Three Simple Ways to Improve Your Foundation Grant Proposal

May 31, 2018

Stop! Before you click “submit” or mail that grant proposal out the door, is there any way you can improve your chances of getting funded?


Yes. If you follow these three tips, you’ll improve your proposal exponentially:

1. Eliminate jargon. I worked with a foundation vice president who quite literally took a red pen to every proposal she reviewed, circling every instance of jargon. Get rid of it. Say it simply. Say it from the heart.

2. Have your best friend review your proposal for clarity. Here’s a little trick I’ve been using for over 10 years. When I’ve finished my first grant proposal for a client, before sending it over, I send it off to my best friend in Michigan. She’s never worked for a nonprofit. She doesn’t have any idea what the organization I’m working with does. If she can read the proposal and fully understand the organization’s mission and work, I know I’m on the right path.

3. Remember the 12/12/12 rule and hook the reader with your narrative. If the book Storytelling for Grantseekers isn’t on your bookshelf, I highly recommend it. Imagine yourself in the shoes of a program officer. It’s midnight and she’s been working for 12 hours straight, reviewing grant proposals. Yours is the twelfth one in the stack. How are you going to get her attention? How are you get her to fall in love with your organization’s mission? The key lies in the story you tell.

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