How to Organize Your Grant Application's Attachments - dummies

How to Organize Your Grant Application’s Attachments

By Beverly A. Browning

For most government grant applications, the attachments are compiled in the same order you refer to them in the narrative. So, read through the narrative from beginning to end and put your attachments in that order. Each attachment should be numbered in the narrative — for example, attachment 1, attachment 2, and so on. Make sure you type the attachment number on each attachment.

Only include additional information in attachments if the funder permits them — otherwise, you’ve wasted your time because the additional material won’t be read or considered.

The types of attachments you may need to include generally fall into two categories: capability-related documents and financial documents. However, you may also need to provide supporting documentation.

Capability-related documents

A funding agency may request lengthy information on your organization’s structure and administration processes. If you don’t have sufficient space in your grant application narrative, you can refer the grant reader to the attachments.

Make sure to follow the funder’s guidelines for what should be included in the attachments:

  • What are the responsibilities of the board, staff, volunteers, and (if a membership organization) the members? Write a brief paragraph giving the reader a one- or two-sentence description of each group’s responsibilities. Sometimes for a new, nonprofit organization, you may want to insert a copy of the bylaws to fulfill this attachment requirement.

  • How are these groups representative of the communities with which you work? What are the general demographics of the organization? You can provide a board roster that includes each board member’s name, address, occupation, gender, ethnicity, and term on the board. You can also attach a list of key staff members and give gender and ethnicity information. Your board and staff should be reflective of your target population.

  • Who will be involved in carrying out the plans outlined in this request? Include a brief paragraph summarizing the qualifications of key individuals involved. For this attachment requirement, you can put in one-page résumés for each key staff person.

  • How will the project be organized? Include an organizational chart showing the decision-making structure. Make sure the chart is up-to-date and includes a box for volunteers (if your organization uses any). Titles are more important than names, especially given that the staff may change over the duration of the grant’s funding period.

Financial documents

The attachments in the finance section should cover or include specifically what the funder is asking for in the grant application guidelines. Here are some typical financial-related attachments:

  • The organization’s current annual operating budget: Show your current and next fiscal year’s operating budget; detail the line expenses for the grant reader.

  • The current project budget: Be realistic here.

  • A list of other funding sources for this request (foundations ask for this information): Include the name of each funder, the amount requested, the date you sent the grant proposal, and the status of your request (whether the request has been funded or rejected or is pending). Consider using a four-column table to present this information in an easy-to-read format.

  • The financial statement for the most recent complete year (expenses, revenue, and balance sheet): Use the audited version, if available. If your organization has one of those 20-pound financial reports, pull out the comments and breakout budgets for each department and just attach the overall organization expenses and revenue along with the balance sheet.

  • A copy of your IRS 501(c)(3) letter: If you don’t have 501(c)(3) status, check with the funder to see whether it’s willing to fund through your fiscal sponsor. You may need to submit additional information and add information on your fiscal sponsor to the portion of your grant narrative that introduces your organization. Another possibility is that the funder may be willing to exercise expenditure responsibility.


    Illustration by Ryan Sneed

Supporting documentation

Other miscellaneous materials funders may request include letters of commitment (up to three). Having some handwritten letters of commitment from your constituency is okay; handwritten letters have a lot of impact on the reader. And don’t correct spelling or grammar errors; they make the letters more authentic.

Additional relevant materials include your most recent annual report (an original, not a photocopy), recent newsletters sent out by your organization, newspaper clippings about your programs (make sure they’re dated), and previous evaluations or reviews (up to three). Don’t go into overkill with too many non-relevant attachments. When in doubt, call and ask the funder!

Finally, this section is the one where you should put the supporting documentation you’ve referenced throughout the grant application narrative that doesn’t fit in any of the other attachment sections. As always, only include items the funder requests.