To Win Grants, Write Clearly

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There’s much more to winning grant awards than writing! To win, it’s imperative to approach the right funder with a solid program plan that’s capable of producing meaningful results. But the quality of the writing does matter.

 

Unless you can produce lucid, compelling prose your proposal will suffer. Great writing can’t cover up a defective program plan, but incoherent writing can obscure even the best plan in a shroud of confusion.

 

A grant proposal calls for high-quality argumentative writing–writing that presents evidence, establishes a position based on that evidence, and calls for action. In a proposal, the action requested is implementation of the program plan via the award of grant funding. In some situations, your relationship with the grantmaker will carry more weight than the written proposal. But your ability to clearly articulate your case for support will always carry weight and in many circumstances the written document will be the sole deciding factor in whether your request is funded.

 

First get the elements of your argument in place. Then turn your attention to articulating that argument in a clear and compelling way that meets all of the funder’s proposal requirements. There are numerous ways to conquer this challenge if you don’t have a top-flight writer on staff.

 

  • Invest in professional development. Build the skills of staff members who have limited experience but lots of interest, energy, and potential. Pay for staff members to take a writing class at a nearby university, enroll in an online class, or connect with a writing mentor who will instruct and guide them.

 

  • Encourage staff members to study classic writing books such as The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White and On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

 

  • Employ a writer to draft the proposal, or an editor to pull together the rough draft into a final document.

 

When communicating ideas, everything that doesn’t promote understanding and clarity is static. To win grant funding, keep static out of your proposals.

 

— Barbara Floersch, Chief of Training & Curriculum

 

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