An Organized Response to Chaotic Guidelines

September 13, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

Some grant application guidelines are less than clear and the worst are absolutely chaotic. No matter what the funder throws out, however, a grant professional must sift through the information, sort instructions into some sort of order, and present a logical and responsive proposal.

According to Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles and author of “Grantsmanship: Program Planning & Proposal Writing,” here are a four tips to help you find your way through the labyrinth of poorly constructed guidelines.

  • Interpret the funder’s terminology. Words such as goals, objectives, outcomes, results, and the like are defined differently by different funders. Study the context in which such words are used, sort out the funder’s meaning, and then to promote mutual understanding, concisely explain your definition of the terms within the text of your proposal.
  • Use a colored highlighter to identify every requirement. Poorly constructed guidelines sprinkle “must do” items throughout the application and unless you’re fastidious, one or two will slip by you.
  • Develop a table for each major section of the proposal, then list each requirement you’ve identified in the section that makes the most sense. For example, although mandatory program elements may show up throughout the guidelines, group program-related requirements together in the table you’ve created for the METHODS section.
  • Develop clear headings and sub-headings and use strong formatting. This approach will impose order and keep readers from feeling lost.

Think of sorting out the application guidelines as a puzzle of sorts. When you sort through the pieces and group similar elements, the picture takes shape. © Copyright 2016 The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.