The Development Source
Developing a grant proposal to a government agency is a risky undertaking. As Brenda Crist, the Managing Director, Strategic Solutions at the Lohfeld Consulting Group points out, there are predictable risks in proposal development that should be recognized and addressed. If you do not, they will either affect your proposal development process; affect your proposed solution to the problem identified in the grant guidelines; or both.
Below are Ms. Crist’s four most common risks and her mitigation strategies for addressing them. I think that most of us will recognize that these risks commonly appear in grant proposal development.
1. Insufficient Information about the Government Agency
Conduct electronic research about the government agency
Engage the government agency outside the office at professional meetings, conferences, and other venues
Use ethical and reliable people and legitimate sources to provide more information and insight about the government agency
2. Tight Schedule
Create a schedule that works backward from the deadline to the kick-off meeting
Build time into the schedule for delays and other problems
Get the resources you need to meet the deadline
3. Scarce Resources
Establish a realistic proposal development budget
Identify and secure needed resources to do the proposal well, from equipment to people
Use consultants when necessary to bolster your proposal team
4. Incompetent and/or Delusional Senior Management and Colleagues
Use a solid bid/no bid process to reject grant opportunities that you have little or no chance of winning
Create a risk mitigation plan
Provide sufficient time within your schedule to resolve difficulties and bottlenecks
Develop a good sense of humor and a stoical attitude about the proposal effort
I recommend that every grant proposal team develop a simple, clear risk strategies/risk mitigation plan before starting a proposal. There should be five steps in this plan:
As Ms. Crist shows, risks are common and predictable in proposal development. Anticipate them and you will be a happier person and develop more successful grant proposals.