5 Steps to Draft an Effective Grant Writing Template

What?! Yes, you can create a grant writing template that you can effectively use for multiple funding sources! Now that’s music to my ears.

In fact, I started drafting grant writing templates back in 2005. Creating a proposal template for grants was a huge turning point for me. I literally worked five times as efficiently with nonprofit clients and was able to submit even more grant proposals!

What is a Grant Writing Template?

A grant writing template organizes a program that a nonprofit organization would like to develop.

Basically, it’s a business plan for nonprofit organizations.

You write up all the information for a program, as well as a budget for the program.

So before you even start looking for grant funding opportunities you should draft a grant writing template.

Why? Well, for several reasons.

  • To start with, you will have a clear and realistic outline of your program. This will bring clarity to everyone (including your nonprofit board of directors) and gives you a roadmap.
  • Next, because you have this program developed you are 1000x more likely to find better fit funding opportunities. This is vital when seeking grants. Furthermore, you will not be seduced to mission drifting.
  • Finally, drafting this grant writing template will literally save you hundreds of hours when writing grants.

No, you cannot just email your grant writing template out to hundreds of funding opportunities! It’s a template, which means it’s a framework. You still need to tweak it and write to the criteria of the funding opportunity. However, you do not have to start from scratch for every single grant.

You can easily pull different sections from your grant writing template to augment for grant applications!

Bonus – you can easily grab any copy from your grant writing template to be used for corporate solicitation letters, fundraising letters, crowdfunding campaigns, website copy, social media text, and so much more.

What’s All Included in a Grant Writing Template

#1: Do Your Research

Oh, the R word. I know some of you just groaned, but research is essential. In a typical business plan, you would definitely do market research, and it’s not much different for a nonprofit organization.

You need to understand what the needs are (using research) for your program. No, you do not have to have a PhD or research merit to conduct research. But you do need to find out what the true needs are for your program.

For example, let’s if you have an idea to start a workforce program for at-risk youth in your community.

First, you want to know if this is a solid need. So you need to investigate what other types of nonprofit/governmental programs are serving at-risk youth in your community and if there are workforce programs.

Second, you could conduct some interviews or focus groups with those nonprofit organizations (and/or target demographic) to find out what the specific needs are of at-risk youth.

Third, you would conduct research to find out about jobs for youth in your area and see about employment gaps.

In this way you would find out if your idea is even needed. Potentially, a workforce program may not be what is the priority for the target demographic, but instead GED or educational support might be more of a priority.

By doing this research you can fill out a section of your template (and include citations!) of what the specific needs are for your target demographic. This is huge as you can use this research for so many other items (website, social media copy, PSAs, etc.).

#2: Identify a Problem Statement

Now that you have done your research for your grant writing template, you can solidify a specific problem statement.

For example, if you did in fact find out there are no workforce training programs for at-risk youth and they are unable to secure employment, then this could be the basis for your problem statement.

Example problem statement: “There are no workforce training programs for at-risk youth, ages 16 to 18-year-old in Amazing city, which leads to a myriad of compounding risk factors.”

Then your research could include what those compounding risk factors include.

#3: Design Your Goal, Objective, Timeline Activity

It is important then to work to switch the narrative from why your program is needed (needs section) to how it will be a solution.

What is the one main positive change that your nonprofit’s program will have?

A simple trick is to flip your problem statement around.

Example goal: “At-risk youth, ages 16 to 18-year-old in Amazing city will reduce their risk factors by securing workforce skills.”

The objectives underneath this will be how you will reach your goal.

Example objective: “Program Amazing will provide three levels of workforce training to 25 at-risk youth, ages 16 to 18-year-old in Amazing city by the end of year one.”

So your objective is very clear on what your program will accomplish. It needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Underneath your objective you will include different activities to accomplish to ensure your objective is accomplished.

For example:

  • Activity 1: The project director will secure three MOUs with workforce training partners by the end of month three.
  • Activity 2: The project director will hire a outreach awareness coordinator to create fliers, social media posts and applications for the program in month one.
  • Activity 3: The project director will attend six outreach events with partner organizations to recruit beneficiaries in the first three months.
  • Activity 4: The project director will screen applications in month four.
  • Activity 5: The project director will launch the program in month five.
  • Activity 6: The 25 beneficiaries will attend workforce training during month five to month 12.

#4: Develop Your Budget

Now that you know your program is needed (because you did the research), have developed a problem statement, have grant writing template on the framework of the program (goal, objectives, and activities), you are ready to complete your budget.

I love taking an excel sheet and putting it right next to my activities to figure out how much money will be needed for every item. Be sure to include the following categories:

  • Personnel
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Travel
  • Contractor
  • Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Other
  • Indirect Costs
  • Total

We offer all of these plug-n-play documents in our Grant Writing Master Course.

#5: Write up Your Nonprofit’s Background

Now it is time to write up the section that you will copy and paste the most!

Include the following:

  • History & Description of the Nonprofit
  • Tax-exemption Status
  • Board of Directors Bios
  • Staff Resumes
  • Previous Grants and Funding
  • Partnerships
  • Financial Capabilities

Sum Up

These are the essentials to have in your grant writing template! If you’d like to join the On-Demand Grant Writing Master Course, I personally teach you how to create a template (and give you a template and sample) so you can quickly get up to efficiently create a grant proposal you can use again and again!