That's right. While you were focused up to this point on all of the work involved in getting the grant, the real work hasn't even started yet. The "real work" is all about turning that vision into reality. It's at this point that you learn some valuable lessons about grant writing, and now is the time to make note of those lessons so you don't have to learn them again, again, and again.
Here are some post-award lessons clients have learned that have helped them to be better grant writers:
- A realistic implementation plan and time line are important. It sounded like a good idea at the time to say that you would get everything going within the first six months of the funding period, but now that you have the money, you understand how impossible that is. It would have been much more helpful to have a realistic plan and time line to begin with.
- Accurate estimation of salary costs can save many headaches later. Many grant writers like to squeeze more room into a tight grant proposal budget by including salaries at the low end of a salary schedule., The problem with that is you rarely hire people at the low end of the schedule. If there isn't enough wiggle room in the budget to be able to cut elsewhere, you can run into some real trouble when you don't have enough money to hire all the people you said you would. It makes more sense to use accurate salary estimates and develop a realistic program from the beginning.
- Planning the goals, objectives, and evaluation activities to fit the funding source's requirements would have been helpful. Doing a little bit of extra homework up front to align your project objectives with the required performance measures of the funding source (if there are any) can save many hours of extra work later. The same goes with evaluation data collection and reporting procedures. If the funding source has some requirements, learn about them before you write the proposal. Then you won't have to be scrambling and revising later.
- Communicating with all of the project partners and stakeholders in the grant development process saves a lot of explaining later. Board members don't like to be surprised by things that are in grant proposals - especially when they are asked about them in the community. Keeping everyone in the loop and involved during the proposal development process saves time and effort later.
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