It’s About Time


According to the results of GrantStation’s State of Grantseeking Survey, a lack of time and staff is the greatest obstacle to successful grantseeking (even in these pandemic times).

There have been full books written about how to get organized and better utilize your time; I’m sure that they are worth reading, if only one had the time to do so.

I have three general time-management tips that work for me; your mileage may vary.

I’ll follow these with a few excerpts from the GrantStation Member’s tutorial specific to making time for grantseeking.


This may not be feasible for you; home, child, commute, and enforced office hours are but a few reasons why it may not be applicable in your world. For me, that private early hour allows me to read and respond to email, check on incoming tasks and review in-process tasks, and plan my day. It also enables me to spend a chunk of time on any projects that require deep concentration. Since GrantStation is a cloud company (and has been since 2012) we all work remotely. My day is full of emails, Slack notifications, and meetings. All of these serve to eat up time and break my concentration. Measured in productivity, that solo hour is worth two or three “everyone is at work hours.”  Unable to start an hour early? Perhaps you can fit in your hour of private work time after the kids are asleep, or before bed—the time of the hour isn’t as important as is its undisturbed nature.


Prior to the computer era, people had secretaries to keep their schedules, and then people had administrative assistants to keep things organized. But as the years passed and overhead budgets were cut, many of us now have Google or Outlook calendars, instead—and these are worthless if not fully utilized.

I use my calendar for more than scheduling calls and appointments. I use it as a reminder tool for regularly occurring tasks. Every daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual responsibility I have is on the calendar, which then prompts a reminder. Now, you may not need this level of memory support, but I sure do. It is so easy to get sidetracked or involved in the emergency du jour, and then (whoops) a task has been overlooked. And while some projects have no due date, I’m guessing that many of your responsibilities are time sensitive.

I also use the calendar to remind me of follow-up from meetings. For example, if we agree that various members of the team, or volunteers, or board members, will do x, y, or z, I set a reminder task on the due date so that I don’t drop any balls that are dependent on their completion of work at a specific time.

We all have pet peeves, and one of my big peeves is folks who are perennially late to meetings, or hitting due dates, or responding to emails. To me, chronic lateness is incredibly rude and unprofessional because it takes up the limited time of everyone else. Whether this lateness results in a longer meeting or shorter delivery times for the coworkers who need the late task to move on to next steps, it adds unnecessary chaos to a world where we all are challenged by a lack of time and staff.


Each day you have items that have filtered to the top of your tasks list. Things that absolutely, positively must happen today. (They may not all need to be completed today, but you need to start or work on them.) Take a moment and write them down. Why? Well, the act of writing them out reinforces them in your mind; you can see your priorities at glance without changing computer programs or switching screens, and there is something innately satisfying about taking a pen and scratching a completed item off that list!


GrantStation’s CEO and Founder, Cynthia Adams, has written a full tutorial on creating grantseeking time. With well over 40 years dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations identify and secure the funding they need to do their good work, her life's work has been to create opportunities for all nonprofit organizations, regardless of size or geographic location, to secure grant support. Here are two of her time-saving tips:

1.) Don't Chase Funding Opportunities

Only respond to a specific request for proposals if it concerns a particular problem or need your community is facing and you feel your organization is ready to address that problem.

For example, let's say an urban neighborhood has a youth gang problem. You operate a youth center that borders this neighborhood but hasn't served its residents in the past. You receive notice that the federal government is making some significant grants (in the range of $250,000 to $1 million) to address youth violence and you fit all of the eligibility criteria.

It is tempting to go after this money, but you have to ask yourself the big questions before you do:

  • Will this opportunity further the mission of the youth center?
  • Are my staff and board prepared for this kind of expansion?
  • How will such an expansion affect the work we do now?
  • Does the grant provide more funding than our organization can effectively manage?

2.) Create Templates for “Other” Proposal Sections

Another way to save time is to draft proposal sections that you know will be used over and over, such as the organizational history. I always write two organizational histories: one is about half a page long and can be used in letters of inquiry or requests for corporate support (which are fairly short), and the other may be as long as two pages and can be used in full grant proposals. I review and update each version of the history once a year. Other parts of the grant proposal that can be written ahead of time include the board and staff bios. Be sure you date stamp these bios as well.

Making time for grantseeking can start with keeping your time organized, through a daily “private hour,” a detailed calendar, and a daily to-do list. Then pop on over to GrantStation, and if you are a Member, read the full tutorial on creating time and making space for grant proposals. And hang in there—you’ve got this!