What to Expect
RFPs and guidelines can range from a single sheet to hundreds of pages of instructions and attachments. In nearly every case, the RFP or guidelines require that your proposal include a summary, a needs section, a project description (with goals and objectives), an evaluation section, and a budget.
The entire RFP package is instructional, so it's helpful if you read every word in it. Accomplished grant writers turn first to the outline to determine how much work will go into the proposal. Then they read the remainder of the packet to ensure that they are not missing important information.
Freelance grant writers can use the outline to identify the extent of the work required. Based on the outline, they can determine (a) whether they can schedule adequate time to work on the proposal and (b) the cost estimate for their services.
RFPs from the Federal Register are several pages in length. Each page contains up to four columns of very small type. It will probably take approximately one hour to review the contents and make notes on important information that will help guide your writing process.
The outline for the proposal will be apparent, but additional directions may be scattered throughout the RFP. You'll find other important and relevant information such as the following:
Paper size and composition (The Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, requires use of recycled paper.)
Spacing (If not specified as double spaced, single space your documents and double space between paragraphs or indent the beginning of each paragraph.)
Minimum size of typeface (and sometimes the font you must use)
Deadline for submission (and whether by postmark or arrival date)
Maximum number of pages
Address and phone numbers for contact people and for submissions
Qualifications for grantees
Purpose and goals of the grant program (These are critical, as you want your program to further the goals of the grantor.)
Necessary forms and attachments
Instructions for completing forms
Additional sections required (such as compliance statements, tables of contents, abstracts, etc.)
Instructions for the order in which you must compile the finished grant-proposal packet (sometimes also provided as a checklist)
You may find instructions in the back of an RFP for submitting to the State Single Point of Contact, as well as to the granting agency. The State Single Point of Contact is a person or office in your state with the responsibility of cataloging who applies for what grants and responding to questions during the application process.