Simple Do's and Don'ts

Dos

Do follow the instructions in the RFP. If the funder wants you to use 12 point Arial font use it. Consider the RFP to be written in stone—unalterable and inviolable.

Do look at other applications for formatting or programming ideas.

Do write for the audience. If you know who will be reviewing the grant, keep in mind what he/she may like to see in an application. Talk to previous grantees to get their insight into the funder.

Do write for the audience. If you know who will be reviewing the grant, keep in mind what he/she may like to see in an application. Talk to previous grantees to get their insight into the funder.

Do call or e-mail the funder if you have legitimate questions (again follow the instructions—some don't want to be called). Have your questions written down prior to calling.

Do be prepared to alter your budget/program once awarded a grant. The funder may request you to revise your budget or program slightly to comply with state or federal requirements (for example, we wanted to offer a preschool component as part of an after-school program and we were told that wasn't allowed—so we had to eliminate that component to get the rest of what we wanted.) A grant application or proposed budget is good until the first dollar is spent. After that, be flexible.

Do seek out other community partners to help you with the project. The other partners will help sustain the program once the grant is over and can help carry the load. Your project may also help them to accomplish their mission.

Do under promise and over perform.


Don'ts

Don't call the funder to see if you can alter the application format it described in the RFP.

Don't copy other applications and submit them as your own. It's unethical and some funders may recognize copy-cat submissions and deny funding to them.

Don't write in gobbledygook. You may know what a SIT or a dynamically challenging in-place curriculum is, but the funder may not. Use plan simple English that you'd use to explain your idea to your mom/dad or spouse. Funders will look at several applications and those that can convey their project in the simplest manner will get a better shot at funding. Don't have your application look like a bunch of algebraic equations of acronyms and education jargon.

Don't call expecting the funder to write your application. This is your opportunity to make an impression on the funder—make it a good one. Funders are happy (well most are) to answer questions about what they are looking for beyond what was written in the RFP. Some may want to know about your program and how its funding could help you.

Don't go outside the scope of the grant program. If you said that you'd use grant funds to purchase computers, don't go out and buy Playstations. If you want to alter what you've said in the application, request a modification to the grant. Many funders understand that programs and needs change once a program is implemented. Therefore, a request for a modification is okay. However, make your modifications the exception—if you start asking for all kinds of modifications, the funder may wonder if you know what you're doing and request a return of its funding. For example, in a three-year grant we received, we requested exactly two modifications, which the funder approved.

Don't expect to accomplish your project without help.

Don't promise what you can't deliver.