Time is an important factor for a grant writer.
First is the figuring when to look for grants. I start with when a nonprofit is normally low on cash. I look over the nonprofit’s bank account over the last three years that shows cash flow and I take out unusual events like a natural disaster. Next, I average out the income and expenses on a monthly basis.
There will be times throughout the year when more cash is coming in and expenses are low and vice versa. For example, soup kitchens feed fewer people in November and December when churches provide food. This is also when donations run higher. During the summer, donations are typically down while there are more people to feed with school being out.
Once I establish a cash flow schedule, I mark out six months before cash is needed and look for grant opportunities. Six months is usually how long a foundation takes from a grant deadline to handing out the check.
Second, I create a schedule when grants open and close. I keep it simple by putting the schedule in an MS Excel spreadsheet (I do this for the cash flow, too). Even MS Word is good. Everyone is familiar with Excel and Word and these documents can be sent to anyone because everyone has the software. (Of note, do not use complicated formulas in the spreadsheet.)
This grant schedule tells me when to collect documents, update data, and write the grant. (I always try to finish a week before the grant deadline.)
A cash flow and grant schedule helps me be organized with grants. More importantly, having an easy to read, easy to upkeep, and easily transferable schedule lets everyone be involved in finding and writing grants.
After all, grant writing should be about sharing and managing time together.