How to Prepare a Grant Funding Timeline

6 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Constructing Your Grant Application

A timeline or Gantt chart tells the grant reader when major project milestones will begin and end during the grant’s funding period (which is usually a 12-month period). The timeline also includes information about who’s accountable for each activity and how you’ll evaluate the program’s accomplishments during that period.

When you develop a project timeline, keep in mind that the grant reader wants to see answers to the following questions:

  • What are the key tasks or activities that will be carried out to implement the program successfully?

  • Did the grant applicant include all tasks, from the day funding is announced or awarded to the last day of the project’s funding time frame?

  • Can each task realistically begin and end in the proposed time frame?

  • Are evaluation activities included in the timeline chart?

  • Who is responsible for seeing that each activity is implemented and completed?

You can use your word-processing software to create a simple timeline chart. Just be sure not to overdo it with color; use no more than four shading selections (and don’t use red or black shading unless you change the font color to white).

Because you never know how many disruptions and malfunctions you’ll encounter in implementing a grant-funded program, you can set up your activity start and stop dates in quarterly increments. However, if you have total control over the activities, you can use monthly increments to show when they begin and end.

The sample activity timeline chart clearly shows what the program plans to accomplish, when it plans to accomplish it, and who is responsible for seeing the activities (process objectives) through the completion phase.

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Illustration by Ryan Sneed

For programs that request funding for multiple years, you need to include extra timelines in the grant application showing each year’s activities and the quarterly time frames for each activity. You can either create a multiyear timeline chart on one page that breaks down the four quarters for each year or create a separate timeline chart for each year.

Whether you choose to set up a multiyear landscape table chart or individual year charts that take up two or more pages depends on the funder’s page limitations.

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