Grant Writing Series: Knowing the Basics

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Author: Kelly Danckert

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RFI, RFP, SOW, MSA – What’s the Difference?

First and foremost, let’s break down the different types of documents you may be asked to respond to.

Request for Information (RFI)

Often times, receiving an RFI will often be the first way you learn about an organization that you may soon be contracted to work with. An RFI is used to explore options before choosing a contractor for the project, so the entity issuing the RFI will use these to determine which organization will be the best fit to pursue.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

An RFP is often used when the proposed project requires technical expertise and specialized skills. This tends to be a longer document that requires a few different components to flesh out: your organization’s qualifications and experience, a proposed timeline for project deliverables, a proposed budget, along with an appendix of works cited and employee resumes.

Master Service Agreement (MSA)

A Master Service Agreement serves to define how your organization and the other entity will work together in the future. There is no commitment when it comes to applying for an MSA, it simply means that if accepted, you will be added to a list that gets priority for new business development. The doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a project on the imminent horizon, however it does mean that you amongst others will be invited to apply for future opportunities.

When to Pursue a Grant Opportunity?

When trying to determine whether or not to pursue an opportunity, it’s important to ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Does the mission align with my organization’s mission? How would this project work reflect my coalition or community group’s mission?grants 3
  • Are their sufficient funds available to cover this project effectively?
  • Do we have the capacity, skills, and expertise to do this work? What about to write the proposal?
  • Do we have an established relationship already with the entity who made the RFP?
  • How likely are we to awarded this opportunity?

If after answering these questions you decide to pursue it, the next step would be to carefully read through the RFQ and highlight all of the key things to respond to.

What should I look for in an RFQ?

When reading through a proposal, you want to make sure to look for these major components:

  • A cover form which contains the name and contact information of the soliciting agency, the solicitation number, issue date, due date, and the type of contract it is (federal, city, private, etc.)
  • Services requested will spell out in detail the exact types of services and skills the solicitor is looking for. For example, if the project is aimed at creating a data
  • Project goals and deliverables, especially when it comes to timelines. Often the timeline of an RFP will determine whether or not your community group goes for it. Questions to ask:
  • When is the project expected to start?
  • When do they want the final project by?
  • Can the budget support this timeline?

In our next installation, we will dive more deeply into these different sections of the proposal and provide tips for tackling each section. Stay tuned!