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Five Simple Ways to Make Your Proposal More Competitive

  1. Show funder you've done your homework. Indicate you have reviewed material published by the foundation in print or on the web, and that you are aware of what they have funded and want to fund. Describe how your proposal fits the funder's interests.
  2. Follow the guidelines religiously and answer all the questions. Don't hand the reviewers an easy excuse to reject your proposal by not following the guidelines. If there is a legitimate reason you didn't respond to a specific question or request for information, acknowledge the request and state why you can't respond to it.
  3. Make proposal easy to read. Neatness counts! Use 12 point font and 1 inch margins unless otherwise directed. Use a heading hierarchy to show which sections are main sections and which are subsections.
  4. Make it easy to find information. Use page numbers and headings that correspond to the information requested in the foundation's guidelines. If your proposal is long, use a table of contents. Use tabs for appendices or attachments and refer to them as appropriate in the proposal narrative. E.g., SJU was founded by a Benedictine monastic community. (For a history of Benedictine monasticism in Minnesota, see Appendix B.)
  5. Avoid jargon. Do not presume that all readers share your use of language. Unless you know that your academic peers will be reviewing the proposal, write for the educated layperson. If you use abbreviations or acronyms, spell them out upon first use.

Adapted from 5 Simple Ways to Make Foundation Staff Feel Better About Your Proposal by Deborah Koch