Creating a Competitive Grant Proposal

If you’ll remember back in November, CCF announced new grant-making cycles that allow us to more effectively process applications while making the process of applying more efficient for eligible nonprofits. Since then, many organizations have reached out to us with the same question: what should I be including in my grant application?
The true answer is that there is no blanket formula that creates a perfect grant application. Each organization possesses its own individual set of strengths, objectives and strategies.
However, this does not mean that there are no basics in creating a competitive application! While there are many factors that go into a grant-making decision, committee members routinely look at three main points when considering each application:
1. Capacity. This area relates to an organization’s capacity to achieve its mission, as relevant for each grant proposal. This includes (but is not limited to) financial, personnel, and leadership capabilities. When writing a grant proposal, be sure to include detailed budget information and illustrate that your organization has sufficient, qualified personnel to carry out your project.
2. Impact. In other words, how effectively the described methods will address a community issue. Think critically about the feasibility of integrating your project into the target community—is there a clearly laid out plan for executing the project? Have you considered the assets and opportunities of the community (and included them in the planning where relevant)? Most importantly, will the project have a significant impact on the proposed population?
3. Measures of Success. In order to gauge impact, your grant proposal should include an operational definition for success and proposed metrics that illustrate impact. Be sure to take note of the validity and reliability of your measures of success—it is essential that they accurately measure the impact of the project!
Combine these three main points with the unique aspects of your organization’s mission and strategy, and you’ll have a competitive application on your hands. As always, we are happy to answer questions—please feel free to reach out to our team at with any inquiries regarding our new grant cycles.
We look forward to reading your application!
Eric Singleton is a student at the College of Charleston studying International Relations and Psychology, with minors in Spanish and Political Science. He has worked as a Grants & Programs Intern at the Foundation since 2015.

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