How to Write the Personnel Narrative on Your Grant Application

After you choose your staff, you can begin writing the personnel narrative of your grant appliation. The grant reviewer looks for the key personnel narrative to answer the following questions:

  • What are the project administrator's qualifications? Is the time allocated sufficient? Who will report to the administrator? Is the line of accountability clear?

  • What are the project director's or coordinator's qualifications? Is the time allocated sufficient? Who will report to the project director or coordinator? Is the line of accountability clear?

  • Which project personnel will carry out the day-to-day activities? Is the time allocated sufficient for each position? Who will project personnel report to? Is the line of accountability clear?

  • Do the personnel members have extensive experience in the project's focus area? What percent of personnel have extensive experience?

  • What percentage of each position will be charged to the grant budget?

  • What percentage of all personnel costs will be cash match (cash that you have on hand and available to match the grant award for grants that require matching funds in order to receive the award) on the part of the grant applicant?

Keep in mind that you absolutely must follow the funding agency's guidelines when it comes to writing about your project personnel.

The basic profile

For a basic personnel profile, write about what makes each person qualified for her proposed position. Give information on relevant work background, awards, acknowledgments, and special recognitions. Follow this text with educational information.

End with a final sentence to blow the readers away — impress them with one more fact that qualifies the individual for the proposed position. If individuals filling some or all of the budgeted positions have yet to be hired, write a short description of the desired qualifications.

Unless the funding agency has page limitations for this section of the funding request, write one paragraph for each budgeted personnel position. This recommendation remains the same whether personnel costs will be charged to the grant or whether they'll be covered by your organization's cash match.

In the following example, check out the narrative language on the proposed director. The designation FTE stands for full-time equivalent (40 hours per week). An individual assigned to a project at 0.5 FTE works on it 20 hours per week; 0.10 is 4 hours per week) Typically, you won't need to include an explanation of FTE, but you should spell out the abbreviation the first time you use it.

Key Personnel

Project Administrator (0.05 FTE cash match): Ms. Miriam Match will be responsible for administering the grant-funded project. Ms. Match is the founder and executive director of the Ready for the World Foundation. She was the visionary who believed there was a need for a forward-thinking nonprofit in a historically static community environment. Ms. Match has 34 years of corporate management experience and 7 years of nonprofit management experience.
She founded and managed the Women's Business Incubator in Burton, Michigan, for which she was awarded the Clairol Corporation's Entrepreneur of the Year award. She will report directly to the organization's board of directors. Ms. Match is a bright ray of sunshine; everything she's involved in blossoms quickly and fully AND is sustaining.

Sometimes the expertise is in the team as a whole. However, in this example, Ms. Match has the necessary qualities to fulfill this position all by herself.

The profile with page limitations

If your funding request has page limitations, you can include a brief list of key personnel, including volunteers, in the grant application narrative and note their responsibilities. Also, feel free to attach to the narrative more detailed information about your key personnel if the funder's guidelines allow attachments.

The following is an example of how to develop a list of key personnel:

  • Project Director (1.0 FTE grant funded): The organization will conduct a nationwide search for a project director who can lead this project to a successful conclusion. The individual hired will be qualified to carry out the following responsibilities:

    • Assist the board of directors in fulfilling the organization's mission

    • Have knowledge of the organization's target population

    • Effectively carry out the grant-funded project's implementation plan

    • Establish an annual program events calendar

    • Identify qualified additional staff

    • Secure new community partners

    • Promote the programs via public forums

    • Evaluate the effectiveness of community outreach and program services

    This position will report to the project administrator.

  • Volunteer Coordinator (1.0 FTE cash match): One full-time volunteer coordinator will be assigned to this grant-funded project. Discretionary funds have been awarded from the organization's Regional Bank Association account to pay the salary and fringe benefits for this position.

    • The volunteer coordinator will be responsible for recruiting, screening, training, and supervising adult mentors for our clients.

    • This position requires ten years of volunteer coordination experience in either a paid or volunteer setting. The person assigned to this position must have a positive disposition, exhibit excellent analytical abilities, and demonstrate management-level skills.

    The Volunteer Coordinator will report directly to the Project Director.

The profile for personnel paid by cash match

When you can provide personnel at no cost to the grant, you look great in the eyes of the grant reviewer. For example, you may include the project director's salary in the grant proposal budget, but the project administrator's time will be cash match, so it won't be charged to the grant proposal budget. This setup shows the funder that you're focusing on the best use of grant funds.

Grant reviewers are looking for answers to some hard-and-fast questions critical to the success of your project. Even if you aren't asking for grant funds to cover personnel, you still include a brief paragraph on the key personnel and include the résumé of the project director in the application's attachments.

When you have a volunteer advisory council, write a paragraph about the volunteers' individual commitments and how often the council will meet.

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