Friday, January 26, 2007

#27: The Easy Way to Prepare Diagrams for Your Grant

A picture is worth a thousand words. And when the funder has limited your proposal to 20 double spaced pages with a 12 point font, saving those thousand words is worth a diagram or two.

Putting a diagram together, especially when the clock was ticking closer to my deadline, gave me the hee-bee-gee-bees. Then I learned the easy way.

Forget about WORD -- go straight to PowerPoint. Design your diagram there. You'll find you have much more control. The tools are plentiful and easy to master. The end product will look much more professional.

Once you're happy with it, just copy and paste it into your WORD document. Great diagram, no grief.

Want a little inspiration?

This essay by a 14 year old Chinese adoptee is an example of why I'm in this business.

Elizabeth Li-Anna Qiuju Gaeta Holmes won 2nd prize (I would have given her first prize) in the essay contest my client, the NY Center for Interpersonal Development, sponsored for their Celebrate Diversity event.

It will only take you a minute to read. It will warm you for days.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

About This Blog

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Ruth Wahtera. I love my job, which is -- whatever I make it! In 2001, after years working in large organizations, I set out to be my own boss. I have no desire to build a huge company. I just want to use my talents to help people I enjoy make great things happen.

More often than not, that means that I'm helping people and organizations translate their dreams into language others will understand and support.

Strategic plans, business plans, grant applications, web sites, blogs.... I write a lot. I also facilitate conversations and planning sessions. I consult. I work on special projects. I serve as a sounding board.

And, I love to explore and test new tools and techniques for working efficiently and managing projects.

One day I started thinking about how my clients could use blogs. That made me think that I better start blogging myself. After all, there's nothing worse than a consultant preaching about something they've never experienced. So, I thought, hmmm -- grant writing tips.

Every non-profit, many individuals, every school, and some businesses submit grant applications. And, we're all struggling with the same issues. Some involve nuts and bolts. Some present ethical or philosophical. Some are pure resource needs -- where can I find statistics about the number of xyz's in my state?

So, this blog was born. It provides me with experience blogging. It helps me think about the process of writing good grants, and that helps me improve my craft. And, I can share what I've learned with others.

If you find value in what I offer, I hope you'll encourage me by posting comments and offering your own tips and resources. Knowing you've found something useful will keep me writing. And when you share something that works for you, you make me very happy.

I hope you'll subscribe by RSS or, if you prefer updates by email, by Feedblitz. You'll find the subscription information at the bottom of the sidebar. I also publish a periodic enewsletter about whatever I find interesting -- the epitome of arrogance. But you may find some of it interesting, too.
Post a comment to let me know you're there.

All the best,

Monday, January 15, 2007

New Look

They finally moved my blogs to the new-out-of-beta Blogger, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to change the look of the blog. Do you like it?

What I like best is the ability to label each post.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

#26: Grant Writers, More White Space, Please!

Alison Snyder reminded scientists of some basic tenets of grant writing in a recent article in The Scientist. One of her points was that aesthetics count. In addition reminding them to follow directions about font size, margins, and spacing, she encouraged them to pay attention to how the page as a whole looks. Add space between paragraphs. Use headings and sub-headings.

This point prompted the following great comment about white space.
Applicants generally do not appreciate the importance of [white space]. "White space" in a proposal allows a reviewer to annotate the document while reading, instead of jotting comments on a note pad, which can be missplaced prior to writing a formal critique. In addition, white space "lightens" the document in a reviewer-friendly way. Applicants should consider that their proposal may be read by a reviewer late at night when a baby is crying or on an airplane travelling to a meeting. The more reviewer-friendly, the better.
Robert B. Trimble, PhD, Director, NIH Office of Research

I try to put myself in the readers shoes, and I'm very conscious of white space from an aesthetic perspective. I want my proposal to be a pleasure to read when the reviewer pulls it out of the stack. But I have to admit, I never thought about making it easy for the reviewer to make notes directly on the document. Thanks for the insight, Dr. Trimble.