Tackling anything in life tends to go much smoother with a plan, and planning how, where, and when you will find funding for your project or organization is no exception. With the start of the new year, it’s important to sit down and think about the year as a whole to determine what your organization really needs and create a step-by-step process of how you will achieve that.
Here are a few tips to help you think about how to structure your year:
- Focus: When starting your funding plan, it is easy to begin the search for funding right away. However, it’s important to know what you are trying to accomplish. Do you need $200k for proof of concept or $1 million for R&D Or maybe you need several million dollars to deliver programming?
- Fit: Once you have found a funding opportunity check to see if you meet the funder’s requirements. We highly recommend reading through the RFP or solicitation thoroughly marking any area that you calls into question fit or eligibility.
- Timing: Once you have found a funding opportunity that looks like a fit and aligns with your focus, check the deadlines. If the deadline is less than 30 calendar days away – we strongly recommend that you seek the next available funding date with that funder. While application due dates on grants can vary, having a 2018 funding plan can still help prepare for upcoming due dates. In your 2018 funding plan, it is important to identify funders and due dates early. Through early identification, your organization will have plenty of time to plan for the application. Just because a due date is months away, does not mean you have to wait to get started.
- Capacity: Assuming you are moving forward with preparing your funding application based on focus, fit, and timing… do you have the capacity to put together a highly competitive proposal? Most federal proposals take a significant amount of time to prepare even. We recommend carving out 60 to 80 hours over the course of two-month period toward proposal preparation if you are working with us. If you are not working with us, assume that time on task is more than doubled. Typically, you should begin the writing portion of an application six to eight weeks before the due date to ensure time to make any necessary adjustments or changes, therefore, the pre-planning must be done much further in advance. Starting an application 30-60 days out is a safe bet to ensure you have plenty of time to plan both ensure your proposal is high-quality and highly competitive and that required accounts are not only active but have been validated by the funding agency.
Proposals can quickly become stressful and overwhelming, but creating a funding plan can help make the process much simpler. By determining your organization’s needs and identifying what is available, you will ensure that you have ample time to prepare and develop all aspects of your proposal.
This post was written by our intern, Lindsay Robbins. She is currently an undergraduate senior at Towson University majoring in International Studies and Economics. At Towson University she has held several leadership positions including working with Model United Nations and as a Writing Tutor. She has also spent time studying and working in youth development organizations in Honduras and Peru. See more about Lindsay here.
We work with high-growth startups and organizations that support the startup and innovation ecosystem. We build highly specific non-dilutive funding menus, provide proposal preparation services, and measure outcomes of funding through evaluation. Schedule a consult call with us HERE.