Writing Tips for Proposals that Get Funded

Writing Tips for Proposals that Get Funded

A lot of us get writer’s block when it’s time to submit a grant application. But by following some simple rules to stay on track, grant writing can be simple and rewarding for both you and your organization.

When I’m writing a proposal, I always keep these 5 things in mind.  While most of these tips are pretty universal, they are especially important to keep in mind when you’re writing a grant proposal, since you could be up against many other contenders.

1. Get to the point-Get Funded

The best way to get funded is to make sure your writing is straightforward and easy to understand. If your proposal is full of big words and long, convoluted text, it’s more likely to go into the recycle bin than make it to the short-list. In order to make your point, you have to keep it simple.

When I write a grant proposal, I sometimes imagine myself explaining the organization and the project to a 10 year old, my grandmother, a lawyer and a politician, in the same room, at the same time.

2. Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS)-Get Funded

KISS is a great rule to remember in order to make your point. But you should also apply the KISS rule to your presentation.

Print your proposal on plain white paper without graphic decorations or other distracting features. Use standard margins and fonts. Separate sections with short, bold titles. Pictures and illustrations should only be used when they are called for (e.g. as samples in an artistic proposal). Keep it easy to read!

3. But What Is The Point? Using the 5 W’s (and an H)-Get Funded

The person reading your proposal needs to understand:

Who:  What your organization is all about, and why you are qualified to run the project, as well as any partners who will be involved
What:  The problem, need, or opportunity being addressed
When:  How long the project will run and when any milestones will take place
Where: What facilities/space will be used
Why: The goals and objectives of the project, and of course,
How: What you will do in the actual project, what you will need in order to do it, and how you will determine its success (this will form the bulk of your proposal).

4.  Be Professional-Get Funded

The funding body has to consider their reputation as well as the impact on the community when they are deciding which organizations to fund. If you are competing with other organizations and you happen to have a beef with any of them, don’t let that shine through!

Focus on your organization’s positive qualities rather than what you see as your competitor’s negative attributes, and let your dignified manner show your organization is respectful and responsible.

5. Show That You Can Measure Results

You will need to be able to show how you will measure the success of the project at the end, or if the project is ongoing, at consistent times throughout the year (e.g. annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily). The funding body will be more likely to fund projects that have specific measures in place for both quantitative (based on numbers) and qualitative (based on people) feedback.

If I were planning a family games day in the park, a quantitative measure would be the number of people that showed up and the number of people that participated in various games, while a qualitative measure could be based on a short survey handed out to participants.

Many funding bodies will have a form in place for you to fill out in order to submit your grant application. If you have to work it out from scratch, here is a simple, straightforward template you can use for nearly any grant proposal.

Now that you have brushed up on your grant writing basics, head on over to Step by Step Fundraising to find out what else you can do to secure your funding.

If you are looking for grants to apply to, check out this great resource for education grants or this extensive grants database that has been collecting info on funding bodies since 1996.

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