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How to Write a Grant Proposal for a Small Business

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A grant proposal is a formal request for investment. These are typically made by non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and small businesses and submitted to government departments, foundations, or large corporations. Writing a grant proposal takes preparation, planning, and packaging. You must gather the proper requirements, write up a convincing proposal, then submit it to relevant grantors by set deadlines.

For some firms, the responsibility is entrusted to grant writers for hire. Based on grant writer job descriptions, these professionals research, draft, and submit proposals to help organizations earn funding. But how much do grant writers charge? Firms can expect to spend between $20 to $150 per hour for a grant writer. If you’re not ready to make that investment just yet, then you’ll have to write a grant proposal on your own.

Parts of a Grant Proposal

A grant proposal consists of a cover letter, an executive summary, and sections detailing the project that needs funding. Here’s a look into each part.

Cover Letter

The cover letter is a short introduction of your organization to the donor. It’s the first document that they see, so it must compel the reader to get to the actual proposal. It can be written in a less formal manner (but still polite and professional!), but it should include important details such as a short description of the project and why it’s perfect for the specific grant you’re applying for. That said, keep it brief—aim to say everything in three to four paragraphs at the most.

Not all grant proposals need a cover letter; some, specifically federal or state grant applications, even discourage it. Make sure to double-check if you can attach one before sending it in.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is a bit like the cover letter, except it’s more detailed. It’s a short synopsis of the entire proposal, spanning up to two pages long (if you can keep it to one, even better). It introduces the organization, the project, and the firm’s competencies and goals, as well as the budget, concrete plans for execution, and metrics for success. It should be specific but comprehensive; the donor should already get a solid idea of your proposal just by reading this part.


The introduction is where you tell the story of your organization. Share as much relevant information as you can, including your infrastructure, history, goals, philosophy, and experience, as well as biographies of key staff. Highlight your successes and expertise by adding client recommendations, positive feedback, and testimonials; you may even be required to include certifications, licenses, and permits.

Connect the mission of the donor to your story to prove that the partnership is beneficial to both sides.

Needs and Problem Statement

The needs and problem statement is where you expound on the problem you’re tackling and how your organization or project can solve it. This section requires a lot of research. Give context to the problem, illustrate other solutions attempted to solve it, and why what you’re doing is going to make a difference. 

Project Description

The project description details everything that the donor needs to know about your plans, such as:

  • Goals
  • SMART objectives
  • Timeline
  • Manpower
  • Logistics
  • Resources
  • Specific tasks
  • Success metrics (KPIs)

Be visual and specific, and connect all of your plans with the mission and objectives of the project as it relates to the donor.


The budget is the true heart of a grant proposal as it outlines how an organization plans to use funding if they receive it. Here, you must go into detail about budget allocations, justifying these expenses. Make sure that your numbers are realistic and go over the projections and calculations to ensure that everything’s accurate; don’t over-quote nor under-quote.

Specify direct and indirect costs, as well as overhead. Additionally, specify other sources of income and contributions.

Tips for Writing a Grant Proposal

Writing a grant proposal bears a lot of weight since it’s the key to earning funding for many organizations. To submit a proposal with a high chance of success, remember these tips.

Review the Requirements

Each grant will have its own set of requirements. Review what’s needed and ensure that you can complete everything. Be careful not to submit too much or provide attachments or paperwork that’s not required. For some grant proposals, it’s helpful, but for some, it’s extra fluff that might take away from the proposal’s main objective.

Be Clear, Concise, and Accurate

Be clear and straight to the point in your writing; don’t waste space in your proposal spewing useless details. Review all your data, especially numbers, to make sure that all information is accurate and up-to-date and easy to read.

How Did Other Organizations Win a Grant? 

Research or reach out to previous grant winners. You’ll learn a lot about what a donor is looking for by reviewing how they picked previous recipients.

Should I Hire a Grant Writer?

Writing a grant proposal is no easy feat. It requires a lot of research, communication, and writing. For a lot of organizations and small businesses with limited manpower, doing this internally is difficult; they may end up sending half-baked proposals that don’t result in anything.

For this reason, it’s a smart idea to hire a grant writer through a freelance platform like Guru.com. A grant writer has the experience and expertise to connect you to the right donors and help you earn the funding you need.

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