by David Tandet
The real scoop on getting your grant proposal seriously considered?
Use spell check.
That’s not my opinion. It’s straight from the lips of Holly Cole, Verizon’s Director, Government & External Affairs, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.
Ms. Cole gave that advice during a recent presentation at the Ventura County Community Foundation. It was part of her response to moderator Susan Seale’s query on grant writing basics for the benefit of beginners in the audience.
Holly is involved in deciding which grant proposals in her area get funded.
Spell checking proposals is not the only criterion for writing a winning grant, of course. An inquiry riddled with misspelled words, however, does get the applicant off to a bad start.
I can’t speak for Holly Cole, but here are 10 reasons I think “use spell check” is terrific advice:
1. A great tennis player said, “Real champions don’t miss the easy ones.” If you do not use a tool as simple as spell check, you are not a champion grant writer.
2. Spell check should be as much a part of your clean copy regimen as brushing your teeth is a part of your daily health regimen.
3. If you are careless when you ask for financial support, how careful will you be when you spend it?
4. “Use spell check” means check the spelling. Everyone knows the correct spelling of an unintended word often gets by. The less you let that happen, the more it says about your attention to detail.
5. Spell check is the push past the finish line. Funders want to support nonprofits that reach the goals they set for themselves.
6. Potential grantees that use spell check show they make the most of resources already within their grasp. Those potential grantees are the best bets for doing the most good with the money their projects could receive.
7. There are a lot of reasons to use spell check. There is no reason not to. Using spell check is one more indication to a possible grantor that you have the common sense to take advantage of a win/win situation.
8. Spell check can teach you something new, such as how to spell a word. Each piece of knowledge has the potential to combine with other things you learn to improve your problem solving ability. Grantors know that good problem solvers have the greatest ability to make the most positive impact.
9. Some grantmakers, such as Holly Cole, personally visit each potential grantee once the initial query is submitted. You are being seriously considered every step of the way. Why wouldn’t you take yourself seriously enough to use spell check from the moment of your initial presentation?
10. Holly Cole’s comment indicates there is a large group of nonprofits asking for funds that is not using spell check. Use spell check and help draft yourself onto the winning team.