We've been in the proposal business for quite some time. As the Fall proposal season ramps up (lots of agencies and organizations have to give out money before the fiscal year is over), we thought it would be a good time to discuss what sinks proposals:
1. Waiting until the last minute to submit
Any number of things can go wrong at the last minute--often you need to be pre-registered with the funding entity to even be able to submit your proposal-so we encourage early submissions when possible.
2. Not lining up references and solid letters of support
Letters of support from key community stakeholders can go a long way. These take time to obtain-make sure you have the right people on board!
3. Wrong/unrealistic budgets
Funders want to know that you know how to use their money in efficient and appropriate ways. Make sure your budget accurately reflects your priorities and costs.
4. No/poorly designed data management/evaluation plan
We live in an "evidence-based" world. If the evaluation plan is not well thought out and thin on details, it can make your organization look like it's not well established and unconcerned with results.
5. Not correctly understanding the competition
It's important to know who your competitors are-- are you competing against an incumbent? A wide open field? You'll want to adjust the narrative accordingly.
6. Wrong/Incomplete Attachments
Many proposal require multiple attachments. Make sure you have an accurate up-to-date list.
We can help avoid these pitfalls! Getting funding for your organization is our main business. Let us help you so that you can focus on your organization's work.