This is a follow up to my last blog post where I discussed the Connect for Health Challenge.  As a citizen reviewer, I read and rated hundreds of online grant proposals.  It was quite educational.  I’d like to share with you a few of my impressions of what made a good proposal and what didn’t. 

In the plus column, I liked proposals that:

  • Presented a solid idea (which should go without saying)
  • Explained ideas in context (such as history and other funding)
  • Included a strong evaluation component
  • Used plain-spoken language
  • Described the approach with specificity and concreteness.

In the negative column, I was less favorable towards proposals that:

  • Were wordy and laden with jargon
  • Presented their idea in an abstract or vague way
  • Seemed overly ambitious for the amount of money requested
  • Or were not ambitious enough 

Of course, things are usually more complicated, neither clearly “good” nor “bad”.  Certain proposals had:

  • Good ideas that were not described well
  • Good ideas that were not on point
  • Good ideas but the organizational capacity to implement the ideas was dubious 

Finally, a few more general observations: 

  • For me, there was a tension between wanting to support the expansion of an already tested and proven approach vs. brand new and untested ideas. 
  • There were proposals that were duplicative of or very similar to others and one wondered, “Why don’t they work together?” 
  • Lastly, established organizations didn’t necessarily write better proposals, in terms of substance or form.

These are my personal opinions, not necessarily those of any of the other Connect for Health reviewers or judges.