Developing a timeline for a grant-funded project

Creating a timeline is a necessity for many grant applications. You will be required to show what activities will occur at intervals throughout the life of the grant period, and everything mentioned in the project narrative should be included.

Even if a timeline isn’t a requirement, it’s still a good idea to create one because it’s a very beneficial exercise to assist you in fully understanding the step-by-step processes that will take place throughout the life of the project. Delineating everything that will happen, who will be responsible for it, and why it is important to the overall success of your project — while you are still in the application phase — will enable you to see any omissions, gaps, duplication of effort, or unrealistic expectations at a time when those can be effectively addressed. And that will help you write a better project narrative.

A timeline can be simply stated in narrative form. If partners are involved in the project, include their efforts along the continuum.

• Determine the amount of time available under the grant (12 months, 36 months, etc.)

• Divide the time into quarters (or into months, if 12 months or under)

• Create a list of everything that will take place during the full grant period

— The first 1-3 months will probably be used for items such as award acceptance, passage any legislation that is necessary to accept grant funds, meetings with partners to re-establish activities and responsibilities, etc.

— Build in time to receive any equipment that will be purchased with grant funds. You can’t state you will use the equipment for your project if you haven’t received it yet, so make sure the purchase is listed early on in the timeline.

• Include:

— Major events with detail, particularly those that are tied to performance measures (who is responsible, how it will be accomplished)

— Minor events (same)

— All procurement that will be done for both  GRANT FUNDED and NON-GRANT FUNDED expenditures (make sure your own contribution of money/in-kind is documented in the application as well as in the timeline)

— If meetings need to be held, show when they will be scheduled  and who will attend

— Include all reporting requirements (financial and programmatic) of the funder — this will prove that you understand the obligations you are under and have a plan in place to meet them

i. You can list “receive data and updated information on the project from partners for required programmatic reports” and also “submit reports to funder as required” as separate entries

ii. Also include any internal deadlines you will require for the activities that take place, including the collection of data or other receivables. This will show the funder that your project will become an integral part of your overall activities and you have built these elements in as a priority.

— Make time along the continuum to “assess the state of the project” and “address any inadequacies noticed”  — every grant project runs into problems and not everything goes as smoothly as planned, so show that you will be keeping a close eye on the progress so that issues can be addressed in a timely manner.

Creating a well-thought-out timeline, whether required as an actual document for a grant application or not, is an important step to take as you develop your grant-funded project. Make this one of the “must do” activities to assist you in writing your detailed application and, perhaps more importantly, as you begin to work on the funded project.

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