Planning Your Proposal

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Instructions for requesting the application package will be included in the program announcement, RFP, or RFA. The application package will contain the detailed information necessary to write the proposal and provide the basis for your planning. If no application package is specifically offered, the RFP or RFA itself will provide very detailed instructions for your application. It is important to develop a central program idea or approach for your proposal. Creating a brief proposal abstract or concept paper to organize your thoughts can be helpful. Explain how your program will create the result the funding agency seeks, and how you will measure success. This will become your proposal mission statement.

Plan each step of your proposal far in advance.

Usually a very short time period exists between the date that the grant program is announced and the deadline for submittal (typically 45 days). It is difficult for inexperienced applicants to make an organizational assessment and put together a quality application in this short time period. This is one of the reasons that it is a good idea to monitor grant sources regularly—the earlier you learn about the availability of grant funding, the better prepared you can be.

Click to open interactivity Make a plan to write the proposal.

Make a plan to write the proposal.

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Keep in mind that the grant cycle is an annual process.

Many of the grant announcements are made in the spring or summer following the Federal budget approval process in the fall. You may want to use one year's grant application cycle as a “dry run” for the next year’s grant competition. In that case, request an application package (even if the deadline has passed) to become familiar with the process and requirements. However, be aware that grant solicitations can change significantly from year to year.