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The Funder's Deadline is Not Your Deadline

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in the office of the cool indie arts organization I was interning for, waiting to press 'Submit' on a grant I had been working on for some time. I had sent a draft of this one final attachment for it to colleagues days prior and was waiting for their final edits. The application was due at noon.

The draft sat in everyone's inboxes. I figured there would be no changes, but I held off sending just in case. And then, the comments and questions all came in... at 11:55 a.m.

My hands shaking with adrenaline, I clicked the button at about 11:59:59, got a spinning wheel for what seemed like a full minute, and then, mercifully, got an approval message. I fell to the floor, my heart pounding.

I love the thrill of a good grant submission as much as the next chick (no? not a thing?), but there is a reason it's not admissible as an Olympic sport. Waiting until the last minute is like a magic formula that summons any number of grant demons - broken printers, crashing servers, wrong attachments, having the wrong funder's name emblazoned on the cover page, realizing that you need a signature from a board member who is outside the country, you name it. I was never a superstitious person until I got into grant writing.

That's why you should always take note of a funder's deadline, mark it in your calendar a week earlier, and then promptly coax yourself into forgetting the real deadline.

This week, I submitted a report that isn't due until 5 weeks from now. It was nice and uneventful, just the way it should be. Last year, I submitted an application for a coveted special one-time fund at the first of two deadlines. The early deadline had a fraction of the competitors that the second deadline had.

The grant was awarded.

The funder's rules don't always have to be your rules, and that applies far beyond just the deadline. An application that takes charge by fitting the questions to the project will always be stronger than one that tries to fit its project to the questions.

Not sure what I mean? Book a free Proscenium video consultation to chat about your next grant application, no strings attached.

Committed to your success,

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