Requests For Proposals (RFPs) are most likely to be used by government agencies, although foundations sometimes issue them as well. RFPs are published so that organizations that might be qualified to participate can apply.
The deadline for a RFP might be months away, but don't be surprised if it is only 30 days away, especially for government issued RFPs. In some measure, a short deadline for a RFP is a way to cut down on the number of applicants and to restrict those to only organizations that are best prepared to respond quickly.
To respond quickly to RFPs, your organization must be scanning for them all the time and be prepared to move quickly. Only reply to those RFPs for which you have a program already in place or that is pretty close to being ready. Develop a calendar to follow that will ensure you get through all the steps of preparing the proposal and delivering it on time. Read the instructions very carefully and fulfill them to the letter.
One nonprofit that is located in Washington D.C., and which is in the international women's health care sector, has all of its department heads watch for RFPs within their specialties. This helps the development department keep on top of the many opportunities that arise in this organization's field.
RFPs are published by all the federal departments on their websites or at www.grants.gov, where you can search for RFPs by program titles, departments, key words, or Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) numbers that are assigned to each RFP. You can sign up with Grants.gov to receive regular notices of newly released RFPs. Such notices contain a brief description of the grant program and a link to the RFP.
You can also contact your local congressional representative's office and ask to review that office's copy of the National Register, which has all grant opportunities for the upcoming year.
The Register is published or updated annually, but is not widely distributed. However, there is a one-or two-page announcement that is mailed to pre-established mailing lists approximately 90-120 days before the grant deadline. This summary announcement briefly describes the nature of the program, lists its Federal Register number (CFDA number), the requesting department, a list of who may apply, the URL of the full RFP, and either an application or a telephone number where you can request a copy of the application. It may also contain information about grant-seeker workshops or conferences.
Your organization should also be on appropriate mailing lists for RFPs. Check out the websites of the government agencies most closely aligned with your organization's mission and see if you can get on their mailing lists.
- Tips for applying for government grants can be found at Government Grants: What Grant Writers Need to Know
- To find RFPs that you might qualify for, use one or more of the resources in Top 11 Online Sources for Information on Grants and Funders.
- To research funders for your grant, use the 6 Steps to Researching Funders for Your Grant.