Grant Application Checklist

Get started on this task before you even begin looking for funding sources.


Make sure to read the grant guidelines on the funder's website for exact requirements!



Organizational Information

General Background Information:

  • Your organization's MISSION STATEMENT: the reason your organization exists.  Example:  XXXX mission is to build the local food system in XXX County, improve food security for low income people, and improve the nutritional content of school meals.
  • Your organization's VISION STATEMENT: your overarching goal.  Example:  XXXX's vision is to make healthy, local, and nutritious food available to all who need it.
  • Your organization's HISTORY: how and when you got started.  Who started the organization and why?  How was the community involved?  How have the organization grown and evolved since then?
  • Registration information:  such as EIN and DUNS numbers from, your 501c3 letter and number if you have one.  If you are using a fiscal agent, you need their IRS letter and number, etc.  Are you or your fiscal agent under Guidestar?  If not, post it there.


List of Board of Directors members, their affiliations (jobs, positions, volunteer work, accomplishments etc.-- this can be in the form of a one paragraph bio for each member.)., plus their addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers.


Key Staff:  A one-page list of:  key staff, project personnel, and contractors and a short bio (one paragraph)  for each.


Anti-discrimination statement: officially adopted by your Board of Directors, signed by Board President and dated on date of adoption that states that your organization does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, sexual orientation or veteran status.


Governance:  Some grants require a paragraph about how the Executive Director and the Board govern the organization.  How is the governance structured?  Who is responsible for what pieces?  How do you do Strategic Planning?  Who is responsible for fundraising?


Partnerships and Collaborations: A one paragraph listing and explanation of your key partners.  Just because someone refers clients to you, doesn't make them a partner.  When a proposal is being written, one Commitment Letter is worth ten letters of support.  A commitment letter tells exactly how they will partner with you, what they commit to doing, what resources they commit to the project, etc.  While a letter of support just says that they support the idea of your project.  Be prepared far in advance to solicit and collect letters from partners with specifics of their contributions.  This is a major undertaking and can take months—especially from school districts, government, and big institutions.  Partnerships need to be nourished over time.


Sources of Revenue:  Document where you get your money.  List all individuals who give over $500, lump small donors together into one amount, list all foundations, corporations, government entities, businesses, etc that give you money, and how much they gave.


Financial statements for 3 years: most recently completed year, current year, and next fiscal year.  (If you are using a fiscal agent, you will also need these from them, as well as from your organization.)


Organizational Budget for 3 years: most recently completed year, current year, and next fiscal year.  .  (If you are using a fiscal agent, you will also need these from them, as well as from your organization.)


Audit or Financial Review:  if available, if you don't have one, explain what accounting procedures you use to insure that your bookkeeping is accurate and honest.  (If you are using a fiscal agent, you will also need these from them, as well as from your organization.)


Project Budgets for 3 years: most recently completed year, current year, and next fiscal year.


Budget Narrative:  This is an item-by-item description of how you arrived at that budget number.  For example:  $15,000 for Project Assistant:: 30 hrs/week x 50 weeks/yr at $10/hr.



Project-Specific Information:

These are the items that most competitive proposals will need to include. They will generally be part of the PROJECT NARRATIVE.   It is important that projects evolve from the needs of the community, not in response to an RFP or grant announcement or consultant's desire for a contract.  Don't try to modify your program to fit a grant.  Don't chase the money and be led away from your mission and goals!


Background on the proposed project:  How the project began and why, who is involved, their connections to the community.   Remember that the Applicant is requesting funding for solutions, not problems.  Inventory the community's assets as the basis for how it can overcome its challenges.  Describe why and how you know this program works?  Is it a recognized "Best Practice" or has it been proven to work by research?


Target Population:  Documentation of Applicant's community and regional demographics such as population, economic statistics, census data, etc. Describe who you serve?  Give general description of age ranges, genders, ethnicities, income levels if known, etc.


Need:  Document why this project is needed in your community.  Give statistics and references whenever possible:  Example:  40% of school children in XXX County live at 85% of poverty level or below  (2001 US Census)..  Make the case to the grant reader that there is a real and documented need for your program or project. Collect maps and charts, photos, other visuals, that can be inserted into the narrative to support and illustrate your data and needs statements.  Are there any local studies that support what you are doing.  Have local task forces or public officials made a statement of the need that you can quote?


Program Goals, Objectives, and Activities:  Describe first in a paragraph what you will do and how you will do it.  Then, in outline form what your top 3 goals are; what you plan to achieve (Objectives—use numbers!); and how you plan to do it (Activities).  Example:

  • Goal 1:  To improve the access of low income school children to fresh, local food.
  • Objective 1.1:  Fresh local food will be served at least 3 times a week, at least 4 months of the year, in 3 elementary schools.
  • Activity 1.1: Meet with School District Food Service Director and Superintendent to talk about the project and get their buy-in.
  • Activity 1.2: Organize a Farm-to-School Advisory group that will meet monthly throughout the year.
  • Etc...

Timeline:  Use a paragraph or a chart to show when you will achieve all of your Objectives, and when you will do each of your Activities.  Tell when you expect to complete the project or program.


Evaluation:  Describe how you plan to evaluate your project.  How will you determine if you are successful and if you achieve your goals.  Describe what QUANTITATIVE data you will collect through surveys, tests, or other methods.  Explain how you will use these, how often, who will participate etc. and what you hope to document.  Describe what QUALITATIVE information you will collect: stories, quotes, photos, video, articles, etc.


Reporting:  Describe who will be responsible for reporting back to the funder on a regular basis.  Will you also report results to local government or school officials?  Will you provide Press Releases to the media or make Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on local TV or radio?  How will you recognize your funder: in a newsletter, web site, banner, etc?


Other:  Some grants allow you to attach other materials such as a newsletter, photos, DVDs, newspaper articles etc.  Don't send them unless the guidelines say you can!