nonprofit development, startup nonprofits, writing

How to write a vivid grant proposal

Stop using clichés in your writing!

You’ve been hearing it since elementary school, yet many of us still fall into the trap (cliché!) of using cliches in our writing. But your cranky english teacher was right. If you want to write a compelling grant proposal, you need to find fresh ways to make your points and convey your message.

It is simple human nature to respond to the new and novel and ignore the old and bland. Scientists believe the reason is actually programmed into our genes as a primitive survival trait. Whenever something new entered the environment, our ancient ancestors needed to quickly investigate to determine potential risk. That is why advertisers are always touting their “new” product or offer – it makes us pay attention!

Similarly, sentences free of clichés, fluffiness, and superfluous (I almost said over-the-top there!) adjectives garner the attention of the proposal reviewer. In today’s highly competitive world of grants, reviewers are looking for pretty much any opportunity to toss your application to the ‘no’ pile. Keeping your writing vivid and fresh is one of the best things you can do to avoid this common fate. Tired clichés and lifeless text bore people. And a bored person is not going to be inspired enough to give you money!

Have you been using clichés in your grant proposals? Check out this big list of common clichés – if you find them in your proposal, your writing needs a refresher! For more simple tips to write better, right now click here.

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