If you’re a grant seeker, you know the particularly satisfying feeling you have as you leave your local mail facility having shipped off your masterpiece. Your grant proposal has consumed your life for the last several weeks and perhaps months. Your hard work and late hours have paid off: Your proposal is finally finished. You have pulled this project together, often under incredible pressure and at the expense of other commitments. Try to enjoy the moment.
As euphoric as you may feel about your accomplishment, you may also be experiencing a sinking feeling. You may be thinking, how will I ever be able to wait months for the results? What will I do if my proposal is rejected? Or, equally as daunting, what will I do if it is funded? Whether you’re successful or not, the real work is about to begin.
Where do you start? What do you do first? You more than likely created your proposal with a team of colleagues. Before you do anything else, recognize your proposal-writing team. Write each of them a thank-you note. No matter what the outcome of the proposal will be, let them know that their support, time, and energies were appreciated. Now get ready to tackle the next steps.
The Grant Wrap-up: Get Organized
Look around your grant-writing space. It is probably stacked with piles of papers, charts stuck to the walls, sticky notes, CDs, research materials, and a computer or two. Now is the perfect time to get things organized in case you are funded. If you are not, the specific information you gathered about your school and your programs will be helpful in future proposals. Either way, get organized now.
Figure Out a System That Will Work for You
Organize your paper clutter and your electronic files. Taking the time to do this while the writing process is fresh in your mind will assist you greatly as you prepare to implement your proposal or resubmit it in another fashion. Your immediate goal is to create an electronic master set for your future needs.
As I’m writing, I create piles of documents, which I try to file in file folders (both hard-copy and electronic). My folders usually follow the major sections of the proposal. These include the categories Assessment of Needs, Goals and Objectives, Activities, Key Personnel, Evaluation, Budget, and Appendices. Each grant project will present its own unique needs and challenges, and other categories will emerge. Not all of my files fit into pre-defined categories and logical ways to file become evident as I work.
During your clean-up phase, you may come across printed drafts with handwritten comments that you want to archive. Label each draft with a cover page containing a logical title, the date the draft was produced, and the version number. Use a copy machine that scans. Some will email you a PDF file and let you save it to a USB stick. Check the scanned files, then back up and toss or shred the paper documents. Now move on to your electronic files. You may have many drafts, web citations, PDF copies of articles, note files, and spreadsheets with charts, graphs, and budgets. These files may be on your laptop, on your desktop, or online in Google Docs, depending on how you and your team worked.
When you have completed this process, copy the final materials onto several CDs. Archive one at work and one at home. Create several files of your submitted final draft along with a copy of the request for proposal and the CD of your backup.