Montana State University
MSU Extension > Community Resources > Essentials of Grant Writing

MSU Extension's Community Health Resources Program

337 Culbertson Hall
P.O. Box 172230
Bozeman, MT 59717

Tel: (406) 994-5552
Fax: (406) 994-1756
Location: Culbertson Hall

Community Health Specialist:

David Young

MSU Extension - Community Health Resources

College Department

Essentials of Grant Writing 101

  1. Getting Started
    1. Know your topic area
    2. Research potential funding sources and areas of interest
    3. Review potential funding sources guidelines
    4. Review potential funders criteria for evaluation of applications (note numerical scores)
    5. Develop a file system for storing and retrieving information
    6. Obtain and review copies of successful grants if possible
    7. Identify hallmarks/characteristics of successful grants
    8. Outline a step-by-step process to follow

  2. Understanding the basics of vision, mission, goals and objectives
    1. Vision - a vision of any organization is how the stakeholders see (envision) their future and their desired overarching long-term goal.  It is an ‘inspirational/aspirational’ image of the future that an organization is aiming to achieve, the framework for all strategic planning.
    2. Mission - a mission statement is a brief description of an organization’s fundamental purpose; it answers the question, “Why do we exist?” It defines the core purpose of existence of the organization.  The mission statement articulates an organization’s purpose both for those in the organization and for the public.
    3. Goals - are broad, general statements that identify the overall main purpose of a program/project; a goal is the statement of the ultimate result of the change being sought or the outcome desired.
    4. Objectives - are clear, concise, specific, measurable, manageable, achievable, realistic, time-bound statements that stepping stones to achieving goals and are tied to the statement of need.  Objectives do not describe methods.  Objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound).

  3. Developing the needs statement (very critical)
    1. Define the problem clearly and concisely
    2. Use accurate facts and statistics that best support your project
    3. State the long-term adverse consequences if no intervention or solution is found
    4. Don’t paint such a grave picture that any solution appears hopeless
    5. Avoid overstatements and overly emotional appeals

  4. Drafting a Letter of Intent/Letter of Inquiry (LOI)
    1. Follow potential funders guidelines for the LOI, if available
    2. Describe the need and provide supporting data, if available
    3. Explain what you will do
    4. Provide an estimated budget amount
    5. Keep to one to two pages in length

  5. Tips to Consider Before Drafting the Proposal
    1. Conduct a comprehensive literature review of your topic
    2. Be certain that goals and objectives tie directly to the need statement
    3. Be sure that objectives do not describe the methods to be used
    4. Be sure to all adequate time to accomplished all of the objectives
    5. Clearly state methods to be used, especially data collection instruments and procedures with references
    6. Have a good understanding of the difference between ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes’
    7. Determine how you are going to measure change and what your outcome indicators will be
    8. Use a comprehensive and well-established evaluation plan

  6. Drafting the proposal (subsections vary but usually include items B-J)
    1. Follow potential funders instructions and guidelines for writing a proposal
    2. Statement of the problem
    3. Goals and measurable outcome objectives
    4. Program/project description
    5. Program/project evaluation
    6. Management plan and sustainability after funding
    7. Budget and budget narrative
      1. Personnel costs
      2. Non-personnel costs (expendable supplies/equipment/travel)
      3. Indirect costs
    8. Appendices
      1. Biographical sketches/curricula vitae of key personnel
      2. Letters of support/commitment
      3. Other supporting documents as required
    9. Summary/abstract
    10. Cover letter

  7. Knowing where to find grant writing information and resource materials
    1. The Grant Institute -
    2. Grant Writing Tip Sheets -
    3. Proposal Writing Short Course -
    4. Grant Writing Tips - http://lone‑
    5. The Grantsmanship Center -
    6. Developing and Writing Grant Proposals -
    7. Getting Grants -
    8. Grant Writing Tutorial -
    9. Rural Grant Writing -