Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Five Ways To Visualize Success

Posted by Carol Timms on Wed, Aug 15, 2018 @ 11:08 AM


stack of reportsLet’s be realistic. Your grant request will likely be one of many received by your prospective funder. After reading many grant applications before yours, reviewers are likely to become distracted or tired. Make your application stand out and be easier to read by using visual cues. Here are five suggestions.



Extra! Extra! Read All About It

Just as in a magazine, creative and descriptive headlines and subheadlines will help readers focus their attention by organizing content into sections. Their purpose is to capture the essence of the content and prompt further reading. The best headlines and subheadlines are useful, unique, specific and/or urgent. They should be short and in bold to easily catch the reader’s attention. 

               Weak Example:                 Background

               Stronger Example:           Millions Go Hungry Every Day 


Lists Are Lovely

Bulleted lists are easy to scan, thus increasing the likelihood of the content being read. Be sure to include the most important information in the lists. The more compelling the information, the more likely the reader will be to read the accompanying paragraphs. 


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Include photographs to show how your program benefits others. Bring your images to life by describing the story behind the photo.   

Without knowing whether the reviewer is predominantly swayed by data or stories, combine the two. For example, if you’ve included a photograph of students reading to shelter dogs, include data in the caption mentioning the increased likelihood of those dogs being adopted. An example follows

 reading to dog

After Katy’s third visit reading to Bailey, he went from cowering in the back of his cage to eagerly laying at the front of his cage, tail wagging. Bailey was adopted after just 3 weeks while the average stay before adoption was weeks.



 Bailey relaxes while his new owner reads to him.


Make Data Visual

Anytime you can present data in a chart, table or infographic you are more likely to get the attention of the readers. Incorporate a pleasing palette of colors that matches your message. If you are applying for funds for an elementary education program, consider primary colors. If you are requesting funding for an environmental program, use colors from nature. If there is a particular number or data point you want to highlight, be sure it stands out.


Pull It Out

Just as with the number or data point you want to highlight, there may be powerful statements that are essential to your message. These can be placed in a text box, written in bold, or written in color. Don’t over do these, but rather, choose one or two statements.


The Grant Helpers can help you develop an effective proposal with strong visual elements. Contact us today—you can even start with a free consultation.

Topics: grant rejection, proposal rejection, grant basics, statistics to get grants, numbers to get grants, numbers, securing grants, grant strategies, grant proposal, grant, grant funding, applying for grants, full proposal, grant application, grant applications, making case for funding, how to get noticed, grant hints, grant writing hints, grant application hints, application tips, Grant Writing Tips, grant writing submission, How to Grant Write

Three Things to Know about Grants in 2018

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 @ 09:01 AM

Happy New Year from all of us at We want to help you start off the new year with some important updates and tips about the grant world.

But before discussing more general areas, here is one specific opportunity that just opened. Lowes Toolbox for Education has announced its spring cycle. K-12 public and private schools, as well as parent-teacher groups, are eligible to apply. Projects should fall into one of the following categories: technology upgrades, tools for STEM programs, facility renovations, and safety improvements. The deadline for submitting applications for this grant cycle is Feb. 9.  However, if 1,500 applications are received before the application deadline, then the application process will close.

  1. Get Organized Now for the New Year

Lots of organizations, especially federal grant-making organizations, have already laid out a schedule of their grants for the new year. Some are already accepting applications for the spring cycle. For instance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has its 2018 Forecast of Funding available here. Now is the best time to get pertinent dates on your calendar and get your boilerplate documents updated. Review the timelines for your likeliest funding sources, and prepare to apply well in advance.

  1. New Way to Apply for Federal Funding has rolled out a new way for groups and individuals to apply for federal grants. This has been a two-year transition, and on Dec. 31, 2017, the legacy PDF application package was officially retired. In the past, applicants downloaded and completed a single, big PDF application package that contained all the forms (i.e., the “legacy PDF application package.”) To work as a team, you had to email the file back and forth while making sure all contributors were using the same version of Adobe software. The new Workspace program is intended to make collaborating on an application very efficient and easy. Forms can either be completed online within a web browser or downloaded individually and uploaded to Workspace. According to the blog, applicants who have already used the new program say it is making the process faster and more streamlined.  For more information and tutorials on how to use the new program, visit the blog.

  1. Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants may not be funded in 2018

The heavily subscribed COPS grant may be on the chopping block this year. This Department of Justice grant program provides money to law enforcement agencies for a variety of needs, including hiring new police officers, testing new strategies, and purchasing technology. In recent years, money was also set aside toward curbing the opioid epidemic and addressing gang violence. In 2017, the COPS office allocated of $98.5 million to fund 802 police officer positions for the next three years. However, a working White House budget showed the elimination of the entire COPS office. The COPS hiring program is not listed by name in the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget, and very little information is being shared. We will continue to monitor this situation and keep you updated on its status.

We can help you get organized and prepared to apply for grants or find grants that will fit your needs. See our widerange of services, and then contact us for a free initial consultation.

Topics: federal grants, federal funds, federal grant, application tips, grant application tips, grant tips, COPS, COPS grant, Grant Writing Tips, Grant Writing and Planning

Through the Eyes of the Reviewer

Posted by Carol Timms on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 @ 13:12 PM

eyes.jpgAs we discussed in Part I and Part II of our blog series entitled “5 Overlooked Grant Basics,” reviewers want proposals with well-planned, specific projects backed by solid numerical data. But what else are grant funders really looking for? These additional tips can further help you look at your proposal through the eyes of the reviewer.

  1. Understand the reviewers’ circumstances

Grant reviewers often receive a stack of grants to read and evaluate in a short amount of time. By the second or third grant, the words begin to blur together. Make it easy for the reviewer to see the important points of your proposal by using headlines, bullet points, graphs, pull-out quotes, etc.

  1. Personalize the problem you intend to solve

Just like the description of a novel, your proposal should immediately grab the attention of the reviewer. The more personal the introduction, the more likely the reviewer is to give it extra attention. A powerful statement of need is more likely to be internalized than a description of your organization.

  • Weak: “XYZ Food Pantry serving Hungry County has been in operation for over eight years.”
  • Strong: “More than half of the children in our community go to bed hungry.”
  1. Include Both Data and Narrative Support

As covered fully in Part II of our “5 Overlooked Grant Basics,” blog series, you must describe the problem you intend to solve with hard data. But, because you don’t know if your reviewer will be left-brained or right-brained, you should include both narrative and data to appeal to all reviewers. The data should be as recent as possible, presented succinctly – preferably in an easy to read infographic—and should reinforce your narrative. Narratives should be specific, compelling, and as representative of wider demographics as possible. If there’s enough space, include a poignant quote or profile in a separate box.

  1. Long, flowery narratives are hard to read.

Make your key points clearly and move on. Corollary: use bullets for lists. In text, number items for ease of reading, and highlight key words or phrases in bold text.

  1. Create Well-Planned Budgets

The budget is an indication of how capably the organization will manage grant funds. The level of detail will demonstrate the planning the organization has invested in the program. Remember to include in-kind donations, sources of matching funds, a description of anticipated purchases, and the vendor for those purchases if available.

  1. Recognize the Funder

Indicate at least three ways in which you will acknowledge receipt of the grant funds. The first should be upon receipt, with formal acknowledgement and thanks for the award. The second should be regular and at key points of the project. For example, share press releases with funders, and make sure to invite them to special events. The third should be upon completion of the grant, with a final report even if not formally required. We talked about some of these points in a previous blog on Stewardship. We’ll cover the topic again in another blog in the next few months.  It’s important for relationship building, which leads to repeat funding.

Ready to get started finding, applying to, or managing grants? Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our expert Grant Helpers.


Topics: overlooked grant basics, Grant Writing Tips, application tips, grant application tips, grant tips, How to Grant Write, best practices in grant writing, grant writing

Tips to Increase Grant Funding: Letters of Support

Posted by Roland Garton on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 @ 22:02 PM

One of the “hidden” aspects of writing a successful grant application is providing strong letters of support in your application.  Letters of support are typically required from partners if the proposal includes them.  Optional letters may be from other parties who may or may not be directly involved in the p5294781792_b90da7e09c_q.jpgroject, but who can vouch for the value of proposed work and the qualifications of the applicant.

Here are a few areas to keep in mind regarding letters of support. You will not get the ideal in every letter, but the closer you can get, the more compelling your application will be.

Authoritative Sources

Get letter writers with credibility, impact, and authority.  Ideally, they will have standing in your area of work, and they will have some independence from you, the applicant.

  • Good: a recognized expert with publications in peer-reviewed journals
  • Good: the leader of a national organization in your field
  • Not-so-Good: your mother

In the first part of the letter, the writers can mention their experience, their presence in and knowledge of the field, what stake they have in the outcome, and how they know you well enough to speak knowledgeably about the strengths of your organization and your proposal.


A common weakness in letters is that they sound like they're from cheerleaders on the sideline rather than committed participants with a stake in the outcome of the proposed project. Letters of Support from proposal partners should include a description of their roles and what they’re willing to contribute to the project. Even those who aren’t participating directly, though, will strengthen a proposal if they are willing to provide input, review materials, help disseminate results, or otherwise demonstrate an active level of involvement.

  • Good: “Our organization will provide space for all proposed activities, at no charge to the project, as an in-kind match.”
  • Good: “We have a contact list of 10,000 registered associates nationwide, and we will distribute the proposed survey to them.”
  • Not-so-Good: “We are interested in positive results and encourage the requesting organization to continue in its efforts to achieve these results.”

Draft the Letter for Them

Providing editable text for a letter writer puts you in the driver’s seat.  You can generate text that catches the funders’ eyes. Furthermore, you are more likely to get a signature on existing text than you are to get original text from a potential letter-writer.

Put It on Letterhead

Most writers will do this without your mentioning it, but it’s worth mentioning as a reminder.  As a reviewer, I’ve seen letters that made me wonder whether the signatory ever saw the text.  If a letter writer does not have a letterhead, a simple version in standard format, with return address and inside address, will suffice.  It can help to include a logo of the writer’s organization if available.

These are just a few common considerations concerning letters of support.  We’d be glad to share more, to review draft letters of support, and to provide comments as part of a free consultation.  Contact to get feedback on your letters, or any other grant-related question.


Photo Credit: KP

Topics: letters of support, how to write a letter of support, letters of support for a grant, partners, grant partners, applying for grants with partners, grant funding, grant, grant letters of support, grant tips, application tips, Grant Writing Tips, grant application tips

What to Do When the Funds Dry Up

Posted by Roland Garton on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 @ 12:07 PM

Our company is based in Illinois, a state whose budget woes are getting budgetnational attention. Many of our municipal contacts are faced with a disheartening situation: state funds that have been reliable sources of support for many years suddenly are no longer available. Although such funds are never guaranteed, they have in the past been steady enough to build budgets around them. Now those budgets are in jeopardy. As a result, our consultations and strategy sessions often revolve around replacement funding.

The question is often phrased something like “How can we get the same money from another source?” I call this the replacement mentality, and it’s an obvious response. However, the replacement mentality places limitations on the kind of thinking and planning needed to meet shortfalls. Instead, we encourage our state-strapped clients (municipalities are the most common), to ask different types of questions. Thoughtful, well-considered responses to these questions can lead to improvements, born of necessity, in the organization’s grant strategy. In some cases, responding to the questions prompts an institution to develop an expressed grant strategy for the first time. That in itself is valuable.

Here are some examples of questions whose responses can reveal sources of funding not immediately obvious at first blush—sources that a replacement mentality would likely obscure.

What are our over-arching goals-our most critical objectives? Funding sources usually cannot be developed overnight, so the immediate timeframe may require reduction of activities.  Sometimes state-funded programs are so vital it is more prudent to cut other areas and shift funds to the previously state-funded programs. In the longer term, keeping the mission and priorities at the forefront of planning can help determine which areas are worth the investment of proposal development.

Which of our activities are the most fundable? Replacement funds may not be available for a particular program area, but there may be funds available for other areas not previously supported by grant funds. A replacement mentality could easily overlook such opportunities. 

How can we position our activities to be more fundable? Here is a terrific opportunity for thinking outside the box. Quite often, the project you have in mind can be adjusted to meet one or more funding trends. We get many consultation requests for Parks and Rec grants. Park districts tend think in terms of facilities. But funders tend to think in terms of programs and impacts. So, for example, to better attract grant funds, a park district might list “youth fitness” as a priority, rather than, say, “swimming pool.” As another example, public transportation could be funded by transportation programs, energy conservation programs, safety programs, emergency managment programs, economic development programs, assistance for older Americans, and more.

Two important aspects of this approach are worth noting: 1) Planning requires a good sense of funding trends. Some organizations are aware of these; others need to build such awareness or find experts to work with. 2) Planning also requires thinking about grant funds earlier than often occurs, during strategy and planning cycles. It therefore entails a long turn-around time, but the odds of funding increase dramatically when you are positioned specifically for fundability.

Who will benefit?  Every type of beneficiary for an activity, program, or facility is a potential funding source. Community gardens are a great example of this. They can benefit students, and thus are eligible for education funding. They can benefit at-risk youth, attracting Department of Justice funding. Gardens can also help feed the hungry, an area that’s supported by many foundations.  They can improve neighborhoods and retain residents, especially in rural and underserved populations which is of interest to the USDA, HUD, and others.

If your project impacts youth, think about what corporations benefit from building a relationship with youth. Many foundations associated with corporations are actively trying to become the champion of tweens, in the hope of generating long-term loyalty. Seniors are also a sought-after audience. Pharmacies offer loads of services directed at older Americans, so would be a potential source of funding for a community project benefitting the older population.  Consider your audience and ask “Who benefits from their loyalty?”  Then search for funders with such an interest.

What other opportunities are there? The trauma of funding lapses, while unpleasant, can prompt the kind of thinking that uncovers possibilities otherwise not considered. New partnerships, new sources of funding, and an improved vision are possible by moving from a “replacement mentality” to an “opportunity mentality.”


Photo Credit: Chris Potter

Topics: state of grant giving, ask these questions when writing a grant, best practices in grant writing, application tips, state of Illinois giving, state funding cuts, Illinois budget, state of Illinois budget, long-range planning

Grants for Older Americans

Posted by Mary Ross on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 @ 13:03 PM

According to the U.S. census, “…by 2029, when all of the baby boomers will be 65 years and Older Americans resized 600over, more than 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65” ( With the growth of this population comes an increased need for elder care—from health care, to in-home visits, to housing. Continuing in our serious of special interest groups, we now offer some suggestions regarding grants for older Americans. We’ll start off with a grant tip we’ve found useful:



So, for example, if you are located in Chicago and seek grants to support, say, geriatric advocacy efforts, Google “older adult advocacy grants Chicago.”  The Chicago-based Retirement Research Foundation (which funds more than research) floats to the top two spots.  If you’re in Denver, substitute “Denver” for “Chicago” and the Rose Community Foundation takes over the top two spots.

Local support notwithstanding, we highlight here four grants for the aging population that are national in scope (although the Weinberg Foundation does give preference to the “hometown communities” of Baltimore, Northeastern Pennsylvania, and Hawaii). Note that these funding opportunitities aren’t all restricted to older adults.  Many serve larger, more general audiences such as “people in need.”  Furthermore, some are oriented more toward the program (e.g., housing) than the target population.  All of which brings up two more tips:



The grants highlighted below follow that last tip.  These organizations are not limited to supporting older adults per se, but do offer grants addressing the needs of mature clientele.

Health and Independence: Offering grants of up to $100,000, the Henry E. Niles Foundation, Inc. supports “people in need.” This includes programs that support the health and independence of aging Americans. The Niles Foundation specifically likes to support programs that work together with other organizations, so you might consider what other organizations in your community are working toward a common goal. There is no specific application date—meetings are held monthly to determine the status of new applications.

In Home Visits: The Omron Foundation, Inc. helps support programs such as Meals on Wheels that provide in-home care to the elderly. The Omron Foundation, Inc. supports programs providing basic human needs—food, clothing, and shelter. In 2014, more than $630,000 was given by this foundation. Applications can be submitted via email throughout the year and grants of more than $100,000 at a time have been awarded.

Housing: One foundation that specifically targets older adults is The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. Providing grants for up to 30% of total costs, this foundation is concerned not only with elderly care, but with helping aging adults to live dignified lives. It is, therefore, interested in supporting programs working in low-income areas. This support can be granted to community building projects, housing repair, senior centers, rehabilitation centers, and the like. Grant proposals are taken at any time, and a letter of interest is required first. In 2014, the Weinberg Foundation gave $102 million in grants.

All of the Above: The Fred & Jean Allegretti Foundation states that their goal is “to provide a quality of life and dignity through humanitarian support, medical treatment, housing, education, and the arts.” The Fred & Jean Allegretti Foundation has a history of supporting programs for the elderly. The Foundation is accepting letters of interest through May 31st. In 2010, the Foundation awarded the H.O.M.E. program (Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly) $15,000.


We can help you find lots more opportunities with our search experience and subscriptions to many grant database and notification services.  Contact to see how we can find the grant you need and work with you to create an application that attracts those funds.  


Photo Credit:shonna1968

Topics: application tips, grant application hints, grants for senior citizens, older Americans, elderly, aging

Moving Upstream for Better Chances of Grant Success

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 @ 11:08 AM

Written by Roland Garton 

We get a lot of requests to help find funding Upstream_for_Grantsfor existing programs.  Let’s hope so; that’s the business we’re in.  Often our review of possible funding opportunities revealsthat a slightly different program, or one with a revised focus, would be much more attractive to potential funders.  But the decision-makers have already approved the program as is, so making a change is not easy.  We also frequently find that some other program would be fundable, but there is limited programming to support that goal in the current planning cycle.

Remember this key concept:  Funders want specific programs! Granting agencies  overwhelmingly prefer to support well-defined, well-planned activities with specific, demonstrable outcomes.  Much less attractive are general operations and administrative support, even though these often seem like the greatest need.  Therefore, to attract funding, you must have programs that fit the goals of funding agencies.  To generate such programs, you need to design them from the outset with fundability in mind.

Here’s a hypothetical diagram of the process we usually see.  The percentage is totally made up, but you get the idea.

Funding Process

In this process, the program has not been designed with fundability in mind, so it’s hit or miss whether an agency will be interested in it.  To offer programs with a much higher chance of funding, you have to consider fundability before the planning cycle, not after it.  You have to move further upstream in the process.  A diagram of the enhanced process might look like this, again with an imaginary funding percentage:


In this chart, the search for possible funding sources occurs when the information can most beneficially influence your programming decisions, so you can develop programs that more closely match a wider variety of funding sources.  As a result, your odds of funding go way up.

The Research Funding Possibilities step in the diagram above is a highly condensed version of many related activities.  This step could include, for example, contacting potential funding agencies for feedback, meeting with possible collaborators, and preparing abstracts of
potential programs.

In addition to increasing the money coming in, this process can increase the creative thinking and outreach of your organization.  Given an awareness of what moneys are available, you may consider some programs and options to meet your mission in ways you hadn’t thought of before.  In addition, this process can improve the programs themselves, since they must be
more carefully thought through and better defined.

We at The Grant Helpers are glad to help with your searches and your applications.  We can also help with earlier planning stages, in identifying potential sources and preparing materials and abstracts.  You can download our full list of customizable services by clicking here. Let us know how we can help you.


Image Credit: kasperbs

Topics: finding grants, application tips, funding sources, funding needs, grant research tips, grant strategy, grant tips, Grant Writing Tips, grant hints, grant application tips, grant seeking, finding funding

More Tips on Matching Funds for Grants

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 @ 16:12 PM

On one project, we worked for weeks with a church on a proposal that required a cost match. In-kind funds were acceptable, so we included the cost of transportation that the church was accustomed to providing. But the assistant pastor we were working with did not have signature authority and did not run this by the head pastor. On the day the proposal was due (submitting this late is not recommended!), the head pastor saw the final budget with a dollar-value commitment, and the fear in him grew greatly. He would not sign the proposal.

This example emphasizes not only the importance of keeping key people in the loop, but also thinking through issues related to matching funds. In a previous blog, published in April 2011, we offered some tips to keep in mind when writing a grant budget that includes matching funds. In this blog we provide more tips on ideas to consider when acquiring matching funds for a grant. And as always, remember we are here for you if you need additional guidance through any part of the grant process.

  • Make sure to read matching funds requirements carefully.Tips on Matching Funds

    • Sometimes the matching funds must occur during a certain period of time, such as before the grant starts or during the grant.

    • Sometimes, the match must be from a specific source, like an internal source, external source, or a particular type of agency, or not the federal government (in the case of many federal grants).

  • Find out for sure what is required in a letter of commitment or other documentation, and make sure you meet those requirements in the submission.

  • Work well ahead of the deadline with groups providing matching funds to make sure their authorities will sign the required documents. This can take a while.

  • Make sure you follow in-kind versus real-dollar match rules. In-kind contributions are donations of goods, services, or other non-cash donations. They may include donated labor, materials, services, etc. Matching funds are actual cash contributions from donors, foundations, businesses, etc., which are given to or provided by an organization.

  • Contact us for guidance on how to place a dollar value on in-kind contributions, if required. Remember, our initial consultations are free.

  • If you have any questions, contact the agency and ask.

As for the church whose pastor would not sign, a sufficiently authorized assistant pastor jumped in at the last minute with pen and passion to sign the proposal. The proposal ended up being rejected for criterion that were not publicized in the official guidelines, but that is another blog article for another day.

Grants often have complex and stringent guidelines and requirements that govern every part of the grant application and its accompanying documents. If you need help in any part of the grant process, we have services that we can customize to meet your needs and goals. Contact a grant expert today for more information.


Image credit: Tax Credits, Tax Credits

Topics: grant services, free grant money, application tips, grant application hints, matching funds, grant writing help, find matching funds for grants, find matching funds, grant writing, Grant Writing Tips, grant application tips, in-kind funds

Writing Powerful Grant Summaries and Grant Abstracts: Tips & Hints

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

Grant Summary TipsNearly every grant application requires a summary or abstract of some sort, and it is often the first thing a review committee will see. So it is vital that the summary or abstract be very strong, as it will set the tone of your application and may even determine whether or not reviewers will continue through the rest of your application. Here are some tips to help you write a powerful grant summary or grant abstract.

  • Make the case” in your summary. The summary should be a logical flow into the main argument for funding. Using numerical data, show the need or opportunity, and the dramatic impact that your project will have. For example, “We will save the school district over $1 million,” or “We will keep 20 people off the streets and feed dozens more.”

  • Keep the summary funder-focused. Too often summaries are geared towards readers from their own organizations. In the summary, relate your work specifically to the funder’s goals.

  • Keep the summary high-level. Avoid the tendency to put too much technical detail in the summary. Be concise. Avoid wordiness, excessive detail, and technical jargon.

  • Spend a lot of effort on the summary. It's worth spending a lot of time on this, the front piece of your grant application. Write it early. Rewrite it often, as the grant proposal develops. Have multiple reviewers look over the summary.

  • Re-read guidelines on final review. Make sure you include everything the funder asks for. Some requirements even stipulate the wording with which the summary must begin.

  • Use bolding to highlight main points.

A strong summary or abstract at the beginning of your grant application will make a great first impression on the grant review committee. Therefore, be sure to invest your time and effort in this vital piece. We can help advise on any specific element of a proposal, or on an entire proposal. Contact us today for a free consultation on how we can help you through any stage of the grant development process.

Grant Writing Tips

Image credit: Horia Varlan

Topics: grant services, grant announcement, best practices in grant writing, application tips, grant application hints, grant formatting, How to Grant Write, Grant Writing Tips, grant application tips, grant formatting tips, grant formatting hints

Grant Application Formatting Tips

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 @ 18:11 PM

Have you ever written a grant that you felt certain would earn you funding, only to find out later that you were not awarded any money? After pouring much time and energy into writing a grant, it can be very disappointing to not have anything to show for it. Making a great first impression with your grant application can be important in establishing credibility and interest on the part of the grant reviewer. It also could help move your grant application ahead of the others in the stack.

Good highlighting makes content more readily accessible to review. However, bad formatting is a distraction and hinders your main message. In this article, we will discuss some simple tips on how to format a grant application to make it more appealing to those reviewing it. If you want experts to review your application before you submit it or if you need assistance in any other part of your grant writing process, contact one of our experts today for a free consultation.


Review the guidelines for requirements regarding format. Be sure to meticulously follow formatting guidelines in the Request for Proposals. If you are uncertain about a requirement, contact the funding agency.


Grant Format

Make your application easy to read. Grant reviewers spend countless hours reading through applications. Use a font that is easy to read and a font size that is appropriate. For example, do not use script or “fun, silly” fonts. Select a standard, formal font like Times or Times New Roman. When selecting a size, 12-pt font is usually standard. Anything smaller than 10-pt font becomes too difficult to read, unless used in a caption of a picture or chart.


Be consistent. Make sure that you use the same font and font size in your headings, the same spacing between sections, the same spacing between paragraphs, etc. If your application and materials are very long, you may find it helpful to create styles or macros that will define your headers, paragraph text, etc. These tools help assure consistency and let you change all instances of a particular format with a single action, thereby saving you time and effort in editing. Consistency makes your application easy to follow, which will keep grant reviewers focused on the content of your application.


Limit big blocks of text. Large blocks of text can be intimidating and more difficult to read than lists or charts. Instead of using large blocks of texts to explain something, illustrate your ideas using a bulleted list or a chart. When using a bulleted list, keep the points uniform. For example, if you are making a list of actions, do not throw in a random noun that shows no action. If using a chart, make sure you clearly label all important aspects of the chart. For example, the reviewer would need to know if a chart’s numbers are in the hundreds, thousands, millions, etc.


Double- and triple-check all application materials. The last thing you want is to overlook an important component that is required of the application. Make sure you submit materials in the order requested, if applicable. If there is no recommended order for how to package or submit materials, then do so in an order that makes sense. Also double-check for grammar and misspellings, as well as any references within your application to another piece of material. For example, if you say “see page 12,” make sure what the reviewer is looking for on page 12 is still on page 12 and has not been moved. It would be wise to have at least one more set of eyes to look over your application. It’s virtually impossible to check your own work.


These tips might seem like common sense, but they are well worth reviewing. Taking time to polish and refine your presentation gives you a competitive edge, since these steps are frequently overlooked by proposers in the rush to meet a deadline. Remember, if you want experts with years of experience to review your grant before you submit it, we can help you. Contact a grant expert today for more information.

Grant writing tips

Image credit: Linus Bohman, Bohman

Topics: best practices in grant writing, application tips, grant application hints, grant formatting, grant writing submission, grant editing, Grant Writing Tips, grant application tips, grant formatting tips, grant formatting hints