How to Avoid Last Minute Grant Applications

The deadline was announced 60 days ago; you have known that your department wanted to apply for 45 of those 60 days, yet all work on the application is happening 10 days before deadline. Or worse yet, 48 hours before the deadline! Colleagues are stressing to provide the requested information in such a short time period. Your work day is extended trying to get the application complete. Your stress


The deadline was announced 60 days ago; you have known that your department wanted to apply for 45 of those 60 days, yet all work on the application is happening 10 days before deadline. Or worse yet, 48 hours before the deadline! Colleagues are stressing to provide the requested information in such a short time period. Your work day is extended trying to get the application complete. Your stress level is higher than normal due to the pressure to complete the application, and your caffeine consumption is likely increasing as well.

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone. That story, and many variations like it, are happening in government departments across the country as we speak. The staff who are passionate about the end result of the potential grant funding are spending long days and setting other duties aside in order to get an application submitted.

Not all government departments are fortunate enough to have a grant professional available either as an employee or a contractor to assist with the grant applications. That leaves the frontline staff, such as the sheriff or the supervising forensic specialist, to take the charge and get a grant application completed in order to secure resources for their department.

You, the frontline staff, wear numerous hats in your role, and while grant writing may be one that you have to wear this time, it’s not typically your first priority. Implementing grant seeking best practices in the midst of other priorities for the department may be a luxury (of sorts) that you don’t have the time for given your other critical duties. However, for the sake of having the strongest change to be competitive in any grant seeking process, for your hours of time spent on a grant application to stand the strongest chance of being successful, you should think about how to create and implement a pre-planning process for grant applications based on what you’re able to anticipate using federal (or state) forecasts and budgets.

Ask yourself, who should be part of application discussions for our organization? Bringing the full team together as early in the discussion as possible when identifying a new grant opportunity will help disseminate that workload for information gathering and also likely engage other colleagues to help you with final review prior to submission.

There are numerous grant seeking best practices to consider adopting in your department to avoid the stress and pressure of last minute grant applications. The first step to try? A simple trick to take the pressure off yourself and your colleagues is setting false internal deadlines to give more room for the process the next time you look at a grant application. Your colleagues and your personal stress level will thank you.

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