Ideally, we would love to take the time to put together a grant application in a methodical, orderly manner that includes a compelling narrative with statistics and relevant reference resources. Unfortunately, in many cases we don’t have the amount of time we would like to complete a funding request.
It’s more likely that you found the perfect grant for your program and the submission deadline is a week away. If that’s not enough, the bookkeeper is on vacation, your calendar is overbooked already, and the program manager is out of the office on family leave.
Panic sets in and you rush through the application – often missing critical points,underselling the value of your program, and not fully addressing what the funder is asking for. You need a plan and this article offers strategies that will work not only for the short-notice deadlines, but for those applications with longer lead times, too.
First, use the funder guidelines as your proposal outline. That is, create a checklist from their submission requirements. List all of the elements such as the number of copies you need to submit, the required support documents, financial statements, project budget, etc.. Highlight those items that are more difficult to obtain and get them first.
Next, Delegate parts of the grant application to team-members or others in your organization who are familiar with the program or specific project. You also want to quickly identify who has access to documentation you need to include as part of the submission. For example, the office administrator would pull all supporting documentation, the bookkeeper would supply the financial statements, the program manager might answer several of the questions in the narrative section, etc.
Finally, there are parts of your narrative that should be standard “copy and paste” items. You should already have an organizational history from previous grant applications. A program description is most likely already used in program literature and promotional materials. These can also be delegated to others to review and update as necessary and can be easily incorporated into the final proposal.
Utilizing these tips will help lessen the stress of deadlines and increase the quality of your proposal. Remember, if you have a solid program that creates value for those you serve make sure that value stands out and is supported by all of the documentation, facts, and figures included in the funding application.