Proofreading Towards a Better Proposal
Sunday, January 15, 2012
By Ali Palmieri
Anyone who's been involved with the grants process knows its one thing to find the right grant and another thing to actually submit an application. Once you go through the trials and tribulations of putting the application together, you have may have looked over the application hundreds of times, or you may not have had much time to look it over at all. In this economic state, organizations are downsizing and people are being asked to take on more and more tasks. This can hurt the quality of an application when the submitter doesn't have enough time to properly proofread the application before it is time to submit.
Crucial errors could be made in the haste to submit a grant application. It is important to proofread or, more importantly, have someone outside of the process proofread the proposal. When you have read a proposal many times, your mind knows what you want to have written down, so you are much more likely to skip over your own errors. If you don't have time for someone else to edit for you, something that will make it easier to pick out your own mistakes is to read it out loud to yourself or have someone read it out loud to you. If wording or ideas don't make sense, you will know it. You will stumble over sections where the wording is awkward or you can think to yourself, "Does this make sense to someone outside of the project?"
Be aware of the audience for which you are writing. It is important to keep this in mind when doing any writing but in a grant proposal, you are trying to persuade someone that your project deserves funding. Use details that will let the reviewer know this project is something that can easily be put into action and has a lot of support from the organization and the community. If you are editing your proposal and find it isn't written in an actionable way then find a way to work towards that by clearly defining the goals or using partnerships and other ideas that may make the project more concrete in a reviewers mind.
Whether or not you have time to edit your own proposal, the best option is to have someone from outside of the organization proofread and edit for you. They are able to give you the feedback you need so the proposal will make sense in terms of the guidance. It will also give you another set of eyes to find errors that you don't want to be put in front of reviewers. Those on the outside will be able to pick out typos and errors that will not be picked up by a computer's spell check. This will not work for budgets or anything to do with detailed numbers but you will be on your way to a well proofread and error free proposal. You don't want a small typo or confusing wording to take your project out of the running for grant funding.