Increase Funding by Diving Deep into Federal Request for Proposals (RFP)
You have identified an RFP that your organization is interested in applying for and you know that you are eligible, now let’s go deep into the RFP to understand some key components of what the funding agency is looking for and asking for.
Every RFP has a type of award. This means the type of award that will be made under this funding opportunity. There are several different types and before applying, you will want to be certain that you understand the differences between each.
Discretionary Grant Funding is funding that is awarded through the use of a competitive proposal. Generally, the proposals received are reviewed through a peer review process by which others in the field review the proposal to determine if it meets the evaluation criteria.
Formula Grant Funding is funding that is noncompetitive and is distributed based on some formula. Formulas are usually calculated using the demographics of the various areas. A proposal may still be required to ensure that program concepts fit within the guidelines of the grant authorization.
Cooperative Agreement are funding mechanisms where an organization submits a proposal in response to an RFP but recognizes that the government will have substantial involvement in the design and delivery of the program/services. Usually these agreements are awarded to organizations who partner with the government to test a theory or model of service.
The majority of grant proposals that you will be seeking will be for discretionary funding.
Next, take a look at the Estimated Available Funds and the Estimated Range of Awards. These two numbers will provide you with information about how much money is available and how much you can anticipate being awarded. The third piece of information that goes along with these two areas is the Estimated Number of Awards. This number gives you a good idea of how many organizations will be receiving funding. This is particularly important because it also tells you how competitive the funding will be. In most cases, if there are not going to be at least 10-15 awards, I will suggest to people that they not apply. Quite often, when there are just a few awards, there is already some thought about which organizations will be receiving the funding.
What is the Maximum Award, Minimum Award and Average Award? Sometimes you will see these called award ceiling and award floor. When planning how much to request, you will want to make sure that your budget request does not go above the maximum award or below the minimum. For some federal agencies, proposal budgets that do not meet the requirements are not considered for funding. And, when writing your budget, request what you need, but do not “pad” the budget. Reviewers are individuals working in the field with grant experience; they can detect when a budget has been stretched or padded.
Finally, note the Project Period. The project period is simply the length of time that awardees will have to implement the project that they are proposing. Make note if the RFP indicates that awards will be made for multiple years or if they are for just one year. In the event that awards are for multiple years, you will want to read the guidance to determine whether or not you submit a multiple year budget or just a budget for one year.
These are details that often get overlooked when organizations are seeking federal grant dollars. But, armed with this information, you can make educated decisions about whether or not to apply for funding.
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