Avoid Deadline Creep – Use a Grant Calendar

Summer is winding down, but the grant season is just getting started.  Now’s the time to get yourself organized so you don’t miss out on grant opportunities that come along in the coming year.  One tool you can use is a grant calendar.

It’s not a new concept – nothing magical – nothing I created.  Just a simple tool to manage grant deadlines.  I’ve outlined a few steps you can follow to get started.

  1. Decide Who and How Many.

Before you create a calendar, consider who will have access to it.  And, if that list includes more than one person, will they be allowed to edit the calendar content or merely view/print it?

  1. Choose a Format.

Choose a format that is easy for assigned personnel to use.  Will you use a dry-erase wall calendar?  Or create a monthly calendar—either a hard copy or stored on a network?  I suggest you consider the level of computer literacy among the people who will have access to the grant calendar.  Whenever you establish a new process, it’s important to keep it as simple as possible.  Otherwise, you create unnecessary barriers.

If you use an electronic calendar format, and if more than one person is authorized to edit the content, consider using an application such as Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook that is designed for multiple users.  An alternative is to create a calendar in Microsoft Word and store it on Google Docs or a similar platform.

  1. Enter Grant Deadlines.

If you received one or more grants in the past year, insert any deadlines associated with submitting program and expenditure reports.  If you’re eligible to re-apply, also insert those deadlines.  Sometimes, funders require current grantees to wait a specified amount of time before applying for future funding.  Be sure to note on the calendar the earliest date you may re-apply.

If a funder has no deadline, be strategic about scheduling your own submission date.  Consider how often the funder meets, when they make final funding decisions, and how soon you need the funding.

Some grant cycles include multiple phases such as a letter of inquiry or pre-application followed by an invitation to submit a full proposal.  I suggest you insert the deadlines for both phases—if the information is available—to enable you to plan ahead.

I also recommend you plan ahead by considering events or staff-intensive activities such as training or a fiscal audit that may hinder you from applying for grants.  In those cases, don’t skip grant opportunities that coincide with those periods.  Work well ahead of the grant deadline and submit early.

  1. Keep it Simple.

Avoid cluttering the calendar with details that can be organized in a different format.  Limit the grant calendar to submission deadlines and other key dates.  For example, I maintain a funder list that includes contact info, application instructions, and other funder-specific details.  As I identify prospective funders, I add them to my funder list and insert their deadlines into the grant calendar.

  1. Establish a Process for Reviewing and Updating.

Of course, all your work will be for naught if you create a grant calendar and don’t actually use it.  So, schedule a regular time to review and update the grant deadlines until the process becomes a part of your routine.  Or, better yet, delegate that task to a volunteer or staff member.

Looking Ahead

My next GrantSpeak post will focus on the discernment process and several factors to consider when deciding if you should or should not apply for a grant.

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