Grant Readiness Challenge: Day 19: Review For Acronym Use

As a grant reviewer, the frequent use of acronyms in proposals can be a nightmare. This is especially true when you have a huge stack of grants to review, and it is 3:00 AM in the morning after writing grants all day. And, then you open your porch door to let a cat in, and a frog hops in along with the cat. Yes, this LOL nightmare happened to me…….

Now, back to the topic of acronyms. Don’t ever assume a reviewer is knowledgeable about your organization, cause, or the myriad number of acronyms in your field. You don’t want to exhaust them reading your narrative, and you don’t want them to guess what you are trying to convey. Reviewers are usually not allowed to look up what an acronym means anyway. Therefore, make it as easy as possible for them to read your proposal or letter of inquiry (LOI). If it’s a long proposal, define and spell out that acronym more than once. Remember the three BCs: Be clear, be concise, and be cohesive. Tell the reviewer: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Reviewers often have day jobs and review proposals in the evening. Therefore, make your proposal so clear that they could immediately pick up the project and run with it. Overuse of acronyms can damage the clarity they need to score your proposal highly.

Consider the following acronyms which can mean several things. Do you want the reviewer to walk away with the wrong idea?

E.D.- Executive Director or Emotionally Disturbed

NOFA – Notice of Funding Availability or Northeast Organic Farming Association

ROI – Release of Information or Report of Investigation

PD – Professional Development or Project Director

CDC – Centers for Disease Control & Prevention or Community Development Corporation

AOL – America Outta Luck or America Online

Next time you work on a grant proposal or LOI, highlight all the times you used acronyms. Ask a friend or family member who is not an expert in your field to review the document and make sure they understand it. Quiz them, especially about acronyms in the proposal, after they finish reviewing it. The world is full of acronyms; how will you improve your next writing piece to make it a joy for the reader to review? P.O. Oh, I almost forgot. Peace Out.

Your challenge for today is to review one recent submission or a draft that you are working on finalizing to see how frequently you are using acronyms in your work and how to increase clarity for your reviewers with less acronym use.


Don’t forget to share your journey on the 30-Day Grant Readiness Challenge by using the hashtag #grantreadiness on your posts and updates on social media.

Did you miss the launch of the 30-Day Grant Readiness Challenge? It isn’t too late for you to start! You can sign up at any point and it will start you back on Day 1!

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