Greetings from GrantLessons!
We are moving right along, we have discussed putting a committee together to write applications and we have looked at strategies to find funders who match the needs of chapter philanthropic programs. Our focus now changes to writing the application.
Lesson #30 – Plan the Writing
The member who writes an application has a delicate task to complete. “Prior planning prevents poor performance” allows us to take a few minutes to step back and look at what the member can do to make the process easier for her and to preserve her work for years to come.
It is good to take time to gather one’s thoughts and needed materials prior to actually writing the application. Here are a few tips:
• Which chapter program will be used in the application;
• What is the amount for the application (One should never request the entire amount from one funder.);
• What additional requirements are needed, i.e., separate budget for the program, expected outcomes, or support letters from the community;
• Sell the solutions not the problems being addressed;
• A few statistics are helpful, however, testimonials will often bear more credibility;
• Use an active voice making positive statements; and
• Get to the point by editing and avoid redundancy.
With online applications, the applicant will need to upload documents. The computer program may restrict the file size of the document that needs to be uploaded.
Lesson #31 – Do the Writing
Funders choose how they want applications sent to them for consideration. Prior to the Internet, applications were always completed by making a paper application. Over the last several years funders are moving to companies that provide a service for them to provide electronic online applications.
With a paper application, the funder may provide specific information on the font type and size, the margins, and whether the application should be typed or not. If these requirements are made by the funder, the applicant must conform to the requirements or risk the application being denied based on lack of conformance.
In preparing the paper application for mailing it is good to send the package by Priority Mail with a signature receipt.
An online application is done over the Internet. Often the funder will require that the applicant complete a short eligibility survey. To start the process, the applicant will need to access the funder’s website by creating an account. It is good to use the same username and password as is used for the committee’s communal email. By doing this, anyone of the members can access the website to help the primary writer or to complete a review of the final application prior to submission.
When completing an online application, one is asked to type into small boxes. The dialogue boxes do not allow one to actually see the entire answer without scrolling up or down. One tip is to construct the answer in a word-processing program like Microsoft Word and then to “cut and paste” into the dialogue box.
There may be restrictions on the number of characters or words that can be entered into the dialogue box. It may be necessary to take a prepared response and pair it down to the limits required by the program.
It is important to make sure files containing required documents will be able to be uploaded to the online application. One needs to determine the file size of portable document files (PDFs) to ensure that the funder’s website will be able to accept the file.
Often times when working on an online application one may need to stop the process and continue at a later time, one must realize that they need to save their work and to be careful not to select the submit button.
Make a Compelling Case
A question that runs through an application writer’s mind is, “How do I make my case for this funding really compelling?” The case is made when the funder asks the applicant to describe the program or project. Generally there is a limit on characters or words that can be used in explaining the program or project.
Here are some recommendations for making a compelling case:
• Focus on the solution, not why the program is needed. The writer needs to focus on the problem and then move quickly to how the program solves the problem.
• Use actual stories or testimonials with a few statistics to make the case.
• Select your words with care. Be sure to use action words and avoid passive words. Describe your case in such a way that the reader can visualize your description.
• Use bullets to help break the copy to make the document more pleasing to read. Use white space when writing a paper application, but be sure to match any formatting requirements made by the funder.
• The writer must, ask for the funding. The writer wants the reader to fund the application. Be sure to explain what will be done with the funding that is received. Be truthful, factual and concise. Remember, you’re writing on paper, not carving on stone. Edit. Read it again, then edit it again. Have someone else read and edit it. Change it when it needs to be changed. Write the narrative, then go back and punch it up. Don’t be afraid of going over the top, you can always tone it down, if necessary.
The application is done. The writer has spent time and energy to make it the best she can. Now it is time to have a reviewer look at the application and determine if there are any errors in the content or in grammar/spelling.
I understand school is getting ready to start in our community next week, the summer seemed really short this year.
Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon! Sandie