When I first started grant writing I was a little surprised at what a chaotic mess it turned out to be. The executive director I was working for only gave me the budget for her program minutes before the grant was due. Often, I was given a few days to accomplish work which probably should have required months of planning and careful thought.
At first, I blamed my bad luck. Perhaps I was just unlucky at finding work with nonprofit agencies that matched my high standards for preparation and planning? Later on, however, I noticed that it did not seem to matter whether or not I was working for a quality institution. I ran into last minute difficulties even when I was working for myself.
Ultimately, I figured out that the real reason why grant writing take place in last minute stressful conditions is that the funders wanted it that way.
Truthfully, if they wanted to make our lives easier they could. They could give us sample grants to review. They could all work off of the same common, on-line grant application. They could provide us with their deadlines long in advance and make things easier for us by spending money for their staff to work with grant applicants.
Instead, they tend to treat grant writers were the sort of remarkable disdain, in large measure, because they want to reduce the number of applications they have to read. This is why they suffer no penalties for producing poorly written requests for proposals or by establishing arcane, unnecessary and often difficult to understand application requirements.
After it became clear to me that I was going to always be writing grants under stressful conditions, the standard recommendations of the grant-writing literature became much more exciting for me to understand and follow. That is because the standard recommendations only makes sense if you realize that you need to conduct yourself with utmost efficiency, particularly if you want to make a living as a grant writer or as an independent grant writing consultant.
For example, one of the most important tasks of any grant writer is to assemble their grantsmanship center. This is a centralized location where they keep all the most important documents and paperwork needed for applying win grants. This includes the standard documentation required by most funders including your mission statement, IRS determination letter, and resumes for your staff.
Finally, it does pay to anticipate the upcoming deadlines for your various grant applications, even those that have not yet been spelled out by the funders. It is important to calendar your upcoming deadlines so that you can begin the necessary perforation long before the deadline. I have also found that it makes a lot of sense to use voice recognition software to speed up the grant writing process. I will discuss the use of technology in grant writing in the next newsletter.