Hell-Raiser's Blog: Cautionary Tales for Procrastinating Grant-Writers

My Great-Uncle Eli (left), guarding his 
stalled car from grant-writers? 

Sometimes it can’t be helped: You find out about a grant opportunity at the last minute. Or maybe you take over completing a grant application that a co-worker started - at the last minute. Either way, you have a grant-writing rush job. No big deal. What could go wrong? 

Here are some examples:

You’re working on an online application, due in 15 minutes. You’re ready to press “send,” but just then ...
   - the funder’s web site freezes;
   - your server goes down;
   - your computer crashes; or
   - there’s a fire drill at your workplace.

Because you are scrambling to finish it in time, you write the narrative directly into the online application instead of in a separate Word document from which you'll transfer the narrative to the online form later. You're going to beat the deadline! And then your narrative disappears. Evaporates! And because you typed into the application form, you have no back-up. 

You’re almost done writing the narrative - and with a couple of hours to spare! All that remains is to copy and paste the narrative into the online application, complete the “cover page,” and press “send.” Where’s the online application? Uh oh. Alas, all you can find is instructions about where to snail mail your request.

You submit your online application by 4 p.m. - an hour before the funder’s deadline!. But in Ann Arbor Michigan, where the funder is based, it is 7 p.m.

Your co-worker started an application that you will proofread and submit while he is on vacation. In his haste to get out of town, he saved the application to only a CD (nooooooo!) and between then and now (an hour before the application deadline) it has become corrupted.

(I am not making this next one up; it happened to a former boss.) You jump into your car to zip downtown and hand-deliver the application by 5:00; in your haste, you decide to drive down the lane reserved for stalled vehicles… and you drive into a stalled vehicle. 

Generally speaking, it’s better to try to complete grant applications at least a couple of days before they are due.