"Style Guidelines for Organizational Grants"
By: Lauren Beth Kelly
When creating any document for a company, it’s important that the style, diction, and overall structure is consistent throughout all similar documents. For example, if you’re one person on a team of many who write grant proposals, you want them all to sound the same, so it’s uniform for the company, rather than individualized to each writer.
Here is an example set of style guidelines a nonprofit organization may use for grant proposals. This allows for consistency within each organization proposal.
Reporting Guidelines (Page Layout/Formatting):
- Margins — Present 1 inch of white space for the upper, lower, left, and right hand margins of each page within a proposal.
- Heading Levels — Sections of similar importance should have the same level of heading, meaning they’re the same size, font, and boldness.
- Writing Style — Use clear sentence structure and correct grammar, as well as consistency and professionalism throughout.
- Use of Abbreviations — Include the exact spelling of the first use of a term to be abbreviated. If it is necessary to repeat the word, use its abbreviation within the document. Appropriate abbreviations for our organization include, but are not limited to: NPO (Non-Profit Organization) and IRS (Internal Revenue Service).
- Parallel Construction — Include the use of parallelism when reporting organizational accomplishments. Essentially, this means that you should state multiple ideas in the same grammatical pattern to show that they’re of equal importance. For example, mention that we have a “substantial track record that includes the following milestones…”
- Tone — Convey a friendly tone within the proposal while using direct and concise wording. Employ an active, not passive tone. For example, say, “Please sponsor us,” “rather than, “I’m asking for your sponsorship.”
Reporting Standards (Rhetorical Situation):
- Audience — All proposals are specifically for corporate Federal and local government grants are non-applicable for our purposes. Therefore, it is probable that board directors and/or committee members will be making final determinations for grant recipients and allocations. An audience analysis indicates that we can assume such individuals know very little about this organization.
Proposals should match project goals with funder grant criteria and mission statement. For example, the Home Depot Corporation advocates “improving one’s community by supporting efforts that create a healthier, more stable environment where families can thrive.” They award grants for “the development and repair of veteran’s housing.”
Here, proposals should emphasize any relevant attributes, and should include the use of parallelism.
- Purpose — Support can come in the form of in-kind donations, monetary or volunteer assistance.
Utilize the following task objectives in this order when completing a proposal:
- Compile all relevant data to effectively outline our organization.
- Determine organizational eligibility for grants as well as deadlines for submission.
- Determine if there is an application process (most likely through an online submission).
- Context — More competitive grant proposals tend to include specifics. Therefore, explain in detail how we will use allocated support. The explanation should include numerical figures when applicable. It is also important to note that information regarding past grant recipients is sometimes available on company websites and can be a strong indicator of the level of competition that exists for grants.
Standard criteria which should be contained in every proposal includes the following:
- State that we are a non-profit organization and are recognized as tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service. Such information is required by most granters.
- All project commencement dates for grant related projects should be included. This data is also typically required.
- Data for financial analysis that includes current operating budget information should be contained as well.
- Audit Reports for evaluation of business practices tend to be required for grant consideration.
- For all monetary grant support considerations, include the specific funding request amount.
- Include how we will track and report outcomes for projects that will be executed with allocated funds (i.e. number of volunteers, etc.)
- Action verbs should be used throughout the document. These can include “identified, qualified, managed, impacted” etc.
Displaying Content/Visual Analysis:
- Graphics — Effective use of graphic elements may include the presentation of data in tables or charts. This includes financial data.
Also, make sure that a small organizational logo appears above and below the body of the text on each page.
Because this document will be presented in a printed format genre, one should also consider the resolution of any graphics as well as printer quality.
- Fonts — Use standard type font for all text with the exception of headings, which should include boldface, italics, and/or larger font sizes.
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