Preparing an executive summary for a grant application

Published 4:06pm Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In the last article we shared steps for developing and crafting the cover letter of a grant proposal. In this article we will continue to talk about the steps for writing a successful grant, but focusing on the executive summary.
The executive summary is the document that is going to invite the reader, the grantmaker, to continue reading the entire grant proposal. The executive summary should also deliver the details of exactly what the organization is asking for.
This is where you will convince the grantmaker that your program, service or equipment is important and why.
The organization will also use the executive summary to let the grantmaker know, if funded, the results the grant will have on the demographic area that is served by the nonprofit requesting funding.
When you are preparing to write the executive summary, you’ll need to identify the key points in the proposal and include only those in the executive summary.
So, if you haven’t guessed already, the executive summary should be written last, after the complete proposal is written.
Of the key points in your proposal, emphasize those points that are important and follow the giving guidelines of the grantmaker/foundation. Remember, the executive summary is an abstract of the proposal and no new ideas should be introduced at this time.
Questions to help you write the executive summary can include some of the following.
• Have you identified yourself clearly?
To answer this question, make sure that you have clearly stated your mission statement and your organization’s uniqueness.
• What are the proposed project title, the purpose and the demographics served?
To answer this question, ensure that you have a summary of the project, the need for it, population statistics and the expected outcome(s).
• Why is this grant important?
What will be accomplished by the end of the grant period? Why should your nonprofit (as opposed to any other nonprofit) receive funds from the grantmaker for this project?
• How much are you requesting from the grantmaker?
How much will the entire program, service and/or equipment cost?
Just as with the cover letter, the executive summary should be no longer than one page in length. At the end of the executive summary always make sure to thank the grantmaker for this opportunity to submit a proposal and for reading it.
The next article will continue the steps for writing the grant, focusing on the first step of the proposal – the need statement.
The Nonprofit Leadership column, written by Melissa Le Roy, a nonprofit consultant, is aimed at providing guidance from Melissa’s perspective as a leader in both the nonprofit and for profit business world.
For questions or comments related to this series, please feel free to contact me at

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