Introduction: Why Grants and Bids Matter
Author Victor Frankl writes,
“Despite the crumbling traditions, life holds a meaning for each and every individual, and even more it retains this meaning literally until his last breath.1” (Frankl, 1969 p. ix)."
Like Frankl’s understanding of life, grant and bids proposals have a deep and profound meaning. An effective proposal can change the lives of many people. It can pull people and organizations out of poverty and set a course for economic security and generational wealth creation. Proposals have meaning because they represent the essence of the organization breathed on the written page.
Grants and bids allow your organization to formalize your offerings through a scientific, logical, and monetized approach. They help your organization to reflect and refine its strategic plan, business plan, and long-term vision.
1 Frankl, Victor E. (1969) The Will to Meaning
Evaluations, Metrics, and Data
The process of preparing to write a grant proposal involves everything from collecting and refining the data of previous and current programs to quantifying and presenting that data. This process, though often labor-intensive, gives a nonprofit a better view of the work they are doing and of how the work aligns with the mission of the nonprofit. Evaluations should be a regular part of the nonprofit calendar, but as budgets are cut and resources spread thin, it is hard for smaller nonprofits to hire evaluation staff or consultants. The grant writing process forces nonprofits to establish and keep strong measurable outcomes that directly relate to the needs of clients. While preparing grant proposals and grant reports, I have often found that new information arises that helps nonprofits to improve services and address gaps in service. Grants matter because they require evaluations and evaluations improve the Purpose Proposition of the organization before the grant is even awarded. For bids proposals, evaluation metrics are past performances, team qualifications, and subcontractor agreements that increase the businesses capacity to serve. Funders and agencies are increasingly looking for organizations to partner creatively in order to provide impactful services.
Nonprofits in the contemporary grant marketplace are required to form partnerships with other nonprofits, businesses, or government agencies. These external pressures from funders help organizations to step outside of their comfort zone and form new partnerships that improve the quality, depth, and delivery of services. It is in these innovative partnerships that previously unseen common ground can be identified to help organizations serve target populations through a greater breath of services. Likewise, businesses improve the breath and depth of their offerings by aligning with subcontractors and consultants who strengthen their proposal, thereby improving the Purpose Proposition of the business.
In order to grow a business, it is crucial to embrace the idea of working for the nations largest employer: the government. Bids can help a company grow and provide a greater level of service to the marketplace.
Bids require a business to establish a clear scope of work and plan for deliverables. The bid itself helps the company to streamline its offerings to provide only what the offerer ( or agency making request for proposal) wants. It also helps the business to quickly realize trends in its industry and new expectations for deliverables. Frequent bidding can keep your business ahead of the curve and allows your team time to plan and strategize on a regular basis. When bid proposal are written quickly and haphazardly, they don’t win and give your team a feeling of defeatism. The first 3 to 4 bids will be highly competitive and may not be awarded. However, if you have created a culture of regular bidding with realistic expectations, each bid proposal will become stronger and more competitive. After each non-winning proposal, you should always follow up with the offerer to learn how you can strengthen your bid for future proposals.