Private Grants Alert

Coffee, Cigarette Smoke Can Doom that Application; Avoids These Pitfalls

Grant Guru is a new, occasional feature in which we talk to the experts in the field to answer your questions. It is part of our continuing effort to enhance our coverage. Dear Grant Guru: What common mistake do grant applicants make that virtually guarantees reviewers will respond unfavorably? Grant Guru: A pretty common complaint. We know that poor organization, bad grammar or spelling, coffee-stained pages or pages that stink of cigarette smoke are common mistakes which annoy reviewers but don't necessarily doom a grant application to the oblivion of the discard pile.  A really dynamite idea can sometimes loom larger than the sum of its misspelled, disorganized, pungent parts—at least sometimes.  What drives reviewers absolutely nuts is a grant application that never actually gets around to answering the question(s) posed. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?  After all, who would write a proposal that didn't answer the questions?  Well, you can certainly write lots and lots of stuff without ever answering the question asked.  Writing a grant proposal is both an exciting and miserable experience. Coming up with a new project or innovative idea you want to see funded is the exciting part; putting it down on paper is the miserable part. But don't let that combination of excitement and misery muddle your ability to explain and articulate your project clearly.  If you can't clearly explain what it is you're proposing to do with someone else's money, chances are those with the money can't tell what you're doing either. The...

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