How to Write a Proposal.

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PROPOSAL WRITING The Basic Steps in Planning and Writing A Successful Grant Application

Written by Eric Rinehart and Barbara Bouie-Scott Edited by Melissa Pantier

Published in September 1998 and revised in August 2003 by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity This document was originally published in 1990 as Proposal Writing: A Basic Primer

Note: Where TTY numbers are not listed, phone numbers in this publication may be accessed via the State of Illinois TTY relay number: 800/526-0844.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page INTRODUCTION PART I. STRATEGIC PLANNING Assessing Needs Strategy Development PART II. PREPARING FOR A PROPOSAL REQUEST Pre-proposal Preparation Get Expert Advice Locating Funding Sources Submittal of the Proposal PART III. WRITING THE PROPOSAL PART IV. BUDGET PART V. APPENDICES PART VI. DIRECTORY OF RESOURCES Common Sources of Statistical Data Technical Assistance Sources Technical Assistance Guides Government Program/Grant Information Sources of Funding Information Periodicals/Newsletters Electronic Products and Services Internet Search Engines Web Sites i 1 1 4 6 6 7 7 11 14 23 28 29 29 34 38 40 42 45 46 49 49

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INTRODUCTION Not-for-profit organizations rely on outside financial support to maintain, expand, or create programs and services. A need that so many of these organizations have is the ability to put together grant-winning proposals. Successful proposal writing is not complicated. It does, however, take a considerable amount of preparation and good organization. The purpose of this development guide is to help nonprofit community program developers and planners with the basic elements and concepts in planning and preparing winning proposals for project funding. This guide begins with a pre-proposal section which describes the initial action to be taken in planning the proposal. The next section provides insight on how to identify funders and gives tips on preparing an effective proposal. The third section instructs, step by step, how to organize and write the proposal. Section four discusses submission of a complete, wellstructured budget. Section five addresses the typical items included in an Appendix to the proposal. Because of the explosion in information availability on the Internet, the final section, Directory of Resources, has been revised to include sections devoted to electronic products and services, Internet search engines and web sites. This section also lists various sources of statistical data, technical assistance resources and documents, sources of government grant program information, resources to assist in searching for foundation and corporate support, and newsletters and periodicals. Nonprofit organizations can be successful with their grant-seeking activities if they: Allow community needs to drive the grant-seeking process, rather than visa-versa; Have clear and concise understanding of the organization’s purpose, mission, and goals; Engage in systematic planning and program development activities; Develop strategic plans for meeting short-range goals, realistically design and activate strategies for meeting long-term goals; and For the most part, do not attempt to develop and implement programs that are clearly outside the realm of their overall mission.

Before writing a proposal or completing a grant application, a grant-seeking organization must engage in adequate preliminary research and pre-proposal work. Individuals responsible for planning and program development must not only have clear understanding of the organization's mission and goals, but also have knowledge and insight of its administrative, fiscal, and programmatic capabilities. It is also important that an organization's proposal reflect basic research undertaken by the organization. This means being aware of the programs and services currently provided in the community for the target population, and the real -- not imagined -- service gaps which may exist. The...
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