Community Grant Proposal Guide

Community Funding - Grant Writing

We understand that writing a grant proposal can be daunting - this page is designed to give a generic overview of types of funding you may be able to access, typical funding processes, what to consider when writing an grant application  and what makes a strong accountability report

On this page you'll find:

  • Information to consider when writing a grant proposal
  • Information to consider when thinking about programme design and accountabilities
  • Things to consider to strengthen a good application
  • Common pitfalls in grant applications

The advice in here should be considered generic advice applicable to all funding and grant applications (not just Hutt City Council's) However, following the steps in this guide will not necessarily result in a successful application and Hutt City Council takes no responsibility for the outcome of grant applications submitted based on this advice.

Funding hui 

In March 2024, HCC hosted a funding hui along with speakers from Wellington Community Fund, Department of Internal Affairs and the Nikau Foundation. The slide deck for this hui can be found here


Community organisations may consider sources money from a variety of sources:

  • Private donors
  • Fundraising / planned events (see our Events Planning page)
  • Central Government Grants
  • Local Government Grants  (see our  Funding Calendar)
  • Corporations and Businesses
  • Planned Giving
  • Face to face Solicitation
  • Direct Mail

General tips

  • If it says double space, double space
  • If it says 1000 words maximum - make it 1000 words maximum
  • Check the funders criteria and only ask for allowable expenses
  • Assume the person reviewing your application knows nothing
  • No jargon or unidentified acronyms
  • Address all grant requirements
  • Use clear and simple language and explanations - avoid overly emotive language
  • Be specific and grounded
  • Give concrete examples supported by data where appropriate

Grant Proposal Components

  • Narrative
    • Summary
    • Need or problem statement
    • Programme description
    • Implementation
    • Evaluation
    • Work plan
  • Budget and budget justification
  • Attachments


This is a clear and concise description of your grant - 100 words or less is preferable

Need Problem Statement

The documentation of the existence and extent of a need or problem - preferably using both qualitative (story based) and supported with quantitative  (data based) measure

  • Describe your organization
  • Include information such as how long it has been in existence
  • Briefly list significant accomplishments
  • Describe existing services
  • Describe what you propose to do with the funding
  • Establish a local need
  • Don't just list statistics - explain why / how they reflect a problem
  • Reflect on what you plan to do with that problem
  • There should be a logical connection between your proposal and the need you have identified
  • The need should be stated in terms of clients and should be developed with their input - this demonstrates that it is a community led initiative

Need Justification

  • Document how the need or demand for these services exceeds those available
  • Document how present training or services are not meeting the needs of the community, e.g.
    • Not extensive enough
    • Over subscribed
    • Too far away
    • Non existent etc
  • If possible, document numbers and demographics of the community that is underserved

Programme Description

  • Help the funder understand your organization or community group
  • Describe coordination or collaboration efforts
  • Document success
  • Document that programme design will work or has worked in other communities (or similar programmes)
  • Develop and speak to your goals and objectives

Goals and Objectives

  • What's the difference between a goal and an objective?
  • A goal is a general statement of what you hope to accomplish
  • An objective is the specific activities you expect to achieve
  • Quantified Service Objectives are specific, measurable and verifiable changes you expect to achieve
  • Ensure you goals and objectives are realistic
  • Give consideration to how you might measure performance

Your goals and objectives should be S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Implementation Plan

  • Describe what you plan to do in order to accomplish the aforementioned programme goals and objectives
  • Describe the administrative steps you will take to get your programme up and running
    • And how you will keep it running during the grant period
  • Be specific as possible


Evaluation is a key part of a community led development initiative - it shows how you know your programme is going to be successful

  • Have a clear evaluation plan that feeds back into your S.M.A.R.T. goals / objectives
  • Funders like to see proven and effective programmes replicated with local tailoring
  • A blend of quantifiable and qualitative service reporting provides a well rounded, evidence-based evaluation with a "human element"
  • Project impact over short and long term time periods
  • Consider:
    • What data are you, or will you be collecting
    • Who collects the data and how often
    • How this information will be used to modify your programme
    • How you will determine the overall effectiveness of the programme
    • How you will demonstrate you have incorporated the feedback of programme participant

Budget and budget justification are an important part of the application

You should:

  • Justify every expense
  • Make sure a non-accountant can understand your math and logic
  • Go into detail and be clear
  • Focus on results / impact
  • Start from ground zero
  • Consider if this is the most cost effective use of the putea
    • Are there other ways it can be done? Or realistic alternatives to paid staff?
  • Consider if staff salaries are appropriate
  • If using volunteers:
    • Document how they will be recruited, vetted, managed, trained and retained
    • Will you  be partnering with other organizations for volunteer recruitment?
  • Justify all travel expenses and keep these to a minimum
  • Use correct IRD mileage reimbursement rates
  • Justify all supplies and equipment
    • Most funders don't like to fund large capital items - can these be rented, leased, donate, borrowed or shared?  Why not?
  • Justify the need for new equipment and relate these to your programme goals and objectives

Evidence of collaboration and community support can really add strength to your application

You can include:

  • Formal cooperative agreements
  • Descriptions of informal collaboration
  • Letters of support

You may want to include information about what services will be provided, resources that can be shared etc between the parties

Be the reviewer

After you have completed your proposal, pretend you are the view and rate your application or consider having someone outside of the field review your proposal

Don't and Dislikes

  • Hastily prepared (typos)
  • Handwritten, unprofessional or "overly fancy"
  • Asking for "bells and whistles" that clearly don't relate the proposal or programme objective
  • No evidence of input from stakeholders
  • No evidence of consumer input
  • Not providing all information requested
  • Being late
  • Use of overly emotive language without substance

Likes and Do's

  • Everything mentioned prior!
  • Positive language
  • Honesty (if you can't commit to something - don't!)
  • Well organized proposals - using headings if appropriate
  • Evidence of financial support from other organizations
  • Reasonable and well designed programmes

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