Seducing your reviewer

January 21, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

So, the reviewers hated your grant proposal. Much like a failed relationship, you’re left wondering, “Where did it go so wrong?”

Susan Jordan, a grant developer with Portland Public Schools in Oregon, shared some tips on how to seduce your grant reviewer during the Grant Professionals Association 2013 National Conference in Baltimore, Md. Reviewers need to be wined and dined, said Jordan, only instead of flowers and candy and whispering sweet nothings, they appreciate tables of contents, proper formatting and a proposal that tells a story.

Follow these tips, she said, and your reviewer will fall head over heels for your proposal.

  • Start with a great story, one that’s personal and illustrates the nature of the problem, and that’s backed up with statistics;
  • Make sure the proposal is easy to read. Stick with italics and stay away from bold and quotation marks. Make sure there’s minimal jargon, no first-person, enough white space;
  • The table of contents is complete, simple and clear;
  • The abstract gives a clear sense of what you want to do and why;
  • Follow the directions: spacing, margins, number of pages.
  • Your first heading is the first criterion, its first sub-heading is the first sub-criterion, etc. Terms from the criteria are repeated in the response, and every sub-criterion has a response;
  • Use citations correctly;
  • Don’t make assumptions on what the reviewers know;
  • Put everything you can in a chart, especially time lines, logic models and processes;
  • Don’t exceed the allotted number of pages; and,
  • The goals are clearly stated, match the funder’s goals, have measurable objectives and do not number more than five.