NEWS

"The First Unnatural Law of Bid Writing" by GRIN

Jul 29, 2016

I was reflecting earlier on a conversation I had at the beginning of the week with a colleague who was working on a Comic Relief Core Strength application, which had a deadline of this Wednesday just past.

As with many applications to grant-providers, website access is essential to either download eligibility criteria, research funding track records and, not least, complete the application form. 

With the deadline fast approaching, my colleague had the electricity supply to her office unexpectedly cut off! I know many seasoned bid writers are used to last minute panics caused by matters beyond their control. There have been a number of times when, for instance, Windows has spontaneously decided to upgrade and reboot my PC while I'm in the middle of a bid, resulting in a lost draft application and the PC dumped in the garden.

The point is that, when preparing a grant application, you have to allow enough time for unexpected obstacles, otherwise you're going to run foul of the first unnatural law of bid writing:

"If anything can go wrong, it will."

Some other unnatural laws of bid writing, incidentally, are:

o Whoever has the gold, makes the rules;
o If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of; 
o Anything is possible if you don't know what you're talking about;
o When the going gets tough, everyone leaves; and
o The first 90% of the bid takes 90% of the time, and the last 10% takes the other 90%.

On a separate but connected issue, I was also thinking about a quote I'd read by the wonderful (and famous) Totnes performance poet, Matt Harvey.

In 2010 Matt was the poet in residence at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. As part of an interview with The Guardian, Matt states that "a fundemental requirement of any writer is the ability to self-edit ruthlessly" and it's the same with bid writing, where often you'll find a word/ character limit for each question.

It's imperative to use what space or word count you have available to cut out the waffle and get to the root of your project: what's the need? Where's the evidence? How will the project address it etc. 

So the moral of this blog is "plan carefully, save prodigiously, edit ruthlessly".

As for my colleague, she quickly moved her whole bid writing operation to her home, where she managed to meet the Core Strength deadline - hurray!

And there's a nice link with Matt Harvey too. Matt was present at the opening of Crediton Community Bookshop, which yesterday received confirmation of a £150,000 grant award fromPower to Change.