Grant Writing Tips

Grantsmanship Tips for Writing a Proposal

  1. Read everything in the grant application first. Underline. Make sure you understand what is called for. Call funding agency or Grants Office and ask for clarification if necessary. Verify deadline date.
  2. Outline what is required and note page limits, if any. Never say no in response to a question. If the answer must be no, be sure to explain why it's no. If evaluation criteria are given, be sure to keep them in the forefront as you write.
  3. Make copy attractive and readable by using lots of headings, sub-headings, underlining, asterisks, etc. Twenty-five pages of single spaced copy can be deadly to a reviewer who is reading many proposals. Try double spacing between paragraphs, and triple spacing between headings to make the copy more attractive.
  4. Write your proposal in simple English. To test the clarity of your proposal, have someone from outside your discipline read it.
  5. Be positive. Convince the reader that you are a successful applicant, that your project is a winner, and that they will be too if they fund your project.
  6. Justify and explain everything in the budget. Be sure the item or person listed in the budget is described somewhere in the narrative section of the proposal.
  7. Avoid unsupported assumptions. Document where appropriate. Show evidence of cause and effect (e.g., problem and solution) where possible.
  8. Be brief!
  9. Be sure the proposal is neat, clean and easy to read. No typos, send number of copies requested, bind as requested. Everything should be referenced in a table of contents, even appendices. Make it idiot proof.
  10. No one system works in grant writing. Reasons for success vary from the sublime to the ridiculous: knowing someone, past record of success, timing, novel idea, and, of course, a well-prepared proposal. Pretend the proposal is a term paper.
  11. You have the outline, now run with it.