Timeline of the Grant Writing Process
The process of receiving a grant consists of a series of fairly consistent steps. The grant application process is standardized to a certain extent, which means that the overall timelines for applying and receiving a grants will typically be similar in nature. However, the process is by no means one-size-fits-all. Therefore, it is important to consider that when you apply for a grant, the process and requirements of that specific grant will vary slightly from those of other grants.
In all cases, the first step of the process will always be to research the different grants available to your organization. This research process will include finding and reviewing the application guidelines and annual reports for each potential funder. This step is crucial because at this point you will want to be sure that the funder is a good match for your organization and that your organization is a good match for the funder. You will also be able to begin to organize the materials and information needed to complete the grant application.
At this point, depending on the funder, it may be appropriate to place a phone call or send an email or letter to the organization so as to introduce your organization and the program for which you are seeking funding. This communication will also provide you with a chance to gather additional details about the funder and the funder’s application process. This step will vary by funder and is dependent on two factors: whether or not the funder has provided contact information, and what steps the funder has outlined as being the initial approach in the application guidelines. Some funders may require an introductory phone call, while others may explicitly state that they will only respond to requests sent in writing.
The next step in the grant application process is to fulfill the initial approach requirements laid out in the application guidelines provided by the funder. Typically this consists of your organization writing and sending a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) to the funder. The letter should strictly adhere to the structure laid out in the guidelines. The step of submitting an LOI is not necessarily always required by all funders, which means that in some cases this step can be skipped.
If the initial approach guidelines do not require the submission of an LOI, then you may go ahead and submit either a letter of request or the completed grant application. If an LOI is required, then you should wait to submit either piece until you have been notified by the funder of their interest in your program and their desire to receive either a letter of request or a completed proposal. This step is also funder dependent. Therefore, you should be sure to familiarize yourself with funder guidelines and requirements so as to ensure that your organization provides meets the funder’s expectations in an accurate, appropriate, and timely manner.
After you have submitted all documents required, you will wait to hear from the funder whether or not your organization will be receiving the requested funding. If your organization does not receive the funding, then at this point it would be appropriate and beneficial to contact the funder to discuss why your organization’s request was declined. This part of the process can prove extremely helpful as it is a chance to receive feedback on your organization’s submission. This feedback can benefit your organization as it completes applications for other funders, or if your organization decides to submit a second application to the funder during the proceeding funding season.
If your organization does receive the requested funds, then you should be sure to quickly send the organization a thank you email and a hard copy thank you letter via the mail. These pieces of communication should be well-written and carefully proofread. The final step of the process is to complete any followup or final reports required by the funder. These will also vary by funder and will also differ based on the type of program or project for which you have received funding.
The process of receiving grant funding can be lengthy but incredibly rewarding. As your organization seeks out funding, it is important to keep in mind the overall steps of the process in addition to the specific steps and requirements outlined by individual funders. This will help to ensure that your organization and its programs receive funding in a timely manner.