To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact


How to Write a Grant Proposal: The 8 Essentials of a Grant Proposal

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Feb 14, 2020 • 4 min read

Sometimes the only thing standing between you and the realization of a life-changing idea is money. Not everyone who wants to make the world a better place has all the resources and finances to do so. If you (or your nonprofit organization) have a great idea that could improve the lives of others, but you’re in need of a fun



David Mamet Teaches Dramatic WritingDavid Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing

The Pulitzer Prize winner teaches you everything he's learned across 26 video lessons on dramatic writing.

Learn More

What Is a Grant?

A grant is an amount of funding provided by an organization—like government agencies, trusts, or foundations—in order to financially support beneficial projects and ideas. Grant opportunities encourage innovation and provide assistance to those wanting to positively impact communities on both the local and global scale. Grant funding is not a loan; it’s money granted to you to help make the success of your proposed project a reality.

How to Write a Grant Proposal

The grant writing process can be time-consuming, but it’s necessary to make sure you cover all the key points of your plan. An effective grant proposal should include information about the applicant, why they should receive the grant money, and what they plan to do with it. In order to write a winning grant proposal, be sure to include the following:

1. Cover Letter.

Include a cover letter if your grant proposal writing is intended for a foundation or corporation, but not if you’re seeking a state or federal grant—government funders rarely require you to write a cover letter, and you only want to send what you need. Introduce your main points, but don’t parrot the same information the same way as you have it in the body of your proposal. Learn how to write a cover letter in our guide here.

2. Executive Summary.

Also known as the abstract, the executive summary contains a brief rundown of what you’re asking for as a potential grantee. It’s a short paragraph that concisely defines your project mission and grant request, giving the potential funding organization an overview of what to expect and how they’ll contribute. A successful proposal has a summary that makes it stand out, efficiently outlining the basic necessities and impact of the project.

3. Statement of Need.

Every successful grant proposal contains a strong statement of need—a problem statement that identifies an actual issue, not just a general observation. Therefore, your need statement requires supporting evidence and data (along with sources) highlighting why you or your nonprofit are the best solution for this specific problem. It should also express a degree of urgency—the funding organization should understand that this is a problem that needs all the assistance it can get in order to be solved efficiently.

4. Goals and Objectives.

Your grant request should highlight specific goals and their desired outcomes, as well as an outline of the project design strategies. What do you expect to accomplish? What is the time frame for these objectives? What methods will you employ, and how exactly will they execute your project’s vision to address the issue at hand? Lay out how and why your solution will address each key point of the issue you intend to solve.

5. Evaluation.

Funding agencies will want to know how the achievement of your goals will be calculated. If the program design isn’t meant to run indefinitely, when will it conclude? What will indicate that the project has followed through on its intent? When writing grant proposals, indicate how you will measure the results of your project to determine when success has been achieved so the funder knows what it will look like and what to expect.

6. Other Funding.

If your project is meant to run indefinitely, explain how you’ll obtain any future funding, or how the project will be sustainable long-term. Include any in-kind contributions—ways you are being supported other than financially (like equipment donations or community support).

7. Information.

State who you are and what your nonprofit is all about. Include your organization’s mission statement, track record, the community you serve, and if you’ve ever applied to a grant program from this particular agency before (include this information even if you have—never assume you’ll be remembered). Also be sure to include any other documentation the application process requests, such as tax documents and a list of your board of directors.

8. Project Budget.

Fully plot out all of the project costs, how much you will need, and how the money will be spent. Detail what amount will go towards staff members, overhead costs, and any income earned or received via contribution. A list of line items can help display your budget justification in an easy-to-view way, giving the funder a better look at what is involved.

David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing
Judy Blume Teaches Writing
Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
James Patterson Teaches Writing

Want to Learn More About Writing?

Become a better writer with the Masterclass All-Access Pass. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by literary masters, including Neil Gaiman, David Baldacci, Joyce Carol Oates, Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, David Sedaris, and more.