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This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is timelines. Its context is the United States of America.


Time pervades every aspect of successful grant writing. The question of time is always the question of ‘When?’ It is one of the most basic questions in planning a project and in writing a proposal. It is also an indispensable element of well-formulated goals and objectives.




Among the proposal elements where time plays a fundamental role are:

  • Framing time-delimited goals
  • Formulating time-delimited objectives
  • Describing major activities or action sequences
  • Indicating frequency, such as of activities or assessments
  • Measuring outcomes and results
  • Ensuring programmatic accountability through interim and final evaluation reports
  • Ensuring financial accountability


Among the types of time factors frequently found in grant proposals are:

  • Grant-maker imposed timeframes (e.g., training, completion, or reports)
  • Deadlines for deliverables (e.g., work products or events)
  • Deadlines for objectives
  • Deadlines for financial and programmatic performance reports
  • Start dates and end dates
  • Schedules for major activities
  • Schedules for special events
  • Performance targets or projections
  • Milestones or interim performance measures


In planning projects and in writing grant proposals, among the many ways to represent time are:

  • Logic models
  • Gantt charts
  • PERT charts
  • Flow charts
  • Lists or tables of activities with their start/end dates
  • Declarative statements in proposal narratives


Applicants should take care to distinguish their objectives and goals from their activities in terms of time. They should analyze beforehand all aspects of their proposals involving time. And for their proposal reviewers and grant decision makers, they should be unequivocally clear about when things are expected to happen before, during, and after a grant-funded project.



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