The Pennington Family Foundation now uses an online grant application process. These recommendations apply to both paper and online proposals.
Ask for a specific amount of funding. Stating your need - whether it is for $5,000 or $50,000 - helps staff and trustees make decisions about the grants they award. Please note that most foundations do not wish to be the sole source of support for an effort. Your organization is expected to approach and obtain grants and donations from other funders.
Narrow your request. An organization should keep its request simple and match it to the funder's interest. Instead of requesting funds for an administrative assistant's salary, new van, and brochure printing costs, the organization should determine what need would be the best fit with a particular funder. Focusing on one specific request will also help an organization write a proposal that is more targeted and clear.
Follow proposal guidelines exactly. Every foundation has different guidelines because each has specific interests in what staff or trustees would like to learn about a project. You may not provide a foundation with the information it needs if you use another funder's guidelines.
Keep section headers and questions in your paper proposal. When you keep the guidelines, section headers and questions in your proposal, it helps you ensure that each item will be answered. Leaving this text in your document also helps the grant reviewer follow along and see that you have responded to what they want to see, in the correct order. It is acceptable to change the font style or size of headers and questions and to abbreviate them when they are long.
Present your proposal neatly and simply. In preparing paper proposals, unless you are instructed otherwise, submit your proposal on white 8 1/2" X 11" paper. Margins should be at least one inch wide on all sides. The text should be in an easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman, that is at least 12 points in size. Section headers and questions may be set in a font such as Arial and bolded or italicized to set them apart from the narrative text. Typically, paper proposals should be held together by staples, paper clips, or binder clips. In online proposals, organize your narratives in advance, either in the downloadable application or in a word processor, so that you can check for spelling errors and punctuation.
Follow instructions. Make sure you know what items must be included in your proposal. In general, if you include attachments that are not required by the funder, these documents will not be considered during review. In the case of paper proposals, double check the number of copies you must send and how your grant application packet should be organized. Ensure that you have completed required forms correctly. Note where your proposal must be sent and whether it should be addressed to a particular person. In the case of online proposals, make sure all of your required documents are in the appropriate format (Word, Excel, PDF) and prepared for upload to the online system.
Meet deadlines. A missed deadline is a missed opportunity. Check to see the date and time when a proposal must arrive. In most cases, postmarked dates do not count. A proposal is on time when it is in house. In the case of online proposals, do not wait until the last minute to upload your information. If you experience technological problems, you may miss your deadline. Additionally, the proposal upload system may be busy near the deadline due to many applicants attempting to access the system at the same time. Plan ahead and upload your proposal and attachments well in advance.