Government Grants: Stepping Back from the Keyboard!

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    Clear/concise writing is an important component of the government grants proposal development process. But, as John C. Lauderdale – the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Government Contracts (2009) – points out, there are some tried and true maxims that you should follow to write well.

    Two of those maxims are:

    • Proposal quality is greatly improved by a structured, disciplined review of the writing process.
    • No one should ever say, “My work is so good that it does not need to be reviewed by anyone else.”

    Critical Steps in Government Grant Writing

    A good way to address those “rules” is to follow these simple but critical steps:

    1: Outline your proposal first. This should be based on the instructions in the grant guidelines. If there are no instructions about organizing your narrative, use the evaluation criteria to create your outline.

    2: Review your outline.

    3: Revise your outline.

    4: Have your outline reviewed by others and approved.

    5: Begin identifying good graphics/visuals to support your outline. Good graphics increase understanding and enable reviewers to understand your main points quickly and effortlessly. For example, if you are writing about a growing increase in the number of people using your services, include a bar graph depicting this increase over the years.

    6: Write your narrative.

    7: Have your writing reviewed by others. Your best reviewer may be someone who knows the subject of your application well but who has not been involved in developing the proposal.

    8: Revise what you’ve written.

    9: Receive constructive advice about your revision.

    10: Rewrite and review again.

    Good government grant proposal writing is a repetitive process that should include plenty of revision, and it involves stepping back from your keyboard as much as it involves writing.


    Dr. Jayme Sokolow, founder and president of The Development Source, Inc., helps nonprofit organizations develop successful proposals to government agencies. Contact Jayme Sokolow.