Grant Writing in a Rush? The Benefits of having “Canned” Projects at the Ready

grant writing

You’re grant writing against the clock to submit that proposal before the deadline. You hope that your internet or computer doesn’t crash and that no mistakes or missing information prevent your application from being accepted. What makes it even worse, this isn’t the first time you have found yourself racing to get a grant submitted. The good news is it could be your last time. A few simple changes along with an understanding of how grant timelines and cycles work can help ensure a smoother, less stressful process.

Many grants- federal, provincial, and foundation, operate on cycles. Federal and provincial grants may be one-time, annual, or multi-year grants. Foundations may have one or more application periods per year. Grants may open for short periods or during busy times, leaving applicants with little time to plan, prepare, write, and review the proposal. Learning the funding cycle and application periods for grants of interest is necessary to enable you to apply promptly and budget the time needed to plan and apply when the grant is open.

Knowing the grant cycles along with proactive planning and preparation allows grant applicants to apply on time with less stress and more well-thought-out, accurate, competitive grants, increasing your chances of having an award-winning proposal.

Start by keeping important documents and accounts up to date and in one centralized location. Most grants, especially government grants, ask for the same basic information. Having this information updated and easily accessible will save time and energy at the beginning of the application process. Information such as online registations, tax-exempt identifers and most recent certificate, organizational chart, last annual report and budget, organization mission and vision statements are important to have accessible and updated. Outof-date or expired registrations and information can delay the application process and take weeks to update.

Know what kinds of grants, funders, and projects you are interested in. Cast a smaller, more focused net when searching for grants. This will help you use your limited time to search and apply for grants that specifically meet your needs. Have “canned,” ready-to-go project ideas waiting and fleshed out. These projects should be well thought out and address a specific, unmet need for your area, organization, and demographic. Having a prepared problem statement, place of action, general timeline, budget, staffing plan, and sustainability plan drafted will allow you to focus your search on relevant funders and grant opportunities and start with the framework already in progress allowing you to focus on adding specific information, modifying your information to fit the application, gathering additional documents and information, and reviewing and proofreading the application for completeness, competitiveness, and comprehension. If you have applied for the grant in the past but were not funded, some grantors will allow you to request feedback on your application. This allows you to make any corrections and improvements to re-apply in the future or to use when seeking funds elsewhere.

Gather quotes for your future grant budget, including rough pricing for services, equipment, and hiring.

Keep track of important dates. Make note of renewal/expiration dates for important documents such as your grant registration accounts, tax exemption certificates, etc. Also, make note of estimated posting dates for grants and grant deadlines. Many grants open and close in cycles. Becoming aware of these estimated time frames and making note of them will help you anticipate and look for them each year. You can also subscribe to lists and email notifications for grant postings and forecasts. Once a grant is posted, there is a limited time to apply. Long-standing grants often require similar information and documents from year to year. Knowing the estimated timeframe for the grant application period and gathering information based on what has been historically requested for the grant in advance of the application opening can help ease the stress of the application process and deadlines, especially during busy periods or short application windows.

Grant cycles vary by funders and projects; however, spring and late fall are busier for grants. Using the slower periods throughout the year to prepare, update information, make note
of upcoming important dates, and plan will help reduce stress, focus attention on areas of greatest need and timelines, and improve your ability to apply and produce competitive, wellplanned grant applications. Taking simple, proactive steps and planning can help reduce stress and increase your chances for successful grant applications.