Uploading to Grants.gov #9 Blog
The other day I was listening to a webnair on an upcoming grant. The funders spent 20 plus minutes talking about Grants.gov and pitfalls to avoid. It was painful. At one point they said, 75 applicants were disqualified due to technical issues. My first reaction is too bad that is part of the process and it reduces the competition. Before you gasp on this very competitive statement, do realize that I am emphatic and hence I am writing this blog. I have stepped in to help others when issues have arisen. I do want the best for children and programs so the competitive side does step back to help others.
As a grant writer, we need to be on top of technical issues. Any lack of planning is an emergency on our part. Period. I have been using Grants.gov for easily eight years. I can tell you firsthand that for the novice and veteran uploading a grant onto any platform has its challenges. There are some great benefits with online submission such as, little to no paper, an electronic trail and the speed. Nothing can beat the speed. But like all technology, there can be hiccups. The following are my tips for uploading grants on Grants.gov. Please know that these tips are applicable to many platforms.
- If you are not registered on Grants.gov begin now and realize it could take a few weeks. Go to Grants.gov to get step by step instructions.
- The Grants.gov support desk is excellent. Don’t hesitate to call, there is a 1-800 on the website. On a personal note, I had a Grants.gov representative guide me through a technical problem with less than 5 minutes to the deadline. I was hyperventilating and he calmly talked me through the steps. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate their support.
- IMPORTANT- realize that even if you are registered you might not be an Authorized Organization Representative. This requires a few more steps. I have uploaded a few applications for others because they missed this last step. You need to be able to sign in and see AOR by your name. Period. Yes that means you are submitting an application on behalf of an agency so it is important to make sure you have internal approval to do so or you work closely with the person who has this authority.
- Begin with the end in mind – Download all forms and instructions. When I forget to download all the forms, it never fails that I miss a form or an attachment. You can do this with paper applications too. Have all the forms in order and build the grant as you go.
- Grants.gov applications uses a PDF form where you attach items. Grants.gov support desk gave me a simple suggestion. Download the PDF application and save it on your desktop and begin the process of adding attachments as you complete each task.
- All attachments need to be converted to PDF forms. You could keep it in Word but you risk formatting issues and/or worse compatibility issues.
- Test to make sure you have the right version of PDF that is compatible with Grants.gov. Go to the Grants.gov website to view compatible formats.
- Never assume that an email or screenshot of an image will replace a required letter. If the funder requires a specific letter or verification there are no exceptions you will be screened out of the competition.
- This may seem obvious but don’t upload on the day of the grant deadline. If you do, build in a few hours because the web portal is being used by hundreds of others who are also uploading that same day. My personal preference is to upload in the morning. I am fresh and I am more able to catch mistakes.