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These are the last six steps of a 12-step process for planning a proposal to compete for and win a grant from the Federal government.

 

1. Focus. Identify three to five potential sources of Federal funding. Focus on agencies, departments, and programs whose missions and purposes most closely parallel those of your organization. Visit their websites. Review their programs and initiatives. Examine their published performance data and annual reports, if any. Look for further insights about their statutory authorizations, regulations, appropriations, resource allocations, accomplishments, and priorities. Consider the degree of fit between each Federal program and your project. Eliminate as prospects those programs having a poor or uncertain fit.

 

2. Structure. Prepare three proposal files or checklists based on each selected request for proposals (RFP). Create one for the proposal’s content requirements, particularly its selection criteria. Create a second one for your key selling points as they relate to the RFP’s selection criteria. Finally, create one for the RFP’s publishing, transmission, and submission requirements. Be aware that although many Federal agencies and grant programs do now require online applications only through www.grants.gov, the requirement is not yet universal.

 

3. Revise. Refine your project after your inquiries with the program officer, review of the RFP, and creation of your three files or checklists. Adjust your project plans to reflect the insights gained, but do not grossly distort a project merely to fit priorities declared in an RFP. Continue to note and refine your project’s key selling points. Continue to compile a list of questions or issues to resolve as they arise.

 

4. Inquire. Contact the program officer or a similar representative again. After exercising due diligence ahead of time, pose any remaining questions that you cannot answer any other way. Give the program officer a synopsis of your revised project and ask for project-specific feedback, if available. Thank the program officer or other representative for the non-binding administrative guidance provided to you. Incorporate the input into a further revision to the project to reflect any new feedback or guidance you have acquired.

 

5. Develop. Fully develop the plans for the project. Establish organizational capacity, substantiate needs, formulate goals and objectives, specify key activities, develop timelines, identify appropriate staff, articulate evaluation plans, and delineate budgets. Create any other proposal components or necessary attachments as required. Comply rigorously with each specific grant program’s selection criteria, funding priorities, and instructions.

 

6. Deliver. Write and submit a timely full proposal that is scrupulously consistent with the grant program’s selection criteria, funding priorities, performance indicators, and instructions. Throughout the agency’s proposal review process, remain patient while awaiting notification of results. Respect with equanimity the ultimate funding decisions – whether fully funded, partially funded, or not funded – of the Federal government grant maker.

 

Later posts will provide extensive glossaries of terms used in writing winning grant proposals.

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