Over the last few months, we have discussed the seven steps needed to find, research, and write successful grant applications. As a reminder, the steps include:
- Finding a problem in your school that needs correcting,
- Developing a solution to the problem,
- Finding a grant that fits your situation,
- Confirming that you are eligible for that grant,
- Gathering the application and all the data you will need to complete your grant application,
- Actually completing the application, and
- Getting your application to the grantor by the grant’s deadline
The last one, getting your application to the grantor on deadline, is critical. I have seen beautiful grant application packages thrown out because they didn't arrive on time. Months of hard work go out the window. With many foundations and federal grants, there is only one opportunity in a year to apply. Those applicants now must wait a year to try again. If it's due by 5:00 Eastern Standard Time on Friday, they mean it. No exceptions, no excuses. Be sure you review how the application must be submitted—electronically or in the mail? Federal grants have always had a secure portal for applications. It has always been (in my experience) a tortuous experience; give yourself plenty of time to learn how to use the digital application process. You will get frustrated; take a deep breath, you'll get there.
But it's like many things with grants, the devil is in the details. By now, if you've followed through the first 6 steps, this one will be so ingrained in your thinking that it will be no problem. Right?
With the potential for emergencies in mind, you should always set a deadline for completing your grant application a minimum of one week before it is due. Even a week will not guarantee that a mailed application will arrive on time. You also need to be absolutely certain whether the deadline the grantor established refers to the postmark on the application or the date when the application must reach the grantor’s office. If you do not know that information, call or email the grant’s contact person to make certain. If the U.S. Postal Service is the conduit, be sure to send things certified mail, return receipt. The extra cost will be well worth the peace of mind.
For tracking your grant writing projects, you might want to buy a big wall easel to capture all your brainstorming, thinking webs, dates etc., They have them at Discount School Supply®. Check out the Colorations® Wall Easel.
The first grant application you write is always the most difficult. Eventually you will be so good at it that the steps are automatic. But when you become good at this, you will be a hero, and that's obviously a good thing!