Grant Writer Tip 3

Analyze the Request for Proposal

All grant making programs publish their requirements for developing and submitting a proposal in a format entitled a Request for Proposals or RFP. The RFP typically includes extremely detailed information broken down into several major parts. You must review the RFP very carefully to avoid failing to follow a required procedure or step. If you omit a required RFP step or fail to adhere completely to the requirements, then the grant-funding program may not accept your proposal. Two critical steps to follow in ensuring that your proposal does adhere to the RFP are as follows:

Completely outline the entire RFP.

Do not omit any important requirement or guideline. By essentially developing a complete and detailed outline of the RFP will prove invaluable and will ensure that you do not miss an important step.

  • You will quickly notice if you omitted any important RFP requirements by crosschecking your outline to the RFP after you’ve completed the outline.

  • You will remember and be cognizant of key deadlines.

  • You will understand all formatting requirements and will adhere to them.

  • You will keep on task and on time by breaking your proposal development process into a solid timeline.

  • You will not fail to meet a proposal submission deadline because you will plan to submit your proposal at least one day earlier that the stated deadline. This will help you accommodate any unforeseen emergencies that might arise.

Create a timeline for developing the proposal.

Most RFPs include a deadline for either mailing the proposal (the RFP will state that the proposal must be mailed by 5:00 PM on a specified date) or a deadline when the proposal must be received in the office to which it is to be submitted (the proposal must be received by 5:00 PM, on a specified date, in the Office of the Foundation.) Start your timeline with this proposal submission deadline and work out your remaining timeline in reverse order. We recommend that you actually commit to submit your proposal one day earlier than the deadline submission date published in the RFP to be on the safe side, should some delay or emergency arise.

While all RFPs vary, the types of information or guidelines you should look for in the RFP are as follows:

  • Key Dates: Deadline for submission of the proposal, deadline for review of proposals, and deadline for announcing winning proposals.

  • Grant Purpose: Description of the purpose or priorities of the grant program.

  • Priorities: Some Federal and State governmental grant RFP may establish special priorities or special targeted areas, which earn additional grant evaluation points during the rating process if an applicant should meet or satisfy these priorities. For example, A RFP focused on professional development may state, “Priority 1 is for applications (proposals) that prepare teachers to involve parents or community groups in school improvement.” As part of your outline, you will want to check off whether or not your project meets one or more of these special priorities should they be included in the RFP.

  • Eligibility: An RFP will typically list the types of organizations and/or individuals eligible to apply for the grant. This section may also include any other special requirements such as whether or not cost sharing or matching funds are required.

  • Application and Submission Information: This information includes address information for requesting the RFP, including procedures for individuals with disabilities requesting the RFP.

  • Grant Proposal Format Information: Page limit; page margins; page line spacing requirements; required fonts.

  • Submission Dates and Times

  • The Proposal Narrative: This information, typically presented in either outline and/or question form, identifies the key questions or parts of the RFP, which must be answered in writing.

  • The Budget: Many RFPs today require the applicant to adhere to a specific budget format and to include what is referred to as a Budget Narrative or Justification. This narrative/justification is a concise and precise narrative description of each item requested in the budget and how the item will be expended or spent.




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