The Development Source

How Should You Decide not to Bid on a Grant?

As Joyce Loegel of Proposal Prose LLC points out, you should include a solid bid/no bid procedure in your proposal development process to avoid wasting precious time and resources on proposals with a low probability of success.  While her advice is directed at companies, it also applies to nonprofit organizations.

The bid/no bid analysis should begin early in the proposal development process, if possible.  However, I have been on proposal efforts where we started developing the proposal and then were told to abort the effort by senior managers.  This approach should be avoided, if possible.

According to Loegel, companies should consider certain kinds of questions when making a bid/no bid decision.  I have modified them slightly for nonprofits:

  • Does it fit our nonprofit’s mission?
  • Have we received a previous grant from this funder?  If so, did we perform well?
  • Do we have a good relationship with the funder?
  • Do we understand the funder’s goals and issues?
  • Are the grant guidelines consistent with our expectations?
  • Do we have the qualifications to successfully bid?
  • Do we have support from senior management?
  • Do we have a committed proposal team with the right personnel and resources?
  • How do we compare to the competition?

Once your nonprofit decides to bid, there is still an opportunity to abort the proposal development process by asking yourself these questions:

  • Once we have identified a solution to the problem identified in the grant guidelines, is it likely to be highly competitive?
  • Once the preliminary budgeting was done, is our budget competitive?

Depending on the answers to these questions, there may be good reasons to begin a proposal and then drop it.  Sometimes, a decision to not bid or abort a proposal effort makes good sense. 

As Proposal Managers, you are not likely to be answering these questions by yourself.  But it is your obligation to tell senior managers that you think that your nonprofit organization has a low chance of success.  Trust a good proposal process and put the best interests of your nonprofit first, and you will be able to provide valuable advice about whether to bid or not.



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