Tracks to Success
Common Grant Writing Mistakes You Can Fix Today!
by Alice Ruhnke, CEO, The Grant Advantage
In the last three articles, six common grant writing errors found in grant applications were discussed. This final article focuses on formatting and submitting your proposal in a way that adds to the chance of your proposal being funded.
Mistake #7: Not following the funder’s instructions
Most of the time, funders give you explicit directions to follow when preparing and submitting your proposals. Directions often include information such as due dates and times, page limits, required attachments, how to order the components of your application, margin sizes, and even the font to use in your narrative. Because funders receive many more applications than they can support, not following directions lessens your application’s chances of success. Many funders assume that if you can’t follow directions when you are asking for the money, you won’t follow directions when it comes to submitting reports and following through with the implementation of your proposal. Don’t let this happen to you.
Mistake #8: Not editing
Grant writers are constantly working against deadlines. And sometimes in this rush, we make simple mistakes that diminish the impact of the proposal. Whenever possible, leave time in the schedule for a second and third review of your proposal once everything is complete. It is often during reviews by internal and external stakeholders that discoveries of connections needed to tighten your proposal are made. These reviews maximize your proposal’s strengths and eliminate weaknesses. Reviews will also help you make sure simple mistakes in spelling and grammar are caught and that all of the sections of the proposal fit and flow together. This common mistake can be corrected if you design the schedule to allow for sufficient time for review at the end of the grant writing process. While not easy, it can be done.
As mentioned in Part One, all grant writers grow in their craft over time and learning from mistakes (and the mistakes of others) helps us increase our skills. I encourage you to become a grant reviewer to enhance your grant writing abilities. There are opportunities to act as a reviewer at the local level (local foundations, United Ways, community foundations, etc.) or at the national level with federal agencies. This is one of the best ways to hone grant writing skills because you shift your “lens” from a seeker to a funder and learn firsthand about the grant process from the funder’s point of view. This insight then gives you an edge in anticipating what funders are looking for.I hope this Tracks to Success series has helped you learn more about some of the common pitfalls of grant writing and how to avoid making them in the future. Good luck with your grantseeking!
This article was edited by Julie Kaufman. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, useful tips, or are interested in writing a series for us, please email our Research team, or call our toll-free number: 877-784-7268.