Tips and guidelines for writing a great grant proposal. To check if your proposal is complete, see the kit of parts.
Start your proposal on-wiki as early as possible. This will allow you to get early feedback and collect input and endorsements from the community you aim to serve. Grants:IdeaLab is a great place to get an early start.
Familiarize yourself with prior work and research in the area you’re aiming to address. We like to see that you’ve thought about how to build on successes and aim to address weaknesses of similar past efforts.
Understand the context of the community you’re trying to impact. Some strategies make more sense for small wikis than large wikis, or for one Wikimedia project but not another.
Consider what lasting benefit the project will have after the grant is over. Aim for something that can help others beyond the life of the grant itself.
Align your work to a strategic priority for the Wikimedia movement. We’re looking for projects that build community, improve quality, increase diversity, or otherwise ultimately improve the experience of readers and contributors.
Notify the community you aim to serve right away. We select for proposals with as much community input as possible, and early notification gives you lots of time to have discussions and demonstrate support.
Engage with the committee, community, and grantmaking staff. Others may have seen what has worked or not worked with past projects and can help save you time and energy.
Iterate based on feedback from community, committee, and grantmaking staff, when you feel it is appropriate. Your proposal is a living document.
Consider building a team. Even if led by one grantee, most projects don’t happen all alone. Know who your volunteer or contract partners might be in advance of the project, so that you'll know where to go for help as your project moves forward.
If you’re not sure, ask! You can get help in the Grants:IdeaLab, and the talk page of your proposal is also a good place to ask questions about your project.
Think experimentally. We like to fund new ideas to address known problems, and we’re eager to learn if a solution will work or not. Designing your project as an experiment can be a good way to forward the movement’s learning.
Focus your project’s scope on one thing that you’ll be able to accomplish and measure impact on in 6 months. A community may have many reasons that new editors struggle, for example, but a project with a tight focus is more likely to succeed than a project trying to do everything at once.
Have solid goals and measures of success. Be clear about what it is you’re trying to do and how you’ll know if you did it.
Make sure your project isn't dependent on WMF engineering or other staff to make something happen. Consider community resources, other grants, and contractors as options for things you can't do yourself. Grantmaking staff can offer funding and guidance, but your project should be an independent and self-sustaining effort.
Have a plan, and remember that plans sometimes change with new information. Don't be afraid to lay concrete plans from the beginning. You can update your proposal, plan, and even request budget changes at most points in the process, if needed.
Spell out your budget in clear line-items. We want to know what this money will be used for, as precisely as you can.
Consider not asking for the maximum amount if you don't truly need it. The size of the grant will be weighed against the anticipated impact and the potential risk, and requests for $30,000 are most likely to be funded only for large projects that require a team to accomplish.
Budget for your own time, if needed. Managing a project is not a small task and it's ok to ask for support for your investment of time and energy. Be reasonable with this, however, recognizing the non-profit context.
Think about the life of equipment expenditures in your budget. What will you do with the thing after your project ends? Redonating to the movement can be a good option.
Keep in mind that not all proposals (even good ones!) will be accepted. This doesn't mean your idea wasn't worthwhile or that you should forget about it. It was brave and bold to submit it and no matter what, putting it out there for others to consider has made Wikimedia better!