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How To Write A Proposal For Indigenous Energy Projects and Grants

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

What is a Grant?

Grants are funds that are awarded as part of an application process, usually with set rules on how money can be spent. Government entities and foundations usually award


What is a Contribution?

A contribution is similar, but is usually awarded by a business or individual. Contributions typically have less stipulations and may or may not involve an application


Some other funding instruments include:

  • Loan

  • Financing

  • Donation

  • Crowd Funding

  • Subsidies

  • Tax Credits (if applicable)

Although this workshop focuses on proposal writing and grant applications, aspects of it can likely be applied to any other funding instrument.

What is a Grant Proposal?
  • A way of securing funds for your projects

  • A document or collection of documents designed to persuade the reader to act by providing a donation to you for your project or cause.

  • Requirements can vary greatly - some have lengthy forms to fill out while others may want as little to read as possible.

The Basic Elements of a Grant Proposal


The basic who, what, where, when, why and how


Detailed information about your community or organization

Statement of Need

Details about the problem or issue that will be addressed

Goals and Objectives

Identifies the outcomes of the project


How you plan on carrying out the project

Shared Goals

How your project goals align with the funding program goals


Details of how much you are asking for and how it will be spent

Supporting information

Can include letters of support, approvals, resumes, supporting research, plans, etc.

Community Project Readiness

1) Do you have a clear vision for your project?

2) Start from the end - what does success look like?

3) Work back from there - what are the steps that will get you to success?

4) What kinds of resources will you need to achieve success?

5) What kinds of community benefits will the project provide?

6) How will this project affect the Community? Elders? Youth? The Land? Environment? Economy?

7) What questions will the Community, Leaders and Staff have about the project?

8) How will you keep people informed?

9) What kinds of expenses will the project have? Do you know how much these expenses will be?

10) What plans do you have for funding the project?

11) Are you aware of your internal processes for applying for and receiving grants?

12) Do you have the appropriate staff and the skill set to implement and complete the project?

13) Do those staff have time available to complete the project?

14) Will you need to hire and/or train additional staff?

15) What are the internal processes and timelines involved with these needs?

Community Planning Engagement and Buy In
  • Do you have a Community Plan or a Community Energy Plan?

  • Is this project a part of that plan?

  • If yes, was the Community actively involved in creating that plan?

  • Is the Community aware of the plan?

  • Are the Community Leaders and Staff aware of the plan?

  • Your proposal should show that there is support from the community for your project

  • You can do this by linking in your community plan, community energy plan, and strategic plan

  • You can also show community engagement and other stakeholders

Here is an example:

2008 - Project identified in Comprehensive Community Plan

2010 - Community Energy Plan identified need for feasibility study

2011 - Feasibility study completed

2012 - Request for proposals for engineer/contractor issued

2013 - Community engaged in detailed design phase

  • Who will be impacted by the project? How?

  • Resources: Critical thinking great sheet

  • How will you engage with the community, leadership, staff and other stakeholders about the project?

  • Your answers to these questions will need to do to engage the community and leadership to ensure the project runs smoothly

Assessing & Planning for Project Risk Management
  • What factors might hinder or stop your project?

  • What back up plans will you have to manage these risks?

  • Political - change of leadership in the community, province, territory, federally, etc.

  • Community - protest, tragedy, death

  • Human resource - not enough staff, no luck hiring staff, staff hired but unable to complete tasks

  • Financial - remaining funds don't pan out, costs have increased, additional costs have arisen, no bridge funding

Document and Transitional Communication
  • Regularly sharing information with decision makers, community and staff are key

  • Timelines are helpful

  • Consistent messaging

  • If one of your team members leaves, the information should be easily available for another person to pick up where they left off

Select a Funding Program
  • Start with a Google search

  • Federal, Provincial, Territorial, Municipal

  • Industry - what industries operate in your territory? Do they have a foundation?

  • Charitable and non profit sector - Do you have a charitable status or qualified donee status?

  • Resource distributed on applying to be a qualified donee

Selecting a Funding Program: Applicant Guides & Eligibility

  • A wealth of information

  • Your best friend when it you are filling out a grant application

  • Help you to determine whether the fund is a good fit for your project

  • Review the guide and take note of any questions you might have

  • Follow up with research, if necessary

Classifying Energy Projects

Understanding your energy project is important and allows you to identify whether it fits with a specific grant of other funding opportunity. The following list is not "all encompassing", but based on our experience, a project can typically be classified as one of the following:

Energy Savings: Reducing energy used within fixed assets (homes and buildings). Will include new builds (codes and standards) and retrofits. Often subcategorized between residential vs. non-residential. Most will also focus on GHG (green house gas) reductions.

Generation: Generating energy from clean sources (electricity and/or heat). Often subcategorized by scale (ie: small projects vs. large projects) and in some cases technology. Again, most will also focus on GHG reductions.

Transmission and Distribution: Ensuring that electricity can be reliable accessed (or distributed from) a community. Electricty distribution and transmission, natural gas distribution, etc.

Transportation: Reducing energy associated with transportation. Can include increasing electric vehicles (EV's). installing EV infrastructure, and other unique opportunities (ride

sharing programs, urban planning, etc.).

Climate Resiliency: Constructing (or retrofitting) buildings to ensure they will withstand the anticipated impacts of climate change.

Capacity Building: Training and staff resources. Can be related specifically to any of the other categories described above.

The categories above definitely include some overlap. The eligibility constraints of every grant and funding opportunity should be read closely.

Funder/Program Manager Relations
  • Review applicant guide

  • Note questions

  • Make contact

  • Share your ideas

  • Ask questions

  • Seek review

  • Maintain contact

Assembing Your Dream Team
  • What skill sets to you require?

  • What spheres of influence would be helpful?

  • What other opinions might be useful on the project team?

  • Who within the Community and/or organization do you need buy-in or support from?

  • Who will be implementing the project?

  • Who would make a great project ambassador?

  • Who might benefit from being involved in the project (mentorship opportunity)?

Writing Your Grant Proposal
  • Storytelling - Beginning, Middle, and End

  • Persuasive & passionate, but also clear & concise

  • Evoke emotion & call to action

  • Technical writing - planning, writing, revising, repeat

Understanding the Goals of the Funding Proposal
  • Review the applicant guide

  • Research the funder

  • As the program manager

  • Look at previously funded projects

Developing Your Budget

1) List your project activities

2) Identify expense types associated with each category

3) Be sure to find out which expenses are eligible

4) Include funds from other sources

5) Fill in the budget template

6) Calculate costs for each expense - get quotes where necessary

7) Calculate own source and in-kind contributions

8) Double and triple check your numbers

The Value of an Editor
  • Check for proper spelling, grammar, & punctuation

  • Re-read

  • Have someone else review it

  • Keep in mind that Program Managers have to review hundreds, or even thousands of proposals. You want to make is as easy as possible for them to read and understand it without distraction

A Good Editor will Look For:

1) Spelling

2) Punctuation

3) Consistency

4) Cohesion

5) Style

6) Accessibility

7) Grammar

Receiving Funding & Managing Your Project
  • Assemble your project team

  • Review your proposed plan & budget

  • Revise, if necessary

  • Identify action items

Managing Project Risk
  • Back up plans

  • Communications

  • Documentation

  • Flexibility

Receiving Funding
  • Work smarter, not harder: Make your reporting as easy as possible

  • At this stage, you already know the reporting requirements of your grant (applicant guide, contract)

  • Use this information to create your reports - leaving the sections blank that you will be able to fill out until complete

  • Once each activity is completed, fill in the details and data that are missing

  • It is easier to track data throughout the project

Information to Include in Your Grants Reports

1) Grant Summary

2) Milestones Achieved

3) Project Activity Progress

4) Financial Information

5) Results & Impacts

6) Lessens Learned

7) Future Plans & Next Steps

Project Evaluation: Lessens Learned & Celebration of Success
  • A plan for evaluating projects is usually created at the project design stage - often detailed in the grant proposal

  • Ensure that you provide ample opportunities to celebrate the collaboration of your community, the funding program and any other project partners. You can do this through a project launch, regular communications, and a celebratory event at the end of the project.

  • This is also a great time to share any lessens learned - it is just as important, if not more so, to share what didn't work well.

To find out how we can help you with your communities energy needs, please see contact us at: (705) 657-1126 and ask to speak with Shayne Hill (CIPS Manager of Energy and Infrastructure). You can also email us at:

Feel free to click the chat icon in the bottom right hand corner of this web page to chat directly with CIPS.

To set up a short 15 minute consultation with our CEO, Mike Jacobs, please see this page here. Chi Miigwetch (thank you) and good luck!

Related Project Showcase at CIPS WDC Community Energy Plan Update

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