Make Information Easy to Find

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If information is not easy to find in the grant proposal, it could cost an organization the grant.

Reviewers of grant proposals often find it difficult to locate information in grant proposals, and it is easy to lose track of information in lengthy documents. Some reviewers may be reading ten or more proposals and the length, coupled with reading so many grants about the same subject, may cause the reviewer to miss important points. This poses a problem for the grant writer who needs to score highly in the application process.

The following are two suggestions for making information easier to find in a grant proposal:

(1) Answer the question the application is asking.
(2) Summarize the response in a short list, and explain each point.

Here is a demonstration of each suggestion:

(1) Answer the question the application is asking.
If the application asks a question such as “What is the need for the project?” respond with a direct answer: “The need for the Wayne County Homeless Shelter Project is based upon the growing number of families who have lost their homes and are living on the streets and in their cars.” The grant writer would proceed to explain and document the statement. This response is easier for the reviewer to find and more likely, to remember. Some grant writers begin answering the question by presenting a detailed explanation and documentation, and the need statement gets buried in the response.
(2) Summarize your response in a short list, and explain each point.
If the grant writer has a number of points to make, list them followed by an explanation of each point. See the following example: (Please note the data is not factual.)
What is the need for the project? The need for a breast cancer screening project is threefold: (A) Mammography screening saves lives; (B) Federal funding for free breast screening programs has been reduced; and (C) A growing number of women do not have health insurance.
(A) Mammography screening saves lives: Breast cancer is the most common reportable cancer among women in South Carolina, accounting for nearly one-third of all cancers diagnosed in women. The South Carolina Department of Public Health estimates that this year alone, 11,000 women living in South Carolina will be diagnosed, and 2,000 are expected to die from the disease. In order to improve the odds of survival, studies show that early detection through mammography screening provides the best chance of discovering breast cancer at an early stage.
(B) Federal funding for free breast screening programs has been reduced: Federal funding is available to provide free mammograms to women age 50 and older, but South Carolina has seen a reduction in funds over the past few years. Since 2007, the state has experienced a 12% reduction in funding each year from the federal source. As federal funds decrease, however, the demand from women seeking free mammograms has not.
(C) A growing number of women do not have health insurance: Despite progress in the fight against cancer, some Americans continue to bear a disproportionate share of the nation’s cancer burden. The U.S. Census reports that 41% of families in South Carolina live at or below the poverty level. The state’s unemployment rate, now at 11%, has increased by 301,000 persons in the past year. Access to medical care and early detection and prevention practices that typically are covered by health insurance decrease significantly for socio-economically disadvantaged families. A study conducted last year by the South Carolina Department of Public Health indicated that one of every three households either does not have health insurance or their medical plan does not cover preventive services.
The main points are called to the reviewer’s attention in this example by italicizing and underlining each point. While the explanation gets lengthy, the reviewer can easily locate the main points. Because a federal grant is so long, grant writers are advised to recap the main points at the end of, in this example, the needs section. This will prevent the reviewer from back tracking through the document to locate information. Most importantly, however, the reviewer is not likely to overlook information as he rates or scores the response.

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