Grant Writing-Seven Deadly Sins of Grant Writing

Too often grant writers fall into these traps when applying for community grants. My thanks to the The Peninsula Community Foundation for allowing me to reproduce this information from one of their seminars.

Grant Writing

  1. Using “grant-speak.”

Avoid acronyms
Avoid trite phrases “outcomes,” “cultural diversity.”
Avoid big words
Avoid complex sentences

  1. Not doing your homework before applying to a foundation.

Make sure you fit the type of grant. 50% of applicants often are not eligible.
Don’t ask for too much money.
Include correct attachments

  1. Using the “Grants-R-Us” approach to seeking grants.

Don’t use canned, “one size fits all” grants
Pick your 5 best donors per year
Be consistent: donors talk to each other.

  1. Writing in generalities and emotional terms rather than being specific and factual.

General: We want to make an impact on young people.
Specific: We seek to improve the ability of 700 children attending ABC school to work collaboratively through a series of interactive theatre workshops.

  1. Providing qualitative rather than quantitative goals and/or evaluation methods, or no goals or evaluations methods at all.

Think it through
Provide hard numbers that can be measured.

  1. Lack of planning for the project, for the organization and/or the future of either or both.

Budget should accurately reflect the project.
Budget should accurately reflect the goals of the organization.

  1. Inflating the value, uniqueness and/or affect of the project or your organization.

Bad Example: We will enrich the cultural life of all the people in the Bay Area.
Another Bad Example: We are the only organization [fill in the blank] … providing this service … doing this kind of work … serving this community … etc.
Be realistic!

Related page: Grant Writing Help
A list of organizations that provide technical assistance, consulting, classes and research materials in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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