August 01, 2012

From {Centered}: Four questions to ask before responding to an RFP

When a funder issues a Request for Proposal (RFP), what's the best way to decide whether or not to invest the time required to develop a reponse? In "Beginning With the End in Mind" (Local/State Funding Report, May 28, 2012), Christine Heft recommends asking four questions in the following order:
  1. Are the funds offered for a purpose that fits within your organization's mission? If so, move on to Question 2.
  2. How many grants will be awarded from the total amount available? If this is a national competition and the number of grants is limited and the total amount to be awarded is relatively small, don't bother to apply. Otherwise, make a judgment about your organization's chances of success; if they seem good, go on to Question 3.
  3. What is the application deadline? If you will have enough time to gather data, do any research necessary, and get input from all relevant parties inside and outside your organization, then proceed. Heft estimates that, on average, it takes about four weeks to prepare a federal grant proposal, while a proposal to a state government or to a foundation takes two to three weeks. [See editor's note.]
  4. How will the grant impact your organization's budget if you are successful? Does it require a match? If so, of what type? Will it require hiring new staff, increasing office space, or upgrading information technology? Will the total grant amount be more than a third of your total budget? If so, and if grantees will get the funds as reimbursements, rather than up front, how will you front the costs? Don't submit an application unless you know your organization is prepared to accept the financial consequences of receiving the grant. 
Editor's Note: We asked two of The Grantsmanship Center's Competing for Federal Grants trainers to weigh in on the length of time it takes to prepare a federal grant proposal.
Chuck Putney: "I'd say four weeks of work (140-160 hours) spread over eight to ten weeks is close to the mark for federal grants. Or four weeks, uninterrupted by other concerns, maybe - but it takes a collaborative process, conversations, the engagement of program staff, etc."
Barbara Floersch: "I agree with Chuck. It can be done much faster in certain circumstances, but other times it may take longer. It also depends on who's doing the work. Is one person is carrying almost the whole load? Or are other team members making significant contributions?"

Source: {Centered} July 2012 - Volume 5, Issue 7 © 2012 The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.

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