This post originally appeared on Assel Grant Service's blog in January of 2019.
Even if your organization operates like a well-oiled machine, having a master grant calendar is a helpful tool when it comes to writing grants and managing the process and meeting deadlines. If your organization sees writing grants as daunting and complex, then a realistic grant calendar is a necessity to help you allocate your resources to the best prospects and improve your chances of funding.
Of course, everyone has unique tools that work for them in terms of becoming and staying organized. While the tools can differ, a calendar is a common denominator. Developing and following grant calendars have helped Assel Grant Services win more than $135 million in funding for our local, regional and national clients since 2003.
Based on our real-world experience in grant writing for nonprofits, school districts, and institutions of higher education that seek funding for programs in areas such as human services, arts, education, and healthcare research, our team is sharing our best tips on how we create realistic grant calendars for our clients.
1. The most realistic grant calendars are based on research and relationships. Create a list of high-quality prospects, ones with whom you already have relationships and are most likely to award funding to a particular organization or program. Rank those prospects from zero (least likely) to six (most likely) based on geography, previous success, and funder priorities.
2. With prospects ranked, use their hard deadlines to populate the calendar first, then add their rolling deadlines.
3. To evaluate which rolling deadlines to choose, look at when the funder will award the grant. For example, if money is needed to open the school year, make certain deadlines are in the spring. If money is needed by January 1, verify that the award is made by November.
4. In the event that your organization has more prospects than can fit on your calendar, add the highest ranked ones to the calendar first. Those are followed by the prospects with whom you have the best chance for building a personal relationship.
5. Keep in mind that most individual grant writers can write between eight and 10 foundation grants per month, perhaps a few more if the grants are letter proposals. If your organization is writing government grants your grant professional will need to have fewer deadlines on his or her plate, as these take a lot longer.
It helps to include all interim and final report deadlines on your grant calendar to truly understand the grant writer’s and your workload in any given month.
6. If you have more prospects and work than your current grant staff can handle, consider hiring a grant consultant to help you with overflow in the busiest months. These busy months may be due to grant deadlines. Or, if your development staff members are writing the grants, these busy months may be when your organization is preparing for its annual major event.