5 Tips for Grant Writing Strategies

by the Tech&Learning Grant Guru Gary Carnow


Be careful with the use of appendices. Some proposal writers try to use the appendix to place information that should have been included in the body of the proposal. The appendix should not be used to get around any page limitations stated in the RFP.

In general, the appendix might include: résumés of key personnel that will implement the grant; endorsements and letters of support; verifi cations; assurances; and diagrams or illustrations. It is not uncommon to supply documentation of your non-profi t status. Some proposals will ask for you a list of collaborating partners.

Do not put new information in the appendix. Your grant application must stand on its own. Any information in the appendix should further verify or backup the text of your application.

Grant Forms

The forms that are part of the RFP guidelines will often serve as an outline for your grant narrative. Most RFPs will also include a procedure for the application submission. These directions will guide you and help you plan ahead. Additionally, the RFP will describe formatting issues. Follow all directions carefully. Many applications have additional components, usually a set of forms and assurances. It is imperative that you read all of the directions (several times) so that you can get going on these additional pieces.

Scoring Criteria, Rubrics and the Writing Process

Scoring criteria are often included in the grant request for proposals. The scoring criteria is often further described in a scoring rubric. The rubric may further break down the criteria and provide the grant readers a score range on which to judge this element.

Under each category in the rubric, a statement is provided as an example. This detailed rubric is both good and bad for the grant seeker. On the good side, the grant funder is telling you exactly what you need to do. What is bad is that you may be tempted to simply write the “Makes a Strong Case” statement without really describing what you plan to do. Be careful not to fall into this trap. For example, stating that the narrative describes a comprehensive action plan to share successful program implementation strategies and outcomes with stakeholders at the conclusion of the program does not tell the grant reader how you plan to do this. It does not say how parents, community members, and school districts will actually be able to share in the lessons learned.

Grant Budget

The criteria for a budget might be scored on a three-point scale or a fi vepoint scale. Here is an example of a three-point scale:
1 The proposal’s budget is vague and/ or inappropriate for the project.
2 The proposal provides a budget that is appropriate in type and amount, but is lacking suffi cient detail.
3 The proposal provides a clearly articulated and itemized budget that is appropriate in both type and amount.

Editing is Everything

A common saying among writers is that writing is rewriting. There is no good writing, only good rewriting. Great writers do this instinctively. The rest of us have to practice.

Planning ahead will give you the opportunity to rewrite. Wait two days to begin the editing process. Going at it with a clear mind will help you fi nd what in your proposal works and what doesn’t. As you begin to edit, remember that this is the time to cut, not add. Most of us are too wordy in our writing. Use this time to get to the heart of what you are trying to say. Avoid prepositional phrases, and keep the language simple. Clutter is really the enemy. Why use assistance instead of help? Or why not try many instead of numerous or use do instead of implement? Cutting and simplifying will give your writing an economy and a tone that is sharp and focused. Show no mercy.

After you have simplified, spell-checked, and generally cleaned up the final look, share the document with colleagues and ask for their insights and reactions. Particularly ask for their comments about clarity and content.