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When it comes to grant appendices, less is more

Deborah Ward
October 1st, 2000

How many of you are guilty of filling the appendix of your grant proposal with every piece of paper and document imaginable to impress grant readers? I have worked with some folks whose appendices ended up being two to three times the size of the grant narrative! Generally, the maxim “less is more” applies to the appendix, so let’s take a closer look at this section of a grant proposal.

As always, the first step is to read the request for proposals thoroughly and carefully. Some funders will not allow you to use an appendix, while others will stipulate exactly what information should be included in it. If you decide to include an appendix and the RFP clearly states an appendix is not allowable, be prepared for the possibility that your grant will be disqualified without being read. The other possibility is that your appendix will be removed and discarded without ever being seen by a grant reviewer. Why ignore the RFP and take such a risk?

What kind of information usually is requested in the appendix? Letters of support and letters of commitment (covered in a past eSN article) are placed there, as well as resumes of staff and job descriptions for new staff positions. You might also be asked to include items such as an organizational chart for your project, a copy of your district’s technology plan, or a list of consortium members.

For some federal grants, you may be asked to address how your project meets the requirements of a specific piece of legislation. An example is Section 427 of the General Education Provisions Act, which requires that applicants include in their applications the steps they are proposing to take to ensure equitable access to, and participation in, its federally assisted program for students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries with special needs. An applicant’s response to this requirement can be a single narrative (placed in the appendix) or can be discussed with related topics throughout the narrative.

The “sticky” part comes when an RFP allows an appendix, but gives the applicant free rein to decide what to place in it. At this point, it seems helpful to point out the reason for being thoughtful when deciding what to include in the appendix. Grant readers have varying numbers of proposals to read depending on the level of the competition, as well as a time frame in which to read and score proposals. It is unreasonable to expect that readers will spend extra time making their way through materials that are included in an appendix. I always recommend that proposals be reader-friendly—and this recommendation certainly applies to the appendix, too!

Keeping in mind the “less is more” maxim, ask yourself what items would enhance what you already have discussed in the narrative without overwhelming the readers. For example, you might want to include one or two news clippings that support the ability of your district to carry out the project, but refrain from including copies of every article that highlights your district. Place yourself in the reader’s shoes—try to imagine what you would read vs. items that you would barely skim or ignore completely, and don’t bother putting the latter in your appendix.

To summarize, check the RFP carefully for instructions about the appendix and, if there isn’t any information in the RFP, be sure to contact project staff to discuss whether an appendix would help or hinder your request. Approach putting together an appendix with restraint and remember, “less is more!”

When it comes to grant appendices, less is more

By Deborah Ward
October 1st, 2000

How many of you are guilty of filling the appendix of your grant proposal with every piece of paper and document imaginable to impress grant readers? I have worked with some folks whose appendices ended up being two to three times the size of the grant narrative! Generally, the maxim “less is more” applies to the appendix, so let’s take a closer look at this section of a grant proposal.

As always, the first step is to read the RFP (request for proposals) thoroughly and carefully. Some funders will not allow you to use an appendix, while others will stipulate exactly what information should be included in it. If you decide to include an appendix and the RFP clearly states an appendix is not allowable, be prepared for the possibility that your grant will be disqualified without being read. The other possibility is that your appendix will be removed and discarded without ever being seen by a grant reviewer. Why ignore the RFP and take such a risk?

What kind of information usually is requested in the appendix? Letters of support and letters of commitment (covered in a past STFB article) are placed there, as well as resumes of staff and job descriptions for new staff positions. You might also be asked to include items such as an organizational chart for your project, a copy of your district’s technology plan, or a list of consortium members.

For some federal grants, you may be asked to address how your project meets the requirements of a specific piece of legislation. An example is Section 427 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA). Section 427 requires that applicants include in their applications the steps they are proposing to take to ensure equitable access to, and participation in, its federally-assisted program for students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries with special needs. An applicant’s response to this requirement can be a single narrative (placed in the appendix) or can be discussed in connection with related topics throughout the narrative.

The “sticky” part comes when an RFP allows an appendix, but gives the applicant “free reign” to decide what to place in it. At this point, it seems helpful to point out the reason for being thoughtful when deciding what to include in the appendix. Grant readers have varying numbers of proposals to read depending on the level of the competition, as well as a time frame to read and score proposals. It is unreasonable to expect that readers will spend extra time making their way through materials that are included in an appendix. I always recommend that proposals be “reader friendly”—and this recommendation certainly applies to the appendix, too!

Keeping in mind the “less is more” maxim, ask yourself what items really will enhance what you already have discussed in the narrative without overwhelming the readers. For example, you might want to include one or two news clippings that support the credibility of your district to carry out the project, but refrain from including copies of every article that highlights your district. Place yourself in the reader’s shoes and try to imagine what you would really take the time to read versus items that you would barely skim or ignore completely, and don’t bother putting the latter in your appendix.

To summarize, check the RFP carefully for instructions about the appendix and, if there isn’t any information in the RFP, be sure to contact project staff to discuss whether an appendix will help or hinder your request. Approach putting together an appendix with restraint, and remember: “less is more”! n

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