Whenever a solicitation is released by a government or private entity, a program officer is nominated to act as the point of contact for any questions applicants may have. All applicants should read the solicitation thoroughly and make notes of any clarifications needed. The program officer can supply this clarification and ensure the proposal meets the stated guidelines. Proposals that do not meet guidelines are often denied before they ever have a chance to be reviewed. This is why it is critically important to reach out to the program officer to receive confirmation that all necessary steps are being followed to craft a competitive proposal.
Letters of Intent
Another very important reason to get in touch with the program officer prior to creating the proposal is that many solicitations require a letter of intent as a precursor to submitting a full proposal. When dealing with solicitations that require this additional step, all proposals that fail to submit a letter of intent will be deemed “unsolicited” and will not be reviewed. If you are unsure as to whether or not your funding opportunity requires a letter of intent, it is wise to ask the program officer for clarification.
It is helpful to have a designated contact person to reach out to for FAQ when needed. Sending an initial email to the program officer before beginning the application process is a great way to build rapport and acquaint yourself with a point person who can answer your proposal questions. In addition to direct questions, it can also be helpful to ask the program officer questions about the sponsor’s needs and mission so the proposal can be tailored to these specific needs. An initial conversation with the program officer can help determine if the idea or product being researched is relevant to the solicitation or if it is best to pursue other funding opportunities.
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