Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Front of the Line: How Can Your Charity Access the SBA Paycheck Protection Program?

The SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a bold and timely reaction by the federal government to the present crisis. It provides $350 billion in relief to small businesses and nonprofits.

PPP will give you the resources to pay salaries and benefits even as charitable contributions continue to decline. I'm sure many charity leaders and board members are anxious to benefit from this program. They do not want to be left out of what may be a once-in-a-lifetime deal that will keep their churches, charities or schools alive.

After all, the loans that will be given out can be completely forgiven. It will be like having an ATM in the lobby of your institution spitting out money all day long.

For most of us, the problem is we are not sure where to turn for help, whether we are eligible, if we are too late, or how to prepare ourselves to secure PPP funding once the application process opens up on Friday, April 3, 2020. Even worse, we can be frustrated that only larger charities or small businesses with up to 500 employees will have the resources, connections or staff needed to be first in line to get this money.

I know what it's like. I'm applying for a PPP forgivable loan myself to protect Drew & Associates and our staff.

We are now working with a number of our non-profit clients to get them ready to apply later this week. As one of them reminded me it easy to put this off because you're afraid it is too much work, that it is a waste of time, or that it only goes to more established charities. I get it.

Frankly, it seems silly for me and my staff to work hard to win you grants when the SBA Paycheck Protection Program is coming on line. I can't think of anything more important right now that to help you participate in this program. The amounts and benefits will be amazing.

According to the SBA, your total loan amount will be equal to your annual expenses for labor - wages, salaries, benefits, and 1099s - divided by 12 and then multiplied by 2.5. We have a spreadsheet calculator that will help you figure out the exact amount you can request.

As long as you maintain at least 75% of your current staffing, you can spend this money anyway you want as long as you focus on payroll, utilities, rent and interest expenses. If you do that, your loan will be completely forgiven.

I have put together a new service to help you quickly, easily and reliably access these funds with the assistance of our conscientious team. 

Personally, I've got 25 years of experience in dealing with federal loan programs as a loan officer, a client of the SBA, and as a grant writing consultant. My skills will help you to get started and to secure this money. We will:
  • Save you time by screening your charity for eligibility.
  • Fill out the appropriate PPP paperwork for you.
  • Help you gather the necessary documentation.
  • If you do not have it, we will help you find it or create it for you.
  • Submit your application on time.
  • Answer any inquiries or requests for additional information.
  • Make sure you get paid quickly.
As far as we know, you should be getting your funding instantly after receiving your application approval from your existing bank or lender. Later, we will work with you to make sure you collect the exact receipts, records, and financial reports you need to qualify for the forgiveness of your loan.

One of the cool things about this process is that we will help you become one of the first community leaders to protect their employees and their non-profit by accessing PPP funding. You will be a hero.

On the other hand, I have to be real with you. If you do not apply for this funding it may be catastrophic for your charity.

We have no way of knowing exactly how long this crisis will last or how long this PPP funding will be available. Since this money is given on a first come, first served basis, it will eventually run out and some people will not be able to get it. Even if you manage to survive without the income needed to cover your payroll, utilities and rent, your charity will be threatened because it will emerge from this crisis damaged, living on a tighter margin and potentially even more vulnerable to continuing financial and pandemic shocks.

All it takes to get started is to pay a small deposit of $250.00 and set-up an intake phone call with me at 949-338-5921.

In that phone call, I ask you some questions about your charity, screen you for eligibility, and then make a recommendation on whether or not it makes sense to bring you on as a client for this PPP opportunity. If it is not a fit, then I will refund your money. If it looks like you are a good prospect, then we will move forward with the paperwork. I'll provide you with a list of needed documents, a loan amount calculator, urgent program updates, official SBA application w/ instructions, unlimited email and phone support.

Once we are ready to go we will charge you an additional $750.00 The total fee for our service will be a flat rate of $1,000.00

The final result will be astounding for you and your charity. Your employees will enjoy the peace of mind and security that you have wisely provided for them. You will be able to keep up your rent and utility payments. You will be able to put your people to work again doing useful things even if they are no longer meeting with your clients face-to-face.

You will also be prepared to go after a second round of funding too. This will most likely happen if stay-at-home orders, quarantines or marshal law are declared in your area. All in all, you will be appreciated for leading your charity in a crisis and protecting its capacity to complete its mission now and in the years to come.

I'm excited to work with you to make this happen. To get started, use the Buy Now button below.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Fear Not: Foundation Giving to Remain Strong in 2020

I have enjoyed calling the upcoming economic crisis the Great Suppression. This is because the reduced economic activity we are enduring is not caused by anything seriously wrong with the U.S. economy.

The economy is strong. The increased unemployment we are seeing is a side effect of efforts to protect our population from the COVID-19 virus. Accordingly, we can expect the economy to bounce back quickly...especially if the current stay at home orders are reversed soon.

In this crisis, grant writers will be one of the occupational groups to be the least impacted by the economic crisis. Part of the reason is that grant writers are used to working on their own - either in an office or at home. In addition, one of the most significant factors which bodes well for grant writers this year is that the vast majority of foundations, that is the private non-operating foundations, are required to keep making grant and other contributions despite the hardships associated with the COVID-19 virus.

This is called the “payout rule.” With certain exceptions, private non-operating foundations must distribute five percent of the value of their net investment assets each year in the form of grants or eligible administrative expenses, with certain exceptions. The rule was created to prevent foundations from receiving assets but never actually making charitable distributions with them. Remember the donors who established these large foundations received a huge tax break and often tax free income for themselves and their families too. The payout rule is just the government's way of extracting an economic price for these enticing tax benefits. 

This familiar, if complex, rule is getting additional attention from foundations looking at the first quarter of the year amid the economic downturn associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant writers and their employers or clients are undoubtedly asking themselves what do the rules require? And what does this rule mean this year for foundations and the nonprofits dependent upon them?

The good news is that giving in 2020 will not be seriously affected by a slowed economy because distributions must be based on an endowment’s monthly averages throughout the previous year, 2019.  Nevertheless, we should be prepared to deal with the fact that the diminished value of foundation investments at the end of the year and into 2021 could affect giving beyond 2020.

In other words, because of the way complex distribution rules are structured, the short-term outlook for non-profits depending on foundation funding looks very good. In 2021, however, we estimate payouts will drop due to a decline in the stock market associated with a reduction in economic activity connected to COVID-19. 

The bottom line is that foundation payouts will remain strong throughout the rest of the year. It behooves charities to apply for this money now. All things being equal, these same foundations will not be as generous a year from now. Accordingly, it is smart for grant writers to redouble their efforts and maintain their productivity. Ironically, they will be among those least impacted by the crisis and among those most central to mitigating its impact.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Good Reasons for Optimism: Economic Outlook for the U.S. Economy

Even though you might not have any worries about dying from COVID-19, you are wise to worry about its economic implications.

After all, we know for sure that some people are definitely going to be out of work - especially those in non-essential services, travel and live entertainment fields. As far as I can tell, the best numbers out there are predicting we will hit peak U.S. deaths on April 13, 2020. Apparently, the number of deaths will drop to almost nothing at all by the end of June 30, 2020. This means that draconian measures to protect the public by sheltering in place will likely continue at least until the end of May. See the chart below:

Theoretically, the economy might bounce back even sooner if political leaders adopted a strategy where we would isolate the elderly who are most at risk and then let everyone else go on about their business. This way many people will get the virus, most will not even know they had it, and we would end up with a population which is effectively immune from its effects. This is indelicately called "herd immunity." After the herd immunity is in effect, we would expect the elderly and those at greatest risk could come out of their homes and safely mix with everyone else.

This mixing would be all the more safe if we continue to see outstanding progress in the treatment of COVID-19.  On the positive side, we are already seeing how existing treatments - a combination of existing anti-malarial and anti-biotic drugs - may be used to effectively cure the virus, reduce its duration and dramatically reduce deaths.

In the long-run, of course, we will be in great shape because we will have a vaccine that will protect all of us from COVID-19. Unfortunately, the process of creating a vaccine will require about 18 months due to the testing involved. Apparently, this testing is more needed than you might expect because of the possibility that COVID-19 will mutate into something else which cannot be harmed by the vaccine or that the vaccine has some disturbing side effect which might make it worse than the disease.

Largely due to the matters described above, I do have an optimistic take. When I see the people around me in a panicked frame of mind, it seems to me that many of them are imagining an unrealistic scenario where COVID-19 becomes a sustained, unrelenting killer for years on end. This chilling vision is just not a practical reality. It is silly to worry about something that out of line with our historical experience.

On the economic front, I think the pessimists are not showing much faith in our government or our economic system to handle this matter.

Above all, we will not be seeing everyone experiencing what happened in New York City. After all, elsewhere in the country we shut down travel quickly. My wife and I have been sheltering in place for over two weeks now, so we are doing our part to stop the spread of the virus. Likewise, plenty of people will still have jobs and income including government workers, people living on retirement pensions, and those who can effectively work from home...including most of us grant writers

Moveover, certain early theories which made COVID-19 seem more frightening have been debunked including the idea that it floats in the air for a long period of time or the bizarre idea that ordinary masks won't work to stop it.

As I review the economic projections, I'm confident that although COVID-19 will harm the economy it will not produce a profound negative impact. I'm certainly not expecting two quarters of negative growth in the economy. This, by the way, is the working definition of a recession. Why?

First of all, the economy is basically strong. Oil prices are at historic lows. Federal government regulations will be reduced as long as Donald J. Trump remains in office. In a financial crisis like this, we see demand is reduced, but there is no fundamental harm to the economy as you would see in a bank and investment financial sector crisis. Under present circumstances, we should get relief quickly. I suspect that the minute the COVID-19 transmission rate falls beneath 1.0 ...meaning it is dying will see the economy and hiring roaring back. If there is a recession, it will be less deep and will rebound more quickly than if we were dealing with the aftermath of a shooting war, dealing with oil price increases, or enduring a real estate bust, or experiencing financial crisis as we were in the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

Next, it looks like the U.S. economy is better positioned to ride out the COVID-19 crisis than other countries. After all, the US economy is less trade-reliant than some other countries, such as Japan or Germany, which will help to shield us from slowing of external demand.

Third, it seems undeniable that this crisis will harm corporate earnings and negatively impact job creation and unemployment. While these factors will reduce the beneficial aspects of consumer demand, there are reasons to think that consumer demand might drop less than we would normally expect. If parts of the economy are hurting, we can expect those with cash or secure income sources to cash in on the slower economy as they engage in buying of inexpensive properties and consumer goods. Even for those laid off from work, they will have unemployment benefits to lean on. There will also be charities out there providing food and other free services for those who are out of work. There will also be a new federal program which will forgive loans to charities and small businesses provided they can document that this money was spent on paying wages and salaries to their employees.

The folks over at Wells Fargo, for example, still seem bullish on the economy. I reviewed some of their financial guidance and found this snippet regarding the new CARES Act signed into law by president Trump last Friday:
An overriding theme through all these provisions is direct assistance to those whose incomes or revenues are under pressure from the pandemic, and greater flexibility for how and where the Federal Reserve may shore up financial markets. The recent increase in legislative tempo has encouraged financial markets, insofar as the Act allows workers and businesses to bridge the next few months. Most of the provisions of the CARES Act expire between September and December 2020, however. If it takes beyond the third quarter to see a peak in the virus, Congress may need to return with another package.

Ultimately, we believe that the federal government will extend, as necessary, and the economy should rebound by late 2020. Even a strong rebound is possible, once more typical spending rates resume across the economy. Our 12-month outlook is for a rebound in economic growth, earnings growth, and valuations, which should support a broad recovery in equity prices. Yet, beyond the next two years, the implications of today’s strong fiscal and monetary response is likely to include a strong potential for higher tax rates and somewhat higher interest rates, depending upon how much additional economic aid ultimately is added to counter the economic fallout from the virus.
For more on how Drew & Associates can help you tap into that government funding and comply with all the federal requirements, click on this link.

Fourth, I should also mention that there is also a political cycle that will benefit the economy. It usually performs better during an incumbent president's re-election campaign.

The worst thing to do, in my view, is to let fear get the better of you and to slack off on your efforts to bring in business and generate grant letters of inquiry and proposals. Remaining in action is the best possible guarantee that you will not participate in either the health crisis or the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Tips for Making the Most of the New Home Office, Part 1 of 3

Due to the spread of COVID-19 those of us with jobs and businesses will be spending more time working from home. For some, this is a great triumph. I have a friend who told me he thinks this is a harbinger of a brave new world where almost all of us have given up commuting and instead work from the comfort of our dining room table.

As he said say, "It makes no sense to drive one hour just to go from one computer screen to another computer screen."

Despite my friend's common sense observation, I think there is good reason to be cautious about the practicality of working from home. I should know, I've been doing it, off and on, nearly my whole life, as a college student, a graduate student, a young professor, a business owner and later as a grant writing consultant.

To me, the biggest difference between working at home and working at the office is the different levels of peer pressure you will experience. A the office much of your motivation and concentration is supported by the social pressures you face to behave yourself in front of your boss and your co-workers. Coming back late from lunch - drunk - will expose you to negative consequences. Working at home, however, you can get away with infractions.

Out of necessity, I have learned some tricks for improving my productivity at home. They boil down to tricks and techniques which improve your productivity in the absence of social pressure. One of my central principles is the necessity of preserving your sense of flow while working from home. To me, flow is that level of concentration and happiness that occurs when you are being most productive at home, it is a mental space where time seems to fly.

Maintaining flow is actually easier at home than it is under the stress of an office. If you concentrate
of maintaining flow, then you will be leveraging the advantages of your home office. Potentially, you might find you may be more productive than if you were at the office at work. Nevertheless, I should warn you implementing these techniques and strategies takes an enormous amount of discipline. All I can say is that it is worth it.
  1. Definitely keep track of your hours. For some reason it is very difficult to keep track of the passing of time. It is easy to deceive ourselves about how we spend it. One of the very best things you can do for yourself is set up a spreadsheet and record what you are doing every 15 minutes. You should do this for about two weeks. I think the first week is not really a good measure of how you waste your time because you will most likely be on your best behavior. What you will find is that minor activities like reading the paper, watching the news, or answering emails can turn into massive, daily, wastes of time. Keeping track of time will also help you see how little you have of it. 
  2. Be realistic about your concentration and focus. I've found that I can only really handle about four hours of sustained writing a day. 
  3. Demand quiet and uninterrupted time. This is difficult for some...not so much for me. What loved ones may not realize is that interruptions are huge consumers of time. The lost time is not merely in the act of dealing with the interruption, it is also in getting back into the rhythm and thought patterns of your work - your flow. Ideally, work should be a pleasurable, right brain activity. You should be concentrating so hard that when you look up your are surprised to see that four hours have passed. That level of concentration cannot be maintained unless you have the active cooperation of those around you. For me, interruptions are physically painful. It hurts me just to think about them right now. 
  4. I have found it useful to put up a do not disturb sign on the door to warn my wife off. 
  5. Pro-Tip: There is nothing wrong with binge work late at night. I have done this since I was in high school. In the early morning, there are no interruptions because everyone else is asleep. It is quiet and there is nothing to do except work. Once you are on a roll, it sometimes helps to just keep it up. Once your head is into the work, it is unproductive to break your concentration and flow. 
  6. Above all, you need to pay attention to ergonomics. This means get yourself a high quality chair - something way better than what you had at the office. Also make sure your keyboard is at the right height. Your arms should be level. Definitely get an ergonomic keyboard and use voice recognition software. Take breaks every hour so you mess up your back. 
  7. Be sure to exercise. Stress in your body distracts your attention and interrupts the state of flow which is essential to keeping yourself, happy, motivated and taking action in the absense of social pressure.  
For me, the toughest thing about working from home is learning to force yourself to do things you are afraid of or do not want to do. This is where you just have to summon your inner warrior and get it done. Do not be shy about gloating over your superiority when you can force yourself to do unpleasant chores. I like to remind myself that successful people do the things that unsuccessful people do not like to do. Please remember, this is not an easy task. If it was easy to be productive working at home we would not have all these skyscrapers.

Ten Reasons Why Grant Writers Will Thrive Despite COVID-19 Crisis

Thankfully, grant writers will not be participating in the economic stresses created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, I will set out my top ten best reasons why grant writers will thrive during this crisis.

1. Grant Writing is Safe. 

Grant writing is an occupation that is well-suited to a dangerous new environment where hand-shaking is discouraged and employees are urged to work at home. It is a productive activity that does not require any face-to-face meetings or exposure. All elements of the grant writing process can be effectively handled by an individual working at home or in a safe, secluded office.

2. Grant Writers are Essential.

Nearly everything of significance in this world must first cross the desk of a grant writer. This is because even in times of crisis paperwork is generated to satisfy the funder's needs for efficiency and accountability. No one just hands out cash. Even now - when the federal government is eager to get more money circulating in the economy - they are demanding we fill out more forms and applications. In sophisticated requests, the grant writer must assemble the research needed to present a project in the best possible light. In my own grant writing consulting business I can report that I am busier than ever before and hiring more staff to assist me in serving our clients.

3. Charities Need Skilled Grant Writers in Tough Times. 

Charities need us no matter what is going on with the economy. After all, there will always be tons of grants available and unrelenting deadlines to meet. Charities are dependent on the skilled labor of a grant writing professional to access billions of dollars in reliable funding from corporations, foundations and governments. There is a particularly urgent need for grant writers who can work quickly. Accordingly, your existing clients or employers will probably make the grant writer the last thing they cut. In fact, if they do cut the grant writer this is a sign that the agency itself will soon most likely go out of business.

4. Funding Sources Remain Strong Even in a Crisis.

In an economic crisis, we can predict that corporate funding may slack off a bit, but foundation funding will remain strong. This is because their income is generated through investments in the stock market and bonds. As long term investors, they are actually making money now by purchasing less expensive stocks. The bottom line is that they are not dependent on the consumers for their financial well-being. Even more significant is the fact that foundations are required to continue making payouts no matter what under IRS regulations. They have to give out 5% of their assets whether or not there is a COVID-19 pandemic.

5. Government Funding is Bigger than Ever. 

Likewise, there is plenty of business out there for grant writers who focus on preparing state and federal grant requests. Given the extent of the pandemic, we can be sure that the government will still be funding grants - even if it has to borrow money to pay for them. After all, political decision-makers are anxious to put money back into the economy, especially to support those who - through no fault of their own - are being prohibited from working their normal jobs. Grant writers are the workers who are most likely to snag significant government grants for their organizations and communities. 

6. Charities Are Running Out of Options in Fundraising.               

There will be plenty of demand for grant writers during this crisis because other fundraising methods are difficult if not impossible to implement right now. Due to social distancing requirements, we can expect most, if not all, charities to cancel large scale fundraising events. They will also have to cut back on major gift fundraising or planned giving...especially in situations which require them to schedule face-to-face meetings with elderly donors. With their other options shut down, charities will be turning to grant writers to keep their charities running strong.

7. Grant Writers Are Needed Despite Short Term Crises.

One of the things that surprised me about being a grant writing consultant is that our work does not seem to follow any seasonal patterns. We seem to be going full tilt all yearlong, slowing down only in December due to the Christmas season. One reason for this continuity is that there is no one set time for government or foundation grant deadlines. These deadlines are all over the calendar. Moreover, many foundations have rolling or quarterly deadlines meaning that you can apply next quarter if you miss this quarter's deadline.

8. Grant Writing Cannot Be Automated.

Likewise, there is no way to automate what grant writers do to reduce labor costs. This work requires swift adaptation to a variety of application formats including on-line applications, letters of inquiry, and full proposals. Government grants have different requirements each year which demand inventive problem-solving. None of this can be accomplished by machines. In fact, due to the importance of clear writing, it is work that is difficult if not impossible to outsource. (Grant research, however, might be automated more in the future.)

9. Historically, Grant Writing is Counter Cyclical.

Even during the Great Recession of 2008-2009, our business remained strong and we kept all our staff working. For the reasons indicated above grant resources remain available even in the worst of times because they tap into both foundation wealth and government resources. In the worst possible case, the government might find itself printing money to help pay for grants. Paradoxically, when times get tough, grant writers are even more in demand because the competition for grant resources increases. Charities which didn't have time for grant writing in the past suddenly find it is just about their only option for winning money in the midst of a crisis.

10. Grant Writers Have Extremely Low Overhead.

Finally, grant writing is not a capital intensive business. It has extremely low overhead. You work at the kitchen table. The start up costs are minimal, typically limited to a high speed computer, a screen, an ergonomic key board, internet connection, cell phone service, and a comfortable chair. I've written grants in airports. I've written them overseas in places like China, Egypt and the Philippines. Due to the low overhead, grant writers are seldom in debt for their capital equipment, supplies or rent. This makes their businesses resilient in times of trouble. Overall, I'm not exaggerating when I say there hasn't been a better time to be a grant writer. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Find Yourself a Great CPA: How To Win Grants By Having Excellent Financial Records

Sadly, one of the obstacles that can keep a charity from winning a grant is having poor financial record keeping. This gloomy conclusion might make even more sense if you look at the non-profit organization from the point of view of the skeptical, even cynical foundation executive.

Although your grant proposal may have all the right research and all the right foundation buzz words, a lack of financial information can seriously weaken, even undercut all your great work as a grant writer. The role of solid financials is so great to your eventual success in winning grants that some grant writers refuse to even work with non-profits unless they have stellar financial statements already in place. 

As a rough and ready consulting firm, however, Drew & Associates takes a different approach. In particular, we focus on helping non-profits improve their record keeping, deliver reasonable financial statements, and secure low cost audits or even lower cost accountant compilations or reviews. 

In our experience, most foundations know that a genuine audit including testing of your financial records by a competent CPA is just too expensive to justify. In my case, I have often told non-profit leaders that Trish and I would gladly donate to the charity if we were confident the money would go into a high quality audit.

Nevertheless, all the funders really want to see - in the end - is something that looks like an audited financial statement. 

In other words, they want you to keep your records in Quickbooks or some other financial accounting software and then produce for them a Statement of Activities which basically shows your income and expenses for the previous calendar or fiscal year and a Statement of Financial Position which shows the overall strength of your charity by reporting your assets and liabilities. I always thought it was odd that the Statement of Financial Position also reports what happens when you add your net assets and liabilities together. 

I always thought that the only really important number was your net assets - or your charity's actual net worth. Instead, I now understand that adding net assets and liabilities together shows the funder how large your organization is in general.

Compelling Power: Charismatic Leaders Teach Us the Value of Simplicity

As a political scientist, I have always been fascinated by the biographies of charismatic leaders like John Kennedy, Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi. As I studied their speeches and other communications I began to note certain common themes that gave their communications greater urgency, effectiveness and persuasive power. I will share one of their most compelling techniques in this article: They keep things simple. 

For example, when Napoleon returned from his exile on the Island of Elba to retake his throne in France, his directions to his band of followers was exceedingly simple - walk in a straight line to Paris.

Above all, I was impressed by the simplicity of their communications. I think simplicity is effective in grant writing because it give the funder confidence that you understand what you are doing, that you will be able to implement your project, and that they will be able to understand what you are doing and explain what you are doing to their bosses too. 

In grant writing, I am always looking for ways to simplify the presentation of an idea. I typically look for funding for the single most attractive aspect of the charity and pay less attention to the myriad of lesser programs that clutter up the agency's programmatic agenda. 

How to Leverage the Most Strategically Visible Parts of a Grant Application

While I have not seen formal research on where a person's eye travels when they first read a grant proposal, I paid attention to my own habits and have generalized them to assist our clients. Ironically, if you understand how to speed read, you will also have clues about how to position your information so that it has the most dramatic impact on the reader. For a quick overview of speed reading, check out the video below: 

How To Speed Read
How To Speed Read

For example, in most of the grant proposals that we write we include photos. Part of the reason we do this is that photos subconsciously send a powerful message about the quality of your non-profit and your attention to detail. Accordingly, I like to find the best lit, best focused, and most contemporary photos I can find off the internet or from the collection established by the non-profit itself. 

What people may not realize, however, is that I am betting that people are more likely to read the captions under the photos than the text of the document itself. Consequently, I make the caption extremely easy to read and I build into it the most powerful, compelling message associated with that charity. 

I also assume that people will be more likely to read your footnotes than your actual grant application. For this reason, I pay great attention to the footnotes, seeking to make them readable, persuasive, recent, and consistent with the winning message/image of the non-profit organization. 

Assuming that people scan headlines in a grant application just as they scan headlines in a newspaper or on a website, I also pay particular attention to making sure that each headline is catchy, interesting, and consistent with the non-profit's overall winning message. I have found it helps to spice up the headline by adding a little alliteration, a reference to a current movie or television show, or an interesting play on words. 

No matter what, I assume that the reader will most likely be scanning my application, looking for excuses to turn it down, and that the best way to win their support it to seed the most compelling messages into the portions of the grant they are most likely to first study and concentrate on reading.