In Dr. Karen Kelsky’s Foolproof Grant Template from The Professor Is In (a great blog so check it out!), the outline is as straight forward as you are going to get. I have read several of the instruction manuals for applying to NSF along with humanities grants, and while very VERY helpful, they are also very VERY long. Not exactly documents you can start with at the beginning of your brainstorming session.
In additional posts, Dr. Kelsky also addresses several common errors including using the words “I need to…” as in “I need to fill this research gap” rather than describing in plain, formal language how you can (and will!) fill the gap. Also, do NOT sign the document like a letter – it isn’t a letter!
Be sure to emphasize why you are applying in the first place. Some helpful language:
“However, none of these works have addressed the central question of ___________.”
“This should be YOUR view of what is most essential to an accurate understanding of the big topic, but which has never to date been studied by anyone else.”
If you are going to be asking for the big bucks, be sure to address the point of it all, the reason you should get the money, and why this research needs to be done. Some more helpful language:
“I expect this research to contribute to debates on _______ and play an important role in________.”
Check out the post on the template from The Professor Is In. Perhaps you can get a grant – and you should at least give the application process a try if the opportunity and funds are available.