Thursday, July 1, 2010

Deadlines are Like Burritos

Most people work better with a deadline. I find that not having a deadline only means that I re-prioritize my work so that tasks with a deadline get pushed to the front of the list while the tasks without a deadline are always getting pushed aside. Some of those no-deadline tasks are years old. Like the blue spray paint and sand paper I bought two years ago to refinish some folding wooden chairs – which, to date are not sanded or blue.

We recently had a grant with a published deadline, and then - about 72 hours before the deadline - the agency declared that the deadline was being extended indefinitely, but would be reset sooner than later. So naturally, right after breathing a sigh of relief, panic set in.

Having no deadline for a grant is unnatural. It’s like a burrito without a tortilla. A tortilla wraps up all the ingredients together nice and neat, like a deadline wraps all the work up together. A grant without a deadline is just a tostada. It’s a pile of lettuce, cheese, meat, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, all piled up on your desk. What do you do with it? There’s simply no neat, easy way to finish it.

A grant without a deadline is just a mess. It’s narrative that’s never going to be finished because writing is never done anyway. It’s a budget that’s going to be constantly tinkered with because the more you change the narrative, the more you’ll have to change the budget. And, it’s all going to get pushed aside anyway by other emerging deadlines.

I like having a deadline. It gives you something to wrap up your project in, like a canole shell; but I guess I shouldn’t mix my grant-as-food metaphors.


Related posts from non-profit consultant and expert grant writer, Derek Link:

Grants Are Like Box Lunches

Some Grants Are Like Peanut Butter

Grants Are Like Sausage

Grants Are Like Donuts


Don't Forget! You can learn grant writing online at our Online Learning Center.


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Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.