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Federal grant writing tip: Review the review criteria

If you’ve ever sat down to read a federal funding announcement or RFP (request for proposals), you’ve likely had to pry your eyelids open just to get to the last page. These are lengthy, dry documents, and there’s a ton of information to digest.


On the other end of that long list of requirements is a group of grant reviewers who are intimately familiar with the criteria. They’re going to tear your proposal apart, sniffing out every weakness and determining each missing link. Even when you think you’ve mastered the massive RFP, you’re likely still going to be dinged a few points here and there.


The best way to ensure a strong proposal to see the proposal the way a grant reviewer would is to review the review criteria. Federal grant RFPs usually come with a rubric of some sort that outlines the points assigned for meeting various criteria. You should view the rubric as an important part of the RFP, even though it’s often not part of the main document.


The review criteria often detail extra requirements that aren’t explicitly stated in the original RFP a frustrating but realistic situation. So review the review criteria carefully, commit it to memory, refer back to it as you’re writing, and use it as a checklist when you’re finalizing for submission.


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