Proposal and Grant Applications

Lesson 3: Complete Risk Assessment

20150314_024032At this point, we have reviewed how your organization should gather intelligence on potential funders and investors, as well as on current and future grant or proposal applications. We have also discussed different methodologies for approaching potential funders and investors, and how your organization should tailor its presentations to each individual funder. This section will focus on how your organization should determine whether to invest in a particular grant or proposal opportunity.

Typically, funders and investors issue a written request to solicit proposals in a competitive, transparent manner for interested and qualified parties. These requests come out through different funding mechanisms, which are defined in the table below.


Concept Paper /Expressions of Interest (EOI)

  • Summary of a project that reflects the interests, experience and expertise of the organization to address a particular issue or problem
  • Donors sometimes use it as a pre-qualification process to later request a full proposal
  • Can be a marketing tool to present your organization to private sector funders
Request for Proposals (RFP)

  • Competitive process for issuing an award to an organization that will implement a program/project to address a particular issue or problem
  • This is a contract
Request for Applications (RFA)

  • Similar to RFPs, but sometimes they are required to be submitted along with certain formats or application templates
  • This is similar to a grant
Request for Quotations (RFQ) Competitive process  of issuing an award to bidders when the organization is buying a specific service or product
Public Private Partnerships (PPP)A collaborative initiative that combines resources from the public sector with resources from the private sector to accomplish a specific goal
Annual Program Statement (APS)The APS is a means for disseminating information to prospective applicants so that they may develop and submit applications for USAID funding.
Grand Challenges for Development Initiative (GCDI)GCDI grants are disbursed by USAID for the purposes of defining problems, identifying constraints, and providing evidence based analysis and systematized solutions.

These requests usually provide detailed information about the products, services and/or programs the funder wishes applicants to offer in a specific geographic region.

It is not very realistic or cost effective for an organization to invest time and resources on every procurement that a funder releases. Organizations should be strategic about how they use existing resources to develop new business.

Your organization should consider the following factors before pursuing a particular procurement:

  • The degree the procurement aligns with your organization's mission and vision
  • The degree of interest for your organization in region/zone
  • The degree of interest in the technical area or approach
  • The degree of interest in the funder

  • The likelihood of successful implementation
  • The likelihood of leading to other new opportunities
  • The impact on other current and/or future projects

While some procurements may be riskier investments than others, your organization should weigh the costs and benefits to every procurement. There may be times when it is opportune for your organization to invest in a high-risk procurement. For example, investing in a high-risk procurement may be worthwhile if it provides an opportunity for your organization to work or familiarize itself with a new funder.

Working with a new funder helps an organization diversify its funding streams and potentially bring more business to the organization. 

Risk Assessment

Each organization should have a method for measuring the costs and benefits (or risk) of a procurement.

This I-Kit provides organizations with a suggested methodology for assessing the risk of a procurement.

Opportunity Risk Assessment Tool

Instructions: To assist you in conducting a new business opportunity assessment, the following checklist has been created to help you determine the organization's capacity to successfully develop and compete for a particular new business opportunity. As you go through the tables, a score is automatically generated at the bottom of the page.

  1. Assuming you have several new business development opportunities at a given time, for which there are limited resources, run each of the potential opportunities through the scan. You must provide evidence to support the ranking you assign.
  2. Put an "X" (upper- or lowercase) in the appropriate column for each section.
  3. After you have completed the checklist, the final Overall Assessment Table at the bottom of the page will show scores for each of the variables. Use these scores to determine whether or not the new business opportunity is worth pursuing.

Stakeholder Commitment

Once your organization has selected which procurements it will pursue, it is critical that everyone within your organization be committed to investing the time and resources required to develop a successful proposal. With the results from the opportunity assessment, the resource mobilization team should then go to your organization’s stakeholders to secure organizational commitment for the opportunity.

Stakeholder’s Commitment Worksheet

Instructions: Read and complete the following steps.

1.  Call a meeting with your organization's stakeholders, including board members and representatives from the management committee.

2.  Make the strongest argument you can in support of the procurement you chose to pursue. To back up your argument, share with them:

The findings from the opportunity risk assessment

Data from your intelligence gathering about the procurement, funder and potential competitors

3.  After presenting your work, lead a discussion with the stakeholders to determine the resource commitment required to develop a response proposal for the procurement. Once you secure commitment from your stakeholders you should begin to develop the proposal.


Please login to get access to the quiz
Lesson 2: Approach Funders and Investors (Prev Step)
(Next Step) Lesson 4: Analyze a Solicitation
Back to Proposal and Grant Applications

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *