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Tips For Proposal Writing

Courtesy: Akron (Ohio -USA) Community Foundation

  • The shorter, the better.
  • Talk to others about proposals to a funder. Ask about their experience with funders' proposal preferences regarding:

    -- Length
    -- Complexity
    -- Budget detail
    -- Statistical support
    -- Personal contact before submission

  • Don't write by committee. Project initiator - manager should draft with guidelines provided by the grants writer. Final proposal should be written by the grants writer.
  • Prepare the budget first - then make sure your proposal supports each item in the budget.
  • Write the summary last. Emphasize beneficiaries' benefits, and why the project should be funded at this time.
  • Before you write, determine your project's features and emphasize throughout your proposal.
  • Write in the third person - easier to "brag." (Don't have the good work you do be a "well-kept" secret).
  • Choose a project title of ten or fewer words. Suggest in your title results, rather than a plan.
  • Include a table of contents if the proposal exceeds ten pages.
  • Use contractions for ease of reading.
  • Accentuate the positive. Stress opportunities over needs.
  • Avoid "iffy" and "hopeful" statements. Be positive.
  • Use simple words. Avoid acronyms, literary references, and jargon.
  • Use strong verbs. (hint): Eliminate forms of "to be."
  • Use emotional words. Describe the emotions and the well-being of your beneficiaries.
  • Write short paragraphs of four to six lines, if possible.
  • Strive for strong 1st-sentences for each paragraph.
  • Use the active, rather than the passive, voice.
  • If you have trouble getting started, go back to your budget. Money has a way of helping to refine methods and objectives.
  • Fill in the blanks on an application form. Write "n/a" (not applicable) where necessary.
  • For increased credibility, let a beneficiary or expert state your need through a quote.
  • Use a few clear statistics - rather than a number of ineffective ones.
  • Use graphs and charts wherever possible.
  • Always include a plan for funding the project after the grant ends. Assure that there will surely be "life after (their) grant."
  • Never miss deadlines, including progress and follow-up reports.


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