What Should Your Grant Proposal Include?

Grant proposals can play a huge role for certain NGOs. Therefore it’s important to know the correct format, and how to maximize your grant writing to capitalize on every opportunity for funding. Here we’ll take a look at some of the good practices you can implement straight away.

Understand the requirement

This may sound obvious, but it can be easy to get into a routine of writing grants in a particular format and using that same format no matter what information is actually needed. The documents needed initially can vary, from simply a concept note to a full blown project proposal and everything in-between. Read and list all the requirements of the application. Only provide what is asked for, as lots of unrequested documents, no matter how proud you are of them, will just likely annoy the recipient.

The grant process is generally separated into 2 stages:

  • Stage 1: Concept Note or online application. Online application asks questions about your project such as what is the project you are looking to raise funds for is about. What will your project do?
  • Stage 2: Project Proposal which includes detailed information about your project idea is asked once your project has been shortlisted.

Grant application will include the following important elements, and even if not all of it is initially required, it probably will be at a later date in some form.

Concept Note or Application

When you are looking for grants, you are looking for a grant for a particular project not for your organization. This is very important to understand and distinguish between grants and donations.

Grants fund a particular project, whereas donations are given to organizations, people, specific event etc.

Grant applications would either require you to submit a concept note or fill in the online application.

At this point it is very important to have your project idea set out. Understand the goals, objectives and outcomes and how will those outcomes be measured. For example, your project is to train youth to find work in the agriculture sector:

  • Project goal is to influence on decreasing youth unemployment in the specific country 
  • Key project objective is to raise qualifications and skill set of unemployed youth in agriculture sector  order to increase youth employability
  • Project expected outcome: five trainings delivered to 100 youth in the project period
  • Indicators of achievement: Measurement of what percentage of trained youth found employment in agriculture sector 

Only well presented and carefully planned projects may  be shortlisted. Therefore, to increase your grant funding success make sure you have proper answers to all the donors questions including a sound budget. 

Project Proposal

Once your grant application is accepted, you will be asked to submit your project proposal. This is the roadmap of your project, outlining Who, What, How, When and Where of your activities including indicators of achievement. Donors need to know how will you measure your project’s success.

Below outlines several important elements of the project proposal, however, if you are not familiar in writing project proposals get training on how to write project proposals or assign and learn from an  specialist on how  to structure  your project proposal.

Contact info@maximpact.com and we can help you find the right expert to work on your project proposal or organize training for your organization to get trained in writing  winning proposals. Getting the training is a far more sustainable solution if you are an NGO that has many projects that require funding at some point time. Having your own staff trained will increase the efficiency of in your proposal writing and success of your grant applications.    

Cover Letter

First impressions count. It might not always be fair, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Your cover letter is your chance to make an initial impression. The feeling the recipient has at the end of reading it will be carried into the more technical documents he/she reads afterwards. If it is longwinded and flat it will create little to no impression, or even worse, a bad one.

So what should you do to give your cover letter some teeth?

  • Be succinct: Clearly introduce yourself and state the purpose of the proposal. When you edit your letter get rid of all the unnecessary words.
  • Convey passion: Whenever possible, talk directly to funding agency  to make it more personal. Tell them why this project matters. Make them care.
  • Be confident: You will get a lot further if people believe in you. This is far easier for them to do if you believe in yourself. Pick the language you use to reflect this. Don’t say ‘I would like to raise x for’, say ‘I am going to raise x for’.

Finish on a polite note. Thank them for their consideration.

Executive summary

In terms of succinctness, tone and purpose the executive summary is probably best viewed as a continuation of your cover letter, even if it will be seen as a separate document. This is where you clearly and accurately state the basics of what you’re asking for. How you will implement the project and the results you expect to achieve. It is often best to write this towards the end of the process, as you can highlight all the key points from other areas of your proposal and include them here.

The length of this can vary greatly depending on your actual project, but we’d recommend it to be no longer than a page. A lot of projects only require a few succinct paragraphs.

Be as transparent and upfront as you can.

Need Statement/Goals And Objectives

This is far more technical than the previous parts. If you’ve done a good job so far they should reach this point eager to find out more, and this is where you give them more.

Here you can explain the full project, including all the technical aspects and potential problems you have already solved. You can elaborate on the practical side of the difference your project can make. Stress the importance of the problem you’re working to help with, and why you’ve chosen the planned solutions. Show the human element and the positive practical results your project will create. You can include statistics and research that supports the path you’re proposing. Refer to studies of experts in the field. You can also present your own data supporting your decisions.

Quantify your goals and what you hope to achieve.

While this part can be a lot more detailed try to minimise industry specific jargon. You want to be detailed, but not so technical they can’t understand half of what’s written. Remember the reader probably doesn’t work in your area of specialty. Keep the language simple and the points clear.

Method Statement

This is where you can break down the specific methods you will use to deliver the objectives. The methods should fall in line with the objectives and the resources you’re requesting in your budget. You can also highlight the roles of key personnel in helping to achieve the objectives. If any specific method you are using has several alternatives, then explain why you opted for the method you did and back your thoughts up with data and evidence.

The method should be presented in chronological order, so as the reader progresses down the page they are progressing in time towards achieving your goals.

You can also create a list of all the machinery and resources you will need, or incorporate the plant and machinery into the timeline as and when the need for it will arise.

Once the above is complete you can read through it looking for any parts that are out of order, or just feel disjointed in some way. 

Ongoing Evaluation

Here you can explain what data you will record on an ongoing basis, and how they will be able to measure the amount of good their dollar has done.

Other Funding

Here you can list all of the other investors, grants and sponsors who already have a level of commitment to the project. You can also provide any additional information for future funding if the project could end up longer term.

About Us

Just like its namesake on your company website, this is where you can provide a history of your organization, including any relevant personal history, They need to know why you can be trusted with their funds. Whether you inspire this trust using past experience or an impressive board overseeing everything, you can use this space to help instill confidence in your NGO’s ability to deliver.

Budget Projection

This short budget should include all your income and expenditure forecasts for the project, and be as comprehensive as possible.

Additional information

You can include any other relevant information here at the end of the proposal. Some of this may just be information you have referenced to in the proposal itself, while some of it may be additional information they have specifically requested. Perform a final read through to ensure you’re happy with the way it flows, and the way it represents your project. If you’re not then edit the relevant place accordingly. If you are happy with everything then get sending.

Get some more tips and tricks or help on how to prepare your Cover Letter, Concept Note or Applications and projects by contacting Maximpact at  info@maximpact.com

Good luck!


Green Climate Fund Disburses Hope

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Dwellings on the banks of Samoa’s Vaisigano River are at risk during increasingly extreme storms. (Photo courtesy UN Development Programme)

By Sunny Lewis

SONGDO, South Korea, February 23, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Just three days before he left office on January 20, U.S. President Barack Obama transferred a second installment of US$500 million to the Green Climate Fund, based in South Korea’s Songdo International Business District.

To be financed by wealthy countries, the Green Climate Fund was established by 194 governments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, and to help vulnerable societies adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

The Fund was key to the Paris Agreement on climate which took effect throughout the world on November 4, 2016. The Agreement’s stated aim is to keep climate change “well below” 2°Celsius and, if possible, to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

At the UN climate treaty talks in Paris, wealthy governments, including the United States, pledged to contribute US$100 billion a year by 2020 for climate change adaptation and mitigation projects in the Global South, primarily through the Green Climate Fund.

As of January 2017, contributions to the Green Climate Fund total US$10.3 billion.

Initially, the United States committed to contributing US$3 billion to the fund. President Obama’s most recent installment still leaves US$2 billion owing, with President Donald Trump expected to stop payments entirely.

In his “Contract With the American Voter,” which defines his program for his first 100 days in office, President Trump pledges to “cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.

President Obama’s move followed a campaign coordinated by the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International , with more than 100 organizations and nearly 100,000 people asking Obama to transfer the full US$2.5 billion to the Fund.

Although that didn’t happen, the Green Climate Fund Board is already disbursing what money it does have. To date, the Fund has approved more than US$1.3 billion to support low-emission and climate-resilient projects and programs in developing countries.

This year has demonstrated that the Fund is rapidly gathering pace with regard to scaling up climate finance,” said then Board Co-Chair Zaheer Fakir of South Africa, who held developing country role on the Board. “I am proud of the progress we have made over the past 12 months in improving Fund performance and growing our portfolio of investments.

That developing country role has now passed to Ayman Shasly of Saudi Arabia, representing the Asia Pacific group.

Fellow Co-Chair Ewen McDonald of Australia, who this year retains his role representing the developed countries on the GCF Board, said, “I have high hopes that 2017 will be the year of climate finance for the Pacific.

In December, following the last GCF Board meeting of 2016 in Apia, Samoa, McDonald said, “I am really pleased that the Board approved US$98 million for Pacific proposals at this meeting. This is the largest climate finance meeting to ever be held in the region and it comes on the cusp of 2017, the year Fiji will host the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties.”

The 2017 UN Climate Change Conference, COP23, will take place from November 6 to 17 at the World Conference Centre in Bonn, Germany, the seat of the Climate Change Secretariat. COP23 will be convened under the Presidency of Fiji.

The approved projects are funded in cooperation with accredited partners of the Green Climate Fund, which can be multi-lateral banks or UN agencies, such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

One of the projects approved by the GCF Board in Apia was US$57.7 million for integrated flood management to enhance climate resilience of the Vaisigano River Catchment in Samoa, with the UNDP.

The Vaisigano River flows through the Apia Urban Area, Samoa’s capital and largest city, the island nation’s primary urban economic area.

As a Small Island Developing State in the Pacific, Samoa has been heavily impacted by increasingly severe tropical storms blamed on the warming climate.

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Green Climate Fund Board Co-chairs Ewen McDonald of Australia and Zaheer Fakir of South Africa join in the applause for multi-million dollar decisions to support developing countries as they mitigate and adapt to the Earth’s changing climate. Apia, Samoa, December 15, 2016. (Screengrab from video courtesy Green Climate Fund) Posted for public use

The Integrated Flood Management project, proposed by the government, will enable Samoa to reduce the impact of recurrent storm-related flooding in the Vaisigano River Catchment.

Some 26,528 people in the catchment will benefit directly from upgraded infrastructure and drainage downstream, integrated planning and capacity strengthening, including planning for flooding caused by extreme weather events, and flood mitigation measures, such as riverworks and ecosystems solutions.

Another 37,000 people will benefit indirectly from the project, which is expected to run from 2017-2023.

Peseta Noumea Simi, who heads Samoa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the project is about improving the protection of people living near the river.

You might be aware that during the cyclone in 2012, the extensive damage caused was as a result of the Vaisigano River flooding,” she told the “Samoa Observer” newspaper.

And that extended from the mountain down to the ocean. So this is the basis of this program. You will also recognize that along the Vaisigano River route, we have extensive and very important infrastructure initiatives by the government including hydropower, the bridges, the roads as well as the water reservoirs up at Alaoa. So this is what gives importance to this program.

The Vaisigano River project is one of eight proposals approved by the Board at its December meeting. And it wasn’t the only good news for the host of the biggest climate-funding meeting ever held in the Pacific region.

Of three approvals related to the Pacific, Samoa is involved in two. The second is a US$22 million grant for a multi-country renewable energy program with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Investment Program will assist Cook Islands, Tonga, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, and Samoa to move away from burning polluting diesel fuel to generate electricity and towards solar, hydropower, and wind energy.

The program offers an excellent opportunity for Pacific islands countries to share experiences and learn from the innovation ongoing in the region,” said Anthony Maxwell, ADB principal energy specialist. “It will help finance transformation of the power grids in the region.

The GCF board approved an initial US$12 million grant for Cook Islands to install energy storage systems and support private sector investment in renewable energy. This investment will see renewable energy generation on the main island of Rarotonga increase from 15 percent to more than 50 percent of overall supply.

The GCF funding will allow Cook Islands to ramp up renewable energy integration onto the grid, and lower the cost of power generation,” said Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, chief of staff, Office of the Prime Minister, Cook Islands. “This will have significant benefits to our economy and help achieve the government’s objectives of a low carbon sustainable economy,

The GCF Board also approved a US$5 million capacity building and sector reform grant to develop energy plans, build skills, implement tariff and regulatory reforms, and foster greater private sector participation in the energy sector.

To see all projects approved at the GCF Board’s December 2016 meeting, click here.


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Maximpact’s consultant network has a wide range of environmental experts that can help your organization.  Find capacity services at Maximpact Advisory and help your NGO and increase the capacity of your organization to influence society. Contact us at info(@)maximpact.com and tell us what you need.

Grant Funding: You Only Have One Chance to Impress Donors

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MAXIMPACT BLOG November 18, 2016 Maximpact.com

Whether you’re looking for grant funding for your organization or to launch a project, applying for grants can be a smart use of your time and resources. Grants are not only awarded to non-profit organizations, but are also given to small businesses with missions that align with the funder’s goals. Some organizations engage grant experts to come in and help them structure their project or business to better qualify for grants, identify available funding opportunities and funders, review and write grant proposals. A project or business only has one chance to impress the donor.

In the US alone, public and private funders award around $50 billion per year to organizations and projects. The main question is: How do you secure grant funding?

The answer lies in two key factors:

  1. Finding the right funders and grant calls.
  2. Crafting a winning grant proposal.

Locating Potential Funding Sources

The key to locating the best funding options for your organization is to search throughout both the public and private sectors.

As you conduct your research, be sure to make note of whether the foundation is accepting open grant proposals or if you need to seek permission before submitting yours. Many larger foundations will require you to speak with them first and will not consider any unsolicited proposals, so this is extremely important if you don’t want to waste your time and resources.

Alternatively, you can obtain a customized list of available funding opportunities and donors, that would suit your project or business – click here to find out more.

Exploring Public Funding Options

Government grants are typically a good place to start, especially with websites like Grants.gov making your search easier than ever (if you’re searching in the US). Specifically, you can use the keyword search option on this site to narrow down funding options that suit your specific organization’s goals and needs. Once you receive your results, you can explore individual opportunities and determine which are best suited for your application.

It is also recommended that you regularly check to see whether new funding opportunities are available. Funding source sites (such as Funds for NGOs) are updated frequently with new funding opportunities. If you spot a grant that has expired, don’t hesitate to contact the foundation and ask if it will be available again in the future.

Exploring Private Funding Options

Public grants aren’t your only potential source for funding. There are plenty of businesses, corporations, and foundations in the private sector that offer grant funding to a variety of organizations. Those funders can be found through online research. There are a many free sources as well as subscription-based ones, such as:

Writing a Compelling Grant Proposal

Once you’ve explored your options and narrowed down the specific grants and funders you want to approach, it’s then time to work on writing a grant proposal.

Before you begin, however, keep in mind that most first attempts at grant proposals are not successful; you may apply for several grants before being awarded any funding. This is why it is very important to have a solid written grant proposal.

It’s all about honing and sharpening your grant-writing skills, which you will learn to do with practice. If you wish to save your time and resources, you can engage a grant proposal writer to help you write or edit your existing proposal. This small investment may pay off greatly in the long-run, as it will reduce your trial and error.

Pay Attention to Proposal Requirements

First and foremost, take the time to review all the foundation’s proposal requirements before you get started. The worst mistake you can make is to ignore these requirements, as most foundations will not even read a proposal that does not adhere to their guidelines. Many foundations will have specific formatting and content guidelines posted online, so print them out and keep them close by as you work on your proposal.

For this purpose, it is best to have your proposal reviewed by a grant expert once finished. The grant expert will proofread and determine whether your grant proposal contains all the needed information to make sure it is grant-ready.

Don’t Be Vague

A successful grant proposal is one that is specific in outlining outputs/outcomes, objectives, and other details on how the funding will be used. In writing your proposal, stick to facts and specific examples rather than opinions and dramatic language. Also, be sure to specify certain aspects of your funding needs, such as:

  • How long the project needs funding 
  • Outcomes to consider the project a success
  • Delegation of tasks or jobs among members

As important as details are, concise writing is also appreciated in the world of proposal writing. Say just enough to get your point across, but avoid flowery language or “fluff.” More than likely, the person reading your proposal has dozens (or more) other proposals to sift through; don’t waste their time.

Include Supporting Documents

Speaking of details, make sure to include any supporting documents with your proposal, but make sure they’re included in a labeled and organized appendix. Ideally, you should send no more than three separate files over as part of your proposal (including the appendix). An example of an additional document you may want to include is a letter of support from another member of figure within your organization or project. To ensure that all tables, charts, and other supporting documents/graphics are properly displayed when your proposal file is opened, it’s generally best to save your file as a .pdf rather than a .doc or other text document.

Getting into the world of grant research and proposal writing can seem overwhelming at first, but by keeping these guidelines and tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to having your organization’s first funding proposal accepted.

Engaging a Grant Expert

Engaging grant experts to assist you in identifying funding opportunities that match your project, writing or reviewing your proposal – is not a cost but an investment. If you have not yet successfully raised grant funds, then it would be best to have expert guidance and input in order to achieve the best possible results.

At Maximpact, grant experts have successfully written winning proposals and reviewed over 300 proposals. Engage a grant expert to help you in any of the three key areas:

  1. Identifying funding opportunities and sources
  2. Grant proposal review
  3. Grant proposal writing

For more information click here or send us an email to  info@maximpact.com with your requirements.


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Top Trends for Grantmakers for 2016

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by Kerrin Mitchell, Co-founder and COO of Fluxx

Now that we’ve had a few weeks to settle into 2016, it’s time to look ahead ­– to the big ideas and trends that are likely to dominate the conversation in the philanthropic sector for the next 12 months and beyond. From billionaire tech tycoon philanthropy to the smallest crowdfunded community initiative, the year in philanthropy promises to test big ideas and, as always, refine the everyday hard work of grantmaking. Here is our, by no means exhaustive, list. Enjoy.

Tech Titan Philanthropy

Bill Gates along with British Chancellor George Osborne have pledged $4.3 billion to eradicate malaria, one of the world’s most deadly diseases. The effort re-enforces Gates’ status as the grandfather of tech philanthropy who has opened the door for others in Silicon Valley, like Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, who have formed a $1 billion nonprofit, OpenAI, which aims to research and develop “digital intelligence” projects. The alliance between the tech and nonprofit sectors is, without question, one of the bigger trends to watch in 2016, as many major players are throwing their names into the philanthropic ring. The most notable example perhaps is Mark Zuckerberg who made waves when he and his wife announced last month that they are planning to give the majority of their fortune to nonprofit causes. Focusing primarily on promoting education and community, Zuckerberg is quickly becoming one of the biggest names in philanthropy. We’re optimistic he’s taken to heart lessons-learned from his 2010 foray into education reform in Newark.

Taking Data to Heart

It’s safe to say that big data is changing the way foundations are making decisions. Long gone are the days of paper quarterly or yearly reporting. Gathering data to understand trends and predict future behavior – often in real time – will continue to be a major focus for foundations in 2016. Understanding and analyzing data can help foundations measure impact, track donor behavior, and make hyper-accurate predictions about the impact of their grantmaking. In 2016 I expect to see many more philanthropic leaders taking actionable steps toward measuring impact. The case has been made that impact measurement is of critical importance. 2016 is the year to act. Foundations like the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Arcus Foundation, and others are already making great strides in this area.

Impact Investing

In 2015, there was a surge of philanthropic announcements endorsing the practice of impact investing, including Kresge’s announcement of their $350 million impact investing funding pool and Heron Foundation’s public commitment to move 100 percent of their assets to impact funding. Unlike traditional grantmaking, impact investing refers to investments in companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate beneficial social impact alongside a financial return. In the wake of Kresge’s and Heron’s announcements, we’ll be interested to see which foundations follow through by putting all of their investments toward their missions. While philanthropists like Pierre Omidyar have been able to step outside of the bounds of traditional philanthropy in this way, it remains to be seen if foundations will do the same.

Crowdfunding Philanthropy

2015 showed us that philanthropy is no longer just for private foundations, with the enduring popularity of crowdfunding websites, like Kiva and GoFundMe, built to aid nonprofits. Then in October, Indiegogo launched Generosity, a site which allows nonprofits to gain access to crowdfunded resources without having to to pay any membership fee. This allows 100% of the money a nonprofit collects to be used for the greater good, while simultaneously lowering the bar so that people can help support causes they care about regardless of their income. Looking at all this progress, it’s safe to say that crowdfunded philanthropy will continue to grow and expand throughout 2016.

Donor-Advised Funds

According to Inside Philanthropy donor-advised funds will be as popular in 2016 as they were last year, bringing many more newcomers to the philanthropic table. Many donors love DAF’s as a way to set aside money for charitable giving and for their immediate tax benefits. However, critics of DAF’s worry that the money set aside in these accounts will never see the light of day. For a cash-strapped nonprofit that needs operating support now, DAF’s may not sound so attractive. Is this the year the critics find traction? Not likely, according to David Callahan at Inside Philanthropy.: the convenience of DAF’s will continue to bring new and younger donors into the world of giving, making 2016 another “boom year”.

Women in Philanthropy

Women’s empowerment has been a philanthropic goal for a long time, but in the past few years foundations have been making an extra effort to support women’s equality. On top of that, as women have gained a foothold in some sectors of the economy, they have also become more prevalent in the philanthropic field, and 2015 saw more women participating in grantmaking than ever before. Just to name a few – Michele Sullivan at Caterpillar turned her focus to girl’s education with WASH, the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation is using $15,000 of grants to support women composers, and the Adrienne Shelley Foundation is providing production grants and other resources specifically for women filmmakers. We’re hoping to see these trends continue both domestically and internationally as we move further into 2016.


kerrin1Kerrin Mitchell, COO/Co-Founder

Kerrin Mitchell is the Co-founder and COO of Fluxx, a comprehensive technology platform that aims to unite foundations and non­profits worldwide. Kerrin started her career at Cisco Systems as a Finance Business Manager. After seven years of working at Cisco, Kerrin decided to join the startup world and join Sprout as VP of Operations. In 2010 Kerrin co-founded Fluxx where, in under five years, she has bootstrapped the company to year over year triple digit growth and a client portfolio of over $150B in assets. She earned a B.S. in Economics from Duke University, a Certificate in Advanced Program Management from Stanford University and a Certificate in Accounting from University of California, Santa Cruz.