How to Write a Nonprofit Business Proposal

by Liza Hollis; Updated September 26, 2017
businesswoman at computer

When developing your nonprofit organization (NPO) or applying for grant funding to finance your endeavors, you will need to write a well-formed business proposal that documents your mission, needs and expectations as a nonprofit organization. This proposal is the key to getting your organization off the ground and to receiving the financial assistance that you need. A successful business proposal requires a lot of time, research and patience.

Step 1

Start with a cover letter that introduces your organization. This should be formatted in traditional business letter format and, if possible, on professional company letterhead. Introduce yourself and your NPO, announcing that you are submitting this proposal for review. Briefly describe your mission statement as an organization and what you are requesting the funding for.

Step 2

Include an executive summary, or cover page as it is sometimes called. This step is optional and is up to the discretion of the agency reviewing the business proposal. This should state the name of the NPO, the one-sentence mission statement of the organization, address and contact information, the amount being requested and some basic budgetary outline figures.

Step 3

Organize your proposal with a table of contents at the beginning of your document. Be sure each page is numbered and headed for ease of reference. Edit and revise your document as necessary to be sure it is totally free of any grammatical and typographical errors. If possible, hire a professional editor to review your proposal. An error-free proposal will add legitimacy to your NPO.

Step 4

Make up the body of your proposal with any material relevant to the organization’s needs. Outline the purpose of your NPO, who you plan to represent and how you will use the allocated funds to benefit this group of people. Be descriptive and thorough, using research statistics, graphs and illustrations whenever relevant to support your argument.

Step 5

Detail extensive monetary figures, outline how much funding you need and where this money is going. If possible, provide an itemized budget for one or more fiscal years. Express in your proposal how every dollar of this budget is imperative to the success of your nonprofit organization. Show that you have done your homework with cost-comparative analysis of supplies.

Step 6

Introduce individual members of your NPO staff and projects. Use your proposal to define how these particular people and projects have directly benefited your target audience. This will help put a face on your organization, allowing the agency that is reviewing the proposal to form a connection with the work your NPO does.

Step 7

Back your business proposal with hard figures that demonstrate the benefits of your projects. This should include tables, case studies and personal testimonials to your work. If you are just launching your NPO, you may not have this information. This means you will have to do extensive research to find similar programs and statistical data that will back up your claims.

About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images