What Is an RFP and How Is It Best Used to Apply for Grants?

A Request for Proposal or RFP is a preliminary step in the grant application process. In essence an RFP is a solicitation released by a funding agency who has money to donate to a good cause. The RFP identifies the best candidates to apply for a grant. And the best part? The RFP process is just as valuable – if not more so – to a potential grant seeker.

Considering that most nonprofits seeking grant funding have limited budgets, it is vital to their fundraising goals to ensure that they are utilizing their resources as efficiently as possible to ensure their best possible chances of success. An RFP makes it clear whether the goals of a potential grant maker either do or do not align with the mission of a nonprofit. Moreover, it’s best to know in advance to avoid wasting valuable time and resources pursuing a grant that will not be approved.

GrantWatch recognizes the important role RFPs play in the grant-seeking process. As a result, it has made the full text of RFPs available to its subscribers whenever possible to help maximize resources to their best capability.

The Important Role of an RFP in the Grant-Making Process

The contents of an RFP and typically standard. The order and word usage will differ but they each contain the following sections:

  • Project Goals
  • Scope of Work
  • Current Roadblocks and Barriers to Success
  • Evaluation Metrics and Criteria
  • Submission Requirements

These categories are all geared toward helping you ascertain whether your organization will qualify for funding. To begin, the Project Goals section lists the critical community needs the funder wants to address. This information helps you compare your organization’s goals with those of the grantor. If they align, then you’re a step closer to achieving success. Next, the scope of the work breaks down how the project goals might be achieved. Indeed, this section houses a multitude of research about things like the logistics of implementation, target communities, and identifying challenges.

The section that follows breaks down those potential challenges. Current Roadblocks and Barriers to Success is the part of the RFP that lays out potential obstacles in the hopes of mitigating their effects on the overall projects. This might include things like access to resources, engagement, and other community-specific impediments. Once you know what the roadblocks are, you can include a strategy to overcome them in your proposal.

At some point, your grantor will focus a lens on project feasibility. The metrics and criteria section details the anticipated impact of the project’s goals. Furthermore, it lays out things like engagement strategies and project sustainability and how these things are measured.

Finally, the last section gives submission requirements. This final section includes deadlines, conference dates, and the potential need for an LOI or letter of intent. However, additional information can also be housed here. For example, things like requests for additional documentation or letters of stakeholder support.

Below is a sample list of grants and contracts currently offering an RFP.

Grants and Contracts for Services Utilizing the RFP as Part of its Application Process

  1. Contracts for services to eligible nonprofits, Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), government agencies, and Tribes to address community needs. Local service programs should address one of the focus areas, including disaster services, economic opportunity, education and environmental stewardship. Additional focus areas also include healthy futures, and veterans and military families. Individuals, businesses, organizations, corporations, consortiums, partnerships, joint ventures, or any other entities including subcontractors currently debarred or suspended are ineligible to respond to the RFP.
  2. There are also contracts for services to eligible nonprofits to oversee and run facilities for adults with serious mental illness. Funding is for both operating and capital funding to finance development of the facilities. Based on the need for congregate housing opportunities to support this mission, the announcement of this Request for Proposal (RFP) is for the development and operation of up to 500 Community Residence Single Room Occupancy (CR-SRO) units for persons recovering from a serious mental illness (SMI).
  3. Grant of $35,000 and a grant of $40,000 to professors at institutions of higher education for innovative scientific research.
  4. There are grants to nonprofit arts organizations and government agencies to construct or enhance rural arts/cultural centers. Submit required registrations in advance of a proposal. Funding is to build, upgrade, or expand arts and cultural facilities, including museums, performing and multi-purpose arts centers, galleries, amphitheaters, and mobile stages. Priority will be for organizations in distressed areas.
  5. Also, grants to nonprofits and government agencies for capital improvements to outdoor recreation areas. Complete registrations required prior to applying. Initiatives must be for publicly accessible trails. Funding will be to construct new trails, enhance existing trails, create trailside facilities, or acquire trail corridors.

Additional Grants Utilizing the RFP as Part of the Application Process

  1. Grants to eligible nonprofits for projects to promote social/economic justice. Submit an LOI prior to submitting a full proposal. Proposals for organizational training and coaching may also be submitted.
  2. There are also grants to eligible nonprofits for programs to benefit local communities. Submit an LOI in advance of the application. Proposal areas of interest include: community and civic services, education, human services, and arts and culture.
  3. In addition, there are grants of up to $50,000 to eligible nonprofits for programs to strengthen communities. Submit a concept paper prior to applying. Programs will align in one of the following areas: the environment, health, education, public and civil life, and child, family and social welfare.
  4. Grants of up to $50,000 to eligible nonprofits to benefit low-income youth. Submit an LOI in advance of a full proposal. Priority areas include food security, accessible healthcare, affordable housing, and educational excellence. Funding is to benefit youth ages 16-24.
  5. Grants of up to $50,000 to eligible nonprofits to address the health and basic needs of residents. Submit an LOI prior to a full grant application.
  6. Lastly, grants to clinicians and researchers at universities, medical centers, nonprofits, and biotech companies for studies related to dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. Submit an LOI in advance of a full proposal. Funding is to advance drug development for Alzheimer’s and related dementias and the biomarker tools that aid in this process.

We hope you can use this information to more efficiently determine what and how to apply for grants to maximize your time and resources!

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Please Note: There is no guarantee by GrantWatch nor the author that grants will be awarded as a result of this information.

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