Grant Seeking: 10 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Grant Seeking Strategy
Finding grants for nonprofits is becoming increasingly difficult. With 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States alone, the pool is becoming a little more competitive.
That’s not to say there’s not enough room for everyone!
But it is to say that we need to be more strategic in how we find our funding. And the same goes for grant seeking.
Nonprofit grants are one of the most sought-after methods of obtaining funding for organizations. But with the number of nonprofits increasing, receiving grants can feel challenging.
And that’s why we’re here to help! We’re discussing what you need to know about grant seeking strategies for nonprofits. Plus, we’ve got a free video training with 10 tips and tricks for a successful grant seeking strategy!
What is a Grant Strategy?
An overall grant strategy consists of figuring out which grantmakers and funders and the opportunities they’re offering you want to search for.
It also involves taking into account your nonprofit’s goals and objectives. You need to know your program goals (both long and short term), the resources you have versus the ones you need, and the potential problems your nonprofit might run into along the way.
And, of course, the entire grant strategy includes the nonprofit grant writing itself!
What Do You Need for Grant Seeking?
When it comes to taking the overwhelm out of your grant seeking strategy, a helpful reserve of tools is critical!
These tools can help you:
- Save time and energy by keeping things in one place
- Streamline your outreach efforts by letting you know who you’ve reached out to and who you need to follow up with
- Get rid of brain fog and headaches by assisting with your grant writing
- Keep track of time so you know when you’re getting bogged down (and when you might need a break!)
Tools for Grant Research:
One of the hardest parts of this process is knowing how to find grants for nonprofits.
After all, You need to know what’s out there before you can start applying, right? But sometimes, a Google search isn’t going to cut it.
Sometimes, you need a more targeted approach to grant research and finding funds that can help your programs.
Luckily, there are tools out there specifically for that reason! Try using Candid (formerly Foundation Center), GrantScape, and GrantStation to get you started!
Tools for Grant Management:
With the research done and the grant writing process about to begin, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re completely organized and ready to go.
That’s where grant management software comes into play! These tools will keep your grant writing projects streamlined, which causes way less frustration as you navigate the process.
Keep track of the
- grants you’ve applied to,
- the grants you intend to apply to,
- the grants you’ve won,
- and how your organization spent the funds from each grant.
Tools for Grant Writing:
When it’s time to hand in all of your hard work, you want to make sure it’s in tip-top shape! But after spending so many hours in front of a screen, you may feel like your eyes have glazed over.
And that might lead to a few grammatical errors throughout your nonprofit grant proposal.
Using tools like Grammarly and Hemingway is a great way to make sure your grant writing is free from any errors.
And if you want to spruce up your proposal, consider using Canva Pro for nonprofits to add in graphics!
What is the Grant Seeking Process?
When it comes to grant seeking, there is an entire process your nonprofit needs to go through.
And being prepared for the whole process gives you a better advantage since you won’t feel cluttered, frustrated, or overwhelmed. Instead, you’ll be ready for each next step!
Evaluation and Preparation:
Before anything else, you need to evaluate your organization and make sure it’s grant-ready. Since there’s a lot of information needed for your grant proposal, you can go ahead and gather those materials up.
That will make the writing process much easier!
So, to evaluate and prepare for the grant seeking process, get this information together:
- What is the mission and impact of your nonprofit? Can you say it in one to three sentences?
- What is your nonprofit’s history with funding? What have you successfully done in the past that you can showcase to funders?
- What programs or operational activities does your nonprofit need funding for?
- Who is going to devote the time and energy to write the nonprofit grant proposals?
Having this information is going to help you throughout the rest of your nonprofit grant seeking strategy, so don’t skip this step!
Nonprofit Grant Research:
Now that you have a more narrow approach to the program or operational activities you need funding for, you can do your nonprofit grant research.
Most funders will set parameters around what the funds can be used for. So you can search based on your intent!
When you’re searching for potential grantmakers, check:
- Your nonprofit’s network – a lot of the time, higher-ups in a nonprofit have connections that can bring about wonderful relationships with grantmakers!
- Your nonprofit’s area – are there any organizations or foundations near you?
- Your nonprofit’s previous funders – are there any foundations your organization received grants from that you can reach out to again?
- Grant databases – use the grant research tools we mentioned above!
Before you get started writing your grant proposals, make sure that all possibilities:
- Align with your nonprofit’s mission, impact, vision, and values
- Match your nonprofit’s needs
- Offer a sustainable amount of funding for the program or operational tasks
Nonprofit Grant Writing and Applying:
Now’s the time to shine! With the right nonprofit grant writing outline, you can create an amazing proposal to win the hearts (and investments!) of grantmakers.
We know that nonprofit grant writing is a challenge to tackle in and of itself. So we’ve got an additional free video training all about how to get started!
Receiving and Managing the Grant:
If your nonprofit is the recipient, then congratulations! It’s time to take action for your mission.
Be sure to log this in your grant management software, along with any follow-up correspondence. Don’t forget to say thank you to the grantmakers! And continue your relationship with them after you receive funds because your work with them isn’t quite done.
Reporting and Updating:
As you implement the funds into your nonprofit’s program, you’ll want to keep great notes and records of what’s happening.
How and where are the funds being allocated? What’s the report after the funds are being used? What successes and losses are you seeing?
You can cross-reference your nonprofit grant proposal’s goals and objectives as you create reports.
Be sure to keep in touch with all of your supporters and stakeholders on a regular basis. And update your grantmakers in a timely manner, too! It’s also important that you be upfront and honest about all successes and challenges along the way.
When it comes to grant seeking strategy (and even how to find grants for nonprofits), it’s quickly becoming a nuanced art form.
We understand that! So we’re helping you with these 10 tips and tricks for nonprofit grant seeking. Check out our free video training below!
10 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Grant Seeking Strategy
Hello everyone, and thank you for joining me today. We are here to talk about grants, all things, grants, specifically 10 tips and tricks for a successful grant-seeking strategy. I love talking about grants because as you can see from my bio on the screen, I've just pulled up.
My career, it's in the grant field first as a grantmaker, which is a lot of hard work, making a decision about who's gonna get the grant. And, then, in the last 15 years, focusing on grant seeking, working with non-profits of all shapes and sizes, focusing on how to prevent grants from stressing you, the grant writer, the grant professional, and those around you, how to keep grants from stressing you out, how to keep them in a space that is meaningful for your organization is sustainable and doesn't cause anyone to do anything rowing.
When we look at our work as grant professionals, I find that each of us has a really unique and winding path. And so, when we look at my bio, that's my path into grants.
Your path, I guarantee, is going to look just a little bit different.
The one thing, though, that I think is a common thread that's important for our work as grants, professionals, or grant writers, whether we're full-time, part-time, new in the field, been in the field for a longtime season like me, is, how do we focus on our self-care? How do we ensure that we as grant professionals are working at a sustainable pace? And so, as we get started, as I'm talking about these 10 tips, I'd love for you in the questions box to let me know. You can see on the screen what my form of self-care is. It's about coffee and movement, ideally running, but some form of movement. Those are the things that keep me moving and going with finding grants every day.
So go ahead, type it into the Questions box. What is it that keeps you moving each and every day?
Go ahead and share that with me in the questions box. And while you're doing that, here are a few other housekeeping things for today.
When we look at how we're going to communicate, and the fact that it's a huge webinar, I will do my best to answer some questions as we go or towards the end.
But if you are on Twitter, I'm happy to respond to questions thereafter this session, hard to speak, and tweet back at the same time. So I'll respond after the session. Definitely use the hashtag. Learn grants to ensure that I see it and can respond right away afterward. You're also going to have my contact information in a few different ways that you can reach out if you want to follow up.
So we're going to talk about grant readiness as it relates to our big best practices.
And as I'm watching the questions box, there are some amazing things that you're sharing here related to how you prevent burnout, and how you ensure you are staying on a sustainable pace. I see yoga IC, coffee, movement, and music Deborah. I love it. Also, also a coffee drinker collaborating. With colleagues Marcia, rate traveling and camping Jackie. Love it, Jackie, I'll have to tell you the story about the time the raccoons.
Either Capri Sun was the only food that was left out, not a good camping mistake. They ate nine Capri Suns that night. But regardless, camping what a great way to recharge. I see gardening from a few folks. Another runner, yes, Ad. I'm glad to see that's a form of self-care. Awesome.
So even though self-care for you as the grant professional, the grant writer, is not one of my formal 10 tips and tricks, the reality is, is the biggest tip and trick that we're going to think about today, because these others, yes, they are tactical. Yes, they will help you be more competitive. But there's a lot happening in our day-to-day work in our weekly work, our annual work as grant professionals. Tech is stressful.
So for us to do our best work to be as competitive as possible, yes.
Please do follow all these 10 tips I'm gonna share today, but always step back at the end of the day and say, how am I recharging myself?
What am I doing for myself Cares that I am not, going to be one of the stories of statistics, that the burnout, and we call them the burnout trio, but John Rogers, Bethany Plantain, and Trish Bachmann have been doing research in this space? Burnout with grant professionals is rampant.
The self-care you have typed into the Questions box. Hi-five. Great job. Keep it up!
So, there you go. The first tip, before we even get to the formal number one.
Well, as we look at these 10 tips today, we have what I call five R's, and I'm not the only one to refer to them as the R's.
What we're looking at are the best practices in our grant life cycle and the things that we need to do with all of our grants application processes. And when we think about these five R's, the reason that it's great to refer to them this way is that we can double-check ourselves. It's easy to remember, in this order. I get that it means writing is Miss capitalize used to really bother my children when they were younger. But we first always think about readiness. Are we eligible and competitive?
Then we think about who might fund us so that we can be competitive. Who would we be a good fit for?
We use that research information to build relationships.
We make it through our first three hours before we ever sit down and think about customizing our writing in that fourth R and then we do it also, well, we get to do a happy dance, and move on to the fifth area to reporting, to grant management, and then we start all over again.
So, those are our highest level best practices when we think about grant seeking.
Now, I know on the line today that we have a wide range of experience levels of titles, of backgrounds. What I'm curious about... there is no right or wrong answer here. I've just launched a poll question. I'm curious to know which of the five R's.
Which of these grant-seeking best practices currently stresses you out the most? Now, I can't see who clicks, what, so, don't. you worry.
I'm not going to call you out, but go ahead, look at the poll question on your screen, Click on the answer, which of the five Rs in our grant life cycle in our best practices currently stresses you out the most?
What's interesting to me when I asked this question, I'm not surprised by the wide variation in answers, and that it isn't only the stress of writing.
Yes, the writing is stressful. Writer's block is real, making sure we are being clear and concise, and compelling is pressure-filled and stressful.
But, all these other elements, the reporting, the research relationships, are also a real cause of stress in the field.
So writing is just literally just going to the week ahead of relationships, it was neck and neck for a moment. I wasn't really sure what was going to happen. But writing is just coming out ahead of relationships. And I'm not surprised by that, because relationships are one of the biggest things that can influence how our writing is, reacted to how it's received. And that's one of the things we might have the least control over.
Alright. Well, I appreciate everyone's participation in that poll question. That helps me to have a bit of understanding about your perception of where you are right now, as we get into these tips. We're gonna follow those five R's as we walk through our tips today, which means we're starting right at the top.
We're talking about grant readiness first. So grant readiness. What does that mean? Grant readiness is about assessing our eligibility, and our competitiveness.
And so the first of our 10 tips is to make sure that your organization is grant-ready before you start applying for grants. So, grant readiness is truly the building block of your grant-seeking effort in your organization.
I always asked this question.
How ready do you think your organization is?
Do you think your organization is ready or not?
Is it a simple yes or no, or no question? Yes, we are grand ready. No, we are not.
It isn't that simple of a question. There are so many factors that go into grant readiness, so you might ask yourself, Well, how do I know that we are grant-ready?
There are numerous checklists and blog articles around grant readiness Certainly that can help you determine what might be some of the factors, but to help you achieve this net first tip to understand your grant readiness. I have a free tool for you, and there's, it's not a trick. There's nothing hidden behind it, but our team created the grasping tool. It's a proprietary tool that was published in the Grant Professionals Association about, I guess, three years ago at this point. Almost four.
It is a free tool available at D H Leonard consulting dot com. Nothing I can just give to you in your CharityHowTo library because you need to answer the 10-minute questionnaire yourself specific to your organization so that you get your own personalized score back.
Having that score gives you a strong indicator: How ready are we?
If we scored a 44, well, we have some homework to do.
Did we get a 72?
Getting closer, but probably not quite ready for Federal? Did we get a 92? All right.
It doesn't mean we can sit back on our laurels. It means that we need to be aware of things that might impact our grant readiness but we will know our base level readiness. We will see what we should try to improve in order to increase our competitiveness. So that's our first tip.
The second tip is to do your homework to complete your due diligence. When we think about our search for grants for nonprofits, we are constantly trying to find new grant funding opportunities to make sure that we are not missing out on any grant opportunities.
In fact, does anyone else suffer from FOMO, F O M O The Fear of Missing Out?
Not in a social context, like it's often used on social media, but related to grants. If you have suffered from that fear of missing out related to grants, go ahead, and throw your hand up in the questions box. Give me a Y for yes or an end for no. Have you ever felt that same fear?
I know, I do it all the time.
I'm worried that we're going to miss out on something opening in grants. gov, or about a foundations opening of their letter of the inquiry process, or some brand new foundation is formed. Because of business sold in the assets, created a foundation, you name it, if it relates to grants for nonprofits, I've had the fear that we might miss it.
We want to make sure that we are looking at the best opportunities and that we are not missing any ways to secure funding for our nonprofit organization. And what that means is probably that we are using multiple tools, that we are getting creative with technology to save our searches, to get e-mails, to get Google Alerts.
Research is truly a jigsaw puzzle. It will take multiple tools and multiple people in your nonprofit organization to keep their eyes open, and look for opportunities.
So, personally, our team does not endorse any tool, They are all wonderful in their own unique way.
What rather, I want you to consider is whatever tools you might pay for or have access to that are already in your toolbox. There are a few other things that you can do to fill in some of the pieces to help you feel more comfortable that you're not missing anything.
one, your colleagues, Make sure your colleagues know what type of funding you're looking for and that you specifically say to your colleagues, Hey, if you ever see anything related to grants, or do you ever see anything in your E-newsletters from your professional subscriptions or e-mails you get?
Just forward it along. I'll assess whether it's a fit or not. Turn your colleagues into extra eyes, can be colleagues, can be board members, committee members. It's not a problem to get the opportunity for more than one place. All of a sudden, you truly have created clones for yourself multiple people with eyes watching for opportunities.
The second thing to consider is, What ways can technology help you?
If you're in grants dot gov, looking at the searches, they're at the federal opportunities, you can have a free login.
And save your search. And get e-mail alerts and subscribe to forecasts. That takes such pressure off of your shoulders. If you are thinking about foundations, you can, of course, if they have an e-newsletter subscribe directly.
But what about setting Google Alerts so that you get an e-mail directly to your inbox if they post an opportunity?
Could you put something about a foundation name and grant in a Google Alert so that anytime their foundation name is paired with grant or grant deadline that you get an e-mail, it takes the pressure off about having to check their website every day or every week.
So those are a few of the unique ways that you can ratchett up your research without having to spend more money on a tool, or necessarily spend more time researching in the tools.
Now, what do we do with all that information?
That brings us to tip number three.
We should have a grant calendar.
Why, Who do I mean by we joining me, the grant professional? No, I don't mean just me, I don't mean only on my Google calendar, or only on my Outlook calendar.
I mean, we, the organization seeking grant funds should have a calendar that documents everything in the life cycle.
It should document some of our key research. When are we going to spend time finding opportunities for next year's grant calendar?
When are we going to reach out and talk to a foundation, or try to call government program manager?
Of course, what are the formal deadlines, and what are the reporting requirements that we have for our current ...? All of those things belong on a grant calendar.
Now where should the grant calendar be?
I'm here. I don't actually have an opinion.
It can be in any tool and facts, type into the questions box for me, where do you currently keep track?
Is it your Google Calendar? Are you in granta, are you in razor's Edge, are you in little green light? Where are you documenting your grants calendar?
The tool itself is not what is important to me. Rather. what is important is that the calendar be accessible to more individuals than just one, more than just you, the grant writer or the grants professional.
You need to ensure that at least one other colleague knows how to access it, how to interpret the information on the calendar.
Why is that?
Well, it's a few reasons. That's some positive, some negative.
What if you won the lottery and all of a sudden, you're out, You're gone live in somewhere warm, year round, for at least that's my dream. As someone in far far upstate New York. I lived somewhere warm year round, won the lotto on that.
Or maybe somebody got sick unexpectedly, and isn't available.
Great things happen. Life happens. The grant calendar needs to be accessible to at least two people so that you never have a blip in your plan.
I saw a lot of different tools coming through and that's OK.
As I said, the tool you use, not what's important, the fact that you have one, and that it is visible, usable to more people than just you, that is what's important for this tip.
Now, usually when we talk about grant calendars, people are like, yeah, I have a place that I write down my deadlines.
But when I described the grant calendar, what did I say should go on there?
Everything in the life cycle, so I want to drill down just a little bit more.
give you, sort of a, tip, three, A, three B, maybe, I guess.
I mentioned that relationship, building efforts should be on your grant calendar.
And the reason is, if we looked at the whole life cycle, the life cycle item, that is most likely to either be despite Best Intentions, overlooked, skipped, or shortchanged's relationship building.
And the thing that got second place in our poll about stressors, I'm not surprised.
If we make it a commitment. If we put it on our grant calendar, if we give it the same weight for our work and for our team, as we do for our letters of inquiry, and our research, and our deadlines, it is more likely to happen. So that's one benefit of putting it on the calendar. The other is that it forces us as a team to think about what ways can we outreached together.
It doesn't mean we have to have all these in person meetings with grantmakers.
It could mean that we're thinking about how have we done some personalized outreach or how have we expressed next level gratitude to any grantmakers in the last quarter.
Those could also be calendared commitments, checking in on progress for relationship building, even if we're not only talking about those in person conversations. Or picking up the phone. I mean, anything related to relationships.
Since we're talking about relationships, let's dig in on tip number four.
Did you know that, on some level, all grants are relationship based?
This doesn't mean that the individual relationships always have the power to influence the final decision.
That is certainly not the case.
There are plenty of grants that are formally scored. And the score you receive is what will determine, Did you get the funding or not?
But how do we know how to customize so that our proposal is the most competitive?
How is it that we learn about past grants of our past good experiences?
There are people making grants to people.
There's just a lot going on with the process in-between. How does this help us? How does this tip play out in our work?
Well, the first thing to think about is that if it's people granting to people, we should think about how to treat those who are managing the process as people, how can we think about their reaction to our work.
How can we think about our outreach and not surprising them?
With outreach, we don't want to send in an unsolicited request if they had capacity or preference to talk to us either on the phone or e-mail.
We want to treat each grantmaker as a unique individual.
The cars they are.
So when we think about grants being relationship based, I am thinking about the initial work that we do to reach out, phone or e-mail before we apply.
And I'm thinking about what we do after once we get the grant.
You're right, we get the grant, we get to happy dance, But then, what happens next?
So the outreach that happens before we apply is helping us to make a good first impression, helping us to learn as much as possible, so that we can customize our writing, so that we are at the top of the pile.
We had the most reviewers advocating for us, or we got the top score. So, we got that grant award.
As we get to tip number five here, we're switching gears to say you did it all so well, those four, first four tips, you knocked it out of the park and you got the money.
Now, here comes the tough stuff. Here comes the hard work for you and your colleagues.
We're going to do what?
Well, our colleagues now need to think about implementing because we secured the funding, and that's hard work on their part.
On the development and grant staff side, we need to think about how do we acknowledge the award?
What is the formal recognition that we need to put in place, what's required in terms of financial reports or programmatic reports when we look at what that means.
I want to talk to you about next level gratitude. And so to do so, I have a quote from a colleague of mine. He's the Assistant Director at the Northern New York Community Foundation, and Max and I love to sit down and have deep thoughts, deep conversations about grantee and grantmaker relationships and power dynamics. For me, it's a lot of fun because it's taking me back to my roots when I was a grantmaker.
And Max was talking about next level gratitude and saying that like, what are the boundaries, what does that mean for how you interact?
And especially if you think about a community foundation, the staff, the board, they all live right in the community that they're funding.
So there's a lot of interaction. There's a lot of opportunities for relationship building, a lot of different levels.
And that's his point, is that gratitude doesn't have boundaries, but that if you only do the report, you only do the requirements, you're probably not expressing next level, gratitudes, you're probably too close to the transactional type of relationship. And so, tip five is not that you have to have all the bells and whistles that you have to go so far above and beyond, acknowledgement letters, and formal reports.
But to say, what are the things in your organization that you can do that are sincere expressions of gratitude, sincere interactions with grantmakers of all shapes and sizes express your personality and let the funder know that they are not an ATM?
No, I mean, it's not an ATM like the bank machine where you go take your card and slide it into the slot.
When your wallet empty, why do we go to the ATM? Because, well, perhaps in your case like mine, at the end of the school year, in particular, I go in my cashed out, all those end of year school activities, the dollars just ****. They get taken right out. Better go back to the ATM.
We would never want an grantmaker to feel that way.
Oh, you're here again. It must be 11 month and two weeks must be getting close to the end of the grant deadline, or the grant award period mm. We never want a grantmaker to feel that our interactions are transactional. Rather, they are part of a larger funding partnership.
So what are the things that you already do, that you might already have in place, that you could utilize in your grant seeking strategy for this next level gratitude expression when it comes to your grantmakers.
Now, one of the things that often comes up here, and I know we have a mix of different types of individuals on the line, Those that are employees in non-profits some part-time, some full-time. I know we also usually have some that are freelancers or consultants that come in on the line learning about these tips and tricks for grant seeking. And so one of the things that you want to think about is who is helping with these relationships, who's helping to manage these and who's doing the outreach.
When you look around your grant team, look at all the people that are helping to give you information for your grants to be successful.
We're going to talk about some of those people in these last tips.
This is a spot where it is not all on your shoulders.
If you are an employee in a non-profit, please don't feel that you need to do all this relationship building work on your own. You should look to other colleagues who have connections, or who are willing to help build relationships on behalf of the organization. That's a great way to get assistance. That doesn't involve someone else helping to sit down and write grants.
If you are an external party to the non-profit, like me, I'm an external consultant.
I don't believe, having been a grant maker, that the funders want to hear from us. That we can't answer all the questions. We're not the ones that ultimately should hold the relationship, but, within the organization.
Wow! Can it be a team effort? Again, it takes the pressure off of your shoulders. It helps to open the gates and the doors in terms of who might know whom.
Now, this next tip is bringing us into that writing work, just like with our five R's in the life cycle, we make it really far around the life cycle.
Before we talk about writing, as we think about our 10 tips, we make it pretty far before we talk about something that is specifically about writing.
So, smart goals and objectives, smart, meaning, specific, measurable, attainable, or achievable, relevant or realistic and time bound.
When we write smart objectives, what we're doing for our reviewer is helping to answer some of those basic journalistic questions, the who, what, where, when, why, and how.
I'm gonna share a little something with you here, moment of vulnerability.
I did not, when I entered the field, feel comfortable writing smart objectives.
This is not my natural way of writing.
OK, now that I've disclosed, how many of you scale of 1 to 10, 1, not comfortable 10, super comfortable?
How comfortable are you writing smart objectives?
Just to a safe group here, some of your new best friends within grant seeking. That, I'm asking you that question among. But what is your candid answer? Scale of 1 to 10? 1? Not so comfortable 10, super comfortable, love them.
How do you feel about smart objectives? And then here is my second follow up question.
Of the five elements, S, M, a R or T, which do you feel you need to focus on the most when you are sitting down to write objective statements. Go ahead and let me know which of those you feel you need to pay the most attention to when you're sitting down to write.
So there's no right or wrong answer here, because this is about your personal experience with writing smart objectives.
What your responses to me, what they're highlighting, is that it's something that indeed does take. Most of us, practice.
There are very few professionals that are like, Oh, yeah, this is just a natural way that I write, and think this is how, when I type, this is what comes out. And so it takes practice for all of us. And as a reviewer, I'm seeing a lot of folks that put the em that put measurable in is where you want to spend your time strengthening your objectives, and that's where you feel like you need to spend your time.
I'm not surprised, because on the review side, the answer is often what feels weak, Which ultimately actually influences the A and the R If you have S M and T, that are a little iffy. The A and the R are certainly going to be weak, as well.
So I agree with many of you saying, measurement is where I need to spend my time. So, I have an optional homework assignment for you, a challenge. Should you be willing to accept it.
No pressure that you have to, there is no accountability system for it, but I know when I teach intermediate grant writing classes, we spend a lot of time practicing and drafting smart objectives and getting feedback on them, having fresh eyes give you perspective.
And it's nice to do that within a class setting because, Well, wait a second, we're not under the pressure of a deadline.
So here's your optional homework.
I would encourage you pick one grant program if you have many in your organization.
Sit down and draft smart objectives for that project or program.
Now, while you are not under the pressure of a specific deadline, and seek feedback, ask for fresh eyes on those drafts.
Now, again, while not under the pressure of a deadline, you could ask someone in your organization to do that, but their eyes aren't quite as fresh.
So this is where the homework gets a little more challenging and why it's very optional.
Look around your network. Are you part of a Grant Professionals Association Chapter?
Are you part of an Association of Fundraising Professionals chapter, or you want a brown bag lunch group with other grant professionals, other fundraisers, Ask people who have not seen your objectives before.
To look at them, and ask you, as a first time, reeder, what questions do they have? What unanswered questions do they have that will give you incredibly meaningful feedback, and you can offer to do the same for them.
Trade a little bit there with your professional knowledge.
Now you'll have some tactical things you can strengthen before you sit down to write the next application and you are under the pressure of the deadline.
So, now that I've outlined your optional homework assignment, that challenge, go ahead. I'm willing to be your accountability partner. Throw your hand up in the questions box.
Are you going to commit to trying that optional homework in the next month? Over the course of the next four weeks? Are you going to try to get that optional homework done?
I won't track you down over e-mail. I promise. But I'm seeing you say it here.
And I will be happy to hear from you, if you do it, and you have questions. Or if you do it and you just want someone to say, Hi, five, good job.
You're call. I'm here to be your accountability partner in whatever way you need.
And you know what?
I appreciate that somebody said you will try That in itself, huge effort. I see some yeses with exclamation points, Awesome.
For those of you that said, can't commit to any deadline, It's OK. But I like to give that structured suggestion because, given how important smart objectives are, it's a spot that you can significantly improve your proposal without worrying about the rest of your word smithing.
I would guess, I would almost bet that your proposals are well written, that you've got great copy editing in place and tightening up those squared objectives will elevate your grant seeking strategy significantly.
Now, related to that, is tip number seven.
When we think about evaluation, when we think about how that actually will interesting how it connects to the M in our smart objectives, what's happening, what we really want our reviewers to understand, they read the proposal. It can be a letter. It can be four pages. It can be 50 pages.
The reviewers read your work.
Do they understand what success looks like with the dollars you're requesting? With your 25,000 or 250,000, you're two point five million?
Do they understand what success will look like?
If they don't, it's really hard for them to want to take that risk, to take that journey with you to fund the project or proposal.
You might be fundable, but it wouldn't make you competitive.
This is another interesting question, although it involves reading the whole proposal probably.
If you had fresh eyes that could help you assess when you read this, what does success look like?
It often is summarized within the evaluation narrative if there is one within the application, but since we see such a wide range of application style and headings and questions, it really that's why I say it's about reading the whole application, and being able to have someone pinpoint or answer.
What does success look like? if the grantmaker gives you the award?
How will they know that this was successful?
Doesn't mean that their money is the be all, and all it fixes the problem. But how will they say, our investment in your work?
How will we say that that was successful?
When we think about our evaluation, I don't know about you, but this is another one of those spots.
Oh, OK, So, learning about grants early on. I haven't taken a class in evaluation.
I don't know, I don't have partners yet that are evaluators. I haven't learned from them. I've not read a big program evaluation textbook.
What are the things I should try to answer if I don't have prompts?
If I don't have questions to answer specifically about evaluation, This is a real example from a real online character counted grant application, To be clear, I am not saying you need to be able to always answer this in 2500 characters or less.
Rather, what I'm saying by sharing this example, is that if you feel that the M component of your smart objectives might need some improvement, the evaluation narrative in your application might also need some strengthening.
And having your team, your colleagues, answer these questions.
They won't always all fit in the narrative.
But having these questions be answered so that you could potentially write about them, actually is going to go backwards and help you for tip number six, where we were talking about our smart objectives, Because if you as the writer, as the grant professional, if you know who's measuring the outcome, what tools are we using? When are we measuring it? Why are we measuring it in this way?
If we know those very specific answers, now we can integrate the answers into our smart objectives.
There we go. You see the magic.
I hope, so, I hope I'm connecting the dots. Tip 6 and 7 are incredibly related.
Or many of you, when you think about your resources, when you think about how it is that you're going to further your education related to evaluation to smart objectives.
You'll probably become, at least dangerously knowledgable if not super, super comfortable.
I hope that many of you, as you do, a little more digging, a little more practicing your comfort level, in the next, let's say, six months, goes up one level on that scale of 1 to 10.
As you think about resources, I wanna give you more than just the two tips here in today's webinar. These are some great free online resources, the Kellogg Foundation Development Guide. Actually, their entire resource directory has a ton of great information related to evaluation that you can dig through and learn from at your own pace, so I would encourage you to check that out.
Well, we make it through smart objectives and evaluation, and we make it to one of my favorite parts of the grant application. In fact, it's what I read first. It's the grant budget.
And the reason I read the grant budget first, is because it tells the whole story.
So your tip, related to budget.
Make sure that everything is consistent. Make sure that if you're talking about five staff in your narrative, that there's five staff in the budget.
Make sure that if you're talking about how many things you're going to buy, that you've shown the calculation, so that no one is trying to solve for a variable, like we're back in Algebra class, give all the details for your calculations, how did you get $2500 in travel?
How many miles at what cost?
How did you know that it was going to be 1500 and supplies?
How many textbooks did you buy at? What cost? Give the details, show the formula about how did you get to your calculations.
Tip nine, I've already alluded to in a few different ways, but here's the formal ninth tip.
Don't self edit your proposal.
Find fresh eyes.
Get someone who has not helped to write it, to edit it.
because we're too close to it.
We can't see our own assumptions. We can't see our even our own copy, editing mistakes. We just can't see it. Our eyes, our brain connect the dots the way it should be.
We need fresh eyes.
So it could mean that you've got a colleague in your organization that's got a Theist Red pen and is happy to do that for you and they don't support the grant process except for to do editing, OK? That's pretty far removed. That could still be helpful.
But look around you.
Just like with that smart objective homework, where you are going to think about maybe interacting with other colleagues, those in your network.
You could trade editing services, if you're not competing against some of those colleagues, that might feel like an acceptable thing for you to do.
So you might want to try that as well.
If you're struggling to find a fierce red pen, we don't want to turn and work, that is self edited.
We will hate to say, we're guaranteed to find, but we are really likely to find some assumptions, or even some small copy edit, that we wish we had been able to clear up in advance.
And our last tip is related to this. Now, Mock Review is something I talk about in actually many of our charity, how to premium webinars. And we've got some bonus materials that come with it, but at a high level, I wanted to help you understand what smock review.
There's copy editing, That's our base. Mock review is a step above, it is saying, how do we review our work against the funders criteria?
Not just to say, Has it been copy, edited, well, but to say, Are we going to score? Well? Are we going to be at the top of the pile for the grantmaker? So mark review means taking the guidelines. Maybe they're scored guidelines, like in this screenshot.
Or maybe they're just general narrative guidelines that say, What is important to us? But we review our proposal against those criteria?
Actually, it's not even us, because, again, we are too close to it, so a mock review is about having a colleague external to the process that reads our work and gives some tough love.
Gives us their perceived score, their perceived reaction: How did our written work compare against the guidelines?
Papi editing is not doing that.
It's important. I just explained in tip nine, why we have to caveat it.
Yep, 10, the last of our 10 today this is this is like the Cherry on top of the Ice Cream sundae.
This is once you've done everything else in your power to be competitive. This might be the final thing that puts you at the top of that competitive pile.
All right, I said, it was the 10th tip, but I had to do it. I have to give you a bonus tip.
If you are not already asking for feedback, when you get denied, please start doing that.
If you are not already asking for feedback about what they liked, when you get funded, when you get the award, please start to do that.
It makes sense. We ask for feedback when we get tonight, so we can be stronger for them the next time.
Think about this.
When you get funded, first, you write happy dance, but then we want to replicate what we did that they liked so that we can do it again.
We won't know what that was. We'll be making assumptions, unless we ask.
So it's an optional challenge. I won't ask for you to commit to it. You've already made one big accountability commitment to me in terms of your smart objectives. But this is a huge way that you can improve your work.
When we think about the resources in our field, We've got blogs and webinars like this that are recorded that are free. We have our premium webinars here at charity, how to would love to help support you along your journey.
Candide, the team at the Foundation Directory Online, and GuideStar has a ton of free resources as well. In fact, their Funding Information Network is where you can get access to their premium, professional database at no charge, So that might be something that you want to check out as well.
Our team has the Grant Writers Blog, would love to have you join in our readership there. So you can get tips and tricks from a wide variety of writers. And the Grant Professionals Association is another great resource to network with colleagues, their business affiliate with charity, how to. So actually, if you're a member there, you can get a discount here on premium Webinars. And if you have not thought about becoming a grants professional certified, that's the GPC. That's after my name. I'd encourage you to come check out the Grant Professional Certification Institute. Certainly, not a guarantee that you're going to get all the funding, or that that's like the pinnacle of your career, but it is something that many professionals find to be helpful in securing jobs, are focusing on their professional development, as well. So a few other resources for you to check out.
Now I went through those quickly and that Kellogg foundation link as well. Don't forget, today's slides and the recording are all available in the charity how to Library for you. When you login. You can get the download those slides and the links, and watch the recording again. And there's a few questions that I saw pop up here at the end that I will answer as we wrap up. But I did want to make sure you knew, if you want to join us for an upcoming Premium webinar. Anything in the grant space that we've got coming up on, our calendar would love to have you join us. You can have 15% off as a Thank you for you joining us today.
If you use my last name, Leonard, all caps, L, E O N a R D will give you 15% off any of the upcoming grant related webinars.
And I'm also happy to answer questions after the fact, via social media, Not just Twitter, like I said at the beginning, but anywhere you want to ask the question, I'm happy to answer it. So, please do feel free to connect and reach out with questions that you have in the future. Let's take a quick peek at 1 or 2 of these questions I saw pop up at the end.
So, in terms of government grants, I gave that suggestion, reach out for feedback. And the question was, Will government grants provide feedback?
In fact, they might be the most likely type of grantmaker to give feedback, because they are getting formal scoring sheets back in most cases. And so I would encourage you. It never hurts to ask.
Thank you for letting us know about the decision with the grant, and this is whether it's funded or denied. Would it be possible to receive the actual feedback, or a summary of the feedback that was given by reviewers about our proposal?
Fair question. They won't always be able to say yes, but oftentimes, they will give you a summary of them. They will give you the real sheets or they might even schedule a call to go over and debrief what we've seen all three of those things happen.
Alright, and then, another quick question that I want to answer is, what are some examples of how to build relationships with a grant, provider, or a foundation grant?
So, we want to think about how each foundation likes to be connected with contacted, when I think about their preference and capacity related to relationship building. Jackie, what I'd actually suggest we've got a free, recorded webinar on grant relationship building right here in charity, how to, you could have that added to your library. If you go to charity, how to dot com?
Free resources and search in the webinars section for the word relationships. That should come right up.
That'll give you a lot of detailed information, more than I'll given this tiny NaN.
But my biggest suggestion is to think about, why do you think they're a good funder for you? Why are they a good fit? And how are you going to have that conversation to confirm that they agree with you, that they agree that this could be a good fit, you're trying to confirm your competitiveness? So make sure you've done your homework. And you have the answer to that question before you reach out to them. So that's my big, broad answer, jacki, but I'd also encourage you to check out that free recorded webinar.
This has been great, and you're asking so many amazing questions. one more, before I let you go back to your regularly scheduled day. What is the free candid directory?
The Funding Information Network, just type it into Google, or if you go to canada dot org, it'll pop up.
That is where the resource, the network members, libraries, colleges, universities, have paid to be a network site, which means that non-profits in their community can access the research database at no charge.
So it's a great resource when you go to those places, If you look them up, type in your zip code, find the closest one. Make sure you say thank you, because it's not free for them to be a network site, they have to pay to have that access for you. So if you go to one of those Foundation Directory sites, through Candid, through the Funding Information Network, please be sure to express your gratitude to them for making that acts as possible.
Um, fantastic questions. As I said, let's go back one more time. There's a lot of different ways that you can reach out. I'm happy to connect offline and continue answering questions, and I want to say thank you for being with us today. Hope to see you in some of our future premium webinars, and I wish you the best of grant seeking success.
Thanks, everyone. Thanks, Diane. And please everyone, make sure to take a look at the webinar I'm sorry, the website that, I'm gonna post into the questions box just right now is to a place where you can submit a short video testimonial for a chance to win a $500 Amazon gift card and gold membership subscription for an entire year, completely for free. You just need to submit a short video testimonial about your learning experience with any of the webinars that we have done over the past. And just for submitting that video, we will give you a free registration without cost for a premium webinar of your choice. So, just posted the link into the questions box, Make sure to take a look at that, save at the Market, and take advantage of this great opportunity that we have going. Thanks. Again. Have a wonderful rest of your day. Stay Safe and healthy. And we hope to see you soon again on another charity, how to webinar.