1. Assuming that the grant is guaranteed. GRANTS ARE NOT GUARANTEED.
If I could list the number of people who make this major mistake it would take writing a book. Why do people assume this? Because they developed an outstanding proposal. They paid a professional grant writer big money. Because their organization has been in existence for a long period of time and they are entitled to the grant money they are applying for. Because they know political leaders. They are serving the needs of the community. Because they have received grant funding in the past. Of course I could go on and on but at the end of the day grants are still not guaranteed. To avoid this mistake, realize that the reason why grants are not guaranteed is because no government, corporate or private agency guarantees grants. Therefore no grant writer can guarantee a grant even though they may have a high success rate of funded proposals. Many people get upset about this fact but it is true. There is a lot of competition out there submitting top-quality proposals. Granting agencies must review them all. Remember that you win some and you lose some. The best thing to do is to submit the best proposal that you possibly can. This will increase the chances of you or your organization receiving grants.
2. Gathering data within days of the submission date
The data gathering process is very time-consuming and can take just as much time as it takes to prepare the written proposal, depending on how much data is required. Financial statements, non-profit paperwork, licenses, statistical and demographic information about the group(s) your organization serves and more. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what information you will be required to include with your grant. Some wait until the last few days before a grant is due to tend to data research and gathering. The best way to avoid this is to research what information you need before you start to apply for the grant, determine how long it will take to access this information and start collecting the information before the grant is written.
With the electronic grant submissions systems, there is always that luxury of having a little longer to send off the grant, but beware of system glitches. DO NOT WAIT because the electronic systems can always go awry on the very day that you submit your proposal. The best way to avoid this challenge is to give yourself plenty of time to prepare the document. You may even start preparing some of the boilerplate documents that are a part of every grant application before you actually apply for an actual grant. This way you will avoid a lot of the last-minute paperwork shuffling that can occur.
3. Not developing a timeline for gathering and submission of materials
Some individuals tend to haphazardly put together the documents and information they need to submit with their grant proposal. Handling the information gathering task in this matter can cause prospective grantees to miss out on the deadline. The best way to avoid this is to collect date in an organize fashion within a certain timeframe. Set a timeline of one, two or more weeks to gather certain data. Set a goal of collecting a certain amount of data each week and check it off on a list once you have gotten the information. This will keep you on track and help you in meeting your designated deadline.
4. Not putting a team together to work on the grant document.
A many cases organizations only have one person on whom they can rely to prepare documents of this nature. In other cases organizations simply haven’t reached out to those who are available to them to assist in preparing a grant proposal. As a result, there may be incomplete sections of the proposal and/or application, and even more so an overwhelmed grant writer that can’t manage the grant process alone. To avoid this challenge, the team approach would be the best solution. Putting a grant writing team in place spreads out the responsibility of the proposal preparation and increases your likelihood of completing the grant successfully. Delegating responsibilities to specific individuals like, research, data gathering, financial statement preparation, electronic registration, proposal writing and more, are key elements of completing a solid proposal.
5. Using unqualified individuals to prepare grants (family, friends, etc.)
The number of individuals, small businesses and nonprofits that solicit and depend on help from unqualified individuals is vast. Sometimes is because of fear of going outside of their comfort zone. Other times it is because they simply can’t afford to hire a professional grant writer. Yet other times it is because they feel that family and friends who have been with them for years have a sense of entitlement. In other words, since these individuals have been around for so long, they deserve a chance to be involved with securing grant funds. On the surface this may feel good to help those who have helped you but it won’t feel so good when they have botched up your proposal. In fact, this may cause a tremendous amount of strain on the relationship. To avoid all of this it is best to seek individuals that are professional grant writers or get extensive training yourself. Get referrals from other organizations that use outside grant writers. Review their successful proposals and the type of organizations for which they have written. You can also GOOGLE (www.google.com) grant writing associations to get more information on grant writers. Make sure you research their history. Also if you have team members or you want to write grants yourself, take classes to develop your proposal-writing skills.