Ace team meetings with this simple grant writing tool
By Eleanor Hasse and Rita Lewis
The initial team meeting for a grant proposal is usually marked by an abundance of optimism and energy. To keep smiles bright and the momentum going, make sure the meeting is as effective and productive as possible—go prepared with an RFP analysis.
Details are key
The RFP, or request for proposals, is the official funding announcement from the sponsoring agency. Also known as the NOFA (Notice of Funds Available) or SGA (Solicitation for Grant Applications), it contains the particulars of the grant:
- Due dates for the proposal, letter of intent, or pre-proposal
- Funder info (agency, website, CFDA number if any)
- Award size (minimum and maximum)
- Award term
- Purpose of the grant program
- What you can/should spend money on
- Requirements (eligibility, partnerships, focus areas, evaluation, budget match, etc.)
An RFP analysis is a summary of these details and more. Every RFP is unique, so be alert to subtleties. For example, RFPs from the U.S. Department of Labor look similar, but grants from different programs, subagencies, or even fiscal years have distinct features and competitive priorities.
Your analysis should start with a careful reading of the entire RFP to uncover key points that might be buried in the instructions. A missed requirement can set you back hours or days, or—if you never spot it—doom your proposal.
Focus saves time
A long, disorganized discussion of the RFP at your initial team meeting will only bog things down. An analysis highlights the most important features of the grant and organizes information so the team can move quickly into program design and proposal writing.
An RFP analysis is also a useful reference during the entire proposal process. At the initial meeting, it keeps the most important considerations front and center. Faculty and nonprofit partners may not read the entire RFP, but they will read your summary, so be sure it contains everything they might need to know from the very first team meeting to proposal submission.
Leave no stone unturned
Other valuable information and instructions lie in ancillary documents separate from the RFP. For federal grants, the application package on Grants.gov may include links to webinars and FAQs. If the application package and the RFP conflict, the RFP is usually the ultimate authority—check with the program officer if you’re unsure.
You should also check recently funded projects for commonalities. Federal agencies often provide links to successful proposals or abstracts, which will give you an idea of what the agency wants to support.
Keep it simple but thorough
Your analysis can be a simple Word doc, or even handwritten notes on a sheet of paper. Every project is different in terms of both the grant and the needs of the applicant. Create a blank template with the bullet points above, and then tailor it to your circumstances and project.
As you read the RFP, highlight the pertinent details and plug them into your template. Once you’re through the first project meeting, or even during it, you can start making a proposal outline and checklist, and move on to writing assignments.
Check out our Resources page for grant writing guides, videos, and links to helpful websites.
For more information on how to prepare successful grant proposals, sign up now for our monthly e-newsletter and explore the resources available on our website (www.grantproseinc.com). You can also view all of our previous newsletters in the GrantProse email archive.