No deadlines.  Only windows of opportunity.

When I was a grantwriter, I once cut it so close to a deadline that I had to drive a proposal 3.5 hours to deliver it.  I handed it off with 30 minutes to spare. I hadn’t procrastinated. Really. It was a collaborative project (funders love those, right?). The energy, ideas, and details kept growing and changing until a few days before the massive proposal was due. I was working my tail off. Definitely, not procrastinating. It took me every minute of the 3 days I would have needed to guarantee postal delivery to finish the narrative our work deserved. Luckily, today, many proposals are submitted and received electronically, and we’re keeping tired grant writers off the road. (By the way, the project didn’t receive funding in spite of amazing collaboration, darn good writing AND being handed in on time!)

But, electronic delivery hasn’t resolved all of the angst that goes with deadlines.  A few years ago, I was vacationing with a group of friends celebrating a milestone birthday.  While most of the group spent the afternoon sightseeing, one member of the party disappeared so she could complete a grant request. (Not to the McElroy Trust of course.).  She wasn’t cutting it close to the deadline because she was lazy or a bad leader. No, she was cutting it close because she was already working 12 hours a day to manage her understaffed organization to serve people that need help.  She showed commitment when she gave up her vacation to submit a proposal to compete for funds to help her organization. But, at a high cost to her, personally. (By the way, she received the funding.)

Photo by Katrina Hemann, Waterloo Schools

Photo by Katrina Hemann, Waterloo Schools

Giving Up Deadlines

At the McElroy Trust we’ve given up on deadlines.  Why? We think your work, the work you do with people and communities who need your help should be more important than the time you spend filling out paperwork for the McElroy Trust.  If a family needs your help on the same day you should send an LOI to the Trust, we want you to help the family.  If a new donor calls and wants a tour on the same day you should turn in a proposal, we want you to steward the donor. We also want organizational leaders to go on vacation and spend time with their families.  You need to recharge to fuel yourself for this important work.

Clarifying Windows of Opportunity

In the three years since we gave up deadlines, we’ve had lots of feedback.   We heard from grantseekers that LOVED the flexibility. We also heard from people who missed what deadlines could do for them: motivate them to finish a proposal, push a coalition to decision making, and prioritize the time to finalize their budget.  The feedback was useful and we’re putting it to work.

We’re not going to reinstate a strict deadline policy.  But, beginning in 2019, you can expect the McElroy Trust to better clarify our windows of opportunity.

  • Submit your LOI at anytime. (Do it as soon as you can.  It’s a fast form and there’s room to adjust later).  Expect that we will approve or deny your LOI within 2 - 3 weeks.

  • Submit your application at any time. Our Board will review proposals received by the dates below within about a month.  These dates are based on when our Board will review proposals in 2019.

    Approximately, February 15, 2019

Approximately, May 20 2019

Approximately, September 10, 2019

Approximately November 15, 2019

These dates are NOT deadlines.  They’re windows of opportunity. We promise if you submit a few hours after the dates above, or even 24 hours after the dates above, it’s not a big deal.  If you need a little more time because you’re doing something more important, call us. We’ll do our best to work with you.

In exchange, we ask that you give us a little grace and a nudge too.  If we’re a day or two late and you need an answer to your LOI, send us a note.  If we missed your phone call, call us again. We are here to serve.

Please, keep up the great work to help young people in our region.  We appreciate what you do. If you know ways that we can make the application process better, let us know.


ResourceStacy Van Gorp