Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

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

5 Overlooked Grant Basics Part II: Use Numbers to Get More Grants

Posted by Roland Garton on Thu, Nov 2, 2017 @ 12:11 PM

This blog is the second in a series of five blogs that address the basic aspects of successful proposals grant seekers often overlook. Last time, I wrote about the importance of planning to increase grant awards. Click here to read that post.

The message of this blog is the title. It’s worth repeating:

  Use Numbers to Get More Grants  


Use Numbers to Substantiate Need

Almost all requests for funding address some need. Almost all of them also promise some results or impact if the funding is received. Words can help describe the need and impact. But words, as I mentioned in Part I, have their limitations. If you want to support your case for funding, you need some statistics to prove the truth and extent of your statements.

Here is are two examples that express a concerning need. The numbers are fictitious, but you get the idea:

  • Weak: Many families in our region don’t get enough food to eat.
  • Stronger: Our county has an average income of $48,564/year, well below the 2014 national average of $52,939. At the same time, 43% of our population consists of families with school-age children. Many of these children come to school hungry, and hunger has been shown to lower academic scores (Vedantam, 2017). The 16 schools in our district average 55% of students receiving free and reduced lunch. The weekend backpack program sends home 350 backpacks to the neediest children and turns down requests for another 125. A statistically-sampled survey conducted by our county health department last year revealed 35% of families who indicate that their families sometimes leave the house with inadequate meals.

I’d like to point out some crucial aspects of the stronger example:

Simple language is fine. The writing has complete sentences, no grammatical errors, and some variety of sentence structure. But it’s not elaborate or especially florid. The writing style is not what makes the second example strong; it’s the power of the numbers that document a community in need.

Do the legwork. It takes time gather the kind of information reflected in the strong example. The type of data shown here could easily take an hour or more to research and document. When planning to write a proposal, set aside sufficient time to find numbers that support your case.

Cite authoritative sources. Any time you can cite sources with credibility, you enhance your own credibility. The strong example above includes a reference to published research. Other authoritative documents might be published magazine articles, reports from units of government, or statements from nationally recognized organizations.

Use Number to Demonstrate Impact

As with need, using numbers to demonstrate impact will strengthen the odds you’ll receive funding. Funders like to know and measure the results of their investments. You can help them by providing clear measurements that prove results.

  • Weak: We will get more people to use rain barrels, which will result in greater water conservation.
  • Stronger: Currently, only 0.5% of the population in our city (100,000) have rain barrels. The proposed awareness program will reach 30,000 people with the fliers, social media, public service announcements, and community presentations described in the Work Plan. We have tested the program with 100 people, and 12 of them took advantage of subsidies for rain barrels. We expect the percentage of adopters in a larger population to drop. If it drops to half of the test group percentage, 6%, the program will still bring an additional 1,800 barrels to peoples’ homes, increasing the total to 2,000, which is 2% of the population.  The resulting annual savings, at an estimated $120 per barrel per year, would be $240,000.

Strong metrics reflect strong planning that will move your proposal up in the reviewer’s evaluation. They will also make things easier when you write your project reports. Furthermore, after the project has shown measurable progress, you will have a strong case for additional funding from this agency, as well as others.  The more your numbers can prove that you’re meeting the funder’s goals, the more likely they are to smile upon your next request.

Using numbers to show results is not only good grantsmanship to help receive funding, but it’s also good stewardship. Good stewardship is an inherent responsibility that accompanies the support you receive from others. But, more than that, good stewardship builds goodwill, which in turn increases your prospects for future funding. Stewardship is the main focus of the next blog in this series.

Topics: overlooked grant basics, numbers, numbers to get grants, Grant Writing Tips, grant application tips, statistics to get grants, show need in grant applications, Grant Writing and Planning, Grant writing objectives, How to Grant Write, best practices in grant writing, Write a Better Grant Series, grant writing help, grant writing examples, grant writing

5 Overlooked Grant Basics Part I: Planning a Fundable Project

Posted by Roland Garton on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 @ 17:10 PM

This blog begins a series of five blogs that address basic aspects of successful proposals that are often overlooked. To start, I’d like to addresst the notion that writing is the primary ingredient 33715849376_5c832c8a3e_m.jpgin a successful proposal. Not that writing quality is unimportant—poor writing can sink a great idea—but it is even more crucial for the proposed project itself to appeal to the funder. Creating a compelling proposal is not a writing task as much as it is a programming and planning task.

  Proposal Development requires more Planning and Research than writing.  

Notice that I avoid using the term “grant writing.” Our role as Grant Helpers, in addition to finding potential funding sources, is to guide and assist grant seekers’ planning and research. Though we do write a lot of solid text, we do so after helping organizations generate ideas and projects worth writing about.  Below are three main areas to work on in developing an exciting project plan.

1) Develop projects that funders want. You are no doubt aware of what your organization wants and needs. But actually securing grants is primarily about what the funding organization wants. One of the most common complaints among grant reviewers is getting proposals that don’t fit their funding priorities.

  Overlooked Basic: Propose something the funder wants to fund.  

As fundamental as this concept seems, you must propose something the funder wants to fund, something that furthers their goals. Usually, this is a specific project. General operating costs are not popular funding items. It takes time and effort to create a plan and its associated budget. No quality of prose can replace the planning required to develop a solid plan. The weak vs. strong comparison below is exaggerated, but not as much as one might think:

  • Weak plan: We do a lot of good things, so please give us money.
  • Stronger plan: We want to leverage our proven impact with a specific initiative that will accomplish X and Y.

2) Build specific programs for funding. The best time to position your organization for funding is early in your organization’s program planning cycle. It’s easier to revise activities before they are underway.  Your project must include specific steps and outcomes happening at specific times. Here some examples of ways to build specific programs for funding.

  • Food bank: Add a nutritional/informational component along with the food you hand out. Food bank funders increasingly want projects that promote better health overall, not just fill empty stomachs.
  • Park District facility: Propose a youth fitness program for a new facility or expansion. A targeted program is more likely to align with funders’ goals than a general facility. Reaching out to at-risk populations can further increase your project’s appeal to funders.
  • Public garden: Add an outreach component for aging citizens, and partner with local senior centers. You may attract funds from age-related organizations as well as gardening groups.

Two related notes here. First, in order to plan ahead for grant funding, you must be aware of what’s being funded, which is a research project itself. The Grant Helpers can expedite your research and help position you and your projects for higher-probability funding. Second, the shifts you make in your program must serve your mission. It is unwise to chase money in areas outside your purview just because the money is there.

3) Think through the details. The more you can present a feasible, well-considered plan, the stronger your proposal will be. If you don’t have time to plan a project, spending time on a proposal is probably not a good time investment. We’ve seen many initial drafts of grants that ask for money to plan a project. These will not rise to the top of the reviewer’s stack when compared with others spelling out more clearly what the funder will be supporting.

In the coming months, we’ll present more overlooked grant basics.  All of them deal with areas typically not considered strict “writing” tasks.  Here’s what we plan for this series:

#1: Planning a Fundable Project

#2: Justifying Your Grant Request with Hard Data

#3: Demonstrating Value and Impact

#4: Developing Good Collaborators

#5: Proposal Value Beyond Grant Dollars


Photo Credit: GotCredit

Topics: overlooked grant basics, fundable project, grant planning, grant research tips, grant project development, developing fundable projects, securing grants, Grant Writing Tips, Grant Writing and Planning, How to Grant Write, best practices in grant writing, grant writing, grant writing help

3 Ways Community Foundations Can Help with Grant Funding

Posted by Roland Garton on Wed, May 24, 2017 @ 15:05 PM

TwoAtComputer.jpgCommunity foundations exist to improve the communities in which they’re located.  These Foundations are active fund-raisers, pooling funds from contributors to provide grants to local charitable organizations. They are therefore grant-making agencies not be overlooked in a search for grant funding. Providing grant funds is only one way they can help, though. Here are three ways community foundation can help find grant funding.

1. Community Foundation Grants - Direct Funding

Organizations that contribute to the quality of life and social conditions of a community are prime candidates for community foundation funding. If you are such an organization, locate your nearest community foundation, and then understand their priorities and funding cycle.  As with any potential funder, your ability to attract funds lies largely with how well you support their mission, and how well you communicate your case for funding. The Community Foundation Atlas can help you find a community foundation near you. Click on the Profiles button for a comprehensive directory in convenient map form, and find a link to the community foundation nearest you. (Another typical convenience of community foundations is that they tend to have relatively short URLs!)

  Insider Tip: Community foundations are staffed by local people.  Meet with them before applying.  Understand what they’re trying to accomplish, how you can support that, and how they can help you in ways beyond providing grant funds.  

2. Help with Grant Sources and Preparation

Some community foundations will help find funding sources outside their own capital resources. Many have subscriptions to databases of potential funders, and they may help with a search for sources. Some will strategize funding approaches, and some will review proposal drafts. Occasionally community foundations will offer open sessions on finding and applying for grant funds. Get to know the people at your local community foundation to find out what they are willing and able to do.

 3. Lead Fiscal Agent

Some proposal efforts may be initiated by a group that does not yet have a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit IRS designation. These groups are rarely funded by public foundations. However, a community foundation might be willing to serve as the lead fiscal agent for such a proposal, assuming a role in grant oversight and administration. As with the other two suggestions, the key is getting to know the people in your local community foundation, and demonstrating how your work improves the community. 

The Grant Helpers can increase your grant funding with help in all these areas, and more. Our not-for-profit specialist can help you obtain 501(c)(3) IRS status.  Contact us with your questions  No charge for the initial consultation.

Topics: Grant Writing and Planning, Grant Writing Tips, grant writing, grant writing help, best practices in grant writing, Community Foundations

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

Six Reasons Why Grant Applications Get Rejected

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 @ 16:08 PM

189310528 114f33cb67 mAs a professional grant company, we routinely seek out feedback from grant proposals. From this feedback we have identified some common missteps that can result in a rejected grant proposal. Following are six common reasons why grant applications get rejected, and even more importantly, what you can do to minimize those mistakes.

1) The proposal doesn’t meet all technical grant requirements.
Funding agencies, especially large, national ones, are so overwhelmed that they reduce the stack by first rejecting any proposal that’s deficient in some technical requirement.  For example, the National Science Foundation will reject proposals if an entry in the bibliography does not list the names of all authors (“et al.” is not sufficient).

What you can do: Make sure your proposal meets every technical requirement listed in the grant application. If you have a question about a prerequisite, contact a grantor representative and get a response, lest a bad guess cause your valuable time to go straight to the rejected stack.  Also, before submission, have some fresh eyes review the proposal specifically against all technical requirements.

2) Proposal not responsive to the guidelines.

Once you get past the requirements, funding agencies are looking for proposals that clearly and demonstrably meet their goals and criteria.  When we talk to reviewers, this is the complaint we hear most often.  Applicants may have a project that is only tangentially related to the funding agency’s goals.  Such proposals stand a poor chance of funding.

What you can do:  Before writing the nitty gritty text of a proposal, write down your basic case for funding.  Review the case for soundness.  Make sure you can support every argument you plan to make.  Also, review the case statement against the proposal review criteria listed in the funding announcement.  Even before developing your case statement, it’s a good idea to talk to the funding agency and get their feedback informally before deciding to develop a proposal.

3) Project or program to be funded is poorly developed.

Most grant-making organizations wish to fund projects that have a high change of making an impact. Best is a program that is in place, or modeled after one that is already in place and producing results.  Next best are programs that are not in action currently, but have well-thought-out plans, including specific impact areas and budget figures.  Such programs can begin quickly and provide results sooner than those with less advance planning.  An argument we hear from clients and potential clients is that they need the grant to plan the project.  Our response is that they are competing with applicants who do have plans in place.  If the resources are not available for such planning, it may not be a good investment to develop the proposal.

What you can do: Take the time to plan and detail your project or program.  This does require thought and effort beyong simply writing.  We often say that proposal development is primarily a research and planning task, and only after that a writing task.

4) Proposal is written or organized poorly.

Grants are exercises in persuasion. They need to be written in a persuasive fashion, with the primary arguments clearly stated and well supported. Also, while the proposal needs to be detailed, it also needs to be understood by a lay person that may not have a direct knowledge of your industry. And, of course, spelling and grammar really do matter. Any obvious problems show carelessness, which is not a good sign for a prospective grantee.

What you can do: Structure the proposal before you begin writing, and review the text for logical flow and consistency frequently during the process. Make sure several extra pairs of eyes look over the grant application before it is submitted.

5) Team or resources are inadequate.

Don’t undervalue having a competent and qualified team, as well as sufficient resources to implement your project. If members of your team do not have the background needed to perform the work (e.g., using student volunteers to screen for complex medical conditions), your plan is not sound. Any unanswered questions about what resources or equipment you will use to facilitate your project are also negatives.

What you can do: Make sure your team member’s qualifications are made clear in the proposal and are sufficient to carry out the work. Additionally, support from all parties should stated in the proposal, with letters of support as appropriate. The budget must be reasonable, and the means to provide facilities, equipment, and other resources should be determined before the proposal is submitted.

6) Evaluation plan is inadequate.

Most grantors require an evaluation plan as an integral part of the project to ensure the project has measurable results. If your evaluation plan is too vague and does not provide clear methods of evaluation, then it could be a strike against your funding request. Also, if your plan does not truly measure expected outcomes, grantors could be less likely to fund your project.  For example, if you want to reduce obesity in youth, you need to measure obesity, not just the number of presentations or other activities held.

What you can do: Spend quality time planning your evaluation plan and how you will track your results. Include baseline measurements and expected results over time.  Make sure that your evaluation techniques are sound, and your results can be collected and reported numerically. is full-service grant company that can help you avoid many missteps during all phases of the grant development process. Our services are completely customizable and range from strategy sessions to grant searches to grant writing to project implementation. Our team of experts, including Municipality Specialist Rebecca Motley, can also help walk you every step of your grant journey.


Photo credit: Toms Bauģis

Topics: how to get noticed, best practices in grant writing, grant application hints, grant writing help, Grant writing objectives, making case for funding, grant readiness, grant tips, grant hints, grant application tips

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

The Common Errors of Grant Writing

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 @ 22:11 PM

It may sound like we’re stating the obvious, but one thing grant writers need to be diligent about is the proper use of grammar and punctuation in their writing. Obvious errors are one of the common complaints from grant reviewers we talk to. Such errors could immediately put you at a loss or disadvantage with a grant reviewer – and it’s not hard to remedy before you submit, but hard to recover from afterwards.

In this blog, we discuss a few of the most common grammar and punctuation errors. Perhaps showcasing these basic rules will make you more aware of how you use them and freshen your minds on how to use them properly. And remember, if you want an expert set of eyes to proofread your grant application, we are here to help you. Just contact a grant helper to get started.


Common Grant Writing Errors:

1)      Spelling – Even with spell check on nearly every word processing program, people still make spelling errors. Maybe in celebration of finishing a document, we forget to use spell check, but more often, spelling errors aren’t caught by a spell checker because the misspelled word is not “misspelled,” but rather, it’s the wrong word for the context. Autocorrect options make such errors even harder to detect.

  Incorrect example: The Grant Helpers is here to help you in all steppes of the grant writing process.

Grammar Writing ProofreadingSteppes is a word meaning prairies or grasslands, but here the word we are looking for is steps. This is an example of something a spell checker would not catch. The lesson here is to remember to use the spell check feature, but also remember to read your document closely to look for misused words, and to have a fresh set of eyes look it over as well.


2)      Commas (,) vs. Semicolons (;) – Use commas when connecting two independent clauses (sets of words that can be their own sentence) with a connecting word, or conjunction (and, but, or). Semicolons also connect two independent clauses but do not use connecting words.

  Correct examples:

  • I will be going to the store, but I am not stopping at the post office.

  • I will be going to the store; I will also stop at the post office.


Commas can also be used in a list.

  Correct example: His favorite colors were red, blue, green, and yellow.


Semicolons are also used in lists, but this usually happens when the lists themselves contain commas.

  Correct example:

  • Choose from fries, salad, or soup.

  • Choose from fries, baked potato, or mashed potato; garden salad, Cesar salad, or soup; and juice, milk, or a soft drink.


3)      Colons (:) – Use a colon to extend a sentence, set off a list, or to introduce a bulleted list. A colon should be used when the idea before it and after it are related.

  Correct Example:

  • There were two choices: watch a movie or go bowling. (extends sentence and is a list)

  • (See the colon after “For Example” above for an example of introducing a bulleted list.)


4)      It’s and ItsIt’s means it is or it has. However, its is the possessive form of it.

  Correct example: Where is its chew toy? It’s under the couch!


When finished writing your grant, it is highly recommended to have another set of eyes review your work to ensure your work is error-free. You will lose credibility if you turn in an error-laden piece of writing that is requesting funding, especially if those errors may seem minor. The Grant Helpers can offer expert assistance throughout all aspects of the grant writing process, and we have expert grammarians and English majors who can help with proofreading your grant materials. Contact us or respond to this blog to ask a question for free. You can also contact us for a free quote on a specific project.


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Topics: grant services, best practices in grant writing, Grant writing objectives, grant writing submission, grant editing, grant writing examples, How to Grant Write, grant strategy, Grant Writing Tips, Write a Better Grant Series

How May We Help You?: Our Grant Development Services, Part 2

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, Oct 12, 2012 @ 15:10 PM

We recently posted a blog discussing the services we offer throughout the first two steps of grant development. In this blog post, we at TheGrantHelpers discuss the final three steps in the grant development process as well as what we can do to help secure your organization more grant money.


Step 3: Plan and Research the Grant

            Grants require a certain amount of planning and research in order to be successful. With our Grant Readiness Support service, you will receive tools for tracking proposal applications and deadlines, developing budget templates for future grant applications, advising and editing boilerplate documents, developing a desirable funding profile and associated target funding sources, etc.

            If you need help developing a strategy and make the strongest case for funding for a particular grant, we can help you come up with a Grant Strategy. You can expect help with developing an approach, and you will receive two documents, a Case for Funding and a General Approach. Your organization can use these documents throughout the grant writing process.


Step 4: Develop the ProposalGet More Grant Money

            Developing a grant proposal can be tedious because before writing the proposal itself, there is a lot of planning, research, collaboration, organization, etc. involved. Before you invest the time and energy on developing a full proposal, make sure the grant opportunity is a good fit through our Grant Opportunity Review. We will help you go over guidelines, check for potential problem areas, and make suggestions on how to increase your chances for receiving funding.

            If you new to grant writing process, or if you simply don’t have the time to do so, or are looking to do even better, we can help you from start to finish. Even under a tight deadline, we can usually accommodate requests.

            Sometimes, organizations need just a little help and advice here and there along the way. In this case, our Grant Writing Assistance service might be useful. You can expect us to advise on strategy and approach, edit text, offer research support, help prepare budgets, produce simple diagrams and graphics, and more. We will work with your organization to fill in any gaps where they are most needed.

            We can also conduct a Grant Proposal Review. With this service, we will review your proposal against the grant guidelines, proofread your proposal, and double check for compliance so that your proposal is not rejected due to an error or overlooked mistake.


Step 5: What to do After the Grant is Awarded

            Receiving a grant award is fantastic, but the work on the project is only beginning when you receive the funding notice. Many grants require ongoing follow-up and strict reporting requirements, with the risk of having to repay the grant monies if you don't comply. We offer a Grant Award Management service, in which we can organize and manage the reporting requirements by providing training, report management tools, invoicing and financial interactions, or even managing the entire process for you.


No matter where you are in the grant writing process, and no matter where your organization needs help, we have the experts and services necessary to get you on the right track. We customize our interactions with you and offer a variety of high-value and high-quality services. Contact us today for more details, or check out our full services page.

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Topics: grant annoucement, ask these questions when writing a grant, grant services, free grant money, grant notification, best practices in grant writing, Grant writing objectives, Budgets, grant writing submission, grant research tips, grant management, grant readiness, grant editing, How to Grant Write, grant strategy