Do Not Use These Words In Your Grant Proposals

There are certain words and things that you should NOT include in your grant proposals! I often teach about what to DO in your grant writing (such as in the Grant Writer Master Course), but I haven’t really said, “Don’t do this!”

Therefore, this episode is dedicated to what NOT to do in your grant writing.

#1 Don’t Use Ambiguous Language

Avoid using ambiguous language when writing. One thing every grant reviewer needs to see is specific language. If you use ambiguous or broad language, there are no specific deliverables!

Example of words NOT to use:

  • Lack of
  • Too few
  • Not enough
  • Misc.
  • Etcetera

Instead use:

  • Percentages
  • Numbers

If there is a lack, what is the lack? None? Only two? For example, “County A does not have a homeless shelter for at-risk youth. However, Report Youth stated that there are 250 homeless at-risk youth in County A (2022).”

Use the above example instead of saying “Country A has a lack of homeless shelters.”

#2: Don’t Use the Word Very or Rarely

Using the words very or rarely are also ambiguous. The program is very much needed, doesn’t give me any specifics.

As in the above example, use statistics or numbers to demonstrate instead of the word very or rarely.

#3 Don’t Use Emotional Language

As a federal grant reviewer, I see emotional language used all the time to try to pull at my heartstrings. The thing is, there isn’t a score for how your heart hurts for a program. Nope. 

Once again use statistics, reports, testimonials, and specifics to show how bad the situation is. That will tell an emotional story. 

Then show me how the program will provide a solution with (yep, you guessed it) specific outputs.