Assel Grant Services enjoys writing federal grants and is commonly called upon to write these grants with very little lead time. When this short lead time is requested by an organization we have worked extensively with in the past, this is pretty easy to do. Unfortunately, we are often contacted by organizations who:
1) Have never worked with Assel Grant Services,
2) Have never written or managed a federal grant,
3) Have not completed their federal registrations (subject of an upcoming blog),
4) Have very little preparation time before the federal grant is due, and/or
5) Do not know if their project is truly a good fit for the federal grant opportunity.
So how can an organization know if they have a strong match between their program and the federal grant opportunity? Look at the following items within the RFP:
1) Due date - While most federal grants provide a 4-6 week notification, if you are just noticing the grant with less than half of the time available before the deadline, you probably do not have enough time to write this grant this year. Make a note to use this RFP to prepare to apply for this grant next year.
2) Eligibility - While most federal agencies will tell you that a wide variety of organizations are eligible to apply for their grant opportunities, check to see if a partnership of organizations is required, if experience with certain activities is required, or if there is a geographic restriction.
3) Amount of funding and how the money can be spent - How much money is being provided for all of the grants? What is the minimum and maximum request per program? Is this funding for one year or multiple years? What are your program expense needs? Will this grant opportunity allow you to spend your money this way? For example, some programs will not allow you to spend money on infrastructure, equipment, personnel or indirect costs. Other programs require you to spend only a specific maximum portion of your budget on these particular areas. Can you sustain the program after the funding goes away?
4) Program Description - Does the program require you to provide certain activities? If so, does your current program already have these activities or will you be able to easily add these activities to your program?
5) Goals/Objectives/Outcomes - Does the RFP require that you collect certain data about your clients, activities, or outcomes? If so, do your program results fit within their goals for the program? If not, how easily can you add this data collection? How will you prove you are capable to meet these goals, objectives, and outcomes?