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eSchool News logoA week ago, I received my copy of the April 2010 issue of eSCHOOL NEWS. Deborah Ward’s article, Death of a grant proposal: Six lessons learned in post-mortem, on page 34,  was quite revealing.

Ward states that there were six major reasons that the team proposal she was working on did not meet the deadline: 

  • The lead grant writer did not create a master checklist of what was needed in the proposal.
  • The team spent far too much time discussing the project’s goals and objectives, taking time away from discussing and making decisions about other key aspects of the project.
  • The team didn’t start talking about the project’s budget early enough in the process.
  • There was no conversation about the sustainability of the grant project after funding runs out until just a week before the grant was submitted.
  • The lead grant writer saw her role as a collector of other team member's writing rather than as a writer herself.
  • Standard forms were not completed in advance.

Deborah Ward, an independant Grant Writing Consultant.Ultimately, this proposal was not submitted. Lessons she learned:

  • Engage your various partners early on.
  • Get collective buy-in from the writing team.
  • Develop a critical-path timeline.
  • Write in one voice.
  • Have someone outside the writing team review the proposal for clarity and legibility.
  • Have a check-list to ensure all parts of the proposal are completed.

I am working with a team to develop a large proposal, and we are identifying everyone’s respective roles and responsibilities, including a clear timetable for deliverables from the various writing teams. Concurrently, we are working on the budget, so that we can include all the required staffing, consultants and other budget pieces together in order to get administrative approvals in a timely fashion. One key factor here is confirming that the authorized institutional signer for the proposal will be available prior to submission.

Consider using technology as a tool to assemble your proposal from the writing team members. A good assembly point for all the documents you are collecting from your writing team is Google Docs, which allows for file sharing.

CCC Confer logoAnother writing team communications tool to consider is CCC Confer, funded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office,  which provides toll free teleconferencing and internet file sharing which allows you to conduct your meetings anytime, anywhere without traveling. You can share documents, presentations, poll your audience and use a white board for taking notes. There are public and private chat features and the ability to archive the entire meeting for later playback.

Bringing your writing team together through electronic communication tools is an ideal way to meet critical proposal deadlines. Consider using these tools! <>