Grant Writing Calendar: How to Better Manage Your Grants
As fundraisers, it can be overwhelming and daunting to track all of the grant writing and grant applications that happen within our organizations. Developing a grant calendar for a nonprofit is a simple and effective way to remain on task, increase productivity, and generate crucial funds.
A grant schedule is an editable survey used to manage and record funds in the form of a grant calendar template. In this article, you will learn a straightforward way to develop your own grant calendar template — starting by identifying and committing to your organization’s “why”.
Now, you may be wondering what exactly is a grant calendar and how can I incorporate it into my own work?
Well, let’s dig into this more.
What is a Grant Calendar and Why Are They Important?
A grant calendar is where you’ll track all current and past grant applications. It is also where you should include important grant information. With grant calendars, you’re able to stay focused on fundraising strategies and upcoming opportunities.
A grant calendar template provides you with an organized method to track grants in one place. Maintaining a grant tracking calendar is an excellent way to meet deadlines since you will have a working record of the grants you have applied for, along with contacts and history of received funds.
5 Reasons Grant Calendars are Important
- Keep track of all grant applications in one place.
- Source research regarding grant-seeking.
- Monitor vital dates such as:
a. Webinar or informational sessions
b. Any related internal meetings
c. Upcoming deadlines
- Manage calendar tasks regarding:
a. Project milestones
b. Important reminders
c. Internal approval processes
d. Relevant contact information
- Establishes a record of the work you have done and the work you are undertaking.
How to Create a Grant Calendar Template That Works
Building a grant calendar template will be an experience unique to each nonprofit organization. Here are a few specific steps your nonprofit can take to get started:
Step 1: Decide how to delineate between the fiscal year and the annual year.
If you’re using a tool like Instrumentl, you can easily change your fiscal year in your account settings.
Step 2: Identify which grant applications have hard or rolling deadlines.
Online tools like Instrumentl provide clear updates as to what grant opportunities have hard vs. rolling deadlines.
Step 3: Identify what projects need funding and when they need that funding.
Grant schedules are a living document and shared with the rest of the team. Meaning, you should update them as your fiscal year progresses. With a grant tracking spreadsheet template, you’ll establish grant-seeking strategies and research methods. Systematizing this process allows you to better secure funding since it’s repeatable and scalable.
What to Include in Your Grant Calendar Template
Grant calendar templates should include relevant information about the grant itself.
For example, place the dates of relevant webinars or informational sessions. Consider using the grant writing calendar after any application approval. Include important fund report deadlines as well as any billing deadlines. Show any scheduled meetings related to the grant.
When establishing a grant schedule, it’s best to start with what you know.
First, examine and review your current grant funders. Often, many funders give to the same organizations. Yet, there may be certain rules about how many times nonprofits can apply for grants. Make sure to keep this in mind as you include them in your grant tracking calendar.
It's important to review any denied grants. Unless there are rules about how many times you can apply to a grant cycle, include denied grants. There are innumerable factors that may have caused a rejection, none of them personal. Remain positive and consistent by continuing to apply in the next application cycle.
Finally, research and include new grants. Make grantseeking a part of the maintenance of the grant writing calendar. Consider asking board members to review the grant tracking calendar. There may be connections from the board or they have ideas about opportunities. This is a wonderful way to use networks and deepen board engagement.
Things to include in your grant calendar template:
Within your grant tracking spreadsheet template you may wish to further outline additional details such as:
- Internal due dates
- Scheduled project milestones or team check-ins
- Submission process (how and where to apply)
- Amount of the grant
- What the grant is for
- What the funds will be used for
- Research regarding the grant’s organization:
- Previous grant recipients
- What projects or areas do they typically provide funding for
- Their mission and the people involved in the organization
- Grant writer/point person
- Status of the project
- Relevant notes
- If there are any (or potential) board member connections
- Submission date
- Outcome or amount that was raised
Things not to include in your grant calendar template:
- Grants that are not relevant to your organization or have rules that would disqualify you from the application process. Keep your focus concise and relevant.
- Any distracting notes or conversations.
- Incorrect information (e.g. deadline dates, contact information).
- Outdated information.
- Unrealistic expectations - consider the other events and projects your organization has going on (such as gala events) and try to schedule ahead of busy internal seasons.
Things to Remember
- Your grant writing calendar should be a resource best suited for your needs.
- It's best to consider internal organization's standards, such as technology and style guides.
- Balance clear and concise information with grant writing calendar management. Think of this document as an active one. It is not something that is set up and then left alone. It is a method and strategy that will help to fundraise.
- Building in the time to add to, continue, and review our grant schedules optimizes time. Think of a grant schedule as a blueprint. It is where we record and track our fundraising efforts.
- With a grant tracking calendar, we can stay focused on our upcoming tasks. A grant writing calendar becomes an orderly guide for us and our fundraising team to follow. This allows us to best sustain our nonprofit, its mission, and our communities.
Sample Downloadable Grant Calendar Template
How can nonprofits create a grant tracking spreadsheet template? This may mean using Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, or an internal shared spreadsheet. Include the name of the grant, important deadlines, and an overview of what the grant will fund. Consider also having the contact of the grant writer or leader of the project.
For your ease, here is an example grant calendar template:
- Jotform’s Grant Tracking Spreadsheet
- Asana’s Grant Tracking Guide
- Community Cats Podcast’s Grant Tracker Google Spreadsheet
How to Use Instrumentl as Your Ultimate Grant Writing Calendar
Instrumentl brings grant prospecting, tracking and management to one place to level up your institutional fundraising efforts. When you’re on Instrumentl, you can use its matching algorithm to find the best fit opportunities for your nonprofit. You can create a 14-day free account here.
Then, you can save opportunities and start planning out your grant writing calendar. Let’s take a look at this example here for a New York Community Trust grant opportunity:
Using Instrumentl, we’ve set up three tasks to help us with our grant writing calendar.
First, we reviewed this grant opportunity with our organization’s decision matrix and marked this task as complete.
Next, we plan to prep an email to ask preliminary questions with the funder.
Finally, we plan to ask for post application feedback a little while after we’ve submitted.
The nice thing about using Instrumentl for grants is that it gives you the best features of many different tools: a place to find active grant opportunities, a place to dig into past 990 reports of funders, and a place to keep track of all upcoming tasks and deadlines related to the grants you’re pursuing.
If you’re using a spreadsheet, you can import it into Instrumentl to enable all of these advanced tracking capabilities for your grant writing calendar:
Once a week, Instrumentl will send you an email rolling up all your upcoming tasks and deadlines so that you don’t need to manually update a spreadsheet or Google Calendar.
You’ll also be able to view all your upcoming deadlines across your Master Tracker:
Wrapping Things Up: How to Better Manage Grants with a Grant Calendar
The creation of a grant writing calendar for your nonprofit bolsters chances of success. There are several types of nonprofit organizations that use grant writing calendars.
A grant writing calendar can be as detailed as a guided template or as broad as a general overview. It is meant to be an easy-to-update and centralized space for all things concerning fundraising.
It can be as broad as a fiscal year outline to as detailed as weekly task management. Whether extensive or simple, its contents will support your organization.
Remember, a grant writing calendar should contain every stage of the process, from the research to the post-application follow-up actions. Though it may be a daunting task, once it is implemented it is a wonderful tool that can be updated regularly and easily integrated into project planning around fundraising.