Yes! Post an RFP or Hold a Competition

  • When a grantmaking organization plans to enter an unfamiliar field, or one in which the grantees are not well known, a competition may help generate a flow of new organizations and ideas.
  • When the program initiative needs to expand participation by moving away from old networks, reaching out to a new set of organizations, or encouraging new ideas, a competition can attract interest from beyond the usual boundaries.
  • If it is very important to set a level playing field where applicants see the selection process as fair — say, if the field is highly competitive or past choices have been regarded as too political—a formal competition can make the process more transparent and even-handed.
  • The RFP can be a mechanism to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals. Those organizations that respond to an RFP become a cohort that is more easily studied by those working in the field.
  • If part of the program’s strategy is to exercise leadership — for example, to encourage a field to move in a particular direction — a competition may be an instrument both for announcing that push and for implementing it. The competition may also help to attract attention and/or resources to a field or a group of institutions.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Using Competitions & RFPs.