Here's a great piece of grant writing advice that comes from a rather unexpected place: a test prep and study guide.

One study guide for the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) exam says this:

Avoid the "fact trap." Don't get distracted by a choice that is factually true. Your search is for the answer that answers the question. Stay focused and don't fall for an answer that is true but irrelevant. Always go back to the question and make sure you're choosing an answer that actually answers the question and is not just a true statement.

An answer can be factually correct, but it MUST answer the question asked." [emphasis added]

It's a great tip for the CFRE exam because, on that test, many of the questions have more than one right answer. That means you need to know which one is the best answer.

This is also a helpful tip when you're writing grant proposals.

Far too many well-intentioned grant writers write what they (the grant writer) want the reviewer to know, instead of answering the questions asked in the application.

When I was a foundation program officer, I saw this. A lot. I still see it sometimes, when I critique grant proposals my clients write.

In most cases, grant applications, RFPs, and funding announcements will ask very specific questions that you should answer. The funder doesn't want - or need - to know everything about your organization. Even if it's factually true.

Yet some grant applicants will use every page, every word, and every character they are allowed. They will keep writing - presenting more and more facts, even after they have adequately answered the question.

Grant reviewers read dozens, even hundreds, of proposals. So, it shouldn't surprise you that longer proposals and tangential responses are not what they want to read.

What do they want to read? Grant reviewers are looking for a compelling case as well as clear and concise answers - to their questions.

And that's a fact.

This post originally appeared on the Bloomerang blog.

Photo credit(s): Bloomerang

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