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  • Writer's pictureAly Moore

Is "Grant Season" a thing?

By: Jodi Riley

The term “grant season” commonly refers to two timeframes each year where we see a heavier saturation of grant opportunities released and due for submission, making it a busier time of year for grant writers and nonprofits in general. These two timeframes occur between January-April and September-December each year.

While there isn’t a clear answer as to why these times are labeled as “grant seasons,” some reasons noted include summer travel plans, fiscal year-end dates, government grant cycles, and foundation meeting schedules. Most grantmaking entities, such as foundations and federal or state agencies, provide funding within specific “grant cycles” because they align their financial disbursement with the fiscal year, which often coincides with grant season timing.

The identification of grant seasons doesn’t mean that no grants are due in the summer months. Quite the contrary, as many funders now seek to open applications in calmer timeframes, making their grants more accessible for busy nonprofit organizations. We may soon be saying we have three grant seasons per year if this trend continues!

There are also many grants that do not have a specified due date and are accepted on a rolling basis. If your organization has a busy calendar during the grant seasons, it may be lucrative to plan to apply for open-due-date grants during the slightly calmer summer months.

To effectively manage grant seasons, I recommend using a grant calendar or another form of date-based tracking with alerts set up so you can keep track of critical dates. After the grant announcement is released, deadlines for submission may fall within a tight timeframe that can range from thirty to ninety days so it is often necessary to act quickly to avoid an overload of work one week before the grant is due. Like many aspects of nonprofit management, a high level of organization and future planning will save you hours of distress in the long run.

Here are our top tips for managing grant season effectively:

1-Track your deadlines! Use a grant calendar and estimate how many hours you will need to complete each application for funding.

2-Divide the workload into smaller assignments and include deadlines for the person responsible. Hold fast to these deadlines and ensure each person is accountable for their part.

3-Seek stakeholder and team member input early on if they will contribute to the grant proposal. Open dialogue for how much time they will need to complete their assigned part and plan accordingly. If your programs involve the community or partners, start identifying agencies and individuals who will write letters of support if needed.

4-Begin your research. Gather updated census data/stats on the community you serve and existing needs. Review recent updates and relevant best practices related to the activities you conduct through your programs. Remember to cite your sources; you will need this information later to include in your grant application!

5-Start creating digital folders and subfolders for the applications/request for proposals and all the documentation/materials you will need to attach.

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