Go or No Go? A List of Considerations for Deciding to Apply to Funding Opportunities

Date: December 7th, 2017

Gina Desiderio

How do you decide to apply for a funding opportunity?

Whether you have been actively monitoring notices of funding availability or a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) just happens to cross your desk, your organization will need to decide whether to apply or not to apply. It’s not as easy a decision as it sounds. Considerations are both ethical and practical. Every decision should be methodical and take into account a number of factors.

Bottom line—do you think you have a strong enough chance of being funded that investing the time and effort for proposal development is justifiable? Here’s a set of questions to consider when deciding whether to apply funding opportunity.

Is it a “go”?

  • Does the purpose of the funding opportunity align with your organization’s mission?
  • If you were awarded funds, would it advance the change your organization wishes to make for the people, organizations, and communities it serves?
  • Would the award allow your organization to sustain current programs and services only, expand the reach and scale of current programs and services, and/or take your organization in a new direction (or perhaps off direction)?
  • How many awards does the grantor intend to make?
  • Who else is likely to respond?
  • Does your organization offer a unique aspect, approach, or partnership that might enhance your chances of being awarded?
  • Do you wish to reply to the FOA as a solo applicant, or do you see necessities/advantages to responding jointly with another organization(s)?
  • If a joint application is preferred, does your organization wish to serve as the lead grantee or as a sub-grantee?
  • Who in the organization will reach out to prospective partners to explore their interest in partnering?
  • What is the estimated award amount? Can your organization do the work required of the notice for the amount of funds estimated per award?
  • What is the application due date? Will you have sufficient time to prepare the proposal?
  • Will staff be pulled from other activities to prepare the proposal? If so, what WON’T get done while those staff members are diverted to proposal development? Can you make that sacrifice or delay in those other activities?
  • Do you have internal capacity to prepare the proposal, or do you need to identify external personnel to assist?
  • Does the FOA require applicants to submit a notice of intent to apply?
  • Has the grantor scheduled in-person briefings, teleconferences, webinars, or a web page for briefing prospective applicants on and answering questions about the FOA? If so, who from your organization will participate?
  • Who in the organization makes the decision to respond or not to respond to notices of funding availability? Is it a single individual, and if so whom? Is it a team decision, and if so who are the team members?

Show Me the MoneyWhile answering these questions may take some time, it’s best not to procrastinate on your decision to respond or not to the FOA. Each day you pass on a decision is a day lost for proposal development.

In these days of reduced funding availability, the temptation can be strong, but resist the urge to pursue funds for purposes that do not align well with your mission. Do encourage your organization to pursue funds for purposes that stretch your program and service areas into new directions consistent with your mission.

These considerations are just an excerpt from Show Me the Money: Healthy Teen Network’s Guide to Developing a Winning Grant Proposal. We designed this resource to help you understand the ins and out of proposal development and give you the tools you need to successfully guide your team through the process.

Show Me the Money is FREE to members! In this time of ever-decreasing funding for professional development, Healthy Teen Network is very aware of the need for capacity-building resources. We’re working hard to make sure our members have access to a robust library of helpful resources. Not a member? Join today to start reaping the benefits!

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About the Author

Gina Desiderio, Healthy Teen Network Director of Communications, has over 10 years of capacity-building and project management experience, supporting professionals to provide programs and services to empower youth to thrive.

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