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4H Wildlife Stewards
Bringing Science and Nature Together...one school at a time.



  1. Know your audience
  2. Follow the guidelines listed
  3. PROOF your application
  4. Honor deadlines
  5. Keep it clear and concise
  6. Submit your reports
  7. PASSION must be evident
  8. Do NOT use a shotgun approach
  9. It all starts with a good idea
  10. Be CORRECT

"My first, second, and third pet peeves are length, length, and length. Tell me your story once, not three or four times. Present yourself and your program precisely and powerfully in only as many pages as you need – because that's all I need."

Vice President, Corporate Public Involvement
Aetna Life and Casualty

"I dislike not being able to find the amount of the request. That's the first thing I look for, and it's unbelievable how buried that figure can be. Put it in a simple sentence in the first paragraph."

Vice President and Executive Director
Coca-Cola Foundation

"I dislike receiving a proposal with no notice its coming, no cover letter and no executive summary. But what turns me off even more are the writers who haven't done their homework. Sometimes people submit proposals that are inconsistent with our priorities, which are explicitly stated in our annual report, or that are addressed to Prudential officers who've been gone for several years. I've even seen our president's name misspelled. These kinds of mistakes erode my confidence in those who would be in charge of a project."

Program Officer
Prudential Foundation

"Prepackaged proposals are real turnoffs – those that are written by professional who aren't on staff. I received one just the other day. Furthermore, the proposal weighed 5 pounds and had no preliminary statement on what was sought. Sometimes these proposals are just photocopies addressed to 'Dear Friend.' Worst of all are the proposals that present a dreamy concept but no concrete answers about how much a project will cost. They seek a commitment before doing their homework."

President, Monsanto Fund

"Don’t send me the long, complete proposal that you wrote to meet federal regulations. Take the time to distill the information for me. I don't like to make work for nonprofit organizations but sending me the long proposal is counterproductive."

Manager, Corporate Contributions
Bank of Boston



Information normally provided

  • This is the section where you write about your group or school (who is applying)
  • Keep this upbeat and positive
  • Describe your groups purposes and goals
  • Describe or highlight program and activities and accomplishments (grant worthiness)
  • Who do you serve (students, geographic area, etc)
  • Talk about strategic community partnerships established
  • Include total costs, funds already obtained and amount requested in the proposal.
  • Keep this section to no more than two paragraphs


Problem or Needs Statement:
  • Use quotes or let other people tell the story (principal, city council, technical expert)
  • Use statistics to document need for project (use bullets)
  • Support every statement with source
  • Make it passionate
  • Keep it crisp and on target
  • Build a compelling and competitive case
  • Relate it to the goals and purpose of your group or school
  • This is the nucleus of your plan
  • Give it the $5.00 test (would a friend give your $5.00 for this project)


Goals and Objectives:
  • Objectives tell who is going to do what, when, how much, and how it will be measured.
  • Process objective - quantify the activities and who will benefit and when
  • Product objective – create a product that did not exist
  • Outcome objective – how did it get better/change or improve
  • Impact objective – prevents something negative from happening


Project Description or Methods:
  • This section describes the activities to be employed to achieve the desired results
  • Assume the reader knows nothing about your project
  • Give the reader the range of potential solutions to the problem
  • Identify which solutions you are using and why it is the best for you and not the other solutions
  • Convince the foundation your answer is the best way of doing it.
  • Defend your activity and describe in detail
  • Who is your target audience and how did you select them
  • Staffing pattern (who will run the project and what are their qualifications)


Evaluation Plan:
  • Foundations do not want money spent on evaluation unless the grant is over 100K
  • Set up an evaluation team (habitat team could perform this function)
  • Evaluation design might include pre/post test, comparative project to project, control and experiment, goal attainment model (did you meet your objectives)
  • Clearly state criteria of success
  • Describe how the data will be gathered
  • Identify who will do the evaluation, when it will be done, what model will be used, and how the evaluation report will be written
  • Keep this section brief
  • Submit final report to the foundation on their timeframe – not yours (remember your reputation and that they communicate)


  • Time frame begins release of grant funds
  • Identify critical benchmarks/milestones


  • Foundations want to know how you will sustain the project after their funding expires
  • Do NOT say you will be seeking funds from other foundations – this is a kiss of death
  • If your project is one time, say so
  • Be concrete, specific and believable


  • Line item
  • Include matching funds
  • Tell the same story as the proposal narrative
  • Include all items asked of the funding source
  • Include volunteer time
  • Is sufficient to perform the tasks described in the narrative.

4-H Wildlife Stewards, Sunnyside Environmental School, 3421 SE Salmon 1209,
Portland, OR 97214 - 503-916-6074, e-mail: wildifestewards@oregonstate.edu
Copyright 2002-2009. All Rights Reserved.