The following do's and don'ts should help when planning your proposal.
DO get to know the Technical Review Process and Criteria
All applications to HCTF are reviewed by an appropriate Technical Review Committee. Although several factors contribute to whether your application will be funded, great emphasis is place on how the reviewers rate the technical merit of your proposal. Please see "How are grant applications evaluated?" to learn how your application will be assessed, and keep this in mind as you plan your proposal.
DO organize your time to complete the application
Build in extra time for unforeseen circumstances (e.g., internet connections, equipment issues).
- We recommend you plan to submit your application well ahead of the deadline (days, not hours). This also gives us time to contact you if we spot any major errors due to the online application process.
- Allow time for an internal review by collaborators, colleagues, mentors and make revisions/edits from that review. If possible, have both experts in your field and those who are less familiar with your science provide feedback.
DO PAY ATTENTION TO THE INSTRUCTIONS. Even if you've completed an HCTF application before, there are usually changes to the current year form that you should be aware of.
Read the Proposal Writing Instructions for important advice on required proposal content.
- Field-by-field instructions are provided to make sure you develop all the information required for successful review of your application.
Read the Online User Guide for tips on navigating the OnLine form.
Writing your Proposal
DO sell your idea on paper
Make the case for why HCTF should fund your project.
- Use the application sections to tell the story of your project: include sufficient details of who, what, where, when, and why for our reviewers to evaluate whether your project will lead to positive conservation outcomes, and for our Board to determine whether it fits with HCTF’s priorities and mission.
- Provide a compelling case that your proposal will lead to management applications.
DO fill out the entire form.
Reviewers look for information in specific sections of the applications.
- Remember to fill out the “Response to Technical Review and Board Comments section”. You should use this section to explain either how you have addressed the concerns or incorporated the suggestions into your project, or the reasons those suggestions would not be possible or practical. Even if you have addressed the concerns elsewhere in the proposal, or in a response to funding condition, you should complete this section of the proposal to ensure the reviewers see this additional information.
DO stay within the word limits for each section.
DO NOT rely on extensive attachments or supplemental information to provide critical detail or rationale for your project.
Your proposal should be a stand-alone document able to present your project and, (for continuing projects), should provide enough information for reviewers to evaluate year-to-year progress. Technical Committee members and our Board are reading hundreds of proposals and do not always have the time to thoroughly review yearly grant reports.
DO NOT put too much detail in the Objectives & Activities Summary Table
This is only a snapshot: your detailed information will be filled in later.
DO write in clear, concise language.
A reviewer may be reading over 70 proposals, so your application has a better chance of being successful if it is easy to read and well written.
- Write a clear topic sentence for each paragraph with one main point or idea. This is key for readability.
- Ensure that your proposal follows a logical flow of topics and content.
- If writing is not your forte, seek help!
DO edit, edit, edit.
You’ve most likely been looking at the same words, sentences and paragraphs repeatedly! Allow someone with fresh eyes read your content, check your punctuation, and give you feedback on whether the content flows.
- Have zero tolerance for typographical errors, misspellings, grammatical mistakes, or sloppy formatting. A sloppy or disorganized application may lead the reviewers to conclude that your project may be conducted in the same manner.
- Ask those who are providing a review to use a critical eye and evaluate the application using the Technical Committee criteria.
- Prior to submission, look over the entire grant application one final time. Remember, you want a convincing proposal that is also formatted according to the application guidelines, punctuation error-free, clear to read, and is to the point!
DO make sure that your budget is clear and complete.
Your budget should contain enough detail for reviewers to determine if it is cost effective. Check carefully that you have:
- placed proposed expenditures in the correct sections;
- included your full project budget, not just the portions that you are asking HCTF to fund;
- filled in the Multi-Year Budget table and Capital Items table, if relevant;
- explained any administration fees; and,
- captured anticipated partner contributions.
DO NOT keep us guessing!
Explain any differences from previous years—if your budget or activities are different from those you predicted, or if you want to alter the length of your project, provide a rationale for these changes.
Aligning with HCTF Priorities
DO review our website to learn about who we are and what we support.
DO check your project against our Ineligible Activities List.
DO demonstrate how your activities and objectives will resolve the management issue or conservation problem you have identified.
DO provide a compelling case that your proposal will lead to management applications
DO NOT panic!
If you have questions about your project’s eligibility, your proposal, what our reviewers are looking for, or any other details of application and grant management, contact us to ask!