If you’ve written grants for a while, you’ve probably experienced it: that sinking feeling when you realize — or your employer tells you — that a grant deadline is just a couple of days away. Sure, the grantmaker publicized it ages ago, but your grant writing program isn’t organized and everything is done at the last minute.
This is a situation I try to avoid at all costs, and it’s actually a fairly quick and easy thing to fix.
When you have some downtime in the grants cycle (usually around mid-summer or near major holidays), take a step back and look at the big picture. You probably have an idea of the grants your organization applied for last year, and chances are you’ll be going after many of the same grants again. Or, if your organization is fairly new to grant writing, you may need to do some prospect research to determine a handful of funding prospects.
The next step is to build a grants calendar. There’s a lot of different software out there for this, and perhaps your donor database software is tied to some sort of funding calendar, but I think the best — and easiest — way to get started is to use Google Drive and build a spreadsheet. You can share this document with your grant writing team, or even your entire organization if it’s necessary.
I always label the first column “Month,” and list out each month of the year. From there, I breakdown every grant opportunity I want to apply for and assign it to a specific month. Sometimes that’s based on the application deadline; I spread out grants with open application processes evenly throughout the year.
And that’s really all there is to it! Taking some time to make a calendar, whatever your process is, will make your grant writing life so much easier. Trust me.