In many cases, by the time you get approval to submit a proposal, you may have 2 or 3 weeks until the deadline. Under those conditions, submitting a quality application can seem impossible, but it’s not. Here are some tips to help you make it through a big application with a short timeline.
1. Read the instructions completely – before you do anything else. If you have followed my grant writing advice on this blog, the website, twitter, or my BlogTalkRadio show, it seems like you hear me say the say thing over and over again – read and follow the instructions. It’s always important, but when you have little time between when you start the process and when the grant is due, it’s even more important to read the instructions thoroughly from the start. Every day matters, and you really don’t want to find out three days before the deadline that you need letters of support or that the Intent to Apply (due three weeks ago) was required. Trust me on this. Take the time to read the whole RFP start to finish before you do anything else.
2. Make a list of information you’ll need from partners as you are reading the RFP or very soon afterward. Your partners will be able to respond to your needs more quickly if you give them a checklist that they can easily follow. When you have 30-45 days to work, you can develop that list collaboratively, but with a deadline of 2 weeks or less, you simply don’t have the time.
3. Get the partners together quickly to agree on a program design. You can do this through an in-person meeting or a conference call, but assemble as many of the project partners as quickly as possible so you can reach agreement quickly on a project design.
4. If letters of support or Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) are needed, start gathering the as soon as you have decided on a program design. In a normal grant development process, you have the luxury of developing the narrative first, but when the process is accelerated, you need to develop narrative and gather letters concurrently.
5. Develop a budget and the program design at the same meeting, if possible. People usually want to walk away from the program design meeting to work on the budget later, but it will be very helpful to you if you are able to agree on the budget – at least in general terms – at the same time that you talk about the project design. Try putting up some butcher paper and sketching the budget as the design conversation progresses.
Preparing a large grant application in 2 weeks or less can be a challenge. These tips can help make the task a little easier.