Easy Steps to Submitting Online Applications
Online applications appear to be an easy option to submit a grant proposal. Online platforms make it easier for foundations to receive and review proposals, but they provide unique challenges for grant writers. Here are some tips to help you avoid the most common online application mistakes.
Create an Online Account
Be mindful when you create your online account and ensure all the information you enter is accurate. As mundane as it might sound, make sure you remember your username. If you ever apply for another grant from the same foundation, you already have your account with most of your basic information set up.
Write Your Proposal Offline
Write all of your answers in a word-processing document first. Save the document to your computer to serve as a backup copy in case the online application session times out or something else unexpected happens. Writing your proposal offline will assist you in catching typos and grammatical errors by running spellcheck throughout the document. It is also helpful to share your document with colleagues for review and proofreading.
Adhere to Word Limits
Some applications or online fields to fill in have word limits. Pay close attention to the word or character counts allotted for each question and determine if spaces count as characters. If you find you’re repeatedly struggling with word limits on certain questions, check your previous answers to ensure you haven’t included any redundant information.
Do Not Format
Online applications often do not accept special formatting. Keep this in mind and avoid formatting or using bold and italics in your text. Try to avoid bullet points, as they do not always copy well. Online applications also don’t accept visuals, so you will need to translate images into text. On the other hand, if you are required to submit attachments, it is best to save them as PDF files to preserve any formatting you added.
Keep Keywords in Mind
Larger foundations may use scanning software to review applications for keywords that match mission, objective, or cause. You do not need to cram all the keywords into your proposal, but try to align your proposal language to that of the request for proposals. For example, if the foundation seeks to fund “professional development,” then most uses of the words “professional learning” or “professional growth” in your proposal can be changed to “professional development.”
Don’t Be Fooled by Convenience
Don’t think an online application is easier than a paper-based application. Take enough time to prepare, enter, and submit your application. Do not start short of the deadline and then rush through.
After submitting, you should receive a confirmation email. If the application allows you to review all of your answers before or after submitting, print out a copy for your records. Write down any identifying information, such as your application number.