Before contacting prospective grantmakers, you must first develop the master proposal that completely but succinctly presents your plan. According to the Foundation Center, to achieve this you must:
Compose your mission statement—A written summary of your agency's vision
Acquire nonprofit status—Don't forget to obtain your 501(c)(3) status from the IRS!
Set funding priorities—Start with a planning session.
A rough draft will clarify your request. Bring together detailed information on your project and select your proposal writer. You will need to include the executive summary, statement of need, project description, budget, and organizational information.
Once the master proposal is written, you will need to craft it to the specific funder's priorities. You will also need to provide a cover letter and an appendix, if necessary.
At this point you will need to identify sources most likely to fund your proposal. See "Researching Grants" for more information.
Speaking with a potential funder at the outset about your organization and proposal helps to identify interested funders and saves time.
Following up is an important component in the grant writing process. Even if you are initially rejected, maintaining a relationship with the funder could help you improve your proposal to send to other funders, as well as open up dialog for future proposals.
You may also want to consult these titles in the Block Business and Career Center:
The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal Writing  by Jane C. Geever (2007)
In the fifth edition of the Guide, author Jane C. Geever provides detailed instructions on preparing successful grant proposals. Incorporating the results of 40 interviews with grantmakers across the nation, the Guide reveals their priorities in reviewing submissions and provides insight into what makes a winning proposal. The Guide outlines the entire proposal-writing process: Pre-Proposal Planning Tips - This helps you decide when your nonprofit is ready to raise funds and determine how to best define your project. Components of the Proposal - Review actual cover letters, project descriptions, budgets, and examples of important follow-up communications with prospective donors. Guidance from Grantmakers - Interviews highlight new trends in grantmaking: preferred proposal formats, funder cultivation strategies, tips on re-submitting a rejected request, and on how to capture and sustain a grantmaker's interest. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.
The Foundation Center's Guide to Winning Proposals  by Sarah Collins (2003)
The manager of bibliographic services at the Center, Collins assembles actual grant proposals that have garnered actual money for nonprofit organizations, as a guide for newcomers to grant writing. She presents them in sections on special single-year and multi-year projects, endowment, building or renovation, general and operating support, seed money, and planning grant. She also provides examples of letters of inquiry, cover letters, and budgets. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.
For additional information, contact an H&R Block Business & Career Center librarian by phone, 816.701.3717, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org .