Writing Your Grant
As Columbia College Chicago faculty or staff, you are experts in your field. Project Directors are responsible for conceptualizing and writing your grant narrative, budget, timeline, and evaluation plan. The Grants Office is available to assist you in editing, make suggestions, and help you to make your grant more competitive. Please feel free to contact us at any time. It is important to allow at least 8-10 weeks to prepare, write and apply for a grant.
Each foundation has its own process for receiving proposal submissions. Some require a Letter of Inquiry, while others request a full proposal.
Letter of Inquiry (LOI or Letter of Intent)
A Letter of Inquiry is usually 1-2 pages in length and contains:
- The purpose of your request and amount requested (one paragraph).
- How your request fits the grantmaker's funding priorities (one sentence).
- The mission of your organization (one paragraph).
- The program/project description (2-3 paragraphs).
- The need or problem being addressed and how your project will address the identified need (one paragraph).
- The population or community served by your project (one paragraph).
- How your project or program will promote long-term change (one paragraph).
- Thanks to the foundation for their consideration and your contact information (one sentence).
The foundation will review your Letter of Inquiry and inform you if they would like to receive a full proposal.
Full Proposal: Typical Requirements
1. Abstract: a one-page summary of the project
2. Grant Narrative: a detailed explanation of the need for the grant, how it aligns with the funder’s mission, and the activities included in your grant. This may include:
- Introduction: name of project, brief description and request amount.
- CCC's Mission and History: typically 1-2 paragraphs. See: CCC Information.
- Past Performance: how you have handled previous grants.
- Need: rationale for the project and reasons that make this project significant to CCC and to society.
- Goals and Objectives: broad objectives of the project followed by specific strategies describing how the project will achieve the goals.
- Project Description: narrative describing the project activities.
- Timeline: detailed dates of project activities.
- Biographical Sketches of Key Personnel: the education, experience, training and publications that qualify them for the project.
- Evaluation Plan: detailed description of how goals and objectives will be assessed and measured.
- Conclusion: project summary, request for funding, and thanks to the Foundation for their consideration.
A well-written narrative is critical in a Foundation’s decision-making process.
- State your project needs and descriptions in clear, concise language. Do not waste words.
- Use active rather than passive language.
- Be factual and professional.
- Reflect planning, research, and vision throughout your proposal.
- Remember that your audience will be reading a number of proposals, so you must be academically taut and persuasive.
3. Budget: Project Directors are responsible for developing the budget for the project. The Grants Office is here to offer assistance. Some important questions to think about before creating a budget are:
- Where will activities take place? Is appropriate space available? Will this involve costs?
- Will equipment be necessary?
- For faculty research projects, does the principal investigator need summer or sabbatical salary?
- Are students involved in the research? Do they need to be paid?
- Will presenters, consultants, or participants need to be paid?
- Will anyone be traveling as part of the grant activities?
- Will supplies (paper, pens, folders, computer software, etc.) be needed?
- Will books or other study materials be needed?
- Are funds needed for publication costs?
a. The budget is a line-by-line detail of project expenses and expected revenue.
- Expenses: costs that can be charged directly to the project such as salaries, wages, fringe benefits, consulting fees, equipment, stipends, supplies, travel, telephone, and postage.
- Revenue: all revenue sources (with expected amounts) for the project, which can include foundations, corporations, government, individuals, special events, entry fees/tickets, and in-kind (donated items or services).
- The Expenses and Revenue totals should balance. For an example, see the Sample Budget below.
4. Budget Narrative: text explaining and justifying the costs of the project and making a case for the use of the funds.
5. Attachments: provided in addition to proposal narrative and budget. Some examples are:
- 501(c)3 IRS Determination Letter
- Columbia College Chicago Financial Statement (independent audit)
- Board of Directors List
- Annual Report
- Organization Budget
- Letters of Support
- Bios or Resumes of Key Personnel
- See CCC Information
Now your grant proposal is ready for submission. You may wait 1 to 9 months before receiving notification from the funder.
To manage your grant once you receive it, go to Managing Your Award.