Document Checklist for Grant Proposals: Part 2

Part 1 listed documents to collect during the prospect research stage. In Part 2, we’ll continue our checklist with content to collect when you submit your letter of inquiry or proposal.

Letter of inquiry. Grantmakers are increasingly asking for a letter of inquiry (LOI), a 1-3 page condensed version of your proposal. See this article for more tips on how to write LOIs and find samples.

Funder’s response. Whatever the format, keep a copy of it in the folder for your project and funder. If the response came by phone, take notes on the call as described in Part 1.

Full proposal sent to this specific funder. File a copy of the cover letter, full proposal, and any attachments, so you can see exactly what you sent to this funder. Attach any records/receipts that show when it was mailed or received.

What if you apply with an online application? Many online formats will let you review your submission then print a copy for your own records. If not, consider composing your responses in a separate document, then copy-pasting them into the online form. If you’d rather compose in the form itself, copy-paste the question and answer sets into a separate document.

Data and worksheets used to prepare the grant proposal. You’ll want these readily available if the funder (or anyone else) has questions about your proposal,. Also, this historical data will make preparing renewal requests and future proposals much easier. Common examples of data/worksheets include:

Other supporting documents. This is content you would like funders to know about but might not be able to include in your proposal package. Examples include: Printed or recorded media coverage, letters of support, city or county resolutions that applaud your work. (Note: File this with your project, rather than make copies for each funder’s folder.)

You may be tempted to include some or all of these items with your proposal to show how great your org is. Don’t, unless the grantmaker has asked for it. In other words, follow directions and provide only what is requested. It may just be one DVD or packet of articles to you, but multiply that by 10 or 100, and that amounts to a lot of extra content that the funder has to deal with.

After submitting your proposal

Notice of receipt. Not all funders send this, so a good substitute is a follow-up phone call after 1-2 weeks to ask if they got your proposal and would like any additional info. Ask if they know when you will be notified of their decision. Of course, don’t do this if the funder instructs you not to call.

Funder’s request(s) for info after receiving your proposal. Keep a copy of the request and the content you sent in response -- again, so you know what you sent to each funder.

Site visit notes. This includes any correspondence or info requests before, during, and after the visit, and your responses. This also includes the visit’s agenda, talking points, and other content you prepared for the visit.

Notes of follow-up calls/emails. It’s OK to occasionally check on the status of your proposal, especially if you have relevant updates, for example:

  • Your executive director or project manager has changed
  • You got a grant or other major contribution for the same project
  • Signficant and unforeseen changes to the project’s plan or budget
  • Awards or other notable recognition

Third party follow-ups. If board members or major donors connect with people they know at the foundation on your org’s behalf, ask them if they would kindly share what they learned from those conversations, and keep notes on each interaction. (Note: These can also happen before you submit an LOI/proposal, too.)

What would you add to this checklist? Tell us in the Comments area.

-- Richard Hallman and Sandy Pon