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What to do Before it is 11:59 pm on the Day the Grant is Due?

For those who work in deadline-driven environments, we are constantly trying to outpace our deadlines. There are so many factors that can impact our ability to complete high-quality deliverables on time, within budget and meeting specific standards. Contrary to the Rolling Stones, time is not always on our side. So, what do we do when we don't have the luxury of time and you have to submit a grant by 11:59 pm EST?

  1. Phone a friend – Even though we all work independently, there are ways in which we can include other individuals in the process. Is there an ally or resource who can support you in completing the work? This person can be someone in finance, development, operations or even an external partner if you are working on a collaborative proposal. Also, this person can help with final copy editing and preparation of materials, should printing we required.
  2. Checklist – Sometimes an application package will have a detailed list of the application components, but if not, have you prepared a list of all the items that you need to complete? Also, will you be able to determine whether you have access to the materials or need to gather them from other resources? Some components in a checklist may include a list of required attachments, list of optional attachments, and elements of a style guide (formatting, page limits, acronyms, font size and type, rules of grammar). You should indicate the status of each one and keep track of additional items that may be forthcoming or missing entirely.
  3. Reuse and recycle – When we prepare applications for submission, you do not always start from scratch. To this end, do you have materials that you can leverage from other documents that you have previously developed? There is no need to reinvent the wheel if you have approved content and updated information, especially if the application(s) that used this information was/were successfully awarded.
  4. Version control – What system do you use to ensure that applicable feedback is captured and you have the most recent version of an application narrative? Some systems that work well include Microsoft Teams, GoogleDocs, Dropbox, SharePoint and a host of others that allow for multiple users. This is especially important when developing collaborative proposals with external partners who work at different locations.  

While this may not help you for a fast-moving deadline tomorrow, make sure you include a reminder when planning for upcoming fiscal year activities. It may save you time in the future. Best of luck in trying to beat the clock!
What are your favorite items to include in an application checklist?
Rachel Werner is the Owner and CEO of RBW Strategy, LLC and provides grants and project management consulting support to nonprofits, government and business entities.