Categorize Information In Proposals

December 13, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

One guaranteed way to sink your chances of winning a grant award is to confuse reviewers. “Reviewers don’t have time to decipher a bewildering proposal,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “They’ll give your document one solid reading and if they don’t understand your point, you’re out.”

“The most helpful advice I can offer sounds simple,” Floersch continued. “Group information into well-defined components.” Every grant proposal must include myriad types of information, and unless that information is grouped into distinct categories the document quickly becomes confusing.

First, identify the various categories you’ll use for grouping information and produce an outline. When the funder has provided application guidelines, group information beneath headings that respond directly to the funder’s instructions. You’ll often find it useful to include sub-categories or sub-headings within each major section.

Then, as you begin laying out your argument for support, work carefully to keep information within the correct section of the proposal. “Proposal writers have an especially hard time restricting their discussion of the program approach they plan to use,” said Floersch. “But allowing information about the proposed program to slip into other parts of the proposal–i.e., explanation of the problem you’re tackling, or presentation of expected outcomes–weakens the logic of your case for support.”

To produce an easily digested argument for grant support, write in a clear and active voice, be concise, follow instructions, and be sure to categorize information carefully. “When information is organized into distinct categories, a grant proposal is like a roadmap that leads reviewers to a logical conclusion,” said Floersch. “But, when various types of information are mixed together without definitions or distinctions, a grant proposal drops reviewers into a chaotic, confusing situation and challenges them to make sense of it all. Confusing proposals are rarely funded.” © Copyright 2016, The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.