the chief sources of additional funding for many nonprofit organizations. The grant proposal is simply a written request and documentation for funding. The funding may be required to initiate a new program, hire an additional staff member, or aid in fulfilling a similar need. Whatever the purpose, a grant proposal is a vehicle for persuading a potential funder to sponsor the proposed spending.

Grant proposal writing today is one of the most competitive ways to obtain funding for a nonprofit organization. In this arena, organizations compete for federal, state, local, or private funding on several levels:

  1. The competitors are other organizations that have similar missions;
  2. The proposed program is in competition with other proposed programs;
  3. Competition is based on the clarity of the proposal, the writing ability of the applicant, and the completeness of the grant package.

It is not uncommon for a federal grant to fund 200 proposals out of 900 applicants. It is imperative that the grant proposal present the program in the most comprehensive and accurate light, and that the grant package completely fulfill the requirements of the funding agency. The entire world may be aware that the organization is a nonprofit organization, but, if a copy of the letter granting the nonprofit status is not included in the appendix of the proposal, the grant will not make it past the first review.

Grant proposal writing has become a science; a set of rules must be followed if the grant is to be funded. Although grant proposals may vary tremendously in length, documentation, and format, a number of common elements are found in all grant proposals.


Grant proposals written for private sources, such as foundations or corporations, are usually less tedious than proposals submitted for government funding. Foundations and corporations will often require a brief cover letter explaining the request, the proposed program, the amount requested, and the contact person involved. This letter is accompanied by a brief proposal (one to six pages in length) that normally includes concise information about the organization and the project — how it will be accomplished and what it will cost. Each foundation or corporation will specify a length for the proposal. Normally, foundations and corporations will require only minimal materials in the form of appendices. Some foundations prefer that an applicant first call the foundation to discuss the project before sending a written proposal.

Grant proposals for government agencies are usually extensive and precise. Often, a government grant narrative will be 20 to 30 pages long and will be followed by complete budgetary information and numerous appendices. Because these types of proposals are major undertakings, this section is devoted to the development of a grant proposal for a government agency.


Prior to undertaking the writing of a grant for any project, the organization must develop — or review — and understand its own mission. Many organizations exist without ever having gone through the process of developing a mission statement. This must be the first step in the grant process, if it has not already occurred. No agency will fund a project that does not appear to be consistent with the nonprofit organization’s mission. For instance, would it seem appropriate for a counseling agency to apply for a grant to fund a project to develop jobs for unemployed mothers with dependent children? The mission for a counseling center is not usually in the realm of job placement and career development.

Linked to the mission statement is the validity of the actual proposed project. Is it a project that is within the mission of the organization? Does it perpetuate the mission? Is it viable, given the background and leadership of the organization?

It is important for the nonprofit organization to develop credibility in the field. It must demonstrate that it is aware of what is being done in the area and that it has an excellent reputation. Its reputation may be derived from its key personnel; for example, the director may have published articles relating to the proposed project. Credibility also extends to the experience and accomplishments of the organization’s individual board members. If the board includes an accountant, an attorney, and a marketing specialist, there is an indication of good guidance from the board.

Many grants are not funded simply because the applicants did not convince the funding agency of their competence in their own field. The task of selling an organization to the funder can be done through letters of support or news clippings displayed in the appendix. The organization must demonstrate to the potential funder that it is aware of what has already been tried with regard to the proposed project and of the results — what types of programs have been successful or unsuccessful. The funder must be assured that the organization will be in existence to follow the project through to evaluation.


Many nonprofit organizations make the mistake of soliciting the wrong funding source. One of the most important tasks at the outset of the grant-proposal writing is to research the funding sources. Most foundations, corporations, and government funding sources clearly state the types of proposals that they will fund. Government funding sources generally publish a Request for Proposals (RFP) which states the type of proposals being solicited and the precise format that each proposal must follow. Descriptions of funding guidelines for foundations are easily found in local libraries in such sources as The Foundation Directory andTaft Foundation Reporter. Sources of help in locating companies that have established giving programs are the National Data Book and the Corporate Giving Yellow Pages. Information regarding the actual giving policies of corporations can be found in Source Book Profiles, Taft Corporate Giving Directory, or Corporate Foundation Profiles. All of these sources can be found in local libraries. Often, a nonprofit agency will locate funding sources in its own backyard. A review of the major corporations located in the area may yield local funding sources, and a phone call may be all that is required to make the contact.

When seeking funds from a government agency, it is best to identify which agencies are concerned with the type of project that is being proposed. For example, if the project is a drug abuse prevention program, the following federal agencies would be potential funders:

Office of Substance Abuse Prevention

  • High-risk youth demonstration grants
  • Pregnant and postpartum women and infants
  • Substance Abuse Conference grants
  • Community partnership demonstration grants

Department of Education

  • Drug-free schools and communities
  • Training and demonstration grants to institutions of higher learning
  • Federal activities grants programs

Funds for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE)

  • National College Student Organization network program
  • Approaches to Accountability in Prevention programs

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • Public housing drug elimination program
  • Youth sports clubs to combat drugs
  • Resident manager clubs
  • Comprehensive improvement assistance program
  • Public housing child care demonstration grants
  • Community Development block grants

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse

U.S. Department of Justice

  • National Institute of Justice
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

In a similar vein, state governments often fund grants for specific types of programs, such as drug abuse prevention. After a few telephone calls, the applicant organization should be able to locate several potential funders on the state level.


When working with government agencies, the Request for Proposals (RFP) becomes the basic tool in developing the grant proposal. The RFP may be called Invitation to Apply, Notice to Apply for New Awards, Program Announcement, or Grant Announcement. Whatever the name, the RFP is the means of communicating the vital information about the grant: how many grants will be awarded; what types of programs will be funded; what types of agencies should apply.

By law, all government grants are officially announced in a Request for Proposal or an Invitation to Apply. These announcements guarantee equal access to the federal funds and ensure that the competition for the funding will occur. Demonstration grants are often sponsored by government agencies. The purpose of a demonstration grant is to fund projects or programs that “demonstrate” new approaches to a certain problem, usually a social problem. The goal is to provide a model program that can be easily adapted to other communities with the anticipation of similar results. For this reason, the evaluation component of these grants is usually an important consideration in the awarding of the grant.

In approaching the RFP, it is important that the grant announcement match the mission and the proposed project of the nonprofit agency. The announcement should be carefully scrutinized to ascertain that the agency meets the applicant qualifications and that the proposed project is within the funding areas of the grant.

Most government RFPs are organized in the following pattern:

  • Introduction/Background: who is funding the grant, the purpose of the grant, what has been done in this area to date, what types of proposals will be considered, how the grant will be funded, and what the target populations will be.
  • Program Goals: the governmental agency’s overriding program goal — the broad purposes of the agency. Any grant application must address the program goals of the governmental agency that is the potential funder.
  • Eligibility: what types of agencies and organizations are eligible to apply.
  • Letter of Intent: advance notification from organizations that are planning to submit an application in response to the grant announcement. The Letter of Intent usually must be submitted 30 days prior to the deadline for the grant application so that the funding agency can plan appropriately for the review process. The Letter of Intent does not obligate the applicant to follow up with an official grant application or commit the applicant in any other way.
  • Application Characteristics: how the narrative section will be organized. Normally, the RFP will specifically define the contents of the application and the length of each section. It is important that careful attention be paid to this section. A grant will be automatically rejected for any incompleteness or inconsistency with the RFP requirements.
  • Abstract: a short, concise statement that includes the critical information about the grant: the who? what? when? where? how? The abstract should be well written and complete because it may be the only part of the grant that some reviewers read. Although the abstract is written last, it is placed before the grant narrative.

It is vital that the RFP be carefully reviewed. Most grant proposal writers outline the RFP so that important information is not overlooked. Additionally, the information found in the RFP will normally indicate the average size of the awards, how many awards will be made, what the anticipated competition will be, and the geographical distributions of the awards, if any. The RFP will also clearly indicate what types of organizations are eligible to apply and what types of proposals will be funded.

Many government grant sponsors offer Technical Assistance (TA) Workshops for potential applicants. If these are available, they are worth the effort and expense of attending. The TA Workshops elaborate on the RFP and provide additional information on the types of projects that the government agency is seeking, along with valuable tips on how to write the proposal. Information on developing the budget and completing the assurances and forms is also available.


In writing grants for government agencies, the evaluation section of the narrative has become more and more important to the success of the proposal. The trend toward demonstration grants and the desire of the government to provide models for other communities or agencies to duplicate has caused the evaluation to become a major component of the grant application.

Government grant reviewers indicate that about 60 percent of the grant applications received have inadequate or incomplete evaluation components. Some of the evaluation problems include inadequate detail, lack of expected outcomes, inappropriate measure, lack of consultant detail, lack of an evaluator, lack of planning for staff and resources to conduct the evaluation, and poor evaluation design.

The evaluation of the project is actually the collection and use of information, to determine whether the program has been successful in meeting the goals and objectives. By gathering such information, the organization is assuming a proactive position on problem-solving and future planning. An objective evaluation is the only viable mode for assessing both the short- and long-term effectiveness of a project.

The evaluation must be planned as the goals, objectives, and activities are developed. As the objectives are established, they must be made measurable for the evaluation component. Using the program model will lead the applicant to the evaluation considerations. This model provides information for the process component — the program of services or activity — as well as the short- and long-term outcomes.

Information for the Efficiency Evaluation can be ascertained from a review of the Resources.

The evaluation process will begin at the onset of the project. Data must be collected throughout the project, in order to determine the effectiveness of the program. For this reason, the evaluation plan must be fully developed, including the decisions on what data to collect and how they are to be collected and evaluated.

Many organizations contract for an outside evaluator to perform the evaluation component of the project. The outside evaluator will usually assist in writing the evaluation section of the narrative and will work with the program throughout its duration, to ensure that the appropriate data are collected and made available for analysis. Many colleges and universities have faculty or graduate assistants who can perform the evaluation and provide a statistical analysis of the results. The use of an outside evaluator can add credibility to the proposal and will indicate a sincere approach to the evaluation.

Among the numerous evaluation designs, three are most widely used: process evaluation, outcomes evaluation, and efficiency evaluation. It is very common for the evaluation component of a grant proposal to combine two or more of these designs.

In process evaluation, the implementation of the project is documented. The focus here is on the process of the program, rather than the long-term effects of the program. The evaluation is an assessment of whether the project was implemented according to the planned approach (activities) through the collection of quantitative and qualitative data. In essence, the process evaluation determines whether the objectives were accomplished and what, specifically, contributed to the attainment of the objectives. For example, with the earlier objective (“60 percent of the participants will improve at least one letter grade …”) the process evaluation would document: the number of tutoring sessions that each student participated in, whether the tutoring plan corresponded with the teaching plan of the school, and other designated activities for the accomplishment of this objective.

Many evaluators use program models as part of the process evaluation: for each activity, a program model form is completed and filed under the objective. This allows the evaluator to review and evaluate all the activities that supported the accomplishment of each objective. The process evaluation can occur only if the objectives are expressed in specific, quantifiable terms. Each objective should have a corresponding set of activities or methods for accomplishing the objective.

In planning for the process evaluation, consideration must be given to how the information will be collected, who will collect it, and when it will be collected. The process evaluation allows the project director to know who will do what, at each location, and in each segment of the timeline. An ongoing data collection system that will serve as a tool for decision-making and future planning must be created and maintained.

The outcomes evaluation will attempt to determine whether the project has made a difference in the target population and what this difference is. In essence, it answers the question: Did accomplishing the objectives help to achieve the goals of the project? The data obtained in the outcomes evaluation will provide the basis for the final conclusions that are drawn. Outcomes evaluations attempt to ask probing questions. For the example given earlier, the question might be: Did the grades of the students improve? Was that improvement a result of the strong tutoring program?

In developing the evaluation plan for the outcomes evaluation, attention must be given to clearly articulating the goals of the program in both long- and short-term outcomes. Although many indices of success may be long-term, it is sometimes necessary to develop short-term measurements that can be indicative of the attainment of the goal. For example, if the goal is to reduce the dropout rate in a high-risk target population via an elementary school reading enhancement program, the real measurement is long-term because it will occur when the students reach high school graduation. However, some short-term indicators of school success and completion, such as higher grades, would be appropriate measurements of attainment of the goal.

It is important to plan for and identify the measurement tools that will be used in the outcomes evaluation. Interviews, questionnaires, observation, tests, records and statistics, and surveys are among the means of measuring the outcome of the project. Similarly, the design itself could include the use of pretests and posttests, the use of a control group, or an evaluation of change over time.

Although the planning for the outcomes evaluation must occur at the design state of the program, the actual performance of the outcomes evaluation will occur after the project has been implemented. With regard to the tutoring objective, it will be impossible to evaluate whether grades have improved until the tutoring activities have been implemented and grade reports have been compiled or testing has occurred.

The third type of evaluation, the efficiency evaluation, is used to assess whether the resources were used in the most efficient manner. A constant review of the procedures will highlight the ones that work most efficiently and will provide the best way to achieve the desired results. By means of the efficiency evaluation, the organization can review the activities and redirect them if they are not the most efficient manner of accomplishing the goals of the project. For example, it may be determined that producing and distributing 10,000 brochures was less cost-effective than purchasing one billboard on a main thoroughfare.

Whatever type of evaluation plan is used, it is most important that the evaluation become a part of the overall design of the program and that appropriate resources be budgeted to conduct the evaluation. The underlying reasons for conducting an evaluation are to determine whether a project has been successful and to develop ways for improving it and providing for program growth.


For any proposal for government funding, budget forms are usually included in the application packet. These forms must be completed accurately and usually must be accompanied by a budget narrative, which is located in an appendix.

Filling in the budget amounts is usually the last task in grant proposal writing, but thought must be given to the budget before the proposal is developed. Hints as to the average size of awards will be found in the grant announcement. If the project that is proposed cannot be implemented within the suggested budgetary range, it is wise to revamp the project activities. A realistic program with an appropriate budget will impress the grant reviewers more than a program consisting of objectives that cannot be reasonably attained with the proposed budget. For this reason, it is advisable to think in terms of cost when developing the objectives and activities of the program.

Some agencies require that the applicant organization provide some type of support, either budgetary or in-kind, to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the project. Most agencies will also require that the applicant organization provide information regarding the continuance of the project after the grant funding has ceased. Attention needs to be given, during the planning stages of the project, as to how the project will be funded in later years. At this point, the applicant may want to solicit a commitment for future funding from local entities or to devise a services fee schedule which will add to the support of the program.

Government grant budget forms normally include a budget summary, which delineates the government and non-government shares of the budget (if a match or in-kind support is present). The budget will be then broken into categories such as personnel and fringe benefits, travel, equipment and supplies, contractual or consultant costs, building or construction costs, miscellaneous costs, and indirect costs. Complete information regarding these budget items will be given in the budget narrative and must coincide with the data on the forms. If the project spans more than one year, the budget form may ask for the funding information for the balance of the project.

In developing the personnel section of the grant budget, costs for salaries and fringe benefits of grant employees must be considered. The number and types of personnel will relate to the activities of the program. The budget narrative should provide detailed information regarding the positions, the type of work that will be accomplished by the individuals in each position, the number of hours per week each position will work, and the anticipated salary for each position. In estimating benefits, the costs of social security, healthcare, disability insurance, and unemployment are among those that must be calculated. Normally, a grant employee will receive all of the benefits that a regular employee receives. Information and assistance in calculating the fringe benefits can be obtained from the organization’s business office or from the payroll accountant.

Many grant proposals will require the inclusion of job descriptions for personnel who will be hired and resumes for incumbent personnel who will be involved with the project. These should be referenced in the narrative but located in a separate appendix.

The travel section of the budget will include the cost of all anticipated travel during the project period. Some government grants require that travel to government-sponsored meetings or workshops be included in the travel section. Costs of any other anticipated workshops or training opportunities for staff members should be included. If the project demands local travel, from project site to project site or for home visitations, a figure for local travel mileage reimbursement should be budgeted. All travel expenses must be justified and explained in the budget narrative section. Never say “Travel, $2,000” without itemizing how that money will be spent.

If the proposal calls for the purchase of equipment necessary to perform the activities, the cost should be included in the budget. For example, if computers are needed as a part of the tutoring program, the cost of the computers and necessary software should appear in the Equipment section, and the anticipated costs for supplies, such as computer paper and ribbons, should be recorded in the Supplies section. Cost estimates should always be accurate. For large items, actual estimates from vendors will ensure that the budget is realistic and accurate. Reviewers will easily spot unrealistic cost estimates, and will interpret them to mean that the applicant did not adequately prepare the budget.

Some proposals will require the use of contractual services or consultants. If the evaluation of the project is contracted to an expert, this should be reflected in the budget. An organization may hire consultants to train staff members or to implement an activity that is beyond the scope of the applicant organization. Sufficient detail must be provided in the budget narrative to explain who the consultant is and what the services will be.

If construction is a part of the proposal, information about permits, architectural design costs, and estimated construction costs is essential. Construction grants are usually separate grants, not normally linked with a service or activity grant. However, minor building renovations may be required for a service grant, in order to accommodate the proposed project. As an example, electrical wiring may have to be enhanced to support computers.

Indirect costs are the costs associated with general operation of the organization, such as the cost of preparing the payroll, heating the building, maintaining the equipment, or purchasing general supplies. Other examples of indirect costs are: administrative salaries, telephone expense, equipment depreciation, and insurances and licenses. Indirect costs are normally costs that may not be identified with a proposed project, but are definitely associated with and integral to the overall operation of the organization.

Each organization receiving federal grant funds will negotiate an indirect cost rate through a regional office charged with that duty. This allowance is usually a percentage of the total direct costs of the proposal or simply a percentage of the personnel costs. This process should be completed prior to applying for federal funding, but, in some cases, can be negotiated after the grant is funded. For information regarding the indirect cost rate, contact the appropriate regional office listed in this section.

Both state and private grantors will allow the inclusion of an indirect cost rate or administrative allowance. The method used should be similar to the calculation of the federal indirect cost rate.

As noted earlier, the budget forms supplied as a part of the application packet for federal grant allow room for only the figures for each category. It is recommended, if not required by the RFP, that a more complete budget narrative be included as an appendix. The budget narrative will allow the applicant to more fully justify each budget item and will ensure that the reviewers understand the need for the funding.

Use of the budget narrative to provide detail will also assist the applicant in developing a more realistic budget. By itemizing each activity cost, the organization is forced to obtain actual estimates and fare schedules and build a realistic budget. If the grant is funded, the grantor will attempt to renegotiate some of the line item requests. If the organization has thoroughly researched the costs at the budget construction state, it will be in a superior position to withstand the grantor’s desire to negotiate some of the budgeted items.

Example of budget narrative

A. Personnel

 Project Director(in-kind) (20% time)
 Public Relations Director(in-kind) (10% time)
 Director of Tutoring/Dropout Prevention(in-kind)
 Rene Bryk will supervise the entire SAILS tutoring program in all 5 clubs 
 Directors of Tutoring 2 @ $20,000 ea.$40,000
 Two full-time directors will be hired from grant funds: one at the Rose Hill Club and one at the Claymont Club to supervise tutoring services and monitor school progress. The Boys Clubs will provide funds to hire Directors of tutoring at the Fraim, Brown & Jackson Clubs as an in-kind match.(in kind)
 Tutors 5,600 hours @ $10/hr.$36,000
 Tutors will provide individualized tutoring as per participant goals. The Clubs will match the tutoring costs with an additional $20,000 
 Computer Specialist Tutors will provide individualized assistance with DPI software and educational software program. 
 Five tutors — 900 hours @ $10/hr.$45,000
 Total personnel$121,000

B. Fringe Benefits

 Full-time (20%)8,000
 Part-time (8.83%)7,152
 Total Fringes$15,152

C. Travel

 Travel funds will be used to attend OSAP meetings, substance abuse prevention conferences, COA workshops, etc. Staff travel will be used to reimburse staff for meetings at local schools, youth-oriented agencies, etc. 
 5 staff auto travel .20/mi. x 100 mi. x 12 mos.$1,200
 To work with schools, courts, and other referring agencies 
 5 conference attendance round-trip travel @ $500 ea.2,500
 10 days per diem travel @ $150/day1,500
 Total Travel$5,200


When the narrative is complete and the budget is developed and justified, the next steps are to complete the necessary forms and assurances, duplicate the grant proposal package, and mail or deliver it to the government agency. Each RFP or applicant package will contain a number of forms and assurances that must be completed and submitted with the written proposal. In a recent grant announcement for drug abuse prevention proposals, the Office of Substance Abuse required the following forms:

  • Application for Federal Assistance, Form 424
  • Budget Information — Nonconstruction Programs, Form 424A
  • Assurance — Nonconstruction Programs, Form 424B
  • Certificate Regarding Debarment and Suspension
  • Certificate Regarding Drug-Free Workplace Requirements
  • Civil Rights Assurance
  • Assurance Concerning the Handicapped
  • Assurance Concerning Sex Discrimination

As can be seen from the number of forms required, a sufficient amount of time should be allowed for the completion of this part of the grant writing project. It is not advisable to go to the final deadline with the proposal; delivering it one day late will eliminate it from consideration.

The grant announcement will indicate the specifics about the grant form, including the maximum number of narrative pages, the number of copies to be submitted, spacing requirements, and order of presentation. Some proposals will request a table of contents preceding the grant. Others will require certain information be provided in the appendices, such as names and occupations of board members, resumes of key personnel, or certification of nonprofit status.

All grant proposals should include letters of support. These will not only establish the organization’s credibility in the area but will assure the reviewers that the proposed project has the endorsement of local agencies, particularly those agencies whose services normally complement the applicant’s services. The applicant organization should begin the process of obtaining letters of support at the initiation of the proposal writing. Too often, supporting agencies procrastinate on writing a letter of support. They must be informed on exactly what the goals, objectives, and activities of the project will be and how they can interact with the activities, giving various forms of support.

When soliciting letters of support, it is advisable to give the project advocate an outline of the project and a summary of how each solicited agency can support the project. A sample letter of support will offer much appreciated guidance and will help guarantee strong letters of support that will fortify the proposal. For example, a letter of support for a drug abuse prevention program might include how many potential participants the supporting agency can refer to the program, how the two agencies have worked together in the past, and what accomplishments or successes the grant-seeking agency has had in the past. Because a weak letter of support can actually do harm to a proposal, it is vital that the champion receive guidance in how to compose a helpful letter.

Letters of support should be addressed to the applicant organization and included in a separate appendix to the proposal. Under no circumstances should they be sent separately to the funding agency. To ensure that they are credited to the proposal, they must be included in the proposal appendix.


The abstract, while written last, prefaces the proposal and may be the only opportunity to “sell” the project. Although brevity is mandated, the abstract must contain the essential information about the proposed project and explain to reviewers both the feasibility and the worth of the project.


Whether the grant proposal is submitted to the federal government, a state government, or a foundation or corporation, the review process will involve a number of reviewers. Many foundations and corporations have a grant administrator who oversees the collection of grant applications and conducts a preliminary review for completeness and sufficient detail. The proposal is then presented to the foundation or corporate board for final review and approval.

When submitting a grant proposal to a state or federal agency, the review process differs dramatically. Generally, agency staff screen the grant applications upon receipt and return those that are incomplete, nonresponsive to the grant announcement (with regard to program), or nonconforming to the grant format (for example, too many pages). Applications that progress through the initial agency screening enter a multistage review process. In the first stage, the project may be assessed by nonfederal reviewers. Applications that are judged to be lacking in any of the required components will be considered noncompetitive and removed from further review. Surviving applications will then be reviewed for technical merit by peers in the field. The peer reviewers are selected for their technical expertise in the field or discipline of the grant. A point system of scoring the application is generally used. Potential scores and weights of each section of the narrative can be found in the RFP for a government grant. Written notification will be sent to those applicants who are judged to qualify in terms of completeness, competitiveness, and responsiveness upon final review.

For applications that are not selected for funding, most state and federal agencies will provide written information concerning how the application scored in the review process, and copies of the comments of reviewers. This information is valuable if the agency is planning to resubmit the proposal at a future date because it clearly identifies the weak areas in the application.

For grants submitted to foundations and corporations, the grant critique is easily obtained. Some grant administrators at foundations and corporations will even be willing to answer questions by telephone about weaknesses they perceived in the proposal.

Should the proposal not be funded, organizations are urged to obtain a copy of the proposal review and to revise the grant proposal for a future submission. The review process information is a valuable tool for all future grant proposal writing and should be considered part of a learning experience.


Perhaps even more difficult than writing the grant proposal is administering the grant after it is funded. This is the time when the nonprofit organization proves that it is a creditable agency and that it can produce what was promised in the grant proposal narrative.

Grant administration will vary from agency to agency. A small nonprofit agency’s proposal writer might double as a project manager or the grant administrator. This person must develop the managerial skills necessary to implement the project and to manage the funding appropriately. Larger institutions may have the luxury of administrative staff to manage the fiscal end of the grant, leaving the grant writer to implement the project.

Once the grant is funded and the nonprofit enters into an agreement with the funding agency, it is responsible for producing the outcomes described in the narrative. This agreement between the funder and the nonprofit is, in essence, a legal contract to deliver promised goods. The importance of good grant administration becomes clear.

Project management is the actual implementation of the proposed activities that the organization hopes will produce the desired outcomes. Grant administration, however, goes beyond implementation to the accounting of the program. Most government agencies will require precise types of record keeping to account for the use of the funds. A yearly audit will be required, and some government agencies will conduct their own audit of the nonprofit agency.

The grant contract will clearly define the nonprofit’s responsibilities as to the fiscal management of the funds. This document must be read carefully: it is legally binding. If the nonprofit is receiving funds from a number of agencies, each may have its own different fiscal requirements.

On a final note, the nonprofit may find that the needs have shifted slightly between the original proposal and the final funding, or that the cost of various items has changed. It is possible to realign the budget portion of the grant, but this must be done through the funding agency. An organization should never simply change the budget of a grant. The funding agency will provide guidance on budget adjustments.


American Financial Group
Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Ashland Oil Company
BP (British Petroleum)
Bank One
Benchmark Federal
Champion Paper Company
Cincinnati Bell
Cincinnati Financial Corporation
Cincinnati Milacron
Delta Airlines
Duke Energy
Duke Realty
Empress Chili
Fidelity Investments
Fifth Third Bank
First Fidelity Federal
General Electric
Gold Star Chili
Huntington Bank
Macy’s Department Stores
Mead Paper
Northside Bank & Trust
Ohio Casualty
PNC Bank
Press Community Newspapers
Procter & Gamble
Scripps Howard
Skyline Chili
Smith Barney
Society Bank
Star Bank
Suburban Federal
Union Central Life Insurance
United Dairy Farmers
U. S. Air
U. S. Precision Lens
Warner Communications
West Shell
Western Southern Life Insurance


Eleanora C. U. Alms Trust
William P. Anderson Foundation
George A. Avril Family Fund
Bardes Fund
The Barr Foundation
The Camden Foundation
Castellini Foundation
Chemed Foundation
Cincinnati Bell Foundation
Cincinnati Milacron Foundation
Consolidated Graphic Foundation
The Corbett Foundation
Albert B. Cord Foundation
Charles H. Dater Foundation
The Dennis M. and Lois A. Doyle Family Foundation
Eagle Picher Foundation
The Thomas J. Emery Memorial
FSR Foundation
Farmer Family Foundation
Macy’s Department Stores Foundation
Fifth Third Foundation
Fleischmann Foundation
Flerlage Foundation, Inc.
Friedlander Family Fund
Gradison Foundation
Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Walter L. and Nell R. Gross Charitable Trust
The John Hauck Foundation
Hayfields Foundation
The Helmann Family Foundation
Homan Foundation
Isaac and Esther Jarson-Stanley and Mickey Kaplan Foundation
The Andrew Jergens Foundation
R. A. Jones and Company, Inc. Foundation
Kroger Company Foundation
Therese Lange Saenger and Sidney Lange Foundation
LeBlond Foundation
Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation
The L. and L. Nippert Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Nussbaum Charitable Trust
Ohio National Foundation
The Ohio Valley Foundation
Peterloon Foundation
The Daniel and Susan Pfau Foundation
Procter & Gamble Fund
The Robert H. Reakirt Foundation
August A. Rendigs, Jr. Foundation
Helen Steiner Rice Foundation
Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation
Josephine Schell Russell Charitable Trust
Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trust
Charles J. Schott Foundation
T. Spencer Shore Foundation
Jack J. Smith, Jr. Charitable Trust
Star Bank N.A. Foundation
The Robert Taft, Jr. Foundation
Ronald F. Walker Charitable Trust
Maxwell C. Weaver Foundation
Western Southern Foundation, Inc.
Charles Westheimer Family Fund
David F. and Sara K. Weston Fund
Wodecroft Foundation
Zaring Family Foundation


If you are a non-profit organization or individual interested in the area of philanthropy, fundraising, grantsmanship, or proposal writing, the Grants Resource Center has some information for you.

We suggest:

  • A quick, easy starting point for using the Grants Resource Center is: The Foundation Center’s User-Friendly Guide
  • An introduction to grantsmanship and the world of foundations can be found in: Foundation Fundamentals: A Guide for Grantseekers
  • A good beginning point for thinking about fundraising is: The Grass Roots Fundraising Book by Joan Flannagan
  • For general and statistical information about trends for non-profit organizations, see: Non-Profit Almanac
  • To locate information on specific foundations, we have a number of local and national directories, such as: The Cincinnati Foundation Directory and Guide to U. S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers & Donors
  • If you need help with your proposal writing, try: The Foundation Center’s Guide to Proposal Writing
  • And, for an up-to-date look at the whole field of philanthropy, see the most current issue of: “The Chronicle of Philanthropy”

All of these sources and more are available at the Grants Resource Center in the Education and Religion Department. The librarians in that department are available to assist you at any time.

Brief orientations to the Grants Resource Center are held regularly. Two introductory workshops of two hours are also given each month. Please ask at the Education and Religion desk or call 369-6940 for more information.


Periodicals found in the Grants Resource Center

Chronicle of Philanthropy Biweekly
The most comprehensive selection of articles on trends, studies, and regulations of interest to the non-profit sector. Includes updates on corporate and individual giving, foundation profiles, articles on non-profit management, taxation, volunteerism, fundraising, etc. Reports recent foundation grants and includes job listings.

Contributions Bimonthly
Covering everything from direct mail to prospect research, this is a practical guide to all aspects of fundraising. It includes supplements on major gifts, who’s who in fundraising, and other topics. More heavily focused on general fundraising than grants.

Corporate Giving Watch Monthly
Contains current information on newly established and ongoing corporate giving programs. Analyzes corporate philanthropy, corporate sources of support, and fundraising ideas. Each issue profiles in detail selected corporate giving programs.

ERC News briefs (Ecumenical Resource Consultants) Monthly
Lists funding information (government and non-government); deadline reminders; legislative information; and a variety of publication, conference, and program announcements. Not just for the religious grantseeker, this newsletter has short helpful notes on a wide variety of subjects.

Foundation Giving Watch Monthly
Focuses on recent activities of large foundations. Considers patterns of foundation giving and other current issues. Lists recent grants and profiles of grantmakers.

Foundation News and Commentary Bimonthly
Features articles about grantmakers, grantmaking activities, and trends in the field; includes book reviews; classified ads with job listings; and sections on international, corporate, and community foundations. A “must read” for trends in the world of foundations.

The Grantsmanship Center Magazine Quarterly
Newsletter of the Grantsmanship Center. A compendium of resources for non-profit organizations, it includes articles of fundraising, grant writing, and volunteerism and covers trends in the philanthropic world. (Free copies available in Grants Resource Center.)

Nonprofit Times Monthly
Contains articles on issues, developments, and happenings in the non-profit sector. Includes book reviews, calendar of events, and job listings.

Nonprofit World Bimonthly
Journal for non-profit managers. Includes feature articles on fundraising, board development, current issues, administration, and volunteerism. Also includes job listings.

Other Periodicals of Interest to Grantseekers and Non-profit Organizations (ask at department’s desk for assistance in locating).

Chronicle of Higher Education (Education and Religion Department)

Bottom Line: A Financial Magazine for Librarians (Education and Religion Department)

Federal Register (Government and Business Department)
(Best current source of federal funding, published daily)

Forbes (Government and Business Department)

Fortune (Government and Business Department)

Fund Raising Management (Government and Business Department)

Poets and Writers (Literature Department)

Washington International Arts Letter (Art and Music Department)

And do not forget professional journals for more general information in your particular field of interest, such as:
Communications News
Corrections Today
The Ecologist
Historical Preservation
Journal of Education

The Grants Resource Center also receives annual reports and newsletters from various foundations. Please ask at the Education and Religion Desk.


Where Do I Begin?
Anyone visiting the Main Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County for the first time usually wants to know “Where do I begin?” Where your research begins depends on the type of information you need. So take a moment to concentrate on your organization’s information needs; the more clearly you can define your own requirements, the more quickly you can get to work. This might also be a good time to sign up for an orientation session, if the library you are using offers one. The Main Library offers free orientations.

What is a foundation?
There is much confusion as to the definition of a foundation. It can be defined as a non-profit, non-governmental organization with a principal fund or endowment of its own. A private foundation derives its money from a family, an individual, or a corporation. An example is the Ford Foundation. This is in contrast to public charities, which may give grants but which derive their support from various members of the public. An example is the Ms. Foundation for Women. At present, the Main Library publications and databases cover private foundations, community foundations, and corporate giving programs.

If you are looking for support from foundations or other funders:

Like the individuals who originally established them, foundations differ dramatically from each other in their giving interests. Your organization has a much better chance of securing funding if you do careful research. Foundation Center resources will help you focus on those foundations whose funding priorities most closely match your project. The most effective results come from using the following three approaches to funding research:

  • THE SUBJECT APPROACH identifies foundations that have expressed an interest in funding programs in your subject field.
  • THE GEOGRAPHIC APPROACH identifies foundations that fund programs in a specific city, state or region. Although some give nationally and even internationally, most funders limit their giving to specific geographic areas.
  • THE TYPE OF SUPPORT APPROACH identifies foundations that provide specified types of support, such as building funds, seed money, operating support, or endowment funds.

To help you match your non-profit’s needs with the interests of a potential funder, see the Prospect Worksheet on the next page. Feel free to photocopy this worksheet. After you have answered the questions about your own organization, you may wish to make several copies of the worksheet and use one for each prospective funder.

You will want to use Foundation Center and other resources to compile a list of foundations that appear most likely to support your organization or your project. Choose prospective funders by examining their descriptive profiles and recent giving histories. Foundations that have already supported projects similar to yours, those that award the type of support you seek, or those in your geographic area should be considered for your prospect list.

The next step is to research carefully and exhaustively the funders you have identified. To research foundation giving patterns and trends, some of the best sources are: annual reports, IRS returns (Form 990-PF), and published directories. Remember, research is hard work; it takes time, but it always pays off.


Corporate Foundation Profiles. New York: The Foundation Center. Provides giving profiles of 250 of the largest company-sponsored foundations.

Conrad, D. The New Grants Planner. San Francisco: Public Management Institute. Provides information about networking, developing ideas, researching, budget strategies, contacting funders, proposal review, proposal writing, and developing continued grant support.

Corporate Giving Yellow Pages. Washington, DC: The Taft Group.

Foundation Directory. New York: The Foundation Center. Provides a comprehensive listing of foundations in the United States, with information about number of awards, size of awards, funding preferences.

Funding Sources. Drug Information and Strategy Clearinghouse. Provides a list of agencies and foundations that fund proposals related to drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

Guide to U. S. Department of Education Programs. Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office. Provides information necessary to begin the process of applying for funding from individual federal education programs. Lists the many grant opportunities available from the Department of Education.

National Data Book. New York: The Foundation Center. Provides assistance in identifying companies that have established giving programs.

Source Book Profiles. Quarterly. New York: The Foundation Center. Provides detailed descriptions of the 1,000 largest foundations.

Taft Corporate Giving Directory. Washington, DC: The Taft Group.

Taft Foundation Reporter. Provides comprehensive profiles and giving analyses of major private foundations.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Handbook for Evaluating Drug and Alcohol Prevention Programs.Washington, DC: Author.

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