Category Archives: Evaluation

TOP 7 RESOLUTIONS FOR RESEARCHING, REPORTING AND EVALUATING (2019)

  1. Use strong language. When you write a report or a grant application don’t be afraid to use strong and powerful words.   Strong words convey confidence, ability and the promise of meaningful outcomes.  The tendency of most people writing reports and grant applications is to use eloquence instead of directness.  But in this situation eloquence is not as convincing.  Here are some examples of strong words: provide, demonstrate, obtain, effect and add.  And these words are stronger if you do not temper them with words that increase their eloquence but do not add to the impact, for instance: Instead of will attempt to, just use will, instead of plan to collect, say will collect.

 

  1. Don’t be too wordy. Too many words can be perceived as propping up a lame idea or program.  Often you are limited in how many words you can include in a grant application or report.  The reason for the limit is to ensure the writer is succinct.  Weak wording almost always results in excess words.  Using too many words in a grant application make you seem hesitant or unsure of the effort/organization for which you seek funding.  Wordiness in a report will cause it to not be read (length and boredom factor) or it will sound like a “sales job” instead of a presentation of information or, even worse, both.   If you use strong words (see Resolution #1) you are much less likely be too wordy.

 

  1. Keep your commitments to the Researcher, Report Writer and Grant Writer. Whether you hire someone or use staff to conduct research, write a report or apply for a grant, you need to do what you promised to do.  Some typical things you might be called on to do are: supply the names and contact information of people to interview, alert key stakeholders that they will be contacted, encourage participation in a survey.  The things you are supposed to do are vital to the project.  If you fail do them or don’t do them in the agreed upon time-frame, you make it much more difficult (maybe even impossible) for your consultant or staff to do their job and meet the deadlines.

 

  1. Do not confuse activities with outcomes. (Carried over from 2018) Activities are things you do, outcomes are things you accomplish.  Speaking to groups, conducting classes, providing materials, counseling families are all activities.  Outcomes are things you can measure such as: helping 20 individuals improve their credit score, assisting 5 families in qualifying for home loans or decreasing the number of obese children between 5 and 7.

 

  1. Divorce your partners if you are not compatible. If your partners do not keep their commitments, do not meet deadlines and time-frames, are not what they represented their organization to be or anything else that hampers you from producing your outcomes, do not stay “married”.  Be sure that you clearly include in your contract or Memorandum-of-Understanding the expectations and the proper statements to facilitate dissolution of the partnership if commitments are not met according to the agreement.

 

  1. Don’t bite off something that will choke you. Be careful that you don’t chase money that has requirements attached to it that will take you away from your goals or primary purpose.  Avoid funding that forces you to do things that will cost you more time and/or money than it’s worth.  Do not try to make your round peg fit into the funder’s square hole.

 

  1. Respond to emails in a timely manner. It is very important that you respond promptly to emails (and phone calls) from your funders and from consultants/staff that are doing research, a report, a grant application or an evaluation.  Not responding promptly leaves them to wonder if you got the email, are ignoring them or do not know the answer/don’t have the information.  Even worse, they may think you do not value the project and that can result in all types of fallout.  It is not just respectful and polite to respond in a timely manner, it is also efficient.  If you don’t respond you will either hold up someone else’s work or put them into a position to guess/assume and move on.

 

If you would like additional information on the topics mentioned in these resolutions visit Janet’s blog at www.janetwchristy.wordpress.com.  More information on Janet and her consulting firm can be found at www.leverageanddevelopment.com.    You can contact Janet at janet@leverageanddevelopment.com.

 

Advertisements

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Strong Language

Use fewer, stronger words to make your grant applications, reports and proposals more successful and effective.

I see so many documents that use soft, cushiony words instead of strong, emphatic words.  Not using strong language in a proposal offers an opportunity for the recipient to say NO, or at least not make a decision.  Using soft terms in a report diminishes the results and accomplishments.  Using weak words in a grant application make you seem hesitant or unsure of the effort/organization for which you seek funding.  Not using strong words is not only a wasted opportunity; it can also have long term impact on funding and perception.

By using weak words, people often use too many words.  Too many words can be perceived as propping up a lame idea or program.  Often you are limited in how many words you can include in a grant application or report.  The reason for the limit is to ensure the writer is succinct.  Weak wording almost always results in excess words.

Another impact of both more words and weak words is that the reader will not read everything you write.  This can result in them not having full understanding of what you are proposing or reporting.  Ask yourself how often you have stopped reading something because your brain froze-up due to the wording and length.

You probably do not even realize that you are using weak words or that you are too wordy.  So here are some examples of ways to strengthen and shorten your message.

  • Instead of saying “will give students an opportunity to . . .” replace will give with
  • In place of shows use demonstrates
  • Replace this sentence: We expect that they will generate insights that will help improve operations

With this: We will gather insights from Key Stakeholders that will improve operations.

  • Instead of: We are requesting funding for training because without a comprehensive understanding of how a human services agency should operate in order to meet the purpose and goals of the agency, staff will not be working at their optimum and most effective level.

Try this:  The requested funding will finance staff training that will improve their efficiency and increase the effectiveness of our services.

  • Substitute for:  This study will attempt to gain an understanding of the community needs and obstacles through a comprehensive community engagement and input effort.

This:  This study will gather pertinent data on needs and obstacles through interviews and focus groups.

  • Another example of wordy to impactful.
  • Wordy:  Using a carefully crafted process, we will lead the Board through an assessment that will result in the discovery of the obstacles and misunderstandings that inhibit the realization of our organization’s goals.

Impactful:  We will use our proven evaluation process to help the Board identify the actions necessary to accomplish our goals.

 

Here are a few examples of weak, unsure words and phrases:

  • Will attempt to (just use will)
  • In an effort to (again, just use will, or maybe pair will with a strong verb such as the ones below)
  • Plan to collect (replace plan to with will)
  • Try
  • Attempt

 

And here are some strong, confident words:

  • Provide
  • Demonstrate
  • Obtain
  • Impact
  • Direct
  • Add
  • Present
  • Outcomes
  • Effect

 

Remember these things the next time your write something important.

  • Fluff does not enhance
  • Extra words do not increase the impact of the statement
  • Brevity is powerful
  • Direct has impact
  • Verbs are stronger than verb phrases
  • Confidence convinces
  • Get to the point
  • And never, ever whine!
%d bloggers like this: