Tips for Submitting a Strong Farmer Grant Proposal

Farmer Grants are competitive. The following tips–based on feedback from farmer grantees and our observations of common errors—are provided to help applicants develop and submit strong proposals.

Consider the match between SARE and you

Read through the materials on this website to understand the purpose of the grant. Make sure SARE is the right granting organization for your project. Take a look at our outcome statement and review criteria and make sure you understand what can and can’t be funded. Review past awards to understand the content, duration, and complexity of applications that reviewers expect and avoid duplicating work that has already been funded.

Start early

Successful grant applicants report that it takes a good bit of time—sometimes up to 40 hours—to put together a competitive proposal.

Discuss your plan early on with your technical advisor. Confirm that your advisor is willing to participate. To write a competitive proposal, you should first talk with your technical advisor and then show your advisor at least one draft of the proposal so you can get feedback and correct obvious flaws. Successful applicants often write more than one draft and often share it with several different people, just to make sure the proposal is coherent and addresses SARE priorities.

Prepare your application offline

Farmer Grant applications are submitted online but since there are word limits for most sections of the application, it is highly advisable to use a word processing program to write and edit the application ahead of time to make sure it is accurate and complies with the word limits.

Write with reviewers in mind

Your proposal will be reviewed by a panel of farmers, researchers, Extension educators, nonprofit staff, and other agricultural professionals. You can assume your reviewers have broad agricultural expertise, but may not necessarily have a deep or detailed understanding of your particular subject area. Therefore, keep your writing clear and straightforward, and avoid jargon.

Develop a realistic budget

Make sure you only request funds for allowable expenses. Be clear about what you are requesting funds for, show how you calculated each line item, and provide a narrative justification as to why the item is needed or what work is being done for the labor payments requested.

Remember the attachments!

Applications with missing or incomplete required documents will be rejected so make sure they are attached.