Has this scenario ever happened to you? While you are researching opportunities for a project that needs funding, you find the quintessentially perfect grant. With one little problem: the deadline was three months ago. Yes, this is highly frustrating, but all is not lost. Here are eight reasons not to panic when you come across a grant after its submission date has passed.
1 – The Next Round. Many grants, both government and foundation, are offered again. While this is not a guarantee for every single opportunity, the odds are in your favor. At least now you have a reasonable estimate of the next cycle for submission.
2 – Thoroughness. You have more opportunity to thoroughly explore the NOFA, check and double-check to make sure you are able to meet every requirement. We have all heard stories about applications being rejected because the directions were not followed carefully or important details were inadvertently omitted.
3 – Statistics. Required statistics and metrics take time to compile. According to Beverly Browning's 3 Reasons Your Grant Application Was Not Funded article, failure to provide accurate statistics with citations is one way to derail an application.
4- Models for Success. A key ingredient for a successful new application is often a successful old application. It pays to dig them up to use as guides. There are several ways to find winning submissions. Some funders will provide a sample or two on the same website their opportunity is listed. If you subscribe to a grant service, they often provide previously funded submissions along with the application information. eCivis includes them in our database when available. If it is a federal grant, you are entitled to view them courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act. The How to Acquire Awarded Federal Grant Applications post provides you with the necessary steps to take to access them.
5- Community Coalition-Building. Many funders see community commitment as an important component in meeting challenges. Therefore, they want to fund coalitions, not just single agencies. The Building Neighborhood Capacity Program is just one example of a federal program that makes coalitions its cornerstone. Yet, these take time to build, and they are very difficult to throw together in a month or two. In the long run, choosing committed partners with care boosts the chances of a program achieving the desired results. Also, it is a great opportunity to solve problems whether or not a particular award is received.
6- Internal Support. Speaking of cooperation, internal support may also help you put your best application forward. Departments within your agency may be able to help you with documents you need for your application. Depending on the grant, there may also be public meetings to coordinate. Methodologies in Grant Writing lists common planning activities that are best accomplished with internal support and a sufficient heads-up.
7- Time for Courtship. When seeking private funding, many experts recommend cultivating a relationship with the foundation you are requesting assistance from. Corporate Grant Seeking 101 has specific recommendations on how this can be achieved. Once again, time and preparation are assets in your favor.
8 – Programs in Action. Knowing about an opportunity far in advance can give you time to research the programs themselves. Learning how other communities are using their funds may give you some great ideas for your own potential program. You may also discover pitfalls to avoid. While there is prestige in pioneering a program, there is practicality in learning from the mistakes of others.
The point is to stop kicking yourself for not uncovering the opportunity sooner. That can't be changed. What you can do is use the extra time to gain the competitive advantage in the next round. It may just be a blessing in disguise! (And for those instances when you DO come across them before their submission date, we recommend Getting Your Organization Grant-Ready: A Grant Writer's Perspective for a countdown of critical steps to take in the final thirty days.)