How to Write an Executive Summary for a Grant
Writing an executive summary is a critical component of the grant application process. Yet, its' importance is sometimes underestimated. Key goals to bear in mind when writing an executive summary includes being cogent, engaging and credible. A well-written executive summary is enough to get you closer to your goal of receiving funding for the execution of projects. It achieves this goal by garnering enough interest in your grant application by the decision maker. Inadvertently, by kindling the interest of the decision maker, your grant application will be read in its' entirety.
As tempting as it might be to start off the proposal writing process with the executive summary, refrain from giving into this temptation. Tackle this(executive summary) phase of the grant writing process after completion of the entire proposal. By doing this, salient points in the grant that might have ended up escaping your notice will be captured in the executive summary.
The executive summary should mirror the structure of the main document. Whereas some individuals prefer to begin with the goal of the project/program through to the identity of the applicant(organization/individual), others prefer to begin with the identity of the organization while working their way down to the program budget. Regardless of the format opted for, being logical and cogent is essential to success. The steps indicated below may serve as a guide in the writing process:
1. Indicate the identity of the organization and its' goals.
2.Include reason(s) for requesting the grant.
3. Establish credibility and authority by including the qualification(s) of individual(s) tasked with carrying out the project.
4. Highlight the expected outcome of the project.
5. State the amount of funding your organization is requesting for the project/program.
Each section should flow effortlessly into the next. Also, it is important to avoid the use of trite phrases and industry jargon. By doing this, the grant application will be inclusive and easily understood. Additionally, make your script engaging by injecting enthusiasm into it. After all, if you are not enthusiastic about your project, how can you ensure that the decision maker is going to be interested enough to offer support by providing you with funds? A note on enthusiasm. Being enthusiastic isn't the same as inserting sales pitches. Coming across as a sales man or woman will mare your credibility as your organization might come across as trying too hard. Indeed, the goal of the executive summary is to encourage the decision maker to read through the whole proposal.
Several applicants respond to funders' requests for proposals. Consequently, competition for attention is keen and it is important to stand apart. To stand apart, one needs to present his or her executive summary in an engaging, coherent and credible manner.
Written By Sherita N Brace
Sherita N Brace is an International Development Professional and a Blogger. She serves as a Consultant to non-profits and provides grant writing services, program planning services and communications services.
What are the Main Types of Proposals ?
Although there are many types of proposals for fund raising purposes, the main categories that they fall under include; A letter of Inquiry, A letter proposal and The full proposal.
A Letter of Inquiry (LOI):
According to Tori O'Neal-McElrath, A letter of inquiry "is generally a two-or three-page summary (though some funders may request a specific number of pages) submitted when the funder wishes to see a brief description of the project before deciding whether to ask for a longer, more detailed proposal". Sending a letter of inquiry to a potential funder after conducting your funder research can save both parties (funder and non-profit) time. By sending an LOI, a non-profit can receive valuable insights regarding the compatibility of its program with the funders' mission. Through the feedback received from the funder, the non-profit can either proceed to develop an in-depth proposal that meets the criteria set forth by the funding organization or refrain from developing a proposal. Likewise, an important benefit of an LOI to a funder is that it cuts down on the amount of time expended on the review of lengthy proposals that might not be the right fit in the first place. In writing a letter of inquiry, one of the factors to keep in mind is indicating how the proposed project aligns with the funders' mission.
A letter of Proposal:
This is usually part of the application process set forth by foundations. It is also requested by corporations on a regular basis. Much like a cover letter, it is generally recommended to limit its content to one page. A letter of proposal should highlight salient points such as the type of project to be implemented and the total cost of the project. It should be written in a clear and lucid manner. Remember that you will not be physically present to clarify issues. As such, it is essential that your letter of proposal doesn't leave room for doubt. Finally, it should be authenticated by the program head or any member of the organization's decision makers.
The Full Proposal:
Generally, a full proposal is written in accordance to the funders criteria which can be found in an rfp. It helps to be as clear and specific as possible. The full proposal usually entails a need that has been identified in the community, the goals and objectives to be achieved, a time frame, an evaluation framework, a budget narrative, personnel, partnerships ( if any) among others. It is equally important to adhere to the submission criteria and deadlines. In order to prevent stressful situations, it is advisable to start the proposal development process sooner rather than later.
Written By Sherita N Brace
Sherita N Brace is an international development professional and a blogger. She serves as a consultant to non-profits and provides grant writing services, program planning services and communications services.
1. Winning Grants Step by Step, Tori O'Neal-McElrath, 2013, John Wiley and Sons.
It is difficult to determine the source of the notion held by some individuals that grants solve financial obligations and desires. For instance, I was recently asked about the possibility of purchasing land with grant funding.
Misconceptions about grants can result in disappointments. Grants are usually offered by Foundations, Government entities and Corporations for specific purposes. Funding organizations have interests that are centered on their mission. Thus, funders channel their funding to those non-profit entities whose mission align with theirs. A key factor that funding organizations look out for when it comes to awarding grants include the ability of the requesting agency to implement the proposed project they are seeking funding for. Also, they look out for attributes such as the reputation of the non-profit and its' track record. Funders are not in the business of providing funding for the purchase of items such as land and vehicles for personal use.
Unscrupulous scammers offering the promise of grants for personal use should be reported to relevant law enforcement agencies. Often, they lure unsuspecting individuals with false promises. They request an amount of money in exchange for access to a list of funding organizations that offer money for satisfying every financial need. The list they provide to victims who pay the requested amount of money tends to be false. These scammers do not take the time to perform the due diligence that is required in the creation of a prospective funders list. True to their nature, they disappear upon the receipt of payment.
Non-profits vary in their mission and the types of projects that they offer. A key step in the proposal/grant application process is to seek out a funder whose mission aligns with your organizations goals. This is why we take the time to learn about the goals of clients prior to conducting prospective funders research.
At SNAB, we realize that conducting potential funder research is a time consuming process. By providing this service, we provide you with time to focus on other equally essential tasks.
By Sherita N Brace