Thursday, October 30, 2008

#66: More Grants.Gov Resources for Grant Writers

I've had this update in my draft folder for awhile now. Sorry I haven't published it sooner. This technical stuff is pretty boring, but there's nothing worse than trying to find information about in a hurry, so I push myself to read whatever they send.

By the way, if you haven't used the new Adobe system Federal agencies are now using, allow plenty of time ( an extra day or two) for the upload. Everything went fine as I prepared to upload the last Federal grant I did until I clicked on submit. The system went off into La-la land.

The Help Desk had to walk me through some convoluted tricks to get my application loaded. I wouldn't want to 1) try to reach them and 2) follow the directions while the clock was ticking away.

So, here are some new (well, they were new when I put them into my draft folder mid-September) resources.

New Troubleshooting Tips Webpage Added to has added a troubleshooting tips page as an additional resource for applicants. The new resource concentrates on common troubleshooting issues such as verifying your Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) status, login for E-Business Point of Contact (E-Biz POC) and accessing search results. These troubleshooting tips can help you quickly resolve your technical issues. To visit the troubleshooting tips page

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I like to submit my Federal grants at night when everything is quieter. If you're inclined to do that, too, be aware that the Help Desk closes at 9 pm. When I needed help it was 8:20 pm. The person who helped me was great -- knowledgeable and pleasant. We worked steadily through the secret process (you'll never find it documented anywhere) and finished right at 9 pm.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Give your thanks and a check

Thank you everyone!Image by J.Starr via FlickrThis year Blog Action Day is focused on Poverty (with a capital P). As a grant writer, almost every proposal I write addresses poverty in some way. I hear the stories of poverty from the people on the front lines.

I think Blog Action Day is a fitting time to say thank you for the work my clients, and your clients, do every day to fight poverty. Sometimes it's through job training and work readiness; sometimes through food pantries. Often it's through a combination of community organizing and skill building. Helping people develop a vision for what's possible and find the tools to make it happen.

Often, the people who are fighting poverty -- agency staff -- are on the edge of poverty themselves -- just one or two paychecks away from personal financial disaster. In large part that's because our agencies squeeze so much into the proposals we write. They want to do so much with so little. Unfortunately, it also reflects how we, as a society, value the work that they do.

So, today the blogosphere is focused on poverty. Bloggers are filling the net with ideas about what you can do to fight poverty today. Write a check, feed people, educate yourself -- you can follow what's happening here. But, I'd like you to do something else, as well.

Say thank you to the people you know who do the work of fighting poverty every day. Acknowledge them. Appreciate the personal cost to them for choosing this work over other, more lucrative careers.

Oh yes, write a check for their agency, too.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Unraveling the Mysteries of Grant RFPs

The WriterImage via WikipediaJake Seliger has a guest post on his blog -- really a rant -- about how funders put RFPs together by committee. I thought I'd rant a bit right along side him.

Today I'm finishing up a proposal in response to a government agency-issued RFP and we still don't know whether we should be submitting a one year or two year budget. The Q&A's were posted the Thursday before the Monday-due-date -- 15 days later than their scheduled date for posting answers. They extended the deadline by four days and gave ambiguous answers to the questions.

Two of us combed this RFP to pull out what the agency expects and came up with different lists. The RFP has a section called "Requirements," another called "Expectations," another called"Instructions," and yet another called "How to..." Each adds a bit more or defines things a bit differently.

Jake says, and I couldn't agree more,
This death-by-committee effect isn’t unique to grant writing, but the combination of fear, pompousness, uncertainty, certitude and the like seems to lead to the production of especially unpalatable RFPs, and the nature of bureaucracies make potential reforms difficult to implement. In addition, RFP writers seldom have to respond to the RFPs they produce, or any other RFPs for that matter, and thus don’t understand the kinds of problems we describe.
We do the best we can. When in doubt, I choose what will make my proposal clear and readable. Read Jake's post here.
Inside the Sausage Factory and how the RFP Process leads to Confused Grant Writers: "Inside the Sausage Factory and how the RFP Process leads to Confused Grant Writers"
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