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If given the choice, would you rather write a two-page or a ten-page grant proposal, responding to the same Request for Proposal? The logical answer seems to be the two-page proposal but if you have ever faced the challenge of writing a short proposal, you probably weren’t so quick to choose the shorter assignment. And rightfully so. Writing a succinct yet powerful grant proposal is difficult. Every thought must be clear and every word must count.
Here are eight tips to help you write a succinct grant proposal:
- Read the Request for Proposal carefully. While this may seem obvious, writers often give the Request for Proposal a quick reading and then move on, eager to get words on paper. Instead, take the time to read the proposal thoroughly — several times if necessary — until you have a strong grasp of what is being requested. Understand the funding priorities, target audience, expected deliverables and any other program details specified. Consider the timeline — when the proposal is due, when funding decisions will be made, how many months or years you have to deliver the program. Pay close attention to the requested proposal format, i.e., whether it is double-spaced or single-spaced, the number of pages allowed and the required typeface and size.
- Research the funder. Learn as much as possible about the funding organization. This information can help you emphasize aspects of your program that will be of greatest interest to the funder.
- Understand the details of the program. The more you know about the program, the more concrete your writing will be and the less extraneous information you will be tempted to include. If it is a new program, develop a detailed implementation timeline. This will help you see where planning is still incomplete.
- Answer each question with a statement. Before you start writing, summarize your answer to each question in one sentence. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that the entire story gets told. Brainstorm supporting details and prioritize them.
- Take a break. Once you have completed the research and have a framework for writing the proposal, step away from it for a while. Although this may feel as if you are wasting time under deadline, you are actually giving your mind the opportunity to formulate your response, which leads to tighter writing.
- Write! Draft your proposal in one sitting if possible. If the proposal is too long for this, draft by sections. Don′t edit at this point. Get your thoughts down and leave the editing for later.
- Edit relentlessly. First, edit your proposal for meaning, making sure your ideas unfold in a logical sequence. Next, edit for style, eliminating slang, jargon and extra words — anything that detracts from your story. Finally, edit for grammar, spelling and typographical errors.
- Proofread. When you think you have a completed proposal, put it aside and take a breather. Before you submit your work, proofread it one final time. Good luck!