After finding the federal grant for which you think might be a good fit for your organization (see previous blog: How to study a federal RFP to figure out if it is right for you), the next step is to determine who the best people are to work on the grant team and whether the team has enough time to meet and get the grant ready before the deadline.  

So, who should be on your grant team?

1. Program – Who is most likely to be running the program?  Who will supervise this person?  Who is ultimately responsible for the program’s success?  Who will ensure staff buy-in (if this is a new program)?

2. Financial – Who will create the grant budget?  Who will ensure that the grant expenditures are being spent in line with the grant and audit requirements?

3. Data – Who will be gathering the data you will use to show evidence of need?  

4. Evaluation - Who will measure and show evidence of your program’s success when the grant is finished?  Will you have an internal or an external evaluator?

5. Writer – Who will be actually writing the grant?

Most federal grants give you four to six weeks to prepare a grant.  Here is a general grant timeline to help guide you and your team:

1. Week 1 – Bring the team together to give assignments and a timeline of when items are due to the writer.  Typically the writer will tell the team what items are needed based on a comprehensive review of the RFP, the questions that need to be answered and the attachments that need to be provided.  Major items that need to be handled early: Letters of Support or Memorandums of Understanding; Tracking down need data; and Tracking down references for evidenced-based programming.  Hopefully during this initial meeting, the team can decide what the goals, objectives, activities, and outcomes are.  A logic model is very helpful for ensuring they will all align.  

2. Week 2 – Draft One: See what information has come in and what is still missing.  This initial draft is often more of an outline so the team can already start to see the grant coming together.  An initial draft of the budget should also be put together to see what costs are important to the program.

3. Week 3 – Draft Two: All information should be to the writer by now so the writer can focus on putting all of the information into a cohesive narrative.

4. Week 4 – Draft Three: Finalize the budget to make sure the budget narrative doesn’t hold any surprises that are not included in the draft of the narrative.

5. Week 5 – Draft Four (Semi-Final): Aim to submit the final grant a week in advance.  This will allow for items to come in late, one last program and grammatical review to be completed, a missed item to be caught by a “final” read through of the grant against the RFP when you think you already have everything done.

6. Week 6 – Final Deadline