If you've never written a proposal before or even if you have, it can be valuable to look at sample proposals, particularly examples of funded proposals.
Sample proposals are not easy to come by. Proposals submitted to private foundations are understandably more difficult to find than proposals submitted to government agencies. However, even among U.S. government agencies, the number of released proposals varies greatly. Two agencies that have consistently released proposals over the years include the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Education.
If you are interested in viewing a grant application that has been funded by a U.S. government agency but which has not been publicly released, you can submit a request to receive a copy under the Freedom of Information Act (http://www.foia.gov). There are no special forms to complete under the FOIA. To start the process, contact the FOIA office of the agency that awarded the grant. You can use the agency directory on the FOIA website to look for the relevant contact information. If you are unable to find the contact information, reach out to the program officer of the awarded grant for guidance on how to make the request. Note that not all requests will be approved, and you will not gain access to confidential or proprietary information such as budgets.
The resource list below consists primarily of links to proposals funded by U.S. government agencies. There are a few foundation sources, including a book released by the Foundation Center that includes more than 30 sample proposals (all successfully funded). Listed below you'll also find links to proposal outlines and grant writing guidance.
- CIVICUS World Alliance for Civic Participation: Guidance on proposal writing plus a sample proposal to a foundation in support of an AIDS orphan project
- Community Tool Box: Two sample proposals posted for community-level projects
- Cornell University, Engineering: Sample proposals to government agencies and the Sloan Foundation
- Foundation Center's Guide to Winning Proposals: This is an older book (2008) but it includes 38 sample proposals, all successfully funded
- Grant Space: Sample cover letters, letters of inquiry, budgets, and proposals for download
- Grantsmanship Center: Offers (for purchase) examples of successful proposals from a range of disciplines
- Jabberwocky Ecology: Links to proposals in the biological sciences, most submitted to government agencies.
- Nonprofit Hub: Links to seven proposal examples (several funded, one mock proposal)
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: NIAID has posted several examples of funded applications
- Nonprofit Guides: Three sample proposals for community projects (one to a foundation the others to government agencies)
- Scholastic.com: Sample proposal to the State of California for an ESL program
- U.C. Berkeley, Institute of International Studies: Sample National Science Foundation and Fulbright scholarship proposals
- U. S. Department of Education: Links to successful proposal funded for postsecondary education project
- Wiley: Jossey-Bass: A supplement to Thomas Blackburn's book Getting Science Grants: Effective Strategies for Funding Success [Jossey-Bass, 2003]), site includes links to funded proposals to federal and private agencie
More Resources for Sample Grant Proposals
Resources for sample grant proposals discovered after this post was originally published in November 2015 will be posted below.
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums funds conservation projects through its grants program. The AZA has posted several successfully funded proposals on its site for grant applicants to review.
- Adventures of Cyberbee: Provides sample outline and suggested approach for education-related proposals
- CIVICUS World Alliance for Civic Participation: A proposal toolkit that provides instruction on planning and writing a proposal and includes a sample proposal (also linked above)
- Community Tool Box: Comprehensive proposal outline that includes proposal guidance, links to tools for proposal development, and two sample proposals (also linked above)
- Udemy course Federal Grant Writing 101 with Dr. Beverly Browning: Dr. Browning's course includes excerpts from two of her funded proposals, one to a foundation, one to a U.S. government agency. The course has a list price of $49.
- National Marine Fishery Service: Annotated proposal outline covering proposal development and writing phases
- World Bank Blog: A reviewer of World Bank proposals for impact evaluation work provides tips for stronger proposals