How To Write A Grant Proposal For Nonprofit

For you to know how to write a grant proposal for nonprofit that is comprehensive and effective in sourcing for funding you must include the following key parts:

  • Narrative
  • Budget
  • Logframe: it is a tool that is used to plan and manage projects. It looks like a table and aims to present information about the basic logic of the project.
  • Work plan: Lists activities and when they will take place
  • Project Procurement Plan (PPP): Describes what each department will need to implement the project.

In this article, we will focus on the narrative and budget.

We are going to have Change Life, an organization that focuses on livelihood, as a use case in developing a proposal narrative. They have been asked by a donor to work with 35 schools in the East of the country and support 7000 children attend school through a cash system. The donor has promised them 5 million USD for a two-year project.


The narrative component of the grant proposal consists of the sections below:

1| Organizational information

This section provides information about your organization such as geographic scope, mission, stakeholders, impact and key partnerships.


We are an international organization, Change Life, focusing on providing Livelihood services to the marginalized. We are present in 196 countries delivering Livelihood programming in humanitarian crises. We have just launched our international campaign Income for Women is Essential, which advocates for economic empowerment for all women in conflict. We have just launched a global strategy on the use of Cash and Livelihood.

Change Life has been present in Jumofa for five years. Our focus has been on internally displaced people (IDPs) living in the country’s capital, Geda. We have programmes on economic empowerment through business training and support, rehabilitating school facilities, and community awareness trainings. In partnership with United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), we have supported one million families through the food programme in the first year of crisis. Since the peace treaty was signed, we have started working with returnees in their area of origin, rehabilitating over 40 schools in partnership with SIDA and NMFA.

2| Background/Operational Context

It gives a brief about why you are focusing on this problem, area, population, and current situation as is.


Five years ago, an internal conflict started in the central regions of Jumofa, forcing two million people (out of a population of  11 million) to flee: some to the capital Geda, some to more stable regions in the West and East of the country, and some to neighboring country Menir. The conflict has destroyed many community structures, including schools, water points, and hospitals.

The last two years have seen increased stability, with a peace treaty signed a year ago. Since then it has been relatively safe to travel to and within the country and the newly established government has begun to encourage people to return.

3|Problem Analysis, Need, and Objectives

Problem analysis and need

A month ago, our team conducted a two-day needs assessment in the East of the country. Using data collected through the needs assessment as well as the needs assessment provided by the donor, we have concluded that the Livelihood needs for children returning to their communities are as follows:

  • 76% of the 34 communities visited have schools in their area because the facilities have been destroyed. In most cases, it seems the communities would be capable of repairing the facilities themselves, but they do not currently have the means.
  • Market research shows that construction materials are available, as are skills within the community to conduct rehabilitation activities.
  • Ten headmasters of schools were interviewed. All of them stated that the destroyed facilities in their schools would have an impact on their ability to open schools and allow pupils to come to school.
  • Jumofa Education Board (JEB), which provides educational activities in two camps in the East, shared an assessment from December 2020, in which they interviewed 200 parents about barriers to children returning to school. 65% stated that destroyed school facilities in the East were one of the barriers.


After discussion with the donor, we propose to:

  • Rehabilitate 15 schools
  • Provide business skills training for 20 self-help groups
  • Support 5,000 families with their Livelihood needs through Cash support

4| Target groups

Describes who the beneficiaries are and their composition.

5| Monitoring and Evaluation Plan

This section serves as a planning tool and reference for the project team for how to go about monitoring and evaluation throughout the life of the project. It includes both a narrative and a logical framework (planned results).

Importance of having a strong monitoring and evaluation (M&E)plan:

  • The donor may require it
  • Helps to think through, plan and resource M&E at the start, preventing M&E issues and saving time down the line
  • Helps the organization to understand and communicate the effectiveness of your programs and make data-driven decisions
  • Guide the set-up of strong M&E systems and processes
  • Strengthens programs and ultimately outcomes for clients

6| Visibility

Some donors may require you to promote visibility of the work they are supporting through putting signage on the completed project outputs or through media. This section highlights how you intend to promote their visibility.


The rehabilitated classes will each have a sign referring to the date and the logo of the donor. We will put up banners with the logo of the donor as well as Change Life logo during our business skills training.

After conversations with the Ministry of Education and twelve of the 30 schools we will work with, we have decided not to include any visibility on the repaired facilities in schools. Instead, we will publish a press release and provide two social media stories with images and testimonies from children. We followed a similar approach with two previous projects in the West of the Country.

7| Coordination

Indicates who and how the coordination will be done especially if the organization intends to work with partners to produce the best outcomes for the people you intend to serve.

8| Financial Overview and Budget

It accounts for all the projected costs for all inputs required for the delivery of project activities including monitoring and evaluation activities.

9| Transition/Sustainability

Some donors require you to explain how you aim to improve and expand your operational sustainability. Knowing how to write a grant proposal for nonprofit requires that you indicate how you intend to raise income to support operations e.g. charging fees for your services, sourcing for additional funding from partners.



  • Focus on needs assessment and be specific. Refer to them in the text and add dates and assessment methodology so you can show the donor you know exactly what you need.
  • Most donors or organizations will have a proposal template – check whether you have one available before you start


To understand how to write a grant proposal for nonprofit you need to know how to prepare a budget or have somebody prepare it. Almost every donor will want to know how you have used the funds they have trusted you with. Some donors will expect topline budgets of a few lines, but most will want to see a more detailed budget. Most donors will have a specific format they expect the budget to be in. If they don’t provide this, your organization will have or should adopt one.

Most budgets will include the following budget lines:

  • Personnel, staff, or salaries:

    This can be categorized by staff who work directly on the programme, such as a teacher in school, or support staff, such as the finance officer who will review your budget. Some staff will be completely covered by your project while others will have a dedicated percentage of your time covered by the project or a specific time period. You will need to include this information too.

Staff and personnel will usually also require fringe benefits. This includes rest and recovery, home leave, medical insurance, etc


  • Direct costs or activities:

    These are core things you might need for your project: this could be fuel, schoolbooks, venue hire, medicine, etc.

  • Others:travel, visibility or branding, contracts and sub-awards to partners, equipment

Some donors, UN OCHA, will require a budget narrative. Writing a budget narrative is usually quite straightforward but can take time. You will need to write every budget line out in full and explain what each line refers to.

Budget Checklist

  • Value for money:

    Look at the costs against project type and consider time frames, labor, and asset intensity. Look at the costs against the impact and consider how many people will be supported by the project. Check whether the operational costs are appropriate (admin, office). Most organizations have value for money guidelines; use these to effect where possible.

  • Link between budget and narrative:

    Look for activities that are mentioned in the narrative but are missing in the budget and vice versa. During reporting, it is important to mention in the narrative any cost savings or additional expenditures.

  • Compliance, inflation, capital items, overheads:

    Check donor rules and regulations on who carries the loss of inflation, if you need permission to buy specific equipment, percentage of overheads allowed, who carries the loss (or gain) of currency exchange, etc.


Why should you understand how to write a grant proposal for nonprofit? It will help you to capture all the information and requirements of a donor and improve the turnaround time of getting approval. Some donors may only need a concept note for them to fund your projects while others require both a concept note and thereafter a comprehensive proposal.


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