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In any of several ways — both as applicants and clients — educational institutions and non-profit organizations, may recover costs for retaining a consultant to develop a proposal for a Federal grant.

 

Indirect Costs Graphics

 

This post discusses pre-award proposal development cost recovery in Federal grants. It is part of an ongoing series. Other posts discuss other aspects of using consultants in seeking grants.

 

Educational Institutions

 

Federal cost principles offer guidance for applicants that hope to pay for a consultant out of a future grant award. In Appendix A to Part 220 — Principles for Determining Costs Applicable to Grants, Contracts, and Other Agreements with Educational Institutions — the key provisions are J36 (pre-agreement costs) and J38 (proposal costs).

 

In simple terms, a ‘proposal cost’ is a cost of preparing a proposal on a potentially federally funded project, including the cost of developing data necessary to the proposal. An applicant may recover such a cost if the grant-making agency allows and approves recovery of such ‘pre-agreement costs’ in its request for proposals (RFP).

 

In a proposed budget, a line item would appear under the cost category of “Consultants.” For the benefit of the proposal’s peer reviewers and program officers, a meticulous applicant should explain this line item in its budget justification narrative.

 

Indirect Cost Rates

 

A second way for educational institutions to recover costs under Title 2 Part 220 is through an indirect cost rate. Using one, an applicant may recover the pre-application costs of hiring a consultant to develop a proposal to a Federal grant program that does not explicitly pre-approve charging such costs directly to a future grant award in a specific RFP. The applicant must take several steps in order to do so, an applicant must:

 

  • Apply to a Federal agency to establish an indirect cost rate.
  • Spread its pre-application costs (e.g., those for developing a proposal) over its entire indirect cost structure.
  • Apply its costs for preparing each proposal — as represented in its approved indirect cost rate — to each grant it obtains, but only do so when a grant program allows application of an indirect cost rate, since some programs do not.

 

 

All such recovered costs must satisfy the test of being “reasonable and equitable.” The applicant cannot allocate pre-application costs incurred during a previous accounting period into a current accounting period.

 

The use of an indirect cost rate allows the educational institution, as a client and an applicant, to recover its proposal development costs for both successful and unsuccessful grant applications. Federal agencies provide extensive cost determination guidance for calculating indirect cost rates.

 

Non-Profit Organizations

 

A non-profit organization must take a third approach in order to recover pre-award costs for proposal development. Title 2 Part 230, Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations — in Appendix A and Appendix B — does not enable a non-profit to adopt the same approach as an educational institution to using indirect costs.

 

Instead, in order to become an allowable cost item, the non-profit must propose pre-award proposal development costs as part of an indirect cost rate proposal. In addition, a cognizant Federal agency — one that negotiates and approves indirect cost rates for a non-profit organization on behalf of all Federal agencies — must approve the non-profit’s proposed indirect cost rate.

 

Fund Development

 

Organizations may also apply for capacity-building grants from private foundations. Among the allowable purposes of such grants is commonly advancing an eligible applicant’s mission through “fund development.” This topic is the focus of another post.

 

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This is the last of three posts about using foundation directories in prospect research. It covers: trustees/directors, financial data, and selected grants.

 

Directories Graphic 3

 

Trustees/Directors

 

Sometimes, as popular wisdom has it, it’s not what you know it’s whom you know. If someone connected to an applicant organization (e.g., an executive director or a member of a board of directors) knows personally someone connected to a foundation (e.g., a director or a trustee), it may improve the applicant’s odds of getting a grant.

 

A well-placed connection on a foundation’s board of directors may be willing to advocate on behalf of a grant for a specific applicant. If not actual advocacy, the same connection may be willing to share deeper insights into what the foundation’s decision-makers favor in a grant proposal. Although the absence of a well-placed advocate is not necessarily a reason to forgo a grant opportunity, its presence can prove quite helpful.

 

Financial Data

 

Smaller foundations tend to have lesser financial assets and to award fewer grants than larger ones. They also tend to award smaller amounts in each grant or to award grants only to pre-selected (or invited) applicants.

 

No matter who does the work, preparing a proposal costs an applicant time and money. An applicant may get a greater return on its investment if it seeks a single grant of $50,000 rather than using the same proposal to seek ten grants each for a tenth as much. However, if all an applicant needs is a grant of $5,000, it should not request one for $50,000.

 

Selected Grants

 

Entries in a foundation directory may list sample recent grant awards. Such lists seldom present every grant award a foundation has made in a recent year.

 

Look at the amounts awarded and the nature of the recipients. If at least one recipient is similar to the applicant and if the amounts are similar to what the applicant needs, then add the funder to a list of possible grant makers. Look up the funder’s website and/or at its annual 990-PF or 990 filings. Both places will list every grant it made in a given reporting period and will confirm (or disconfirm) the foundation as a possible funder.

 

This is the second of three posts on using foundation directories in prospect research. It covers: deadlines, purposes and activities, and fields of interest.

 

Directories Graphic 2

 

Deadlines

 

Some foundations award grants yearly, others semi-yearly, others quarterly, and still others on a rolling basis. Semi-yearly means there are two opportunities to apply per year; quarterly means there are four. A rolling basis means there is no fixed deadline and applications can be submitted at virtually any time.

 

In some cases, foundations use two-step deadlines: one for a pre-proposal (or a letter of inquiry or a concept paper) and a later one for a full proposal (if invited). Only if a pre-proposal is persuasive will a subsequent full proposal be invited.

 

Grant award notices may lag a month or longer after a board meeting where proposals are reviewed and grant awards are approved. After a proposal is rejected, an applicant may need to wait a year before it submits another; if its proposal is funded, it may need to wait two years.

 

Purposes and Activities

 

A specific foundation may have many purposes or few; it also may fund many types of activities or few. A corporate charitable giving program may favor opportunities for its personnel to volunteer in the community and to enhance public awareness of its brand by product donations; it will not fund the purchase of similar products made by other companies. Foundations may fund activities, but not paid labor (usually termed personnel).

 

These varied grantor-specific funding purposes and allowable activities constrain the options available to potential applicants. A poor match here is not a match worth pursuing.

 

Fields of Interest

 

A specific foundation or corporate charity may have many fields of interest or few. It may fund strictly within its proclaimed interests or it may also stray outside them from time to time. Directories list fields of interest only in general terms. By studying a funder’s recent grant-making history, an applicant may verify what the declared interests may mean for its specific prospects.

 

 

Grant seekers use the grant maker profiles found in foundation directories to sort out strong leads from weak ones. This is the first of three posts on using foundation directories in prospect research. It covers: physical location, websites, limitations, types of grant makers, and 990-PF forms.

 

Directories Graphic 1

 

Physical Location

 

In general, the more distant a private foundation is from a grant seeker the less likely it is to award a grant. Its address on a map is merely a first small clue in the search for potential funders. A local grant maker often is somewhat more familiar with local needs (or problems) and local priorities. Its directors and benefactors often also have resolved to try to meet (or solve) and respond to them. Thus, there is good reason to look locally first, but that by itself is no reason not to look farther afield later.

 

A local funder usually has a primary address in the same county or same state as the applicant. Foundation directory profiles often indicate the geographic limits to which a prospective funder restricts its grant making. Unless an applicant has some special insight, ignoring a funder’s self-declared geographic limits seldom leads to winning a grant.

 

Websites

 

The contents of a foundation website are often much more current and more extensive than those of even the best print or online directory. A grant seeker can search a funder’s website to verify or qualify the information it finds by other means. It is often possible to use a foundation’s website to confirm deadlines, retrieve application forms and instructions, review grant-making history, identify current directors and trustees, and do other tasks helpful in doing prospect research and preparing grant applications.

 

Limitations

 

A limitation is a restriction on grant making. As a pre-condition, it shrinks the pool of applicants. A limitation may have to do with where, or what, or for what, or how many, or when, or how often, or how, or any other aspect of seeking a grant from a given funder.

 

Almost invariably, limitations pertain to an applicant’s eligibility to apply for a grant. Often limitations also pertain to geography, or purposes, or activities. If an applicant falls within – or sometimes, outside – the scope of one or more limitations it may need to look elsewhere for funding.

 

Types of Grant Makers

 

The type of grant maker (e.g., community foundation, family foundation, corporate charitable giving program) impacts the entire solicitation process and the likelihood of funding. In a corporate charity, for example, decision-making will follow different paths and obey different logics than in the foundations. A corporate charity may donate labor and products, not actual cash grants. A family foundation may make less predictable funding decisions than a corporate one. A non-family independent foundation may require a more rigorous evaluation plan than a family one. And a community foundation may gather and manage very distinct grant programs under its roof.

 

990-PF Forms

 

The 990-PF is a yearly financial statement that private foundations file with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The more recent the year of the form on file the more it should reflect the foundation’s present priorities and practices. Comparisons of several years of filings may disclose patterns and trends in making grants.

 

On each year’s filing, look for the ranges and amounts of grant awards. Look also at the types and locations of applicants winning them. How to analyze a 990-PF is an art in itself, one for which the Foundation Center offers some basic assistance.

 

Only private foundations must file the 990-PF. Grant-making public charities and community foundations file Form 990 in the same manner as other non-profit organizations. Corporate charitable giving programs do not file yearly reports with the IRS; for them, corporate websites are often the best place to start prospect research.

 

In late 2018, many blogs offer insights about how to seek, find, get, and keep a grant award, how to write a grant proposal, how to keep a grant once it has been awarded, and related topics. The blogs vary widely in longevity, source, style, scope, depth, and quality. Each one is worth a visit, perhaps even a tour.

 

This post samples some of the diverse blogs about grant seeking and grant proposal writing. It looks at logic models; planning tools; prospect research; success factors; sustainability; and technical reviews.

 

Gr Wr Blog Graphic 2

 

The first post of this pair samples the same blogs. It looks at: assessments of need; career paths; choice of voice; collaboration and networks; development processes; goals and objectives; and grant writing myths. The context for both posts is the United States of America. Comments are always welcome.

 

Logic Models

 

Logic models are versatile tools for program design and project management. A particularly inspiring and reassuring post on the Grants4Good Blog, by Margit Brazda Poirier, presents some of the roles of logic models in developing grant proposals. An elegant post about the power of logic models, by Barbara Floersh, appears on the Grantsmanship Center Blog. Another related post on the Grant Training Center Blog, by Mathilda Harris, also argues for the utility of logic models in project planning. GrantResults has an eight-part series (2016) about using logic models in writing proposals and in implementing funded projects.

 

Planning Toolkits

 

Grant proposals require extensive planning and coordination. In a helpful post on the Grant Training Center Blog, Mathilda Harris examines the potential role of seven-component grant design chart in planning a proposal and getting it funded. In the Foundation Center’s Grant Craft Blog, a thought-provoking post by Aimee Hendrigan describes the RACI matrixes as a tool for fostering collaboration among grant recipients. GrantResults presents a six-part series (2017) about Gantt charts, PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, Red Team reviews, and several other tools for developing grant proposals.

 

Prospect Research

 

Knowing where to find grants is essential for grant seekers. Affiliated with the Foundation Center, famous for its comprehensive foundation directories, the GrantSpace Blog provides a helpful overview about finding undersign in an applicant’s geographic area. GrantResults has an eight-part series (2013, revised 2017) about state directories of grant makers, organized by geographic regions (e.g., New England, Midwest, Southwest).

 

Success Factors

 

Applicants may or may not get a grant for many reasons. The Grant Writing Basics Blog Series provides a wealth of insights about winning and keeping federal grants, not the least of which is its post about verifying eligibility. On the Grant Training Center Blog, Mathilda Harris identifies 20 ways a proposal may fail to win a grant. Similarly, on the Let’s Talk Nonprofit Blog, Laura Rhodes offers tips about how some foundation grant makers make funding decisions. GrantResults provides a six-part series (2017) about some reasons why grant proposals may fail to get funded (e.g., readiness, choice of opportunities, applicant attributes, proposal content).

 

Sustainability

 

The question of sustainability is pivotal for many grant makers. On the Grant Helpers Blog, in an instructive post, Michelle Hansen presents five key elements of a sustainability plan. A penetrating post about the elements of sustainability also appears on Barbara Floersch’s Grantsmanship Center Blog. GrantResults has posted (2017) several tips for developing sustainability plans for grant proposals, and has also posted (2013) seven strategies for developing sustainability plans.

 

Technical Reviews

 

Expert panel reviews make or break many grant proposals. On the Grant Writer Team Blog, a particularly informative and insightful post by Elaine Rose Penn explains what grant reviewers look for in proposals (e.g., partnerships and sustainability). The Grant Writing Basics Blog Series explains peer review panels and the application review process. On the Seliger+Associates Grant Writing Blog, Jake Seliger encourages grant seekers to write foremost to satisfy the needs and expectations of grant proposal reviewers, not other audiences. GrantResults presents a two-part series (2012) about analyzing federal requests for proposals (RFPs) and becoming a reviewer of grant proposals.

 

 

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses SMART goals.

 

Definitions of SMART Goals

 

SMART goals have been around since 1981. SMART is a mnemonic acronym. Originally, its elements stood for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related. In its original (1981) rendition, SMART meant:

 

S = Specific – targets a specific area for change

M = Measurable – is quantifiable or has indicators for change

A = Assignable – indicates who will do it

R = Realistic – can be accomplished given available resources

T = Time-related – indicates when the change will occur

 

SMART Graphic

 

Nearly 40 years later, research suggests that SMART usually stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Along the way since 1981, variations for each element of the acronym have proliferated:

 

  1. Variations on S include: simple, sensible, significant, stretching, or strategic.
  2. Variations on M include: meaningful or motivating
  3. Variations on A include: assignable, agreed, attainable, actionable, action-oriented, ambitious, active, aligned, or accountable.
  4. Variations on R include: reasonable, realistic, results-based, results-focused, reachable, rewarding, or research-based.
  5. Variations on T include: time-related, time-based, time-limited, time-sensitive, timely, trackable, time-framed, timed, timetable, tangible, or testable.

 

TRAMS Goals as an Alternative to SMART Goals

 

For some proposal writers, SMART may prove problematic as a planning tool. It need not be. Proposal writers can avoid many potential problems if they adopt the original elements of the SMART acronym. They can avoid more potential problems if they reverse its sequence and look at the elements as TRAMS rather than as SMART.

 

A well-constructed project objective states a specific and quantifiable performance criterion. It states when a result will happen. It states who will accomplish the result. Such an objective selects a result that is likely to happen, but not necessarily certain to happen, within a given time period. It states in what domain of activity the result will occur. And it alludes to how the project will measure the result.

 

In thus reframing the original acronym, proposal writers may use TRAMS as a checklist for evaluating the quality of the articulation of an objective, as a litmus test for ascertaining its quality, and as a process for enhancing and ensuring its quality.

 

As a checklist for reviewing and refining statements of project objectives:

 

T = objective states when, either as a single deadline or as a recurring event

R = objective states a performance criterion that is attainable yet challenging or ambitious

A = objective states who, either as an organization, or a position title, or a population

M = objective states a performance criterion or an indicator of success and a measurement instrument

S = objective states clearly and precisely who, what, when, to what extent, using what indicator

 

Among the uses of TRAMS in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Program Designs – formulating the objectives of a project
  2. Evaluation Plans – identifying instruments to be used to demonstrate progress in attaining the objectives of a project
  3. Personnel Plans – planning performance monitoring of staff involved in a project

 

Among the advantages of using TRAMS as a quality check in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Goal Displacement – preserves the distinction between a goal and an objective
  2. Objective Displacement – preserves objective as part of the vocabulary of project development and as a distinct element in program design
  3. Deference to RFP Language – adopts the specific terminology used in most proposal solicitations and subordinates local usages to the funders’ usages

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

 

 

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses PESTLE analysis.

 

Definition of PESTLE Analysis

 

PESTLE analysis examines external factors that form the context of a project or initiative. PESTLE is a mnemonic acronym with several variants. In PESTLE, P = political, E = economic, S = social, T = technological, L = legal, and E = environmental.

 

PESTLE Graphic

 

P = Political factors, such as support for public expenditures (tax rates, bond elections), tax policies, fiscal policies, and public investment policies.

E = Economic factors, such as employment rates, labor costs, inflation rates, interest rates, income levels, insurance rates, cost of living, credit costs, availability of expertise, and bond ratings.

S = Social factors, such as cultural trends, demographics, public safety, public health, confidence in public institutions, social mobility, mobility rates, attitudes and perceptions, cross-cultural communication, and educational attainment levels.

T = Technological factors, particularly innovations, automation, networks, Internet, efficiency, existing infrastructure, diffusion rates, displacement rates, adoption rates, training needs, skill sets, and attitudes/dispositions.

L = Legal factors, such as new and existing legislation, new and existing regulations, court decisions in case law, compliance, public engagement, accounting standards, and procurement.

E = Environmental factors, particularly natural phenomena, land use, scarcities or shortages of natural resources, recycling, energy access/costs, physical infrastructure, and physical maintenance.

 

PESTLE analysis is a tool for the analysis of external factors, which form part of the context within which a project will be launched and will function. Any and all of the external factors may advance or impede the project. As external factors, they are outside an organization’s control, but they impact the organization and its projects.

 

A PESTLE analysis may provide a more comprehensive view than SWOT analysis or it may be folded into the O and T of a SWOT analysis. It is a tool of strategic analysis rather than of strategic definition. It should be only one element in a comprehensive process of strategic analysis. Organizations must conduct the process regularly and repeatedly for it to be effective.

 

Among the steps involved in a PESTLE analysis are:

  1. Brainstorm the PESTLE factors
  2. Identify the salient factors in each domain
  3. Rate the importance of each factor
  4. Assess likelihood for each factor
  5. Consider implications for each factor

 

The desired end result of a PESTLE analysis is to identify salient issues about which an organization may take action in a project.

 

Among the uses of PESTLE analysis in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Background – describing the larger context in which a project will operate
  2. Needs Assessment – summarizing of findings of the analysis as a baseline of needs
  3. Program Design – formulating one or more project objectives
  4. Program Design – selecting strategies and focuses of effort in an action plan
  5. Evaluation Plan – using focus groups to monitor/review status of factors in the PESTLE analysis
  6. Evaluation Plan – performing a content analysis of the PESTLE findings

 

Precautions in Doing a PESTLE Analysis

 

Among some of the precautions to take in doing a PESTLE analysis are:

  1. Using consistent methods and asking consistent questions
  2. Providing consistent facilitation
  3. Ensuring inclusive participant types and expertise types
  4. Providing a neutral ground venue or multiple venue types
  5. Ensuring the accurate capture of insights
  6. Obtaining consistent and repeated participation of stakeholders
  7. Planning actions that reflect findings of the PESTLE analysis

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses SWOT analysis.

 

Definition of SWOT Analysis

 

SWOT stands for Strength (S), Weakness (W), Opportunity (O), and Threat. SWOT analysis looks at identified factors in the present context or milieu of a project and interprets them either as S, W, O, or T.

 

SWOT Graphic2

 

S and W are of internal origin. Strengths are internal factors favorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible strengths are: organizational culture, expertise, unique qualities, and resources. Weaknesses are internal factors unfavorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible weaknesses also are: organizational culture, expertise, unique qualities, and resources.

 

By contrast, O and T are of external origin. Opportunities are external factors favorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible opportunities are: an organization’s market sector/segment, third parties, and all of the PESTLE factors. Threats are external factors unfavorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible threats are: the organization’s market sector/segment, third parties, and all of the PESTLE factors.

 

In general, S and O are helpful. Similarly, in general, W and T are harmful. Organizations control S and W to a degree. By contrast, they exert no control over O and T. What participants in a SWOT analysis may regard as an S in one context they may also regard as a W in another context – e.g., staff retention incentives – and what participants may regard as an O in one context they may also regard as a T in another context – e.g., community activism.

 

Steps in Doing a SWOT Analysis

 

SWOT analysis is a tool for strategic definition, for reaching a consensus about the internal and external contexts of a project. It is an iterative process, not a one-time analysis. It also entails subjective decisions throughout its process.

 

The SWOT process starts from an already defined objective. Next it defines the factors involved. Next it yields an analysis. The analysis may reset the objective requiring reframing of the objective and triggering the iteration of another cycle of analysis. The defined objective and the SWOT analysis act on each other. They are interdependent, and thus dynamic, not static.

 

It is often useful for participants to start with analysis of S and W then move on to analysis of O and T. Results of SWOT can be plotted on a performance matrix. Those W factors that are keys to organizational success, but also show a low performance level are the factors that subsequent strategy should target. The O and T factors can be rated on a scale ranking their probability and their impact on the organization.

 

Among the uses of SWOT analysis in writing grant proposals are:

  1. Needs Assessment – summarizing of findings of the analysis as a baseline of needs
  2. Program Design – formulating one or more project objectives
  3. Program Design – selecting strategies and focuses of effort in an action plan
  4. Evaluation – using focus groups to monitor/review status of factors in the SWOT analysis
  5. Evaluation – performing a content analysis of the SWOT findings

 

Precautions in Doing a SWOT Analysis

 

Among some of the precautions to take in doing a SWOT analysis are:

  1. Using consistent methods and asking consistent questions
  2. Providing consistent facilitation
  3. Ensuring inclusive participant types
  4. Providing a neutral ground venue or multiple venue types
  5. Ensuring the accurate capture of insights
  6. Obtaining consistent participation of stakeholders
  7. Building a consensus about findings for the elements of SWOT
  8. Ensuring appropriate skill in facilitation and in building consensus
  9. Reducing risks of oversimplification and dominance of vested interests (e.g., denial of W out of deference to power)
  10. Planning actions that impact S and W
  11. Ensuring that it is repeated over time

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: Red Team reviews,  PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses Red Team reviews.

 

Definition of Red Team Reviews

 

Red Teams review a proposal before it is submitted, at the time when it is almost entirely developed. Every reviewer on the Red Team ideally adopts the critical/skeptical external viewpoint of the funders’ subsequent reviewers, not merely the internal viewpoint of an organization’s proposal writers and/or its executive leadership. The Red Team rates and comments upon pre-submittal proposals in terms of five attributes: coherence, completeness, consistency, compliance, and correctness.

 

Red Team Graphic

 

  • Coherence includes aspects such as: clarity of writing, avoidance of technical jargon, and selection of verb tenses and voice
  • Completeness includes aspects such as: responsiveness to all review criteria, and appropriateness of responses to funder’s program priorities
  • Consistency includes aspects such as: uniformity of format, uniformity of terminology, and uniformity of writing style
  • Compliance includes aspects such as: conformity to proposal solicitation, conformity to laws and regulations, and conformity to the sequence of review criteria
  • Correctness includes aspects such as: absence of grammatical errors, absence of quantitative errors, and first-use elaboration of acronyms

 

Steps in a Red Team Review Process

 

Select a review team whose participants will have differing backgrounds and roles in the organization and will bring differing perspectives to the review. On the team, take steps to ensure representation of appropriate technical subject matter expertise (e.g., evaluation, budget, program design, human resources) and internal organizational leadership.

 

Orient the team. Provide all parts of the proposal with its attachments, which are needed to complete the review. Commit at least 2-4 hours to the review process. Adopt the program’s selection criteria rating scale and point allocations as the team’s criteria. Assign ID codes to each reviewer in case post-review questions arise. Collect, compile, and review the team’s ratings and comments. If possible, reconvene the Red Team reviewers for a debriefing.

 

The end products of a Red Team review should include the rating and scoring of a draft proposal against program selection criteria as well as the reviewers’ comments/rationales for their ratings and their ultimate recommendations for funding.

 

If time before a proposal deadline permits, subsequent internal, pre-submittal proposal reviews may focus on the budget (green team), the quality of the finished proposal, (gold team), and a final compliance check (white team).

 

Advantages and Limitations of Red Team Reviews

 

Among the advantages of a Red Team review in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Finding flaws and strengths in narratives and budgets
  2. Suggesting deletions, explanations, elaborations, and/or additions to a proposal
  3. Finding inadequate references to relevant research literature and/or its findings
  4. Finding calculation errors in narratives and budgets
  5. Identifying missing budget items
  6. Identifying phantom budget items or superfluous or unjustified budget items

 

Among the limitations of a Red Team review in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Insufficient time may be allocated to doing a thorough review
  2. Key reviewers may be unavailable when they are needed
  3. Key reviewers may not regard the review as a high-priority use of their time
  4. Key reviewers may not commit enough time to the review

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: RASCI charts, Red Team reviews, Gantt charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses RASCI charts.

 

RASCI Graphic

 

Definition of RASCI Charts

 

A RASCI chart is a form of responsibility matrix. It clarifies roles and responsibilities for tasks and deliverables within a project team. It specifies who will do what. A RASCI chart encompasses all of the primary types of stakeholders in a project. It aids in mapping project implementation plans, personnel plans, and evaluation plans. It also aids in doing a task analysis for a Gantt chart and in developing project-specific position descriptions.

 

R = Responsible. R is the one person who will be ultimately responsible for success in completing a task and in delivering its work products. R may be the person who actually will do the work (or produce the deliverable) or who will direct others to do the work. Example: Strategic Communication Specialist.

 

A = Accountable. A is the one person who will have ultimate accountability and authority for the task. A is also the person to whom R will report or will be otherwise accountable, and A is the person who will approve the adequacy of the work product (deliverable). Example: Project Director.

 

S = Supportive. S is the person or team of persons who will be needed to do the actual work of completing specific tasks (or creating specific deliverables). S often includes persons who can provide logistical, coordinative, or administrative services. Example: Professional Development Coordinator.

 

C = Consulted. C is anyone whose input will add value and/or whose buy-in will be essential for the ultimate implementation of the tasks. C commonly includes persons who can offer technical expertise to a task. Example: Community-Based Organizations.

 

I = Informed. I is the person or groups of persons who will need to be notified of results or actions taken but who will not need to be involved in daily decision-making processes. I will include persons or groups that will need to be “kept in the loop” and/or apprised of the status and progress of a project. Example: Board of Directors.

 

Steps in Creating a RASCI Chart

 

A RASCI chart requires the prior completion of at least a preliminary task analysis for a project. After completing a task analysis, create a table. List the Tasks down the Y-axis. List the Positions or Persons along the X-axis. Enter the roles in the cells. Color-code each type of role (if desired). The relative numbers of stakeholders by code should be: I > C > S > R > A. Every task must have an A and an R. Not every task needs an S.

 

Sample RASCI Chart

 

RASCI Chart Table Graphic

 

Among the uses of a RASCI chart in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Program Design – describing action steps that R, A, S, C, and/or I will perform
  2. Personnel Plan – identifying types of personnel required to implement a project
  3. Evaluation Plan – identifying types of personnel needed for interim and final evaluation of a project
  4. Budget – allocating funds for key personnel identified through creating a RASCI chart

 

Among the limitations of using a RASCI chart in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Possible proliferation of A when only one person should be A
  2. Interpretations that R are not A to any degree at all
  3. Possible proliferation of C where too many C may slow progress of project

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

See also: https://grantresults.wordpress.com/tag/rasci-charts

 

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