How to Approach a Grant Consultant with a Last-Minute Project by Julie Assel, GPC

We’ve all been there. The grant calendar was solidified months ago. Prospective proposals have been spread out across the year so they can each get the attention they’re due and then bam! A last-minute funding opportunity arises, and you just can’t bear to let it slip through your fingers. For some organizations, last-minute means anything which was not on their original annual grant calendar. For Assel Grant Services, this typically means grants due within the week or significant government grants due in less than a month. Some of the people calling me are new clients. Other organizations are ones with whom we frequently work. Perhaps they just don’t know better or perhaps life just happens, and we understand. But it really made me think, what are the key attributes to making last-minute grant projects successful?

Here is a list of what I consider the most important information to provide when asking a consultant to do a project with short notice:

  1. Communication – While this really is the key to all relationships in life, it is incredibly important with last-minute projects of any kind. It is helpful to have a master list of internal and external partners for the project, with their phone numbers. email addresses, and preferred method of contact. The inability to reach someone when you need information causes additional anxiety in an already potentially stressful situation.
  2. Information – When a project comes to me last-minute, I ask for everything: the RFP, the most current draft, a logic model of the program, previous outcome data, and previous proposals/reports written to the same funder for the same project.
  3. Availability – Last-minute projects frequently come to us, as consultants, when someone within the organization doesn’t have time to complete the project. In fact, the number one reason we receive short notice proposals is that a staff member is going on vacation. It is vital to inform your grant consultant of your availability between the day you approach them and the deadline of the grant. It is also good to have the same information on the program director, director of finance, evaluator, and CEO. Think beyond vacation time to anything that will cause you to be unreachable for three hours or more, at a time.
  4. Approvals – The RFP tells me which forms need whose signature, and I should be able to determine the best time to get this information based on #3, but I also don’t want to make your organization look disorganized by asking a partner for the same information twice. Please tell your grant consultant which information has already been requested, the timeline you have given for them to return materials, and the preferred method of contact for individuals whose signatures are required for grant submission. It is also important to inform your consultant which individuals within the organization is responsible for reviewing drafts and final versions of the grant and the time frame they need to read it.

GPC Competency 2: Knowledge of organizational development as it pertains to grant seeking.  Skill 2: Assess organizations’ readiness to obtain funding for and implement specific projects.

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