Request For Grant Proposals – How To Write Applications For RFPs


A request for a proposal (RFP) is an invitation that is extended by a funder to an organization to submit a grant application on a specific topic. Many times RFP’s are used so that foundations can announce their new foundation grants. Funders announce their RFP’s and awards in various newsletters and press releases. The number of foundations that use RFP’s are smaller than the number of proposals initiated by applicants; however, RFP’s are becoming more popular. If you are searching on a philanthropy website, the most recent RPF’s are listed first, and they are generally arranged by category and then subject area. The due date for applications, and links to related organizations, as well as a link to the funder’s website are typically provided as well.

Common Narrative Form

Many funders provide their grant applications on their website for grantees to complete. However, if they do not provide one, you should contact the funder to find out if they will accept a general narrative proposal form. A general narrative provides a complete description of your request and should contain the following basic information:

  • Name, address and contact information for your organization
  • History of the organization
  • Mission statement
  • Organizational goals, programs, services and structure
  • Operating needs
  • Activities
  • Goals for the request, how it addresses communities needs

Registering on Funder’s Websites

Once you find an RFP, then you may want to register on the funder’s website to receive email alerts about their upcoming RFP’s and their newsletters. You will also find information on how to apply for their grants, the funder’s contact information, where to send your information, the proper format and information about other current RFP’s offered by the funder on their website. There is usually additional information posted about the funder’s opportunities, programs and projects. You may discover another grant that meets your needs better, or there may be a grant available for a different project. Funders also post their annual financial report 990 regarding the prior year’s grant making so you can see how much they gave and to whom. Evaluation tools regarding grantee programs gives you insight as to what types of grants the funder has made. Articles, interviews and lists of recent grants may also be published in the funder’s archives or in newsletters. The more information you can learn about the funder from their website and other publications, the easier it will be for you to tailor your RFP application to meet the funder’s guidelines and get your funding.


Most funders have a facts, answers and questions section to refer to that is helpful to gain insight into what they are looking for and answering common questions that grantees may have about the funder’s guidelines. If you cannot find an answer to your questions, you can always contact the funder by telephone or email.

RFP’s are a great way to learn about grants for your organization. Even if you do not fall under the funder’s category for their current RFP, it is still a good idea to go to their website to search for their other current and upcoming programs and to gather information about them for future use if you do decide to apply for one of their grants. You may also want to share the information with another grantee that you know may be interested in the RFP.

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