Tuesday, January 11, 2011

5 MORE Mistakes that Can Lose Millions of Dollars in Grant Applications

As we learned yesterday, the level of competition for grant writers is intense and the economy is making grant funding ever more competitive. Yesterday I discussed five key mistakes that must be avoided to win grant funding. Five more key mistakes to avoid are discussed below. Keep these in mind as you prepare for the 2011 grant writing season.

Mistake 6Improper formatting can lower your score. It hardly needs to be said that a grant writer must follow the FRP guidelines to the letter. If formatting requirements do not specify “no condensed font” it does not mean using a condensed font is a good space-saving idea. It isn’t. You’re only going to make the readers angry who are trying to score your grant. A grant writer’s first priority should always be to make the readers’ jobs easy. Condensed fonts only make reading a lot harder. Never submit a 32 page proposal when the limit is 30 pages. If you are so foolish – some may say bold - as to do this, one of two things will happen and they’re both bad. Either the proposal will be thrown in the trash – or - the excess pages will be torn off and thrown away leaving your proposal short of critical information and thereby lowering your score.

Mistake 7 – Making the readers' job harder. No grant ever lost points for including a table of contents when one wasn’t specifically requested. A table of contents helps a reader jump around your grant easily to find something when they want to. You’ll make the reader’s job easier if you include a TOC and make certain that it follows the RFP outline.  Other ways to make the readers' job of scoring a grant easier are to used the exact headings for each section that are used in the Request For Proposals (RFP), follow the exact organization of the RFP, include only what is required, and make all graphics black and white-friendly.
Mistake 8Poor editing can kill a proposal. It is hard to take a writer seriously when their making lots of mistakes in they’re writing an grammer is very awful and maybe its even simply wrong altogether and it could be making your job of reading a peace of narrative harder than it has to be because then yer gonna get scord reel lo and you don’t want that to happen do you?

Mistake 9Failing to explain graphics and tables in narrative form can leave readers confused. Have you ever looked at a piece of artwork that for all the world looks like a collection of empty tissue boxes stacked oddly with a spotlight on them. But the friend you’re with likes it and it makes you wonder what they might have been smoking in college? Often when we’re creating a visual image of something or creating a table of figures, it makes sense to the creator but others need a little help to understand it. Always include a brief description of the image or table to help the reader understand what it means and why it is significant to their understanding of the proposal.

Mistake 10A late application is a dead application. Some grants have postmarked deadlines, some have “on my desk” deadlines, and others have online submission time deadlines. If you miss any of these your grant won’t get scored at all, even if you wrote the finest proposal since Aristotle and your agency is more deserving of assistance than Mother Theresa.

You may be asking yourself after the last two days of morbid blogging about making mistakes whether you are brave enough to submit a grant application? Why of course you are! Now you know about ten key mistakes to avoid, so you’ll only have to guess about the other ten.  Maybe you’re already thinking to yourself, “Hey, they forgot about #13!” Please feel free to comment about other key mistakes we all need to avoid.

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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.