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Tips for Preparing Grant Proposals

Last Published: 10/05/2017

Working on a grant proposal? You may find these tips helpful.

  • Include a DUNS Number. A DUNS Number must be included in order for an application to be reviewed.  DUNS numbers can be obtained by accessing http://www.dnb.com/ or by calling 1-866-705-5711. Include the DUNS number next to the OMB Approval Number, which is located in the upper right corner of the application face page.
  • Keep the audience in mind. Reviewers will only use the information contained in the application to assess the application. Therefore, the applicant should be sure the application and responses to the program requirements and expectations are complete and clearly written. Do not assume that reviewers are familiar with the applicant. Keep the review criteria in mind when writing the application.
  • Start preparing the application early. If applying electronically through Grants.gov please ensure that adequate time is allotted to register and download applicable software and forms. Grants.gov offered a "Webcast" (registration required) entitled "Get Started with Grants.gov" that provides startup requirements and tips.
  • Follow the instructions and application guidance carefully as outlined in the RFA. The instructions call for a particular organization of the materials, and reviewers are accustomed to finding information in specific places. Present information according to the prescribed format.
  • Be brief, concise, and clear. Make each point understandable. Provide accurate and honest information, including candid accounts of problems and realistic plans to address them. If any required information or data is omitted, explain why. Make sure the information provided in each table, chart, attachment, etc., is consistent with the proposal narrative and information in other tables.
  • Be organized and logical. Many applications fail because the reviewers cannot follow the thought process of the applicant or because parts of the application do not fit together.
  • Enlist the help of someone not involved in the preparation of the application and proposal to review the proposal against the RFA to ensure all criteria has been responded to sufficiently.
  • Be careful in the use of appendices. Do not use the appendices for information that is required in the body of the application. Be sure to cross-reference all tables and attachments located in the appendices to the appropriate text in the application.
  • Carefully proofread the application. Misspellings and grammatical errors will impede reviewers in understanding the application. Be sure pages are numbered (including appendices) and that page limits are followed. Limit the use of abbreviations and acronyms, and define each one at its first use and periodically throughout application.
  • Learn how to navigate Grants.gov to file electronically: Applicant Resources on Grants.gov