Basic Writing Skills are Important

Do focus on your content when writing a grant, but pay attention to standards rules of spelling, punctuation, and sentence construction. If you have a problem in one of these areas, review your old high school English book or try reading White’s Elements of Style. Seek help from an English teacher or follow these key principles for writing a grant proposal.

1.   Avoid jargon and acronyms unless they are in the grant application. Write as if your reader is unfamiliar with your area of interest. If you must use jargon explain what a words means in plain English. If you use acronyms to shorten the name of your agency or project, spell them out at the beginning of your document.

2.   Vary your sentence structure. Keep sentences and paragraphs short. If you like to write long sentences, cut them in half. A paragraph should only contain four segments. Use the active voice as much as you can. Be positive.

3.     Bullets and numbered lists are the basic means to consolidate information. They add variety to a page. Add copies of organizational charts and program logic scales. Show rather than tell your story and identify your needs and program activities. Charts are awesome for budgets.

Grant Binders

4.   Use the words you see in the mission statement. Do not substitute synonyms. You can vary the words you frequently use and do translate convoluted statement into simple English.

5.   Be careful with your language. Use politically correct language and be sensitive to word choices. Use plural nouns rather than struggling with he/she variations. Stop defining your clients. For example write, “clients with developmental issues” rather than idiots.

6.   Paint a graphic picture of the needs for your project. However, avoid describing a scene out of the pages of the Dark Ages. Avoid using stellar, one-of-a-kind, precedent-shattering or awe-inspiring in your narratives. You are writing a request for funding, not a disaster novel.

7.   Pay attention to your beginnings and endings. Use strong sentences in the beginning and ending of your narrative. Strong words at the beginning and ending will enhance your request. If you use “this” or “it” or any other vague word, find a different word.

The “devil is in the details” when writing grant proposals. Double check your regions. Keep number relevant. Watch cutting and pasting and make sure your words ask the questions. ~ Grant Writing Demystified, 2011.