There are 8 basic elements of most proposals. When you write an Executive Summary, you are tackling a key element.

Each grant application will not use the same terminology, but most will ask for this type of information. Some grants won’t have all of these, some will have more, but a good template can be created for your programs and projects based on these:
  • Title
  • Executive Summary
  • Organizational Information
  • Statement of Need
  • Project Description
  • Budget
  • Evaluation Methods
  • Sustainability Plan

Today, we are going to focus on steps to write the Executive Summary. A well-written executive summary can be used interchangeably as a Letter of Inquiry. Some argue that this is the most important element of the proposal. In a few hundred words, summarize the grant application. What’s more, you must invite/compel the reader to read on.

Instinctively, grant seekers approach this one of two ways:
  1. Vague
  2. Squish in as many facts as possible.

Neither is ideal.

An executive summary should be clear, concise, and persuasive and include the following:
  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • A description of your problem
  • A few key descriptors of your program/project
  • What makes your program/project extraordinary
  • How your organization/program/project is uniquely positioned

Let’s look at an example. This is an executive summary that we wrote for a grant years ago, that was funded.

As you can see, I already highlighted for you where the description, unique position, key descriptors, the extraordinary statements are in this example.

Now let’s learn how to deconstruct this for YOUR needs.
In the first paragraph, the first sentence is the mission statement of the organization.

If you have a well-written mission statement, it should say who you are, what you do, and how you do it. If it doesn’t, you might consider revising it with your board. Otherwise, if can be your first sentence.

The second sentence says what is being requested and a dollar amount.

The third sentence is the statement of how the program or project is unique.

BOOM! First paragraph done!

In the second paragraph, you can deconstruct the paragraph this way and fill in your details:

{Program/Project Name} was designed in {Month Year} {to do what?}.  Since its inception, the program/project has {grown, expanded, served, etc. who/what?}.  Due to {what reason} we have a need for {what is your need for}, but lack funding to provide {it, them, etc.}.   {Program/Project Name} strives to {do what} of {for whom}through {list services you provide}.

TA-DA! Second paragraph done!

The third and final paragraph should indicate how your program/project is extraordinary (this needs to be quantitative/measurable) and include data and statistics to support the claim.

If you have letters of support, etc. that you can pull quotes from, that can be helpful too. Follow-up the last paragraph by encouraging them to consider ‘assisting’, ‘partnering’, ‘collaborating’ with you to accomplish your goal, or fill your need (whichever is most appropriate).

It is amazing to me how much quicker this is to teach in-person than it is to type it out! Wow!

I hope you find this helpful as you compose your grant templates and work to secure the dollars needed to build your capacity. Here are a few related articles you may find helpful:

Happy Writing!

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