Starting a business

Executive summary for grant proposal: Tips & templates

If you are taking the time to research and apply for grant funding to start or expand your small children’s activity or education business, then you need to make sure you set yourself up for success. Writing a strong cover letter for your grant proposal is an important first step. However, once you have the reader’s attention, the next big hurdle comes with your executive summary.

Our goal at Sawyer is to provide the necessary tools and resources for children’s activity and education businesses to grow and thrive. Use our proven tips and examples so that you can write a grant proposal executive summary that blows the readers out of the water. In this article we’ll walk you through the following:

Executive summary vs abstract

If you are reading articles about how to get a small business grant and not sure what the different terms mean, you are not alone. It is not easy to successfully write a grant proposal and win funding. To get you started, let’s compare and contrast executive summary vs abstract so you know what to use for your grant proposal.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary acts as an overview of your entire proposal. As the name suggests, the executive summary summarizes what you are proposing and introduces the reader to the document. It needs to be short, extremely clear, and persuasive. After the cover letter, this is the first element that the organization or foundation will read and so it is imperative that the executive summary is well written so they continue reading your proposal.

What is an abstract?

An abstract, like an executive summary, is also a short paragraph that outlines a larger document. However, abstracts are mainly used in research papers, dissertations, theses, and other technical documents.

Is an abstract or executive summary right for grant proposals?

While both abstracts and executive summaries have the same goal, an executive summary is the right choice for your small business grant proposal. Both abstracts and executive summaries can have requirements on number of words or characters, so make sure you check closely with the organization that is awarding the grant. Plus, if the organization calls the executive summary an “abstract” in their official writing, make sure that you refer to it that way as well. 

How to write an executive summary for a grant proposal 

The executive summary might be the first thing (after your cover letter) that the foundation reads, but it is the last thing that you should write. This is to save you time on rewriting and to help you be as succinct and clear as possible in your executive summary. Here are some of our best tips to help you write your grant proposal executive summary.

Know your audience

You know that you should tailor your grant proposal to the specific foundation, agency, or organization that is awarding the grant. (Use our tips to personalize your grant proposal cover letter, too). Your executive summary is the perfect place to showcase this personalization. For example, if you are starting a business teaching cooking classes to kids and the organization that runs the grant helps with food security, discuss how your classes will help children learn important life skills to combat food insecurity.

Stick with what you know

The executive summary is not the time to go outside the bounds of your grant proposal. Since you are writing it at the end, you know exactly what is covered. Focus only on what you discuss in your proposal and go through each important point. Think of it as an introduction to each section and aspect of your grant proposal. However, do not copy & paste lines from inside the proposal. This is not the time to cut corners.

Be unique

Grant readers are going through thousands of proposals for each cycle. How can you stand out? Personalization, as we’ve mentioned, is definitely one of the best ways to do this. Focus your time on making sure that your proposal shows how perfect your business is for the organization. Talk about your passion for achieving this mission. Do not try to stand out by using funky colors or images, sending flowers or chocolate, or anything else that distracts from your proposal. Keep it professional and let your work speak for itself.

Pay attention to requirements

For the most part, keep your executive summary fairly brief. The recommended length is 4-6 paragraphs and it should not exceed one page in length. The goal is to outline what will be covered, so don’t let yourself get bogged down with specifics of each point. Keep it concise. Before you write your summary, check to see if there are word or character counts set by the organization.

Proposal executive summary example

Little Hands Art Community is a new art program in the Santa Fe area that focuses on helping children and family members discover their passion for creation as well as their love of their culture. According to the 2019 Census, 18.9% of residents in Santa Fe are children under 18 and 55% of Santa Fe residents identify as Hispanic or Latinx. Our goal is to develop programming that will help them find community while building and expanding their art skills. Like Organization Name, our mission is to support the next generation of Latinx artists as they embrace their community, culture, and love of the arts.

In the past 6 months, we have been speaking with families and running pop-up programming in partnership with the local school districts and on our own. We understand that there is a great need for arts education among these residents. Specifically, our programming will center around community art, beautifying the area where our students live, and cultural education. Our staff of entirely Latinx development specialists and arts educators have created programming that celebrates this culture as well as teaches about other cultures.

Program initiatives and metrics to measure success of Little Hands Art Community include establishing art programming for children ages 1 to 18 that meet at least once per day; ensuring one-third of classes are free or low-cost; creating at least 3 community beautification projects; and building relationships with at least 5 elementary and secondary schools in Santa Fe. After this 6 month pilot, we will determine next steps and which initiatives to expand and continue.

As we meet with parents and learn about their needs in the community, we have heard that virtually all early education art programs outside of school have closed in the past 5 years. The few programs that remain are prohibitively expensive for the community where the median household income is $57,972. Little Hands Art Community has received an average rating of 9.7 out of 10 from families who have participated in our pop-up programming. Families specifically appreciate the cultural education, bilingual programming, opportunities for older children to learn and lead, and community growth.

Our goal of establishing Little Hands Art Community as a community space for growth and cultural leadership in Santa Fe requires a homebase. The $50,000 grant that we are requesting will provide us with the funding that we need to rent and set up the studio as well as hire more educators, purchase necessary supplies, and establish scholarships and free/low-cost programming. We are excited to partner with you as you work on your goal to help the next generation of Latino artists grow. Thank you for your consideration of your request.

With these grant proposal executive summary tips & examples, you should feel more comfortable as you embark on this journey to turn your passion into a children’s activity business. If you are looking for more guidance on how to start a business teaching children, the resources and tools offered by Sawyer can help you start and scale your business.

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