This is the fourth and final blog in the “hidden requirements” series. To recap quickly: The main take-away from Part One would be to check carefully for requirements you must meet in order to apply. Part Two cautioned to watch out for “wired” requests for proposals (RFPs)—that is, RFPs that favor certain candidates. Part Three described some frequently overlooked compliance requirements such as financial capacity, organizational structure, and required certifications.
Part Four provides another round of compliance requirements that must be met after you’ve gotten funding. When you are working on a proposal, be alert for reporting, evaluation, and other follow-up requirements that might put an undue strain on your agency. At the same time, keep in mind that any required interaction with the funding agency is also an opportunity to build a strong, positive relationship that enhances your chances of future grant funding.
Funding agencies, especially those in the social services arena, often want to assure that you’re reaching a broad population. To do this, they may require reports on the populations served, broken down by several demographics. Some of the most common are race, ethnicity (not the same as race), age, socio-economic status, gender, geography, education, and profession. Level of involvement in the proposed program is another common reporting requirement. Some funding agencies also expect longitudinal data, that is, data on impact months or years after an initial contact. Example: how many high-schoolers who took supplemental instruction on reading skills went to college?
Collecting such data may incur a burden you are not equipped to bear. If you hold a public yoga workshop, for example, you may need each participant to complete a form providing the required information. Most participants will not want to bother, and some may not be sure what to record. Youth will not necessarily know information such as family income level. Workers may wonder whether to put their home zip code or work zip code, and so forth.
Once forms are filled out, they must be compiled and summarized. The task of data entry is not trivial for programs involving many participants. The task of summarizing the data for reports can also be non-trivial. You need staff, time, access to data, and some technical skills.
The main point here:
The award may impose an obligation you can’t realistically meet, or one that requires enough effort to make the award not worthwhile.
Evaluation requirements are an extension of reporting requirement. They are different, however, in that you have some control of them when writing the proposal. When developing an application, you want to propose an Evaluation Plan that is within your ability to carry out. It’s all too easy to propose an evaluation that entails some tasking or access to data that is not apparent on the surface.
Yet another potential “gotcha”: the requirement for an outside evaluator. Some funding agencies stipulate that the applicant hire an independent evaluator to conduct the project’s evaluation. If so, you have the additional task of identifying potential vendors and obtaining accurate pricing data from them for the proposal budget.
Followup: Publicity and Documentation
Be alert for requirements to recognize the funding agency in public documents. The typical difficulty here is making sure that the people producing public documents are aware of the proposal requirements.
It’s always important to build the relationship with a funding agency. Award requirements are a good place to start, but usually not all you can do to keep in the funders’ good graces. The blog on Grant Stewardship provides many additional ways to foster strong rapport. You may want to review this blog occasionally after receiving an award.
If you’d like a second opinion on the viability of a particular opportunity, we can help. Browse to our online store and scroll down to the Single, Specific Opportunity Review.