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21 Steps to Writing a Perfect Grant Proposal for Research

Do you want to apply for research grants but don’t know how to write a proposal? If YES, here are 21 steps to writing a grant proposal for research purposes.

There are a lot of ways to get funding for the various projects, plans, programs or research one may have in mind. Most times, people may not have the finance to execute these ideas, so they need to seek funding elsewhere. Luckily, there are various agencies that make grants available for projects such as these; they could be government agencies, private agencies, profit or non-profit organizations.

There are different requirements for different proposals, however in this article we would be looking at how to write a grant proposal for research. This research could go into the production of educational media that should stimulate the way information of the particular subject is assimilated.

In any case, proposal writing should be approached with enthusiasm, excitement and creativity, the writer should be able to look into their minds eye and see the entire project come to pass successfully. Of course, the proposal should have some very realistic ideas, especially when it comes to the manner in which the research would be executed. In as much as the writer is being optimistic about the possibilities of the research, they have to also be pragmatic about its outcomes.

Organisations mostly make grants available for non-profit organisations or non-profit projects. They usually fund projects that help with the community, healthcare and education. The way your proposal is written can make the difference between whether your project is funded or not.

However, most organizations may not have the time to read through a grant proposal which is usually at least twenty-six pages long, they may request a grant letter instead. This only has about three to four pages, but still carries the format of the grant proposal; however everything is summarized and concise.

In this particular article we would be looking at the various tips and ideas that should help you receive grants for your research as well as looking into the specific elements of a grant proposal for research purposes.

21 Steps to Writing a Perfect Grant Proposal for Research


One of the first things you need to do is look for a source for your grant. Since it is a research you may want to look at governmental agencies that stand to benefit from the findings of the research. There are quite a number of governmental agencies that would be willing to assist in the discovery of new ways to serve the community.

Sometimes it maybe an educational research, designed to discover ways to make certain courses or subjects more appealing to students.

Whatever the case may be, identifying the organization you would be sending your proposal to is just as important as the proposal itself. You would have to do a little bit of research into the types of projects these organisations usually fund, how your project fits into their general mission statement and so on.


If it is possible to get the proposals some of these grant organisations have approved in times past, it could give you an idea into what exactly the organizations are looking for. Some proposals that have been approved are available on certain websites, even with the organisations that approved them.

There’s nothing like having a prototype to work with when putting together your own. So, no instead of simply cooking up everything from scratch, you could pay attention to some of the details in the approved proposal.


Make sure you look through your entire proposal for mistakes. Check typographical errors, grammatical errors, even very important details about the project you may have left untouched. These mistakes may affect the way your proposal is taken and will of course affect how the reviewer will respond to it.

So, make sure you go over your proposal again and again to make sure there are no lingering mistakes that could jeopardize your opportunity to receiving the grant.

If the proposal is less than excellent, it could give the reviewer the impression that the person seeking this grant does not necessarily pays attention to detail. It makes the review have a negative view into the character of the person writing, they may think to themselves, if this person cannot pay attention to details enough to put together a proper proposal, how can they execute a project as complex as this. Make sure there are no mistakes in your proposal.


Certain grant organisations have specifications as to how they want the grant proposals to look like. Do your best to follow the grant specifications to the letter; do not overlook any minute detail. When a grant organisation gives you specifics as to how they want the grants written, it is sort of like a guide into what they are looking for.

So, the question of seeking to identify exactly what the organization may be looking for is answered already. I personally think about 35% of your work is done when this is the case, because then you know exactly what to put in your proposal and how.


Make out time to research if someone else or some other organization is already engaging the research you are hoping to get into. In fact, find out if the organization you are applying for, has already funded such a research idea before.

If this is the case, then the organisation may not want to fund something similar again. The unique nature of the research will be its own unique selling point. It will also show that your ideas are original making it more interesting to be part of.


Even if you may have sent a proposal to this particular organisation before, it is still very important that you introduce your organisation to the grantee. It could be possible that the person reading the proposal knows nothing about your company and even if they do, it wouldn’t hurt anyone to remind them of how trustworthy your organisation is in its ability to execute the project successfully.

This is your chance to sell the credibility of your organisation, what they have accomplished, its mission statement, vision and so on. It is possible that if they trust the organisation as a brand, they would trust them with the finances needed to execute the project.


Still in the bid to build confidence, you may also include some other information about your organisation to the reviewer, like your tax information to show that your organisation is non-profit or even if it is, this will show that you are tax compliant. You could also include how well you did financially in the past fiscal year; this shows that you are able to use funds properly.

And also, a list of the board directors and the various organisations they are affiliated with. All of this extra information may stand to strengthen the impression that yours is a bankable organisation and that whatever funds made available to you for the project will be used properly.


Depending on how long your research intends to last, ensure that it is sustainable over the determined time frame. This will be the part where you look into all the parameters within the execution of the research that will make you able to sustain it till the desired objective is achieved. Look in to the realistic aspect of things to determine what it would take to keep the research going.

Also pay attention to some of the challenges or setbacks that may happen as the research is being executed and make out some type of contingency plan if certain events occur. It would be very important to anticipate these challenges, because they could be the reason why the research may not be successfully completed.


Except otherwise stated, it is important to keep the write up of the proposal simple enough for anyone to understand. This will ensure that whoever reads it can understand the information made available on the proposal, with ease. So technical terms that can only be understood in the particular field of study should be excluded as an untrained person cannot possibly understand what is being said when such words are used.


In as much as the language of the proposal must be simple, the information in the proposal should be thorough. Go into the details of the numbers, and other specifics you would be using to convince the reviewer. These are the things that make the most impression in the heart of the reviewer, the fact that they can see in very clear terms all the specifics about the research.

So, take out time to make your proposal as detailed as possible in order to achieve this, any one should be able to read the proposal and see these important details clearly represented without any confusion.


The moment you make money your only aim, you begin to go around in circles, applying for any grant opportunity you see, and becoming dishonest about your organization’s mission and vision, because you would want your research vision to match that of the organisation you are writing to.

This may reflect badly on you and will not allow you develop the kind of focus you need to follow up on real organisations that have your organization’s core needs in mind. Making money your only aim can make you become dishonest about your budget and so on, and should such a thing come out to the public, it will be very bad for you and your organisation.


It is not advisable to simply send them a proposal on the first day of contacting them, it is best to build some type of relationship first, especially with the person who would eventually look into your proposal. Through this initial contact and relationship, you can then find out how exactly to begin to get the proposal developed and then finally submit to the right person in the right way. The manner in which you decide to approach the reviewer matters.


Sometimes, the one who writes the proposal is not the one who executes the research. Ensure that whoever is going to execute the project would have all that they need to execute it, make sure all of the information needed is available.

Securing the funds is not the only thing you want to do with this proposal, you also want to have some type of success result to show those who have put money in your idea. You want them to see and know that they have not invested in something unproductive and that what they have given to is actually productive. Make sure you have what it takes to fully execute it, in personnel, resources, morale and so on.


When you have your timeline clearly stated, the reviewer can see all the things you will be doing, when you intend to do it and the estimated time of completion. This shows that you have truly done your homework and actually know what it is you are getting yourself into.

This type of detailed presentation can even make the reviewers to get into the project in their minds, to see the duration of each activities, their time of completion and the final date and time of the entire research.


Your statistics are very strong when it comes to making a case for your research. These statistics may be used to strengthen your stance. Statistics are basically numbers gotten from other research that have been done, to give specific numbers to various outcomes out there that may be relevant to your case. So as much as you can, look for this statistical information and make use of them properly in your proposal.


Things are always changing in this world, manner of approaches and what is considered best practice, and you should be in-step with what is going on in the community of proposal writing. You want to stay in touch with the latest news and trends about what grantees are looking for in grant proposals these days.

So it will be very good for you to continue to learn all you can about the art of writing a winning grant proposal. If you have to attend seminars and workshops, do so not just as a means of learning more, but also as a means of meeting other proposal writers for the sake of networking and sharing ideas.


Our objectives should be clear enough and specific, so that they are measurable even before the research starts. The reviewer should be able to see what you intend to arrive at, and how you will quantify your findings. This will help you and your grantee know how the research is going when it begins to be implemented. If the results achieved are encouraging then the research can stay on course, but if they are not encouraging then there may be a need to redefine the entire project.


Research those who have written grant proposals in times past, and then get to contact them for some advice on how to go about it, especially if they have written grant proposals for research as well. They could give you some advice as to how to go about the entire process, the various loopholes and popular mistakes people make. Their experience can cause for you to totally change the view you have for presenting your write up, so that you can be more effective in securing funds for your research.


Don’t make promises you will not be able to keep, let all your expectations be within a realistic realm. This will make you able to present your findings in a more honest way. If you project your ability to deliver more highly than you were supposed to, then you will be disappointing the people this entire research should benefit if or when you don’t meet up.


Expressing how your research will help other professionals in your field is one of the major things that can make your proposal receive the grant it desires, especially if you are writing to a grant organisation that has stakeholders in the field of research you want to engage in. Doing this will make grant organizations more convinced to make their funds available to you.


Don’t just submit the proposal and sit waiting for them to get back to you, ensure that you follow up on the review of the proposal. Sometimes if you do not do this, your document may be in the files of the organization longer than it is meant to and you may miss your opportunity to execute the research.

Even if in the event of the grant not being approved, still follow up on the grant organisation in order to find out what was missing or why it wasn’t approved, this will help you prepare better for the next one you write.


Refrain from having a melancholic approach because you have known how proposals are being turned down. Keep the enthusiasm going from the start of writing the proposal to the end. Don’t get discouraged and give up in the middle, keep on pushing on, sooner or later you will make a success out of your project, because some organization somewhere will agree to fund it, so keep the positive energy high and running.


There are slightly different formats for different kinds of proposals, below are the various elements you will find in a proper grant proposal for research;


This is like a brief summary of what to be expected when the reviewer takes a look at the proposal. It includes some very important details about the proposal, it’s objectives and the needs the research intends to provide solutions to.


Your organization would be introduced to the reviewer here, and every aspect of the proposal would be discussed briefly as a way of giving the reviewer an idea of what you are planning to do with the research. Please not that this is not the place for details; this is the place to keep things interesting enough for the reviewer to desire more information about the proposal.

The introduction is the place where you catch the interest of the reviewer; you give them just enough info about the proposal for them to continue reading. If your introduction is not impressive enough, the reviewer may lose interest in it. In fact, the project abstract and introduction could very well be the most important aspects of the entire document because it is the first thing they see.


Research design is not used in other types of proposals; they are only exclusive to grant proposals for research. This is where you specify all the methods you intend to use throughout the entire research, how you intend to gather your data. In this particular aspect of the proposal, you should also include your direct research questions.


Show though data the problem you intend to solve with your research. Analyze the current situation with the area you are intending to affect, find out what the strengths are right now, look into it with full details. Then also look into the weaknesses of the current state of things, this will give a very well rounded view of what is at stake. Be sure to use information from all over to emphasize your point, but of course ensure that such information is authentic.


Rationale describes not only your approach to solving the problem, but it also expresses why such an approach is the best in tackling the problem at hand. In this part of the proposal, the reviewer can get to see what you really intend to do with the research and how you want to tackle the problem at hand.


All of the plans must be clearly stated with the various timelines of execution. You will be stating exactly what you will be doing and the various activities that describe the entire research. This is going to be a detailed presentation of the activities that would be carried out.

Paying attention to details is the most important aspect of this particular section of the proposal, because if someone apart from you is picked to head the research, they should be able to know exactly what to do so that the major objectives are not lost.


This is the place where you go into the details of the financial resources needed to make this project a success. Once again you have to be very detailed here, paying attention to some of the things that may be overlooked like certain tax related expenses.

The truth of the matter is that once the project is well on the way, should there be any extra costs, your grantee would not be obliged to make any extra funds available, so be sure to look into every single expense and make the financial equivalent available for the reviewer to see.

Endeavour to break down bulk expenses in to the little compartments that made them that way. This will help the reviewer understand more about why the amount needed is so much and maybe discouraged in the idea of cutting back the costs, once they see that every component is important to the research.


You have to develop a way of knowing that your research is actually meeting the objectives for which it was instituted in the first place. Identify the manner of approach you will use to ensure that this is achieved and let such plans be made available for your reviewer.


Not only will you note the various people that will be working on your research with you, you will also put together their positions and the reasons why they are placed in such positions.


As you can see, the format for writing this type of proposal is very different from other kinds of grant proposals. It would be smart to present the correct type of format for the type of grant you are seeking. Looking through this you may begin to understand that it is possible to receive grants from organisations if the proposals are well written and the cause is seen to be a justifiable one.