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Outline to a Successful Grant Proposal for Small Businesses

Man writing business outline proposal

So, you want to write a grant proposal for a small business. Maybe you’d like to finance a small business venture, such as an anatomic bike saddle company, or want to open your own clothing boutique. While grants can come from numerous sources, successful proposals all tend to follow the same basic principles. Below we’ve provided a fundamental guideline on how to write a grant proposal for a small business.
The Application Process
Take your time when filling out an application. Make sure you answer all the questions and provide every material asked of you.

Provide a Cover Letter
Give funders a sneak peek of your grant proposal. This is a great way to make a good first impression. It will also establish how the funder feels about you and your intentions.

Official Summary
As the opening to your proposal, this official summary helps the grantor understand what you’re asking for in detail. Keep it brief, and do your best to entice the reader to continue reading.

The Need Statement
Your goal is to convince possible funders that you’re proposing something important. Focus on the situation or problem you want to address. Include supportive evidence, and explain how you plan to use the grant money. Show off your expertise, but make sure the information you provide simple enough to understand.

Goals & Objectives
State what you hope to accomplish and the results you expect to see. These should be general outcomes and SMART objectives. Be sure to include both long and short-range goals, and don’t forget to discuss how you intend to reach them. Keep everything reasonable, measurable, and time sensitive.

Plan of Action
Walk the grantor through an exact plan of how you intend to achieve your goals. Consider using a logic model to exhibit how the different parts of your proposal work together. The more information grantors have, the better—just make sure everything is easy to read and follow.

Evaluation & Assessment
How do you plan to monitor and evaluate your results? People will want to know that they’re getting their money’s worth. Include what records and data you plan to collect, who’ll conduct the evaluation, and how you’ll utilize this information to measure progress and success rates.

The Budget
Attach a short budget that shows expenses, income, and other financial details. Have you received or asked for funding from other sources? Most grantors don’t want to be your only source of support. Try to be as detailed as possible, and make sure everything adds up.

Closing Summary
This is where you’ll briefly recap your proposal. Provide a short history of your business, restate your mission, and include the market you serve. You may also want to attach these additional materials if they apply to your situation:

* If your business is tax exempt, include the IRS letter confirming this
* A list of your board directors and their affiliations
* The budget for your current fiscal year

Final Touches
Make sure your proposal is neat, easy to read, and free of errors. We recommend using a report cover to keep everything organized. After you submit your proposal, wait 3–5 days before following up with the grantor.

We hope this brief guide on how to write a successful grant proposal for a small business makes the process seem a little less intimidating. Good luck—we hope a grantor selects your proposal!

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