Every grant writer has their own process for keeping track of what grant applications are due, funders that they have made contact with, and next steps. There is no right or wrong way to create a grants calendar. In this blog post, I’ll simply give you some research links to review and offer a sentence or two about why I think the information will help you decide how you want to plot your 2016 grants calendar.
Why do you need to set up your 2016 grants calendar?
When the New Year begins, we are all coming back to work after a few days or weeks away from our email, office meetings, and tasks-at-hand for January. I know that I start January off in a "How can I possibly catch up or get a handle on this?" mode. Instead of regressing to an adrenaline-filled fight-or-flight mode, let’s get a plan together—a visual plan with spreadsheets and calendar alerts. A plan that is shared with our grant-focused staff or clients is truly the most effective way to approach major projects and assign tasks.
How can you get started on plotting your 2016 grants calendar?
I found some great websites with resources to help you decide what’s going to work for you and/or your employer and clients. The following article by Kerri Drumm outlines the 9 steps to creating a grant calendar: http://nonprofit.about.com/od/writingagrantproposal/fl/10-Steps-to-Creating-a-Grant-Calendar.htm
When I first read this article, I found it really helped me to focus on what to do first, second, third, and so forth. One of this steps that I did not consider was having multiple spreadsheet templates to manage grant-related research, findings, contacts, deadlines, and associated tasks. Kerri’s article has valuable links to examples of spreadsheet templates.
Some major questions that I ask of my clients during our end-of-year brainstorming meetings are:
- What is our funding goal for grant awards in 2016?
- What new funders can we start developing relationships with in order to request funding by the third or fourth quarters of 2016?
- Do you have contacts via our board members or otherwise with any program staff or board members at the potential funders we’ve identified?
- What do we apply for annually? Can we apply again next year, and what do you want to ask for based on each funder’s newly published grant making priorities?
- What are our hard deadlines for the first quarter of 2016?
- What funders have rolling deadlines?
- What funder-related networking meetings should we be attending?
- How does everything we’re planning to plot on our 2016 grant seeking calendar align with our long-range strategic plan?
- Are there any red flags? In other words, did we miss submitting any close-out reports for grants that were funded late last year or this year? How will this impact us in asking for funding from these grant makers in 2016?
- Can we effectively and efficiently manage our grant research, grant maker networking, grant writing, and grant reporting tasks with only our current staff or with a short-term consulting contract?
The answers to these questions really drives the 2016 grants calendar. Remember, your grants calendar is not just about deadlines, but also about meetings, reporting, and the initial groundwork required when courting a new potential funder.
In closing, I’d just like to leave this thought with you: Don’t let the grants push you into a reactive mode. Be proactive and know what tasks are ahead and how to best manage those tasks to prevent stress, burnout, and missed grant submission deadlines.