Follow the Directions

A key rule to responding to an RFP is follow the directions. If you forget or ignore directions when you've gone through the instructions, your proposal may not be reviewed. If the instructions have an outline with Roman numerals, numbers, or alpha characters, your response should include the same designations for each section. If you find a section not applicable, you must enter the designation and a header for it before writing, “Not applicable.” Grant reviewers use score sheets that are keyed to the instructions, so if your outline doesn't follow theirs or your information is in the wrong place, they may reduce your score.

Review Criteria

Some RFPs replace an outline for your narrative with review criteria or a rubric. Read the questions or qualifications contained in the criteria carefully. Try to determine the gist of each question the grantors are posing. Then respond to each question as completely as you can.

The directions may or may not include review criteria. If they do not, use the questions or headings from the outline to determine exactly how the granting agency wants prospective grantees to answer.

Sample of Need-Section Instructions

Following are instructions, in the form of review criteria, for the need section of an educational grant:

1. NEED (Ten points) “The proposal provides a brief explanation of why the project is needed. It summarizes the demographics of the district and the selected buildings that will be served by this funding; possible causes for an increase in the number of students requiring special-education services or a decrease in state-assessment reading scores; and the need for new resources and programs for students who are not achieving in reading or who are at risk of reading failure.”

Include Relevant Data

In following the instructions, you will provide relevant data, first about the district and then about the building(s) in which you will implement the program. Relevant data in this example would include the number of children and the percentage by building of children failing state assessment and other tests of reading. Other relevant data would point out possible causes for the need.

In addressing the last part of the criteria, you'll want to talk about what programs the buildings have tried in the past and why they haven't worked or helped children achieve as much as the principals had hoped. When you complete this section, you'll be set up to begin writing in the project description, addressing why this project will succeed where others have failed.

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