Grants: Just the Right Words Without Stressing Out

All grants limit the number of words in an application. Therefore, each word must count for something. The decision for a grant writer: what to put in and what to leave out.

When I write a grant, I answer the questions supported with data. I try to use words and phrases the foundation expects to be in the grant request. In the end, I want the reader to come away with a clear understanding of the project and that the nonprofit can successfully complete it. All this without leaving the reader with more unanswered questions.

This is certainly not easy to do and I attempt it with a lot of trying.

Based on the grant application, I use several writing techniques. One of them is like baking a cake. I write an outline (get out the recipe), fill in the data (bake the cake), and put in additional information (icing and sprinkles).

Another technique is to take keywords from the grant application and foundation website, use them as headers, and write a paragraph or two on each keyword. I put the paragraphs together like a puzzle into the correct section of the grant application.

Still another way is to take the grant question, strip out the key words, and focus the write-up on these words only. Afterwards, I put in the words the foundation wants to see. In the end, I make sure I did not duplicate any information or data.

Most important, a grant writer should not feel pressured to put in something about the nonprofit that does not relate to the grant request. Nothing should be forced.

Even after writing many grants, it is still difficult to get the words right in the limited space allowed. I keep trying.

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