Tips for Writing Effective Grant Proposals
- Write a succinct and compelling summary of your plans.
- Point out links between your program and the goals of the funder.
- Use data—it’s the evidence you present to make your case.
- Like a court case, present irrefutable evidence of the need.
- Make sure data supports the program being proposed.
- Cite any experts you quote and credit published reports from which you take data.
- Funders want to solve problems and know that they’ve made a difference. Give them a proposal that does that.
- Remember that objectives MUST be measurable—how many, how much, etc.
- Whenever possible, provide concrete examples of activities—make the project “come alive” and demonstrate how you’re moving from theory to action.
- It’s not enough to say your department wants a new piece of equipment—explain how you’ll use that equipment and how it will improve education.
- The strongest grant proposals make the link between goals and objectives and the evaluation plan.
- When determining how much to ask for, don’t exceed the published cap, if there is one. It’s wise to seek a specific amount, such as $27,423, instead of $30,000. It infers that you’re asking only for the funding that is absolutely necessary.
- Anecdotal information can be very powerful, when used the right way. It puts a human face on statistics and shows how your project can change lives.
- One size doesn’t fit all. Tailor your proposal to the specific audience.
- Use the funder’s own words and themes in your proposal, when appropriate. It shows that you’re “in sync.”
Writing it Well
- Use everyday language. Avoid jargon.
- Choose strong action verbs and don’t add unnecessary adverbs.
- Improve your sentences by changing them from passive to active voice.
- Use short sentences.
- Avoid strings of prepositional phrases.
- Cut the fat from your sentences.
- The word “impact” is so overused that it has lost its impact.
- Other word that are overused –“proactive” and “at risk.”
- Use present tense:
Do say, “XYZ will provide services …”
Don’t say, “XYZ would provide services …”
- Use bulleted lists, rather than sentences, whenever possible. It helps organize the project and is easier to read.
Pet Peeves of Funders
- Going over the page limit.
- Proposals that are wordy.
- Not following the rules for font size.Jargon or writing that is overly intellectual.
- Proposals that are not precise, concise and sharp.
- Things that are not spellchecked.
- Bad grammar.
- Name dropping.
- Proposals that do not follow guidelines.
- Proposals that are not proofread.