Proposal Tookit


Section 3: Abstract/Executive Summary

While the abstract appears at the beginning of the grant, generally it is the last document prepared.  On many grants, the abstract is the most critical portion.  Frequently, this is the first and only section that the grants officer reviews (especially with corporate and private foundations).  The presentation of the topic should capture the reader’s interest to convince her or him to read the entire grant.  It should offer the reader a synopsis of the entire proposal, including the amount of funding requested.

Some federal grants require an Abstract (also called an executive summary) while others require a cover page that details most of the information presented in the typical abstract.  When federal agencies do require abstracts, generally they are very specific about length, spacing, and font type.

If the funder describes what information goes in the abstract, then follow those directions.  Otherwise, some typical contents are:

  • Name of the project
  • Institutional contact person with contact information
  • Brief information about the institution
  • A description of the problem addressed by the project
  • Amount of funds requested
  • Goals and objectives to be achieved
  • Summary of how the project will operate
  • Expected results


  • Make it easy to read
  • Use a heading for each section
  • Include bulleted lists where possible
  • Use a clear, concise writing style
  • Describe the project broadly--don't attempt to include all details

Contents recommended by Foundation Center

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