Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tune Out the Noise in Your Grant Proposal

Do you remember how difficult it could be sometimes to tune in to a radio station? A tiny move of the tuning nob could bring static.  Another tiny move could bring in two stations talking over each other and a little static, too. Finally, you get it just right and you hear the station you wanted as clear as a bell. (I realize that there may be some very young ones among you who have come of age in an era of iPods and Pandora who don't know what I'm talking about, but go with it for a moment, ok?)

I have been working on a grant application this week (as usual), and I have a great client who has been doing some fantastic things.  This client is extremely bright and she sees connections between everything.  When she describes what she wants to do through the new grant, she can't help but connect it to all sorts of other activities and programs that are already going on.  This integration of webs of services and partnerships is one of the hallmarks of a skilled program administrator, but it makes for messy grant writing.

Don't get me wrong.  It's very important in a grant narrative to connect new and existing services, to show the organization's capacity for implementing programs of the size and scope of the one in the grant, and to use previous examples of success to demonstrate the likelihood of success of the new project. However, it's also critical to describe what you plan to do as clearly as possible with as little "noise" as possible.

The simpler the program design, the easier it is to describe it clearly in writing. The more complex the design, the more potential there is for "static," and the higher the likelihood that the readers will start to read other things into the proposal that are not really there and to impose their experiences and biases over your writing (that's the other radio station you hear that's infringing on your favorite song).

Your job as a grant writer is to keep it as simple as possible for the reader. Draw connections to other programs and services, but not so much that your message (your program design) becomes less clear.

Remember, the grant readers don't know your organization or your fabulous program. Those little extra pieces of information about related programs and services that are only partially explained bring into your mind a full picture of integrated services.  To the reader, they only spark questions.....and static.

Do yourself a favor.....keep your program design simple and clean, and clear as a bell.

Related Posts:

Five Tips for Writing Good Grant Objectives

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Grant Objectives

Relax......And Tell Your Story

A Fool and His Grant Are Soon Parted - Follow the Instructions


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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.