Write a winning grant proposal using these four steps

Posted in: Bridges, Environmental, Highways


grant-writing_body-300x200Like I wrote in “Identifying funding for your municipal project,” alternative funding sources are becoming a staple for municipalities to finance their projects. However, I’ve come across a number of municipalities who shy away from applying for grants because they believe the process is too daunting. In part, they are correct. Municipalities are receiving less state and federal funding, and grants are becoming more competitive. In my career, I’ve learned a few simple rules to help guide my writing to be concise, strategic and organized.

Gather community support

Projects applying for grant funding must show a need for the project. Document political support and gather citizens’ feedback. Stakeholder group backing will exhibit facility use upon completion. Illustrate that your project will increase public safety, user accessibility and satisfaction.

Stay organized

Many grants come with a predefined format that you must follow as well as strict documentation requirements and deadlines. Not complying with these requirements can cause your proposal to be disqualified. Gather any maps, drawings, plans and cost estimates early in the process so you can focus on writing a strong, winning proposal.

Define your objectives

Before you set pen to paper, collect your thoughts. Identify what your project will accomplish and how you plan to reach that point.  Your goals should stay attainable and relatable, especially if the grant is specified toward a particular field or benefit. Stay consistent with your department’s goals while also aligning the project with the funding organization’s mission.

Write concisely

Grant committees receive dozens of proposals. Creating a proposal that is brief and to the point will help committee members get to the essence of your project. Hitting the main points quickly – the amount of funding you need, project activities, methods of implementation and defining goals and objectives – is a strategic choice to keep your proposal from being too long and disjointed.

The best grant proposals stay on task and define a clear, readable objective that the committee can easily understand. Following these steps will help you not only write a strong proposal but will also keep your department in the running for project funding. Be sure to check out “Grant-writing tips for success” to learn more about grant writing and how to build your grant package.


Dustin Wolff, AICP

About the Author

When he works on development and preservation plans, Dustin Wolff, AICP, keeps in mind that communities need to evolve. “Helping people shape their futures is a rewarding and humbling responsibility,” he says. “The built environment has a profound effect on our lives. Decisions we make today will be felt for years to come.” He also enjoys visiting cities around the U.S. to experience what makes them special.

Read more posts by Dustin Wolff, AICP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *