Don’t Let Your Grant Proposal Time Slip Away!

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    One of the most precious commodities in any government grant proposal effort is the amount of time you have to conceptualize, develop, produce, and deliver your proposal. For many nonprofit organizations, time slips away too easily.

    Phases of Grant Proposal Development

    There is a good four-phase rule-of-thumb that can be applied to grants, each phase representing 25 percent of the needed time:
     •  Phase I: grant guidelines analysis, proposal strategizing, planning, and outlining.
     •  Phase II: proposal writing and illustration.
     •  Phase III: proposal review and revision.
     •  Phase IV: proposal finalization, edit, packaging, and delivery.

    Address the Problem of Slippage
    There is usually, however, some slippage from one phase to another and, to address the problem of slippage, I recommend that you do the following:
     •  Do some tasks in Phase I before the release of the grant guidelines.
     •  Do some tasks more quickly.
     •  Add more proposal staff to do the work, if possible.
     •  Overlap tasks so that they can be done simultaneously rather than serially.

    If you have to cut corners, there are three realistic steps that you should take:
     First, you can group tasks into one of three categories:
       (1) Tasks that must be done;
       (2) Tasks that would be good to do; and,
       (3) Tasks that are not likely to have an impact on the proposal.
     Limit yourself to the most important tasks with the greatest payoff.

     Second, schedule proposal tasks in parallel rather than in sequence to save time.

     And third, relentlessly focus on milestones and delivery.

    Whatever your time constraints, scheduling a grants proposal and finding ways to reach milestones is one of the most important roles of a Proposal Manager. Use the schedule to organize and complete your most essential activities, and if the schedule slips, find ways to finish the essential tasks well to submit a competitive grant application.


    Dr. Jayme Sokolow, founder and president of The Development Source, Inc.,
    helps nonprofit organizations develop successful proposals to government agencies. Contact Jayme Sokolow.