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Which Preliminary Documents Should I Include with My Grant Application?

Not sure what upfront stuff you need to include in your grant application? Never fear, it’s broken down for you right here by order of appearance. This list also clarifies when each preliminary document is required. The upfront stuff (the items that come before the grant application narrative) should be in the following order — although not every piece applies in every case:

  • Cover letter: Only for foundation and corporate requests that ask you to include a cover letter.

  • Common grant application form: Only for foundation and corporate requests when the funder doesn’t have its own specific application form or format and instructs you to submit a common grant application form.

  • Application for Federal Assistance: Always for federal grant applications and sometimes requested by state agencies. Most often referred to as SF-424 (SF stands for Standard Form).

  • Abstract or executive summary: Appropriate for all types of funders and typically required.

  • Table of contents: Generally for federal and state grant applications. Not every government agency requires a table of contents.

Always read each funding agency’s guidelines and give the funder exactly what it asks for in the instructions. Never, ever deviate. Also, try not to alter any PDF-formatted forms if at all possible. Changing the forms because you need more space on a typing line or changing the font in a form can result in automatic rejection.

Also make sure that all PDF forms are filled in accurately and uploaded in the funder’s required PDF version.

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