I can’t even begin to list the grant proposals in which I’ve seen some variation of the following sentence:
The term “grant writing” is a bit of a misnomer, as it makes the process of developing a grant application sound limited to typing up a draft. In reality, crafting a grant proposal is a complex process that involves many steps before real writing takes place.
Here’s my process:
Whether you’re writing a cover letter, grant application, or professional report, “etc.” has no place in formal communication.
Picture some of history’s and popular culture’s most enduring quotes with the addition of “etc.”:
“That’s one small step for man, etc.”
“I’ll get you, my pretty, etc.”
If you’re still tempted to use “etc.” in your writing, imagine replacing it with, “I couldn’t be bothered to complete this.”
The one exception is the case in which you are writing to an audience that you are absolutely sure will understand what you mean, in which case you may choose to shorten a long list with “etc.”
- Developing a grant proposal? Don’t start writing until you’ve held an open forum for members of the public to voice their ideas, needs, and concerns.
- Collect feedback. Use surveys to measure clients’ opinions of the services your organization provides. The Fund for Shared Insight has a request for applications (RFA) out now for Listen for Good (L4G), a grant program that helps nonprofits close the feedback loop with the people they serve.
- Make your data visually appealing! Tableau Public is free data-visualization software that allows nonprofits to literally illustrate their impact. Hold public information sessions to discuss your nonprofit’s numbers and services, and request feedback.
- Start with the paragraph with the shortest final line. The shorter the final line of a paragraph, the less editing you need to do to remove an entire line of space from your text.
- While “38 percent” almost always looks more polished than “38%,” I’d suggest using the latter when five minutes is the difference between “Submitted” and “Late.”
- If I’m almost out of time to cut down a grant application, or any piece of writing, my last resort is axing the adverbs. Do a search with Ctrl+F for “ly,” delete the offending terms, and you’ve cut out a significant amount of fluff that did not need to be there.