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How to Prevent Mistakes on a Grant Application

7 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Finding and Applying for a Grant

After putting so much time and energy into your grant application or bid proposal, you may miss fatal writing or formatting errors. Unfortunately, when program officers and peer reviewers reading your grant application find those mistakes, your application is at high risk of not being funded.

Recruit a fresh pair of eyes when you finish your application, making sure your writing, formatting, and adherence to the funder’s guidelines are spot on.

To get the most from your final edit, you have three options:

  • Finish your funding proposal early (one to two days before it’s due) and lay it aside for 24 hours before rereading.

  • Have a colleague proof and edit all your work. Be sure to pick someone who doesn’t feel intimidated or shy about marking up your mistakes.

  • Secure the services of a proofreader or editor.

Whether you choose to proofread your application yourself or have someone do it for you, always run the spell-check feature on your word-processing program. It takes only a few minutes, but fixing spelling errors early in the proofreading game saves you time later on, when you may be working to fix more prominent errors.

If you decide to proofread your own grant application or bid proposal, here’s a list of the types of bloopers and blunders to look for and correct:

  • Nonmeasurable objectives.

  • Narrative section headings and subheadings that aren’t the same as the funder’s review criteria headings.

  • Unpaginated pages in the narrative.

  • No sequential pagination from the cover form to the last attached or appended item when the funder has requested total document pagination.

  • Different font types and sizes when the funder instructs you to use only one particular font type and size.

  • Incorrect spacing between sentences when the funder indicates single- or double-spacing only.

  • Orphan lines, headings, or subheadings left hanging alone at the bottom of a page.

  • Blatant spelling errors or transposing of words. (For example, using there instead of their, hour instead of our, and so forth.) Use a hard-copy dictionary and a thesaurus, or your word processing spelling and grammar check options, to ensure that you’ve selected the correct word.

  • Omitting a heading or subheading response because you believe it doesn’t apply to your organization or failing to type Not Applicable under the heading or subheading, or in the information field box.

  • Grammatical, punctuation, and sentence structure errors.

Different funders and bid-letting agencies have different rules. You can win the grant or contract seeking game if you read and adhere to each funder’s specific formatting rules.

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