September 21, 2012

From {Centered}: How to avoid common errors in federal grant applications

The competition for federal grants is already fierce, and the pressure to reduce the federal budget overall is almost certain to intensify it. How, then, can you increase your proposal's chances of surviving the review process? In "From a Proposal Reviewer's Perspective" (CharityChannel, August 22, 2012), Ron Flavin, who reviews grant applications for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Education, and Health and Human Services, offers practical advice.

Having reflected, with his fellow reviewers, on why only 3% of the applications he has reviewed were recommended for funding, he has concluded that the most common reasons for rejection are:
  • You failed to follow the directions in the funding agency guidelines, especially by omitting any information for one of the review criteria.
  • You submitted a boiler plate proposal - one you used with other potential funders and that does not respond to the particular proposal requirements and format mandated by the RFP.
  • You failed to adequately explain how the project will be sustained after the grant money is gone.
  • You didn't bother to fully describe the applicant organization, the community, or the problem being addressed, because - having been funded by the agency previously - you assumed the description was unnecessary. This is dangerous because you're unlikely to get the same set of reviewers every time. 
  • Your budget appears to be padded, because it's for exactly the maximum amount available. To avoid this, always develop your budget from the bottom up to total all necessary expenses, even if that total is less than the maximum allowed.
{Centered} September 2012 - Volume 5, Issue 9 
© 2012 The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.

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