If you have ever cringed at the thought of writing a grant proposal, you are certainly in the majority. But while there seems to be a stigma associated with the process, the fear of getting started may often be misplaced. Preparing a grant proposal does not require you to be a poet laureate or a fancy wordsmith. In fact, complex sentences and fancy words are more likely to cause more harm than good. So, if it isn’t about being a phenomenal writer, then what is grant writing all about? It’s actually not as complicated as you would think.
1. Know your project. Develop an elevator speech. If you can describe your project in the time it takes to ride an elevator up 3 floors, then you have a good handle on your subject. Focus on key terms. What is the issue or problem your project solves? How? Who does it solve the problem for? What is the cost? What will you do when it is over? You should be able to answer these big questions in 30 seconds to one minute.
2. Collaborate: Look at your project and the problem you are trying to solve. What other issues might your project affect? Are there other organizations that would be interested in collaborating with you on your project, with minimal effort? This could maximize the potential for funding by allowing you to hit multiple agendas on an organization’s funding initiatives. It may also increase the visibility of your brand.
3. Know your funder. Search for your funder on the web. Check their Form 990’s as well. Look to see if their funding initiatives or stated interests match the terms used in your elevator speech. If you think there is a fit, look at the projects they have funded in the past. You want to make sure they fund similar size and types of projects and entities (i.e., individual, corporation, or non-profit). Some organizations only fund large, million and multi-million dollar projects, while others deal in much smaller quantities.
4. KIS: Keep it simple. Follow your funder’s application instructions. Avoid complex sentences. Do not show off by using long words or vocabulary that only someone in your industry would know. If you must use an acronym, always define it first. Too many complex sentences, industry jargon, and acronyms can cause the reviewer to set your proposal aside. Most importantly, always have at least one other person proofread your proposal before you submit it.
By following these 4 simple tips, you can place your proposal firmly in the “YES” pile and avoid rejection.
About the Author: Allison Boroda is a writer who lives in Lubbock, Texas with her Husky, Sitka. She is a consultant for the School of Art (SOA) at Texas Tech University (TTU), and her writing has been featured in Burros Mini Mental Measurements Yearbook, two TTU publications. She has also been acknowledged by author Maryanne Raphael.