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10 Documents to Gather Before Writing Your Grant Proposal

Riveting topic, right? No, it's not a sexy conversation to have, but it's important to understand what documents you're likely to need as you complete your proposal. This is especially important because you can't always see the required attachments until you're registered in the grants system, which many people tend to leave until the last minute. You can save yourself a lot of time and stress by gathering these documents, saving them in a Grant Documents folder, and having them at the ready any time you go to submit an application.

1) Past Financials. Most grants will ask you to submit basic financial statements for the past one to two years.

2) Audits. Some grants require a recent audit, so have it on hand if you have one.

3) Projected Financials. Most grantors want to know your expected income and expenses for the year, so write those out and update it regularly.

4) Resumes or CVs. You'll need to present resumes and/or CVs for anyone playing a leadership role in the grant. Make sure these look nice and professional and ideally follow the same format.

5) Biosketches. A biosketch is a narrative page or so about each person on the leadership team. It should discuss that person's background managing similar projects to the one you're proposing, their education in relevant fields, and their experience handling budgets and managing people. Essentially, the bio sketch confirms that this person is qualified to handle this project. It can include information from the CV or resume but gives a bit more detail and can explicitly state why this is the right person for this particular role.

6) Documents that prove 501(c)3 or tax exempt status.

7) Letters of support. These are one page letters (on letterhead) from partner organizations that state explicitly that they support the project and exactly what role they would play. These can't just say "____ Corporation thinks this is a great idea!" They need to say exactly what ____ Corporation will contribute, their interest in the project's success, and why they think the proposer is the right organization to take the project on. The letter should also give a little information about the organization completing the letter and their work within the field of the grant proposal. Never wait until he last minute to obtain these, and make sure you obtain one from every organization that will play a role in your grant.

8) Organization chart. This should be the chart for the PROJECT, not your organization overall, which makes the fact that most funders call it an 'organizational chart' a little confusing.

9) A Gantt chart. A what?! A Gantt chart is a visual representation of when different activities will take place within the grant period. It's often broken up into quarters, months, or semesters for colleges, with an X placed in each quarter that an activity will take place. There is Gantt specific software for building these.

Image: A basic Gantt chart

10) Your logic model. I talked in another post about the importance of the logic model, and it should be in the arsenal of documents you have at the ready to apply for grants. You may need to tweak your model a bit for each specific grant, but as long as you're using the same basic project, the same model should work for each. (If you're finding yourself really catering your project to the call for funding, proceed with caution - you're in danger of doing things backwards.)

Each grant may also ask for additional info, or they may leave out a couple of these pieces, but these are the things I see most frequently asked for as attachments. (Note, the budget is always asked for, but I don't count that as an attachment since, like the narratives, it's part of the meat of the application. The attachments are required supplementals that confirm that your organization is trustworthy and has effective leadership and support.)

It's also important to note that your grant writer can't write your supplementals - these are documents you should have available. If you don't, you may not be quite yet ready to go for a grant.


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