4 Ways to Organize Your Grant Documents for the New Year
Updated: Mar 9, 2019
Happy New Year!
As a grant writer one of my favorite ways to begin the new year is by cleaning and organizing my grant writing documents. Compared to the rest of the year, January tends to be a slower month with less grant applications due. This makes it the perfect time to clean out all of your documents from last year, and organize the documents you’ll need for the year ahead.
Whether you’re working with digital documents or hard copies (or even a combination of the two), there are so many things you need to keep track of that it can be easy to forget where everything is. If you can’t find your organization’s information, funder requirements, program details, financials, etc. easily, writing grants on time is painfully difficult. Keep that up for too long, and you’ll miss out on funding opportunities because you weren’t prepared to meet the deadline.
To avoid that mess and start off the new year on a positive note, read the suggestions below on 4 ways to organize your grant writing documents!
Create a Detailed Grant Calendar. The best and easiest way to begin organizing your documents is to create a detailed grant calendar. All you need is the spreadsheet program of your choice and you’re good to go! On this grant calendar you’ll want to include more than just grant deadlines; you’ll want to include any information you need to refer to during the application process. This can include the following:
Official funder name
Funder’s physical address
Funder’s contact info (phone & email)
Name of the grant you’re applying for
Program the grant will go towards
Name & contact info of the program manager
Specific application process steps
Start/due dates for each application process step
Additional notes/requirements to apply
When possible, hyperlink the information included to the appropriate webpage. By having all of this information in the same spot you’ll be able to easily figure out what you need for the application and save time from having to look this information up again (and again and again) if you forget a detail. For example, access to the funder’s information saves you time when you need to reach out to the funder with a question. Specific grant names are needed when the funder offers multiple grants. Knowing what program the grant is intended for lets you know who you have to contact to clarify program details. Due dates for all steps of the application process lets you know when you need documents from coworkers by. And additional notes help you sort out any additional eligibility requirements like waiting periods or request amounts.
Save Digital Documents to a Cloud or Online Database. As collaborative as grant writing tends to be, you may find yourself having to quickly adapt to using another device or working from a new location. Saving all of your digital documents online grants you the ability to write from anywhere (pun intended :D). The less you have to carry with you, the easier it’ll be to travel and set up your mobile work station. This is especially important if you have to change from working in your office to working in a meeting room or on location where the program manager is. Better yet? If you happen to have technological issues and need a new computer, you won’t have to worry about losing your documents and starting from scratch.
Color Code Physical Documents. Physical documents are always harder to keep track of than digital ones. It’s easy to label documents on your computer and find them later - you can search your computer for them if you don’t know their exact location. With hard copies you don’t have that luxury. That’s why I suggest color coding the documents. If your files are organized by program, consider putting the different types of information in various colored folders (ex. financial information in green, promotional information in blue, feedback and statistics in red, etc.). If they’re organized by grant, maybe use colored labels on each page of the application to the same effect. After you do this you’ll be able to see at a glance where the info you’re looking for may be located instead of individually scanning each paper.
Update Organization Information & Individual Program Files. There’s always a tendency to “recycle” old grant applications when filling out new ones. Recycling grants can have it’s uses, but there will be times when the old grant application isn’t an exact fit. That’s when you need to return to your original program material or organization files to get what is needed. If this material isn’t updated regularly, you’ll have to spend extra time you didn’t plan for finding the people who can give you this information and waiting for their reply. Update it during the slower months for your organization, and everyone will appreciate your forward thinking.
Thanks for reading my 4 ways to organize your grant documents! Hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me, so you have an easier grant writing process!
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