Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Avoid Grant Application Mistakes using Replacement Piles

Working alone on grants created anxiety that I would leave something out when assembling a complex grant application. Nobody was there to double check my work so I needed a way to minimize the possibility that I’d forget a required piece of a grant.  Relying on memory or luck to get everything put together was not an option, I needed a system.

Experienced grant writers know that deadline day can be a bit frenetic, especially if you’re writing multiple proposals. The blizzard of paper and the press of time can cause high anxiety and the possibility to overlook some crucial detail is always lurking in the back of your mind. Many things can go wrong that you can’t avoid but assembling a complete application does not have to be one of them.

To solve my problem and reduce last minute anxiety, I created s simple system I’ve called a replacement pile. The replacement pile is a just a stack of scratch paper on which I’ve written in bold, colored marker - in capital letters spanning the blank side of each page - the titles of every piece of what will be a completed grant application. A separate page is used for each section, form, etc.; hence, there will be one for the abstract, one for the table of contents, one for the narrative, and so on.

After I’ve created the replacement pile I place a copy of the Request for Proposals (RFP) checklist on top of it which I will use as my fail-safe double-check-off process to ensure that the replacement pile, once fully replaced, contains everything that the grant maker is requiring in the application. I also put a copy of the transmittal instructions on top of the pile so on the last day I am not paging through the RFP to find them, as Forest Gump so famously said, “One less thang.”

The way I use the replacement pile is simple. As a piece of the grant is completed, or as forms signed by the client are received, I pull the paper with the title of that component out of the pile and insert the finished piece of the grant. When all the scrap papers are replaced the pile the grant is ready to duplicate. Before going to the copier, I page through this original grant application using the RFP check list as a final review to ensure it is complete.

After photocopying the grant, I look through each duplicate copy to make sure that the demon copy machine didn’t suck two pages through as one and secretly sabotage my duplicate copies (copy machines can be cold and stealthy saboteurs). Since I almost always add consecutive numbering to each page in my grants (unless forbidden in the RFP) I just have to page through the completed copies to ensure there are no numbers missing.

My deceptively simple replacement piles force me to follow a process that has helped me avoid ever having a grant rejected for lack of required components.  Maybe the system will work for you too!

Related Posts:
5 Mistakes that can Cost Lose Millions of Dollars in Grant Applications
Tips for Preparing Grants with Short Deadlines
Success is in the Details

No comments:

About Creative Resources & Research

My photo
Woodland, CA, United States
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.