Boost Midwest’s Best Practices in Preparing Grant Proposals for Success


The many components required in grant proposals need close attention to detail and a step-by-step approach. The relevant data, stakeholder engagement and input, and matching your proposal with the grant’s scoring criteria are all critical for a successful grant proposal.

Perhaps the most important in today’s world of grant programs is defining how tangible outcomes from the grant will be delivered and then sustained after the grant funds are gone.


Sustainability is a big buzz word in the current grant climate, and funders pay close attention to how an organization awarded a grant will keep programs in place to continue to deliver the outcomes the grant made possible.


First, here are five tips when writing a grant proposal that will also help with the deliverables and sustainability portions of the grant application:

  1. It’s better to promise less and exceed your goals than to over-promise and under-deliver.

  2. Think like a grant proposal reviewer when discussing the impact of your proposed project.

  3. Discuss the impact and outcomes in as concrete terms as possible, for example, the number of beneficiaries or a target statistic.

  4. Be realistic when discussing the project’s impact.

  5. Pay close attention to the grant’s scoring criteria.

Then, Boost Midwest recommends using these best practices to ensure deliverables and sustainability are clearly detailed and match the grant criteria:


The problem statement or statement of need.

This is where you explain the problem the grant will solve and how your organization will solve it. A winning proposal relies on quantitative data and clearly shows how your organization answers a need.

  • Include the history of the problem, how previous solutions helped or failed, and why your solution will make a difference.

  • Use comparable data from other communities that have used your solution for successful outcomes.

  • Highlight why taking immediate action is critical in addressing the problem.

  • Don’t get sidetracked by tangential issues related to the main issue. Instead, focus on the key problem your grant proposal addresses.

Goals and objectives.

Clearly detail the desired outcome and how that outcome will be measured to let funders see the potential return on their investment. Goals are broad statements, while objectives are specific statements of intention that have measurable outcomes within a stated time frame.

  • State the objective as an outcome: The objective is what you want to achieve, not the actions that lead to it.

  • Make sure your objectives are SMART: Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.

  • Connect your goals and objectives to the beneficiary or beneficiaries from the proposal in a measurable way.

  • Don’t mistake goals for processes: Goals are always results, that is, measurable outcomes with a deadline. Goals are never processes.

Sustainability plan.

This section of your proposal outlines exactly how your project will survive long term, financially and project-wise. This is where you show the funder that the resources spent on your project will have an impact after the grant funds run out. Keep in mind that a thin or incomplete sustainability plan is a major red flag for funding organizations who want to see a long-lasting return for their investment.


Your sustainability plan may include:

  • Annual fund campaigns. Raising additional money is usually the first step for organizations looking to sustain a program or project. Consider building a membership program with recurring donations of all sizes from loyal donors.

  • Major donors. Show how you will court major gift donors to help infuse your project budget with significant cash gifts.

  • In-kind donations. Include a list of partner companies and corporations that sponsor events or provide in-kind services and the length of their commitments to your project.

  • Your fundraising strategies. Funding organizations like to see a creative approach to fundraising that does not rely only on grants. Include all fundraising activities in your sustainability plan, from returnable bottle collections to black tie events.

  • Long-term vision. The grant you are seeking may only fund six months or a year or two years of your proposal. So outline the long-term vision for your proposal past the grant timeline and the steps you will take to sustain it. This will show the funding organization that you are thinking —and relying — beyond the grant.

  • Inventory of resources. Include a list of all physical resources that your organization can sustain after the project ends. This can be equipment, devices, training programs and even buildings purchased or built during the grant timeframe.

Boost Midwest consults with both grant-funding organizations and those seeking grants, so we are always knowledgeable about the current best practices in grant proposals. It’s clear that proposals with clearly defined deliverables and sustainability plans have a huge edge with grant reviewers. Questions? Contact a member of our expert team at Boost Midwest.



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