Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Proof Reading Fine Line And Why It's "Fine"

I often write my grant writing or fundraising posts, in Seeking Grant Money Today, in relation to my real professional experiences, local or national current events, and other relevant happenings.

All writers and anyone who employs them must deal with editing any writing to ultimately hone the written piece into the professional standard (e.g. news print, grant writing, etc.) and content goal (newspaper article, grant proposal, etc.). It is a team effort; and everyone writes, edits, and perceives standards, and what the resulting written piece should state differently. So, it's no small task to sit down in a team setting and get a written piece (including a grant proposal) into a format with the specific content that everyone agrees will do the job it is supposed to.

Merriam Webster defines "edit" in three meanings. Under its first meaning, it lists sub-section "c: to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose "

The process of grant writing requires many people (who themselves are good writers) proof read a final draft (or even drafts, in the process of getting to the final draft). It's best if there are more than two peoples' sets of eyes on the document because first, the more the better for the document, and second; if there is a dispute over content, formatting, wording, grammar, etc. - a third person can be a tie breaker.

Beyond just getting a document proof read, communication is critical at this stage of the grant writing process. If a grant writer provides their executive director with a final grant proposal it's best if the two sit down with the document to review it together, while understanding that the executive director knows the nonprofit (its history, jargon, programming, etc.); and the grant writer is the expert in the grant writing process, formatting, what content should be included or omitted, and what foundations expect and do not like. Getting at least one more set of eyes on the document is great because besides the third person catching grammatical errors and wording corrections, they may also be a step outside of the fundraising work, and if so, they will be great at catching any meanings or jargon written in the document that are not clear (and should be changed because you should assume it will not be clear to whomever is going to read the proposal at the foundation).

What defines who has ownership of what aspect of the proof reading process is each individual proof reader's professional position in relation to the nonprofit, and the grant seeking process. It is a team effort every time. Give and take, trust, and openness smooth out the process, but are difficult to muster in situations where a nonprofit "really needs this grant". The pressure to succeed should not undermine the process, though. The professional grant writing process, as defined in the posts, here; are tried and true. Everyone does their work a bit differently from the next professional on, but as long as everyone follows modern fundraising paradigms, standards, and ethics - your team is on the right track.

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