Federal grants take a lot of time and work to prepare for and write, but the money is well worth the effort.  While there is always some variance, developing a schedule for federal grant funding cycles is relatively straightforward and goes a long way towards simplifying the proposal process.

1. Put recurring grants on the schedule. 

These can be specific perennial grants or general alerts as to when agencies put forth grants.  For example, by tracking government agencies like the EPA, EDA, DOT, and DOJ, you can get a sense of when funding becomes available for what purposes, and which projects or programs would be a good fit.  This gives you time to anticipate giving you the ability to find a grant that fits your program, rather than having to pull together a program that fits the grant. 

2. Dedicate a couple of set hours every week for grant searches.

Assign this responsibility to someone on your team and stick with it.  While they may not find something every time, this is a great way to start filling in your grant writing schedule and to track grants.  Even if you don’t end up applying for all of them, you can still get a sense of where they are on the schedule so when they come around next year, you’ll be ready. 

3. Subscribe to government agency newsletters.

While this can quickly become a terror for your inbox, newsletters are how government agencies announce upcoming grants.  It’s a quick and easy way to find out about the latest grantmaking news and bulk up your federal grant tracking calendar.  When subscribing, sometimes you will be offered the option to get information about certain topics.  If this is offered, subscribe to the general newsletter and also indicate that you want to hear about grant opportunities to simplify the massive number of emails you are about to receive!

When I say be patient with the grant writing process, I’m talking about a process that takes years to develop.  This is a process that gets easier and flows better and better with time as you get to try out what works and what doesn’t.