The Development Source
Many government grant proposals are complete. Many proposals are compliant. However, few government grant proposals are complete, compliant, and persuasive. Bob Lohfeld, the founder and president of the Lohfeld Consulting Group, has identified seven attributes of really good proposals.
If you are a proposal manager, you should be designing processes, schedules, and timelines so that your grant proposal has these characteristics. In other words, make these the outcomes of your proposal effort.
They may appear easy to accomplish, but they are not. If you can achieve all seven, you may not win a government grant, but you will have a highly competitive proposal that will be taken seriously by reviewers.
Structure your proposal so that it conforms to every requirement of the grant guidelines.
Completely answer all sections of the grant guidelines, especially the instructions and the evaluation criteria.
Focus on the customer
Too many grant proposals are about the applicant. Turn the proposal around and tell reviewers how you are going to help your customer achieve its mission.
Provide plenty of rich content
Proposal may be sales documents, but they should not be filled with marketing hype. Instead, be concrete, specific, and explain what you intend to do, how you intend to do it, why you intend to do it, and the benefits to the government agency.
Make the proposal easy to evaluate
Use the principles of good informational design in your grant proposal. Showcase important information in lists, tables, graphics, and call-out-boxes. Do all the thinking for reviewers so they can glide quickly and effortlessly through your proposal.
Good visuals increase understanding and promote persuasion. Many reviewers will learn more from a good graphic than from several pages of text. Convey your important points visually and tie them to the text with action captions.
Too many grant proposals are poorly written. Use the active voice. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Be very clear, straightforward, and concrete. Get to the point quickly. And tell reviewers what is important and why.
If your proposal team can create proposals with these seven characteristics, win or lose you over time should greatly increase the chances your organization will receive a government grant.