Smarter Macarthur editor, Lyndall Lee Arnold, shares tips and hints for preparing submissions for grants and awards.
In various roles through my career I’ve been on both the sending and receiving end of awards and other applications – assisting clients in preparing submissions and managing the awards program for a major industry association for several years – and while winning does depend a lot on the quality of your product or service, you can enhance your chances with a great submission.
Here’s a few tips to assist you:
• Read the entry criteria closely to ensure you are entering the correct category and your business meets the criteria. Enter several to improve your overall chances.
• Review previous award winners and finalists to get an indication of the level of competition so you can frame your pitch accordingly. Highlight your unique points.
• Check all critical deadlines and set a timeline for completing your submission –it will take time to get right.
• Read the guidelines for entries/submissions– word limits, font and presentations requirements.
• Answer the question! Many submissions fall short because they miss the point of the question/criteria – stay relevant and stay factual. Yes it is a marketing exercise, but you will be judged on the facts not the hype. If a question asks ‘how’ then give specific ways you actually do that process, not mission statement hype.
• List your key points – keep it simple and clear, no need for long sentences. If point form is permitted, you can be more direct and concise. Avoid the ‘we did’ ‘we do’ ‘we have’ eg change we have state of the art technology to simply state of the art technology and give specific details.
• The judges may not have ever heard of your business so you need to be able to give them as much information as possible in this short space – be informative but don’t waffle.
• Engage an outsider to review and add input – a writer, financial, business, marketing advisor or even a client.
• Proofread – twice! Nothing shoots down your ‘we pay great attention to detail and quality’ argument more than errors in your submission. Don’t rely on spell check and proofread aloud, you’ll be surprised how many errors come to light when you’re speaking not just reading.
Good luck and even if you’re not successful this year – it’s a great exercise in reviewing your business and good foundation for next year.