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Grant Writing Resource Guide for Massachusetts Librarians: Grant Writing Basics

Would you like to cultivate your grant writing skills? This guide explores the grant writing process from start to finish: identifying funding sources; documenting the need, identifying the target population, writing measurable objectives, creating an ef

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Grant Writing for Massachusetts Librarians

The Basics of Grant Writing

The Letter of Intent

  • Outlines the general idea of your project ahead of time.
  • Provides you with an opportunity to promote your idea.
  • Allows the funding agency to see if the project is a good match.
  • Gives you a chance to gain local endorsement of your idea.

The Proposal

  • Describes your library, its mission, and its community. Who are the various stakeholders?
  • Organizes your idea and plan. What is it that you are seeking? Why?
  • Define how this project will improve your library.
  • Itemize your expected costs.

Needs Statement:

  • Provide the facts or statistics which support your project.
  • Define your target group.
  • Enable the funder to understand the problem that the project will remedy.
  • Convince the funder that your project will be successful.


  • Are the measurable outcomes of your project.
  • Should be specific.
  • Achieved in a specific time frame.
  • Should not be confused with goals which are broader and more abstract.

Project Description/Methodology:

  • Describes in detail what will happen from beginning to end.
  • Presents a timeline of activities.
  • Demonstrates your enthusiasm for your project and why it is unique.
  • Establishes your credibility with your funder.


  • Should be built into the project.
  • Is sound management.
  • Determines impact of project on target audience.
  • Decide what you think are effective measures. Depending upon your project, your evaluation tools may be quantative (numbers) or qualitative (assessments).

The Budget:

  • Many grants will require in-kind support from the requesting institution. Detail your budget costs. These will include items such as library materials, equipment, supplies, travel, training, and advertising expenses. Personnel costs are usually included as a separate expense. Remember to include employee benefits expenses as part of your personnel budget.
  • Total the expenses that are to be paid locally by your organization.
  • Depending upon the funding source, you may be required to submit letters of support for your grant idea from within your community - e.g. trustees, library users, faculty. Remember to give your supporters enough time to prepare a letter for you.

Before you submit:

  • Be certain that you have met all the funder's guidelines.
  • Have a colleague proofread your proposal.
  • Get the appropriate signatures.
  • Follow all instructions for copying and addressing your proposal.
  • Watch submission deadlines and know the funding agency's timeline for approval.

After you receive your grant:

  • Publicize your success story.
  • Thank your advocates.
  • Document your progress.
  • Submit reports and budgets in a timely manner.
  • Have fun seeing your project become reality!