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As I’ve noted previously, everyone who has ever won a grant award has ideas about what caused that result. No single explanatory idea is likely to be exhaust why it won funding.

Here are five more imperatives that, if heeded, should help to ensure your success from the start.

1. Be Persuasive: 

Every proposal is an act of persuasion. Convince a grant maker that investing in your organization’s proposed solution is prudent risk-taking. Rally succinct analyses of need and research-based plans of action to eradicate doubt. Demonstrate that your personnel, resources, and expertise are up to the task.

2. Create Context:

The more distant the grant source, the less likely it will know anything about your organization’s background or its problem-solving capacity. As an applicant, you must provide concise contextual information. Your organizational capability statement may set a context for both the problem you propose to address and its solution. The funder’s analyses in its publications may contribute to defining the problem’s context and possible solutions as well.

3. Be Logical:

Define a specific problem and offer a clear solution. Use data to demonstrate need and present comparative data to make your case whenever possible. Apply current research on best practices to support the solutions you propose. Make your conclusions flow directly from your premises. Offer a data-driven assessment of needs that leads to research-based strategies and logically sequenced action steps to address them.

4. Be Concise: 

Good proposal narratives are user-friendly, easy to follow. They move directly to the point. They demand guesswork of no one. Anticipate, avoid, and alleviate the tedium of seemingly interminable text. Try to merge well-selected data tables or other clear and simple graphics with text in a single seamless narrative. Always follow the funder’s directions about tables and other graphics and its instructions for format and other facets of your proposal.

5. Follow Criteria:

Selection criteria are the rules of the grant making game. Often, they are explicit; sometimes, implied as common knowledge. You must respond to all of them. You will seldom succeed when you omit or ignore or dispute them. When criteria remain unstated, you must apply the principles of effective grant proposal writing to discern and address them. Start with some of the most basic questions: Who? What? Where? How? Why? When? How often? By answering these few questions you’ll discover other basic questions that need answers.

Four more imperatives for winning grants will follow soon.

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