If you’re Facebook friends with me, you know I love animals and volunteer for a local animal rescue organization. I write several grant proposals for them every year.

Here’s where the lessons start, folks:
A good grant opportunity came up for our organization. The Director was out of town, but gave us permission to put the grant together. (That alone is a scary thought.)

Luckily we had a project on the back burner just waiting for an opportunity. We scrambled to get all the information needed, including those pesky financials as well as a source for our letter of support.

Of course, the letter of support was the hardest part of getting the proposal together, but at least we had the first contact made. I stopped by and introduced myself to the contact and offered to send him a “pre-written example” of a letter of support. He did his part and emailed the letter back quickly.

The clock was ticking and the deadline was near. We got it all together, checked one more time with the Director by email, and excitedly hit the submit button. Whew! We made it.

A few days later the finance director contacted me to say that she had heard from the granting organization. WOW, I thought.

But, here’s where things go terribly wrong:
The granting organization was checking our credentials and found we had an unfinished grant with them from several years ago! They generously gave us about a week to get that cleared up so we could be in the running with the new proposal.

Since our organization is fairly young, staff and record keeping procedures had changed over time. No one currently at the organization even knew there were outstanding grant reports.

Needless to say, the report didn’t get done in time, we didn’t get in the running for the new grant, and if my guess is right, we don’t look too credible with the granting agency.

Now, to the lessons learned from this experience:

  • Do your reports on time! Put them on your calendar and make sure you’re collecting the data needed for the report.
  • Have some fully fleshed out ideas on the back burner so if an opportunity pops up, you can be ready to pull a great proposal together.
  • Write a “sample” letter of support that you can provide to each local contact that is willing to support your project. Make it specific because they will probably copy and paste it on their letterhead and sign it. (I have a horror story about that, but we’ll save it for another day.)

I know it’s the holiday season, but since the year is closing out, please take time to look back over your year of grants and make sure everything is finalized and complete so you can start your New Year off right.


Speaking of starting the New Year off right, why not join my challenge to Make 2017 Your Best Grant Year Ever?

This email challenge is a great way for new grant writers to start planning for an organized and successful grant year. Seasoned grant writers can use it to put some structure behind their planning process.

If you want to Make 2017 Your Best Grant Year Ever, come and join the celebration. (It’s a 5-day challenge with a weekend in the middle for catch-up if needed.)

You can sign up now, but the challenge won’t start until January 10.

Oh, and did I mention its FREE?
But sign up right now as the doors on this opportunity close on January 9th.

Here’s what you should do now:
Click here to join the challenge.

That’s it. You’ll get the details in an email after you sign up!


Jo McMahan, The Grant Coach, has been in the business of writing grants and raising funds for over 25 years. Her experience includes writing grants for schools, hospitals, human needs organizations, and animal rescue groups. Her passion is teaching others how to write grants for their own organizations and helping new grant writers begin their grant writing careers.



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