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In writing a new grant proposal, the use of boilerplate from one or more past proposals is a common practice. It offers a starting point for creating responses, particularly to topics or review criteria that recur from one proposal to the next; however, it should be used only as an initial point of departure — never as a final point of arrival — for writing a new proposal.


This post is the first of a pair of posts on boilerplate, which together will be the last in a series on the use of templates, clones, and boilerplate in grant writing.


Boilerplate Defined:

The Business Dictionary defines ‘boilerplate’ as ‘ready made content, design, or format that fits a variety of uses.’ In the context of grant seeking, boilerplate is writing that applicants have created at one time that they reuse as starting points for later writing.


Uses of Boilerplate:

Writers will use boilerplate to try to take advantage of language that they have created as parts of past proposals, particularly if it has been tested and proven by having been funded at least once before. They will use it to exploit apparently effective solutions to problems posed while crafting responses for one or more selection criteria (or for other required proposal elements). In doing so, they will use it to improve the likelihood of obtaining funding again by adopting and adapting responses that have proven their effectiveness in the past.


Under the pressure of deadlines, some writers may use boilerplate to improve the productivity and efficiency of their writing. For writers, using boilerplate may improve both by providing points of departure for brand-new writing. At times, writers may resort to it to build momentum in writing or simply to avoid the cerebral paralysis that sometimes comes when they face a blank page.


From one use to the next, writers will revise and refresh the boilerplate’s original structure and content even to the point of transforming it completely after several iterations. They will rework both structure and content to reflect the applicant’s current plans and its attributes very near the time of each new proposal deadline. They also will rework them to fit each subsequent specific funding opportunity.


Conscientious writers will use boilerplate for elements of a number of proposals that the same applicant (or the same client) submits to different grant competitions over a period of time. They will not use it for an entire proposal to be supplied or sold to a number of applicants for them to submit to the same program at the same time.


Examples and Distinctions:

A later post will describe several possible specific uses of boilerplate in writing grant proposals. It also will compare and contrast the use of boilerplate with the use of templates and clones in pursuing grants.



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