Let's be real for a minute: good grant writing is not sexy.
No matter how ambitious, world-changing, and brilliant your idea is, the steps you need to take to write a fundable proposal are seriously mundane.
This is GOOD news. It is! Because it means that you can stick to the tried-and-true, basic, and simple strategies to write a great grant proposal.
Here are three super boring, completely unsexy, and totally effective ways you can win at grant writing:
1. Give yourself loads of time (more than you think you need)
One of the worst traps that people fall into when writing grants is underestimating the amount of time it'll take. And then they scramble. They usually misjudge a) how long it will take to clearly describe their project, and b) the amount of time they'll spend waiting on other people for comments, letters of support, and documents.
Give yourself more time than you think you need. The other advantage to this is that you can write small chunks of the grant bit by bit, instead of working flat-out for three weeks. It's a much more reasonable, and pleasant, pace.
Make sure that you give your collaborators plenty of notice and specific deadlines. This will make the delays more predictable, and it will allow you to plan better.
2. Stick to the rules
Make sure you're following the rules laid out by the granting agency. You'd be surprised how many people choose to view these as suggestions rather than requirements. In a lot of cases, you're automatically disqualified for not following the rules. But in the best case scenario, you've annoyed your reviewers by not doing what you're asked.
Think about how many proposals your reviewers have to read. Think about how much easier it is when there's some predictability to what they're reading—not in terms of the content of the proposal, but the structure. If they have to go hunting around to find the information they need to make a decision, that's going to piss them off. DON'T PISS THEM OFF. Stick to the rules.
3. Keep it simple
Remember that in most cases, the person reading your grant proposal has no idea who you are or what your project is about. It's important to explain what you plan to do in simple terms. This means a) don't assume that your reviewer is an expert in your specific area AND ALSO b) don't assume they know nothing. This can be a tricky balance, but it's worth investing some time to think about how to do it.
The best thing you can do is to put yourself in your reviewer's shoes and imagine what they would need to know to make sense of what you're proposing. One of the smartest ways to do this is to get someone you know to review your proposal before you send it in to the funding agency. They can tell you where things get a little fuzzy or where they need a bit more information.
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Which one of these strategies will be the most helpful in your next grant proposal? Tell me in the comments!