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The One Part of Your Grant Proposal You Really Need to Ace

Why your abstract should be anything but “abstract”

Every part of your grant proposal is important, but if you don’t nail the abstract your request for funding may never see the light of day. Often, the abstract is the first section a potential grantor will read. Think of it as your opportunity to make a good first impression—perhaps your only opportunity. 

Five tips for preparing a winning abstract

You know there’s a lot of competition for grant dollars and grantors field a ton of proposals. So it’s no surprise that they use the abstract to quickly separate fundable requests from those that may not so neatly align with their priorities. If you want to improve your chances for consideration, you need to ace your abstract. Here are five ways to make sure you put your best foot forward.

  1. Make your case—succinctly. A good abstract briefly summarizes the key highlights within your proposal. It doesn’t have to be long and—in fact—it should strive to be concise. Experts say you should be able to effectively make your case in 250-500 words. If you have difficulty limiting your argument to a single page, you need to rethink your argument. Word limits force you to delete, rephrase, and strip out information that’s not essential.
  2. Clearly align your goals with your funder’s goals. Your grant may be seen by a number of different reviewers at different levels of a funding agency or corporation. Use language that’s plain, direct, and specific, so no matter who’s reading it they quickly understand your needs, goals, and budget. Be sure to clearly connect the dots between your proposal and the grantor’s mission and objectives.
  3. Give reviewers a compelling reason to select you over others. Explain why your proposal is important, significant, and uniquely worthy of the grantor’s support.
  4. Make it the LAST thing you do. Even though the abstract is the first thing reviewers read, it should be the last thing you write. The idea is that it’s easier to summarize key points from a proposal after it’s written.
  5. Solicit feedback from a colleague or friend. It’s a good idea to ask someone not familiar with the grant or your program to read your abstract. If they’re able to understand it and follow it, chances are reviewers will too. That being said, you should always have a second pair of eyes proofread your entire proposal to check for typos and other errors. A polished and professional presentation goes a long way.

Now that you know what it takes to create a winning abstract, you may want to explore the latest edition of our hot-off-the-presses Grants Guide which lists more than 50 resources for technology grants, as well as tips an best practices for getting started. Whether you’re looking to fund devices, connectivity, or professional development, this comprehensive guide details how and where to secure funding for ESSA, STEM, and EdTech initiatives, and more. Happy hunting and good luck!

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