While the application process for each grant is unique, there are some things that are applicable for the majority of federal grants your nonprofit organization may apply for - specifically, flow and formatting of your application.

Since grant reviewers receive many proposals at the same time and often have short deadlines for turnaround, it's only beneficial for you to help make their job easier. Here are five quick things to check before you submit your proposal that could help increase your chances for successful grant funding.

  1. Is my narrative clear and concise?

    Be direct. Try to say things as clearly as possible without a lot of fluff. You want your reviewers to easily see you responded to the questions and requirement of each section.

  2. Is my formatting easy to follow?

    subheader example for federal grant sectionWithin each section of the project narrative, a set of requirements or expectations that need to be covered are mentioned. Those should be the subheadings of your narrative and clearly show the requirement you are responding to. If a grant reviewer must find the required elements of the grant buried within your narrative, they are just as likely to mark it as not answered.

  3. Did I answer all the requirements for each section, within that section?

    It's not uncommon to find two different narrative sections asking for the same information. It's also not uncommon to have different reviewers reviewing different parts of your narrative. Don't be afraid to repeat information in your proposal. If you omit a required section because it was covered elsewhere, you risk losing points for not covering required materials.

  4. Does the need I addressed align with the purpose of the grant?

    It's easy (and understandable) to stray to overall concerns or unmet issues within your service area when writing your statement of need. However true those needs are, extraneous information that is misaligned with the grant's propose will not increase your chances of receiving funding. Make sure that your written statement of need sticks to the issues that the grant is designed to address.

  5. Do the goals and objectives align with the statement of need?

    federal grant statement of need and goal alignment exampleMake sure that your described implementation (i.e., your goals and objectives) directly address the concerns mentioned in your statement of need narrative. For example, if you identified a service gap in your needs statement, a good goal would be to provide that service. Your objectives should be concrete steps of how you will achieve those goals. Like all good objectives,they should be clear and leave no room for interpretation. Utilize the SMART acronym (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic & time-bound) for making sure they meet those requirements.


REA provides a comprehensive set of services including project implementation support, project monitoring, and evaluation. We are dedicated to helping your organization be more impactful in the communities you serve. If we can help you, please don't hesitate to connect with us.

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