Grant Proposal Writing
Now let's put the finishing touches on your document so that your ideas to change society can be funded into reality. In this session, you will also have a chance to review an actual grant proposal.
Find the magic balance between the professionalism and pragmatism of your presentation. Packaging is a fundamental part of any marketing effort, but it should not outshine content. Demonstrate that your project will be carried out by professional people who are counting on the grantor's funds. In other words, do not allow the ostentation of your proposal's packaging to detract from the fact that you are humbly asking for assistance. Your final document should be legible, readable, and crystal clear.
I prefer to print a proposal on my comptuer printer and duplicate it using a copy machine. I follow the RFP guidelines to the letter! The RFP will tell you what format to use (margin width, font size, etc.), so pay close attention to their requirements. Some agencies prohibit binding in order for them to make copies for their reviewers. Others want you to print a certain amount of copies.
Many want the ORIGINALS signed in certain colors of ink. Be sure to follow all their requirements.
CONSIDER THE REVIEWER'S NEEDS
The proposal writer expects that the reviewer will have ample time to read and fairly evaluate the entire document. The work load of review panels varies, and it is safe to assume that the proposal will be reviewed under enormous time constraints. Ask yourself: "Is the table of contents clear and accurate? Can the pressured reader painlessly find the critically important points in your text? If you have carefully followed the grantor's outline or application form, the reviewer should be able to find the key items.
Use all available technical writing tools for your presentation. Consider the following:
* Some reviewers concentrate on the text. Strong topic sentences capture attention and capsulate content. Punctuation, underlining, spacing, bold fonts, and succinct style facilitate a textual review.
* Some reviewers focus on pictures and graphs. The visual reviewer heads straight for diagrams, flow charts, and tables for vital information.
* Some reviewrs read bullets. The "ammunition" reviewer is directed to focal points of the text by bullets as visual cues.
Ultimately, a grant proposal needs to contain the elements of a classic composition -- an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. With logic and clarity as your guideposts, you'll be fine. Remember to use a jargon-free style; if your proposal reads like a California ballot initiative, you have gone too far.
Use fonts that flow. Fonts with serifs (little tags that hang on letters) are easier to read than san serif (without tags). For example, Times Roman font has serifs and is very legible because it tends to pull the eye along. Arial, Century Gothic, and Helvetica fonts are better used for headlines as they are more difficult to read in lengthy paragraphs.
Reading ALL CAPS is strenuous. Example: WORDS RUN TOGETHER AND ARE TIRESOME TO READ PARAGRAPH AFTER PARAGRAPH.
Although the Abstract is the first page of your document, write the abstract last. Thereis usually a strict limit on the maximum number of words allowed. ADHERE TO THIS RULE!
My method is to copy the entire document on my word processing program. I then open a new blank document and past it a second time. I start cutting out superfluous items. I delete all forms, titles, charts, and excess verbiage. I ask the word processor to do a word count, and I cut some more. I read each sentence fromthe begining and cut out all unncessary words. Another word count follows, then I add a few transitional phrases to make it flow. I pare down to fit the word limit. I ask someone to read it and give me feedback. Does it effectively summarize my project or plan? The Abstract becomes the "Cliff Notes" for my proposal, because I know that some reviewers will read the abstract without reading the complete document.
With only minor modifications, the abstract can become a press release or a handout when you are promoting yourproject. Or, it can be attached to the Board of Trustee's next genda.
SENDING THE PROPOSAL
Again, follow the RFP's instructions to the letter. They are often so precise that they will tell you how to fill out the mailing label. The granting agency will let you know if the requested copies are to be bound or not.
I presonally deliver the copies of my proposal to the post office. I pay the additional fee for a receipt-of-delivery postcard to be mailed to me. If the grantor demands that your proposal be postmarked by a SPECIFIC date, be sure you go to the Post Office (don't use your in-hour postal metering system).
If I hand deliver a proposal, I prepare a receipt and ask the receiving clerk to sign it. A sample receipt reads: "I received five copies (one original) of a grant proposal entitled 'Distance Learning Institute' from XYZ College." indicate the date and the time.
It is often possible to obtain comments from the reviewers. These comments offer an informative "report card' of your grant proposal efforts, especially if your proposal is denied. Rejection is constructive when it prepares you for the next proposal. Don't give up!
CHALLENGING THE SYSTEM
Procedures are set up to challenge an agency's ruling, but after the money is allocated, it can be a futile endeavor.
I trust that this workshop will successfully bring your creative idea or project to be funded by some granting agencies. You, the successful grant proposal writer, are a huge asset to your institution or organization because so many people depend on your skills.
If you would like to test yourself on how much information you have learned, here is a quick self assessment. If you are taking this for staff development purposes at SRJC, this post assessment will be evidence of your completion of this workshop.
Grant Proposal Workshop Post Assessment
The link below takes you to a real proposal that was recently submitted to the California Community College Chancellor's Office, and it was funded. Some of the cover sheets and the budget summary page forms are not included, but the entire text of the proposal is here for your review. You will need Adobe READER to view the proposal.
We hope you enjoyed this online workshop!
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Distance Education office at Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA USA
Last updated: 19:00 on 1 March 2005
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