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Five Tips to Keep Your Writing Simple

From the time we are children, it’s ingrained in our brains that bigger words are better, and the more complex the sentence is the smarter we sound. If you want to be an award-winning grant writer, forget about all that. It certainly doesn’t apply to grant writing.

Your first goal in grant writing is to ensure what you’re saying is understandable. This list of five tips should help you keep it simple for proposal readers.

  1. Simple Language is Most Effective

Proposal readers need to be able to quickly scan your proposal to see if they’re interested in funding your ideas. They may or may not have any knowledge or understanding of what you’re talking about. It’s not necessary to use big words to try to impress them. They prefer, in fact, that you follow the KISS method when writing: Keep It Short and Simple! They’ll be happier, and you’ll probably score more points!

  1. Write Using the 3 C’s

If you want to write winning grants, proposal readers are the most important people in your professional world. They are the ones who will recommend whether or not your proposal gets funded. That’s why it’s so important that you write in a way that makes the reader’s job easy. How do you do that? It’s really pretty simple. Just make sure your writing is reader-centered, not writer-centered. And always be Clear, Concise, and Compelling. Make your message so clear that readers immediately get it. Be concise. Readers don’t have hours and hours to spend reading your proposal. And write in a compelling manner. You want readers to become as emotionally attached to your idea as you are!

  1. Always Spell Out Acronyms

Using acronyms is fine as long as you spell each one out completely the first time you use it in each proposal section. Even if you’re absolutely positive everyone knows what a certain acronym stands for, never use it unless you first spell it out.

  1. Organization is Key

Make sure you organize your proposal exactly as the funder asked that it be organized in its Request for Proposals (RFP). No matter how much you think your ideas for organizing the information might be better, don’t vary the order of the information from what the funder asks for. Organize your sections exactly like the funder asks they be organized. Readers will be looking for certain information in a certain order. If you change the information or the order you’ll lose valuable points and probably not get funded. One additional point: Use headings and subheadings within proposal sections to make it easier for readers to quickly find information.

  1. Set Aside Your Personal Literary Ambitions

Let’s agree that most of us aren’t Stephen King, Louisa May Alcott, or Shakespeare when it comes to writing. Sentences that we feel are “pure gold” may, in fact, be “pure coal” for readers. It’s critical to keep your sentences to an average of no more than 15-20 words. Use simple, not complex sentences. And your persuasion techniques should be subtle. A good program sells itself.

These five tips will help you become an award-winning proposal writer. Do you have a tip you’d like to share with our readers? Help another Grantmama out and tell us what it is!

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