Reading Requests

As you search for grant opportunities, you’ll notice that these opportunities often come from diverse sources. Government agencies, private companies, and individual philanthropists invite organizations to apply for grants to fund projects that reflect their own mission, goals, and objectives. Though funding organizations may have similar goals, they will likely look for and prioritize different things in the grant proposals they receive. 

Reading a request for grant proposals is the first, and one of the most important, steps in the grant proposal writing process. Fully understanding what a funding source wants from a recipient can make or break your proposal. When reading a request for grant proposals, there are several questions you’ll want to ask that will provide you the information needed to maximize your chances of submitting a successful grant proposal. 

Who’s Funding the Grant?

Much like needing to know who sent you what birthday present in order to write an appropriate thank you card, you need to know who’s behind the grant you’re applying for so you can tailor your submission for the source. Funding sources look for applicants who embody their missions and goals, and will, through their proposed work, bring about the work the funding source values. 

Because you may not get an in-depth profile of the funding source on the request for grant proposals itself, you want to consider carefully reading through any information you can on the funding source either on their website and/or on any of their social media platforms. There, you can find information detailing their mission and sometimes even write-ups on previous recipients of the grant you’re applying for.

When is the grant proposal due?

You want to give yourself plenty of time to draft and revise your grant proposal so you can submit your materials on time. All requests for grant proposals will include a submission due date with specific instructions on the submission procedure. Many requests for grant proposals will include both the posting date and the submission deadline date, as well as any extensions for due dates. When noting the submission deadline, be sure to note any time zone differences. Larger grants that invite grant proposals from across the country will often impose Eastern Standard Time on submissions.

Are there eligibility requirements?

Grants are often designed to fund specific groups or projects, and funding sources will clearly define who and what is eligible for their funding. Eligibility varies from one funding opportunity to the next. Some funding sources may limit applications by the communities you serve, your geographic location, and/or your organization. For example, a funding source may only consider grant proposals from a nonprofit organization in rural Washington state that works to serve food-insecure community members. Confirming your eligibility will help save time, energy, and resources by ensuring that your grant proposal will receive full consideration.

How much money is available?

Requests for grant proposals will indicate how much money is available for recipients. Depending on the specific funding opportunity, a source could, for example, award 10 nonprofit organizations $1,000 each or award 1 nonprofit organization $10,000. Funding allocation will be clearly stated on the request for grant proposals. Knowing the specific award amount can help you clearly communicate how your proposed project can achieve its objectives within the confines of the awarded amount.

Why is the source giving out this grant money?

Funding sources provide grant funding opportunities for projects that align with their values and goals. Once you’ve identified the funding source and understand their mission and goals, you can better examine why they might want to fund specific projects. For example, you may find a request for grant proposals from the Department of Education (DoE) to develop music programs in rural community public schools. After researching, you may learn that the DoE has noticed that, on average, rural community public schools offer fewer music course offerings than public schools in urban and suburban communities. The DoE could see this funding opportunity as a way to ensure students in all American schools have the same opportunity to take music courses and pursue music-related opportunities. Knowing why a source wants to fund a specific type of project or organization will help you better articulate how your specific project aligns with their reasons and values. 

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