Using Graphics to Emphasize Win Themes in Grant Proposals

Good grant proposals usually include good graphics that visually depict your organization, your proposal team, and your response to the grant guidelines.  But as Mike Parkinson of the 24 Hour Company has pointed out, good graphics also can help you emphasize your win themes more effectively.

A strong win theme has four components:

  • It links customer benefits to your solution.
  • It supports the solution.
  • It contains specific information.
  • It provides reasons and proof that evaluators need to select you.

To develop strong win themes, you must provide differentiators, or proof that sets you apart from the competition and demonstrates to reviewers that your proposed solution is likely to work.  In other words, a good win theme has these elements:

Theme = Features + Benefits + Proof

According to Parkinson, using good visuals will help reviewers better understand your win themes.  First, using icons, symbols, and pictures help break up the monotony of page after page of dense text, which is all too common in grant proposals.  And second, by associating your win themes with visuals, you help reviewers grasp your main points.

Here are some examples of icons, symbols, and pictures you can use:

Light bulb = innovation

Cloud = Internet

Lock = security

Safe = financial security

Flock of geese = cooperation and teamwork

Organization chart = strong management team

You can use good visuals to represent your concepts and ideas as long as they are logically relevant to your audience.  As Parkinson has argued, too many proposals are difficult to read because they are all text and no pictures.  Visuals are not distractions and mere entertainment.

Good visuals help reviewers picture your text and good pictures promote improved comprehension and persuasion.  Devise good icons, symbols, and pictures for your win themes and you will help reviewers better understand the essence of your grant proposal.

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