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Edit Your Funding Application, Increase Your Bottom Line

We all know that you can work for the greatest organization in the world, doing the most amazing things, but if your fundraising application is poorly written, you aren’t going to get the funds.

Here are 7 ways an editing tool can improve your writing and ultimately increase your bottom line.

  1. 1) Stop you from being repetitive
  2. 2) Highlight your overly complicated sentences
  3. 3) Simplify your language for clarity
  4. 4) Replace vague language with specific words
  5. 5) Reveal your verbs
  6. 6) Eliminate errors
  7. 7) Check your acronyms

1) Stop you from being repetitive

Fundraising applications are often repetitive because you have to keep driving home the goal of your project or organization. But it can be quite annoying for funders to read the exact same wording over and over again. An editing tool like ProWritingAid can scan your document for words and phrases that you have used multiple times so that you can re-write some of those sentences in a different way.

2) Highlight your overly complicated sentences

We have found that sentences with more than 45% glue words (the 200 or so most common English words – in, of, on, the, at, if, etc.) are awkward to read.

  • ORIGINAL: I was able to use the information that I have in my files and spoke to a number of people about the problem and managed to resolve it.

Glue index: 57% - Sentence length 28 words

  • REDRAFT: I resolved the problem using my contacts and the available information.

Glue index: 36% - Sentence length 11 words

The second sentence is much clearer. Unnecessary information has been discarded, and the wording is more concise. The point of the sentence comes across easily, which is essential if you want your potential funder to take notice.

3) Simplify your language for clarity

Too often when fundraisers are trying to give their writing credibility, they choose the wordy ways of saying something simple. Why write “has the ability to” when you can write “can”? You’re just using more words to say the same thing, which actually makes your writing less clear.

Similarly, keep an eye on your use of jargon and overly complex words. It is not wrong to use them, but paragraphs that contain too many will sound convoluted. If you can replace a complex word with a simpler one – e.g. “enquired” with “asked” or “proximate” with “near” – then do it. You can run a complex words check and a diction check to help simplify your language.

4) Replace vague language with specific words

Fundraising applications require specific plans. If you want your funder to fully understand your meaning, you need to choose words with strong denotations instead of vague terms open to interpretation. You can use an editing tool to highlight words that are subjective or imprecise in meaning, like “more”, “improve”, “slightly”, or “good”. For example, look at the following sentences:

  • An improvement of the outreach team will be good for service accessibility.


  • A 15% staff increase in the outreach team will allow an additional 14 centres to receive access to the service.

Which gives you a better understanding of the proposed change? In the first sentence we are unclear about the size of the expansion and the level of increased accessibility. Replacing vague and abstract words with specific ones helps give concrete meaning to your ideas.

5) Reveal your verbs

Fundraising applications tend to be filled with hidden verbs, which means their writing is less concise. This process (called nominalization) turns verbs into nouns and adds a weak verb in their place. For example:

  • We will make an announcement of the winner on Friday.
  • We will announce the winner on Friday.

The first sentence uses a weak verb (make) and hides a strong verb (announce) as a noun (announcement). The second sentence is shorter, clearer and stronger. I’m sure you will recognize the following nominalized phrases from funding applications you have read:

  • analysed ➡ undertook an analysis
  • discussed ➡ held a discussion
  • decided ➡ made a decision
  • reviewed ➡ carried out a review
  • explained ➡ gave an explanation

It’s just clutter. Use an editing tool to highlight all your hidden verbs so that you can reveal their meaning and make your point clearly.

6) Eliminate errors

I’ve read so many fundraising applications that were peppered with minor grammatical errors. Even small mistakes, like using “principle” when you meant “principal”, make the organization look sloppy. In many cases, the fundraising application is the only snapshot that a funding committee will see from the applicant. If they are going to give you their money, they need to feel that you are competent and thorough. Every error takes away from that feeling. Be sure to run the grammar check before you send anything off.

7) Check your acronyms

Acronyms are a common part of almost every funding application, but it’s easy to miss a typo in an acronym because most spell-checks don’t check them. You can use an editing tool to create a list of all the acronyms you have used in your application to easily scan for inconsistencies. This also allows you to build a glossary of acronyms.

Using an editing tool like ProWritingAid can help ensure that your fundraising application is engaging, concise, specific and professional-looking. Make your writing as amazing as your projects and you’ll have a much better chance of securing that funding.

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Lisa Lepki

Lisa Lepki

CMO and Editor of the ProWritingAid Blog

Lisa Lepki is ProWritingAid's CMO and the Editor of the ProWritingAid blog. A word nerd, she loves the technical elements of writing almost as much as the writing itself. She is the co-author of The Novel-Writing Training Plan, Creating Legends: How to craft characters readers adore... or despise!, How to Build Your Author Platform on a Shoestring and 20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers.

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