How to Write a Grant Report

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Reporting on a grant your organization received is an important aspect of the relationship between the grantmaking institution and the grant recipient. Grant reports provide information on the activities carried out in the original grant proposal, new findings, pitfalls, successes, and financials. Being honest, clear, and forthcoming in a grant report helps the grantmaking institution measure its impact and learn from your organization's experience. It's important to report on the specific deliverables and activities proposed in the original grant proposal. Grant reports typically include a cover letter, cover sheet, narrative and financials section.

Gather Information and Delegate Tasks

When beginning to write a grant report, you want to be crystal clear about the specifics you proposed in the grant proposal and be very familiar with the project funded by that grant. Refer to the grant proposal and grant award letter.

Well in advance of the report's deadline, enlist help from the heads of the proper departments you need to complete the grant. For example, consult finance and accounting for the financial statements, program staff for field reports, executive director for signature and communications for pictures.

Collect the various materials and keep them at your finger tips as you put them all together in the report.

Write the Cover Sheet and Narrative Section

The first section is the cover sheet and calls for basic contact information and data that will link your grant report to your original grant proposal. This section includes your organization's legal name, the date range of the project described in the grant, the name of the executive director or president of your organization, the name of the contact person most familiar with the funded project and the grant report. Also include your complete mailing address, phone and fax numbers, e-mail address, project name, amount of the grant, grant ID number, and the purpose of the grant. Be sure that all this information corresponds to what is in the original grant application and award letter. In the footer of your report, put your grant ID number and page number of the report.

In the narrative section, explain how the project funding made a difference in your community or in the lives of the people you helped. You can provide quantitative data and statistics like graduation rates, income levels or grades. You can also provide qualitative data like surveys, interviews or stories of individuals or families that benefited from your services.

Tell the grantmaker if you discovered anything new as a result of the grant. Explain in detail if anything unexpected occurred, good or bad.

Tell the grantmaker if you worked in collaborations with other organizations and how it impacted the project. This is important because grantmakers value collaboration among organizations.

Share any lessons learned from the project. Describe in detail any challenges that arose during your project and how you overcame them. If you do this well, you will earn a lot of respect from the grantmaker. They appreciate when non-profit organizations tell it like it is as opposed to sugar-coating the situation.

Let the grantmaker know what the future plans are for the project. Include the sources of funding if the project will continue. Explain how you might alter the project given the new lessons learned.

Thank the grantmaker for its generosity in investing in your project. Express your gratitude. Add any additional pertinent comments.

Include Finances

The grantmaker might ask for specific financial statements such as income, cash flow, and a balance sheet. Submit the requested the statements for the project year. Explain any extreme changes in your financial health from the time you received the grant award to the time you are reporting. It's better that you point it out and have a good explanation than to have the grantmaker discover on his own. Be upfront.

Provide a detailed reporting on the funds from the grant spent on the specific projects. The details you provide in this section should directly correspond to your budget in the grant proposal.

If you had unexpected costs, include them in the report and identify them as such. Also explain these costs in the narrative section of the grant report.

Package the Report

Include a short cover letter detailing the content of the report that should include your award ID number. The letter should be from your organization's executive director or president to his or her equivalent at the grantmaking institution. The letter should thank the donor for the grant, again. You can never really thank enough.

Edit the grant narrative with the help of one other colleague. Get a final sign-off from finance on the financials. Make sure the font and tone of the report are consistent throughout while editing.

Attach surveys, graphs, maps, statistics or information gathered to measure your project. You summarized the most important aspects in the narrative section, but these should be made available for reference. Present all data as concisely as possible.

Use promotional attachments sparingly. Grantmakers are very busy and simply don't have time to wade though every one of your event flyers, pictures, and press releases. Pick the best two or three pictures, a published or aired media piece, and perhaps a newsletter from your organization. If you choose to attach additional material, be sure it helps your case and is directly related to the project.

Obtain a signature from an authorized representative of your organization--likely the same person who signed the grant application.

Submit on Time

Send the grant report in the medium and mode dictated in the award letter. The grantmaking institution may ask for an e-mail, have an online portal or prefer three copies sent by USPS mail. It's always safest to double check.

Confirm receipt. If you don't receive an auto-confirmation, you can contact the appropriate staff person at the grantmaking institution to confirm receipt of your grant report.

Save a copy for your records. Just in case anything happens with the delivery of your grant report, you need to be prepared to furnish another copy to the grantmaker.


  • Depending on the nature of the grantmaking institution, you could include moving stories of the difference your organization helped make in the lives of the people or animals you serve.

  • You can pepper in quotes from clients served or people important to your field to spice up your report.

  • Adhere to the grantmaker's page limit.