Join Karl Kapp for an in-depth discussion in this video Parts of the RFP, part of Grant Writing for Education.
- What are the general sections of a grant proposal? Well, every request for proposal or solicitation of a grant application is structured differently. There are many common sections. Writing a focused and effective grant requires an understanding of those individual sections. Even agencies that do not have a specific template or format still require you to provide basic information. First, every solicitation for a grant proposal contains basic information such as the title of the solicitation and the title of the program under which the funding is being offered.
RFPs also typically have some sort of identification or solicitation number which is critical if you're issuing multiple RFPs and the agency will often request that any correspondence with that agency contain that solicitation number. Submission dates are usually prominently displayed early in the document. The agency or foundation will list the due dates for any preliminary information such as a letter of intent. The date, the full grant proposal is due, and also when they plan to notify the applicants of success or failure.
Sometimes they'll also tell you when the grant work is expected to begin. Some agencies don't list start or award dates rather they just list due dates. Dates are especially important so you want to know and track all the dates. Place them into your calendar so you don't miss any critical deadlines. Understanding why a grant solicitation is being offered can help you create the right response. Most requests for a grant proposal provide a description of the program or purpose of why the grant is being funded.
The description may provide the history of the organization offering the funding. It may contain a detailed explanation of the context of the award and sometimes it provides the history of how the award was first started. And what type of mission is being accomplished through the funding. Reading and understanding the purpose or synopsis of the grant provides you with the framework for approaching the grant application. Many agencies will list a grant program officer or officers and their contact information.
This is valuable if you want to meet with those individuals before you submit your document or if you have any questions. The contact information is listed for a reason. Don't hesitate to contact these individuals if you have a legitimate need to get in touch with them. Another section in most grant solicitations is the eligibility criteria. This section describes who can apply for the funding. Read the section carefully because if you and your organization are not eligible for funding, there's no point in submitting a proposal.
This section often describes who can be a principal investigator and what type of institution is eligible. Another section that requires careful attention is the submission instructions or guidelines. This section is important because it describes basic requirements such as the outline of sections in your grant submission, page limits, font sizes, and how the document should be formatted and submitted. It also highlights what information the agency or foundation requires such as your organization's experience and background.
What is the significance of your proposed project. Your research or development plans. Who are the key personnel and if you have any facilities, equipment or other resource needs. Within the guidelines, you'll be told what are allowable requests and what are not. Take heed to these guidelines. Failure to follow them can lead to disqualification. If you do read a guideline that you don't understand or that doesn't makes sense and that happens, contacting the program officer is always a good approach.
They can clarify the language and the requirements of the solicitation. In any grant proposal you're asking for funding, so the budgetary information section of the solicitation requires careful consideration. In this section, the format of the budget is described as well as an indication of what can be covered by grant funds and what cannot be covered. For example, in some cases professional development efforts can be covered by the grant. But individual salaries cannot be covered.
Sometimes a granting agency requires matching funds or cost sharing and sometimes they don't. Read the requirements carefully and talk to your administration or on-campus representative to determine if your institution has the money to cover any required matching or cost-sharing requirements. The budget may also give you allowable rates for general and administrative costs, and other indirect costs that your institution may require as part of the budget.
Related to the budget section is usually a section describing the anticipated award amounts, and how much money is available for that particular funding cycle. You don't want to request more money than they're willing to provide for each project and you also don't want to propose too little. You want to propose an amount as close to the anticipated award size per grant as possible. Many grant solicitations contain a section outlining the evaluation or review criteria that will be used for awarding the grant.
Read and familiarize yourself with this section and use it to frame your writing. Answer the questions they want answered. Address the issues they deem important. Pay attention to the elements they highlight. These are the areas that will receive the most points when the grant evaluators read and review your submission. Success in addressing the evaluation criteria can lead to a successfully funded project. Grant solicitations can seem like large daunting documents.
But if you take one section at a time, read and understand that section and what it's asking for, you'll be in a good position to write a winning proposal.
- Finding a private or governmental funding agency
- Locating collaborators
- Understanding an RFP
- Dissecting the anatomy of a grant proposal: front matter to appendices
- Avoiding common grant-writing mistakes