Clarify Any Questions About the Guidelines Before You Start Writing
Do not begin filling out application materials until you have read every page thoroughly and are certain that you understand what the funder is requiring of you. Hundreds of non-profit organizations lose out on money every year because they fail to follow the directions exactly. (see Reasons Proposals Get Rejected) Do not be afraid to contact the foundation's program officer (unless the guidelines clearly indicate otherwise) with any and all questions. However, be certain that you have prepared specific questions in advance so that you appear organized and efficient and you do not leave a bad impression. The program officer can become your best advocate if they believe you are sincere and will present an organized, well-planned proposal.
This is where your colleagues and friends in other agencies can be of great help to you. If the guidelines request a form or use language you are unfamiliar with, then you need to clarify what these mean before you start the proposal. Listservs and newsgroups can help with this as well. Grantwriters are almost always willing to help each other in the search for funding.