Terminology and your grant proposals

Anyone who has applied for grant funding knows there isn’t one standard, universally accepted set of terms used by grant-makers. In the new book, Grantsmanship: Program Planning & Proposal Writing, Barbara Floersch, of the Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif., urged grantseekers to focus on concepts rather than terminology. Here’s an excerpt:

“The terminology used by funders is inconsistent and even contradictory. What one defines as a “goal,” another calls an “objective.” What’s labeled an “objective” by one may be called a “method” by another. And on it goes. To function successfully in spite of this changeable vocabulary, focus on understanding concepts rather than memorizing terms and definitions.”

Floersch wrote there are specific categories of information that grantmakers require, no matter what terms they use to request that information. “When interpreting application guidelines, focus on the intention of a question rather than the terms the funder uses,” she wrote. “Focus on what the grantmaker is trying to learn in each question and figure out how the different questions relate to each other.”

Floersch added that to make a logical and compelling argument for funding, grantseekers must provide specific types of information. For example, an applicant organization must define the problem it intends to tackle, the results it expects to achieve, and the approach it will use to produce the results. “Once you develop a clear understanding of the varied yet specific types of information required to make your case,” said Floersch, “you can study the questions posed in any funder’s guidelines and figure out where that non-negotiable information should be placed.”