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Introduction

Revised in mid-2016, this post covers guidance about proposal lengths and formats in common grant application (CGA) forms. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Context

At least 20 associations of grant makers or other organizations in the United States publish a common grant application (CGA) form online. This post explores CGA publishing requirements such as Narrative Page Limits, Page Margins, Font Sizes, and Line Spacing.

 

Other posts will explore required proposal elements from Cover Letters to Attachments, applicant revenue sources from Grants to Memberships, and budget expense categories from Salaries and Wages to Marketing – as well as other elements of common grant application forms. The end of the post explains the abbreviations that it uses.

 

Significance

As a collection, taken as a whole, the common grant application (CGA) forms provide insight into the questions and considerations that interest hundreds of private grant makers. They show that funders have specific expectations about fonts, margins, and other aspects of proposals as forms of writing.

 

Page Limits

As the table below indicates, CGA page limits range from three pages to nine pages. The median is five pages. All CGA providers that state page limits exclude Attachments from them. A dash (—) means that no guidance for page limits is stated on the provider’s CGA.

 

Common Grant Application Forms
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
CGA Provider NNG AZ CA CO CT DC IL ME MD MA ME MN MO NJ NY OH PA1 PA2 TX WA WI
Page Limits 5 5 5 5 8 5 2 6 8 5 5 4 6 3 9 4 5

 

Analysis

Out of the 20 providers of common grant application forms, four (or 20%) (CA, MI, MO, and PA-2) provide no guidance about Narrative page limits. One CGA provider (ME) gives guidance for its Format A but not for its Format B; the same provider also specifies an alternate 1,000-word limit for its Format A. Providers that do not specify page limits often defer to the specific guidelines and priorities of funders that accept the CGA. Three (or 15%) CGA providers (CO, ME, and TX) vary their page limits according to the specific type of proposal (e.g., general operating grants versus project grants).

 

Proposal Formats

In the table below, a dash (—) means no guidance about proposal formats; an asterisk (*) means no guidance about the specific attributes; and a blank means that the provider imposes either one of the line spacing requirements or the other (as indicated by an X).

 

  Common Grant Application Forms
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
CGA Provider NNG AZ CA CO CT DC IL ME MD MA ME MN MO NJ NY OH PA1 PA2 TX WA WI
Margins X X * X * * * X X * * * * X X *
Font Size X X * X * * * X * * * * * X X X
Single Space * X * * X   X X X X   X X X * *
Double Space *   * *   X         X       * *

 

All CGA States

 

Analysis

Five (or 25%) CGA providers (MO, NY, PA-1, PA-2, and TX) offer no guidance about proposal formats. Of the 15 that offer guidance, the type size that 11 (or 73.3%) CGA providers require is 12-point font. The four exceptions (ME, NJ, WA, and WI) allow the use of a 10-point or 11-point font. Most required margins are one inch. One exception — NNG — requires ¼-inch margins.

 

Of the nine providers that do specify line spacing requirements, seven (or 77.8%) require single-spacing (AZ, CT, ME, MA, MN, MO, and NJ) and two require double-spacing (DC and MI).

 

Comparison with Federal Formats

In most respects, the format instructions for common grant application forms are similar to those for grant applications to be submitted to Federal agencies. In that context, typical format requirements are one-inch margins on all sides, 12-point font, and double-spacing throughout. On occasion, certain government funders, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require single-spacing or allow an 11-point font. In addition, many government grant programs limit all applicants to certain specified fonts, such as Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial.

 

Sources

Below is a list of abbreviations used in this post. The common grant application forms are found on their providers’ websites.

  • 1.   NNG: National Network of Grantmakers
  • 2.   AZ: Arizona Grantmakers Forum
  • 3.   CA: San Diego Grantmakers
  • 4.   CO: Colorado Nonprofit Association
  • 5.   CT: Connecticut Council for Philanthropy
  • 6.   DC: Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
  • 7.   IL: Forefront (Chicago area)
  • 8.   ME: Maine Philanthropy Center
  • 9.  MA: Associated Grantmakers
  • 10. MI: Council of Michigan Foundations
  • 11. MN: Minnesota Community Foundation
  • 12. MO: Gateway Center for Giving
  • 13. NJ: Council of New Jersey Grantmakers/Philanthropy New York
  • 14. NY: Grantmakers Forum of New York
  • 15. OH: Ohio Grantmakers Forum
  • 16. PA-1: Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia
  • 17. PA-2: Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania
  • 18. TX: Central Texas Education Funders
  • 19. WA: Philanthropy Northwest
  • 20. WI: Donors Forum of Wisconsin

 

 

 

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