Four Ways Grants Are Like Blizzards

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As the DC area (where Altum is headquartered) prepares for what could be one of the worst snowstorms in the region's history, here are four ways that grants are like blizzards:

  1. They benefit greatly from preparation.  Everyone in the mid-Atlantic and beyond has spent the past several days buying groceries, snow shovels, ensuring that flashlights have batteries, and, if they're like me, ensuring that there's enough ground coffee in the house to be able to use a French press for the requisite caffeine fix if the power goes out.  While preparing to write grant proposals and manage the grant once it's awarded involves different components, preparation is equally important.  Proposals require thought, time, and attention, and it helps to have all of the components lined up well before the deadline to be able to write a compelling proposal.  And what happens if your organization gets the grant?  Are you prepared to execute the programs you proposed?  Do you have the right resources lined up/available to run the project?  Preparation is key.
  2. Timelines are beyond your control and can't be changed.  While there's more predictability to grant deadlines than to when blizzards will hit, the timelines are beyond your control.  Grant applications will have deadlines set by the funders, as will any post-grant reports.  And those deadlines can't be changed, even if they don't fit well with your schedule.  Just like an impending storm.  It's undoubtedly inconvenient for many people that this blizzard will hit starting this afternoon.  They had other things planned.  They don't want to rearrange their schedules to accommodate this one big thing.  But rearrange their schedules they must.  And with grant deadlines, grantwriters and others involved in the process must accommodate the funder's schedule, not the other way around.
  3. They can cost more than you anticipate.  Bad winter storms can cause some damage, and cleanup can be costly.  While grants help the organizations to which they are awarded, sometimes they cost more than the organization anticipates.  That's why it's important to evaluate the net grant - how much a grant is really worth - before applying for a new grant opportunity.
  4. They involve piles of white stuff.  Forecasters are predicting at least 2 feet of snow in the greater DC area.  But even two feet of snow doesn't stack up to the piles of paper that can be involved in the grantwriting process.  And that's where grants software, like PhilanTrack, comes into play. 

Learn

And stay safe!

 

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/foox404/8367145381

Author: Dahna Goldstein
January 22, 2016, 02:37 PM

Net Grants - How Much Is That Grant Really Worth?

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I just got back from the Grant Professionals Association conference in St. Louis.  It was a great conference with lots of learning opportunities for grant pros.

I presented a session entitled "The State of Grantseeking and Its Implications for Grant Professionals" that drew some conclusions about what the current state of grantseeking means for everyone involved in the grantseeking process.  One of the issues that rose to the forefront was the increased competition for grants with limited available resources. 

Several people asked about how to make the case to others in their organization (say, senior management) that a particular grant was not worth pursuing, particularly given limited resources.  I mentioned the concept of a net grant calculation, and enough people asked me about it that I figured it was worth writing a blog post (it's something I've talked about before, but not in this forum).

So here goes. Fair warning: this is going to be a bit long.

The net grant calculation is a tool to help discern the net monetary value a grant will provide to your organization -- so the grant revenue net of expenses to get and manage the grant.  Fundamentally, it is:

Grant Amount - Total Grant Cost = Net Grant

For simplicity, just taking the amount requested as the grant amount is a good starting point, but it doesn't accurately reflect the expected amount of the grant.  Since this post is going to get long, and I want to get to the meat of this calculation quickly, I'll put the more  nuanced version of the grant amount (the expected amount) further down, and you can read all the way through if you're so inclined.

The total grant cost is not the cost to actually run the program you're trying to get funded.  You'll need that information, too, and it figures into the decision-making process about whether or not to pursue a grant, and which grants to include as part of your grants strategy, but it's not part of the net grant calculation.

The total grant cost is the total cost to find, apply for, get, report on, and otherwise manage the grant.  The individual components may vary depending on your organization or the particular grant you're pursuing, but here are the basic elements:

Total Grant Cost = (Hours Spent Researching Opportunity + Hours Spent Writing LOI (if there is one) + Hours Spent Writing Application + Hours Spent Communicating with Funder + Hours Spent Writing Reports + Hours Spent on Any Other Miscellaneous Grant-Related Activities) * The Hourly Salary of the Person Doing the Work

This can get a bit tricky.  Your organization may have multiple people working on different parts of the grant process.  And people get testy about salary information.  The most accurate version of this calculation will take into account the different hourly salaries for each person working on a particular part of the grant, but if you don't want to get into that level of detail, you can ballpark it or use industry averages.

And the components that go into the cost will vary, as indicated above, per organization and per grant.  Does your organization have multiple approval stages?  Do several people read and edit every grant application?  Does the funder do a site visit?  How many staff members are involved in that process?  How much of their time is committed to preparing for the site visit, beyond the time spent on the visit itself?  There are a bunch of other potential variables, and your mileage may vary. 

But at a basic level, and to make this more concrete, let's assume there's one person doing all facets of the grant process, and that person's salary is $60,000/year.   If that person has 2 weeks vacation per year, their hourly wage is $30.

Let's then say that this particular grant requires (and will require) the following number of hours from start to finish:

  • Research and find opportunity: 8 hours
  • Writing LOI: 8 hours
  • Writing proposal: 27 hours
  • Communicating with funder: 8 hours
  • Writing reports (interim and final): 20 hours
  • Other miscellaneous time spent: 10 hours

(These numbers are very rough ballparks, some drawn from data in Drowning in Paperwork)

Total number of hours spent: 81

Hourly rate: $30

Total cost grant cost: $2,430

Note: as indicated above, this is not the cost of running the program the grant will fund.  This is just the cost of getting and managing the grant. 

And this is a pretty simplistic example.  If you work in anything larger than a pretty small organization, more than one person is almost always going to be involved in the process.  And the larger the grant, generally the more complex and involved the application and the oversight, so all of the numbers are likely to be higher.

But let's say you're applying for a $50,000 grant.  In the best case scenario, the net grant value is:

Grant Amount - Total Grant Cost = Net Grant

So:

$50,000 - $2,430 = $47,570

Not too bad.  But if you're applying for a $10,000 grant:

$10,000 - $2,430 = $7,570

The most money you will then have to spend on the program you're trying to fund is $7,570.  Is that enough?  Is that all restricted funding?  Will it cover any overhead?  That's another topic for another day, but something you need to take into account when creating a budget for a program and looking at income streams.

Now, to get more nuanced about the grant amount, the grant amount isn't really the grant amount.  Seems pretty simple, right?  The grant amount is the requested funding amount.  That's one way to look at it.  A more nuanced approach would look at the expected amount of the grant.  This can get more complicated, but I would propose taking three factors into the expected amount of the grant (which you can then choose to combine in the way that makes the most sense for your organization):

  • The amount requested
  • The amount the funder is likely to award
  • The probability of getting the grant

The amount requested: pretty straightforward.

The amount the funder is likely to award: even if the funder decides to award the grant (more about that below), the amount you requested isn't necessarily the same as the amount the funder will choose to award.  Look at the funder's history (what size grants have they awarded to your organization in the past?  To other organizations?  Are you a first time grantee?  Are you a repeat grantee that they're trying to wean from their funding?  Be realistic about all of these things) - and assess what you think the funder is likely to award, even if it's different from what you requested.

The probability of getting the grant: if this has been a repeat funder for years, the probability of getting the grant may be close to 100%.  If it's a new funder, or a new program, or funding priorities have changed, or funder personnel have changed, or the economy isn't doing well, or any number of other things, the probability of being awarded a grant will likely be less than 100%, sometimes much less than 100%.

You may choose to simply take the amount requested and the probability to calculate the expected amount.  I think looking at the amount the funder is likely to award is a better data point to get to the true expected amount, and ultimately the true net value of the grant.

To make this a bit more concrete, here's a specific example.  Let's say you're applying to a new funder (new to your organization, that is).  You see from their grant history that they tend to award grants ranging in size from $10,000 to $50,000.  If you can get more detailed information, you may see that the average grant size is $30,000.  So your math on the expected amount of the grant would go like this:

Amount requested = $50,000.  Amount funder is likely to award = $30,000 (this may be a bit conservative, but it's supported by data in this case, and it's better to be conservative than to overestimate the amount awarded).  Probability of getting the grant = 50%. 

So the expected amount of the grant = $30,000 * 0.5 = $15,000.

To apply that to the net grant calculation for the $50,000 grant we were looking at earlier:

Expected Grant Amount - Total Grant Cost = Net Grant

$15,000 - $2,430 = $12,570

That $50,000 is looking less appealing, isn't it?

Ok.  We've run through a lot of numbers and permutations here, but what does this all mean?  How can you use this in your day-to-day grantseeking activities?

  1. Take this framework as a starting point.  Put in the steps (anything that involves someone's time) that are relevant to your organization, and get as close as you reasonably can to hourly wage information for the people involved.
  2. Estimate the number of hours that will be involved in each grant you're thinking about pursuing.
  3. If nothing else, prioritize those with the highest net value.
  4. Think about opportunity cost.  If you're considering pursuing two grants, do you have the bandwidth to pursue both?  If not, which has a higher net value?  If you're looking at a whole portfolio of grants, what grants are you not pursuing (or what other fundraising or related activities are you not pursuing) that might yield positive results for your organization?
  5. Use the data produced from your calculations to help make the case to your boss or your board as to why you should or should not be pursuing or spending time on particular opportunities

You made it to the end.  You must be really interested in this topic.  This was long.  Particularly since you read this far, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

 

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/8aTZ8x

Author: Dahna Goldstein
November 20, 2015, 12:33 PM

Back to School - Grantwriting Basics

Back to school

If you've been on social media at all this week, you've probably noticed something: pictures of kids in clean, pressed clothes, posing (sometimes patiently) for their parents' obligatory first day of school photos.  Or, if you're a parent, perhaps you've taken (and posted) one yourself.

All of this back-to-school-ness has gotten me thinking about getting back to basics.  In elementary school, kids learn the three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic (or 'rithmetic, for those really focused on alliteration).

What does getting back to basics in grantwriting look like?  For me, it's the three Rs of grantwriting: research, relationships, and writing:

  1. Research.  Good grantwriting starts with good research.  A really compelling grant application requesting funding for an animal shelter will never be successful when submitted to a funder that only supports education reform.  While that's an extreme example, less egregious examples abound: grantseekers submitting requests to funders whose priorities have changed without confirming the funder's current interests; grantseekers not thoroughly reading guidelines before submitting a request and being denied for not adequately meeting the requirements; grantseekers spending significant resources to apply for a big-name grant they are unlikely to receive, at the expense of smaller grants that are a better fit.  Another facet of research is being selective about which grants to apply for and which to skip.  Grantseekers are always looking for new funding.  But not every grant is a good grant or a good fit.  Some aspects of that relate to funding priorities and ensuring that the program, project, or initiative for which you are seeking funding fits within the funder's interests, but it's also important to calculate the net grant value (discussed in this blog post) before applying for a grant.
  2. Relationships.  Relationships are a key part of institutional fundraising, just as they are a key part of individual fundraising.  While grants are awarded by foundations, corporations, government agencies, or other types of organizations, the decisions are made by people.  Establishing and building relationships with those people is critical to grantseeking success.  When approaching a new funder, try to get to know the people.  It's beneficial in a number of ways: it helps the grantseeker gain a better understanding of the grantmaker's interests; it helps the grantmaker better understand the organization applying for the grant; it helps the grantmaker feel more valued in the process.  Grantmakers sometimes feel like they're treated by grantees like ATM machines: grantees are only interested in the check.  There are much more meaningful relationships that can and should be built with funders, not only because it helps the funder feel more valued, but also because both parties have much to learn from each other and can help each other.  Funders and grantees are all focused on addressing issues.  There is an immediate alignment of interests in that realization.  Connecting with funders - not only during the application process, but on an ongoing basis - can help inform both parties about what is working and what isn't working in addressing the issue or issues they both have in common.
  3. Writing.  Of course, a key part of grant writing is the actual writing.  As a grantseeker, take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the person who will be reading your grant application.  Is yours the only grant application they will be reading?  How much will that person know about your organization before reading your application.  What do they need to know to evaluate whether your organization is going to be a good fit with their funding interests?  How will they be able to determine that your organization and your application stand out from the others?  Simply put, good writing is paramount.  When reading many applications, one that is poorly written can be easy to dismiss, regardless of the quality of the program the grant would support.  And persuasive writing is critical.  How are you making the case that the grantmaker should allocate some of its limited resources to supporting your organization?  Every decision to support your organization implies a decision not to support another organization.  Have you crafted your proposal in a manner that is sufficiently compelling for the funder to make that decision?  Have you used a good combination of qualitative and quantitative information to make your case?

What do you think?  What are your back to school tips for grantwriters?  What other grantwriting elements are fundamental?

Grant writing software can help manage all facets of the grantseeking process.

Learn

 

Image from http://img14.deviantart.net/bcdc/i/2012/239/3/f/back_to_school_by_textuts-d5cml39.jpg

 

Author: Dahna Goldstein
September 11, 2015, 10:55 AM

Gateway to Grant Success: 17th Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference

This is a guest post from Kelli Romero, Membership Director at the Grant Professionals Association

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The 17th Annual Grant Professionals Association* conference will be held in St. Louis, Missouri on November 11­14, 2015. This year, the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) has blazed a trail of new and exciting workshop sessions, innovative learning experiences and networking opportunities.

This is a must ­attend event for anyone involved with grant management and grant proposal preparation. GPA Conference workshops offer expert advice from the grant profession’s most successful and accomplished grant proposal developers/managers. Workshop tracks include: Proposal Development and Planning, Donor Relations and Research, Grant Management and Reporting, Evaluation and Collaboration, and Federal Grants. Sessions are targeted to individuals with varying levels of experience from beginner to mid­career to advanced topics (new this year).

Workshops cover topics such as:

  • State of Grantseeking and Its Implications for Grant Professionals – presented by Altum’s own Dahna Goldstein!
  • Grant Management (Not) For Dummies: The Price You Pay After the Award]
  • How to Stage a Proposal Like Staging a Home – Emphasize Best Assets
  • Understanding Online Grant Applications­Interactive Q & A
  • Overcoming the Challenges of Grant Seeking and Management in Large, Fiscally Diverse Organizations

Several workshops focus on specific fields, such as grant management, government, education, human services, and faith based organizations.

This year’s conference will highlight some keynote and featured speakers as well as some wonderful sponsors and exhibitors, such as Altum!

Who Should Attend:
Anyone involved in grants: Grant Writers, Grant Managers, Grant Consultants, Grants Officers, Grant Coordinators, Development Directors, Executive Directors, Government Relations Officers, Financial Officers and any other Grant Professionals. Any level of experience, beginner to expert.

In today’s extremely competitive world for grant awards, the organization that invests in the professional development of its grant professional increases its odds of receiving grant funding tremendously. The opportunity to meet and learn from this caliber of presenters will not be matched at any other venue.

Registration for this conference is a small investment for the knowledge and increased competency you will gain at this premier event. To find out more information about the conference or register go to: 17th Annual GPA Conference.


*The Grant Professionals Association (GPA), a nonprofit membership association, builds and supports an international community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards. Founded in 1997, GPA has grown close to 2,000 active members representing all 50 states and internationally. More than 50 chapters have formed in the past five years.


Author: Dahna Goldstein
August 20, 2015, 02:49 PM

Please Take the Spring 2015 State of Grantseeking Survey

Will_you_take_the_survey

Twice a year, we (PhilanTech, and now Altum) partner with our friends at GrantStation to conduct a survey about the current state of grantseeking.  Each time, we gain valuable insights about what is and isn't working well for grantseekers, who is funding what, what challenges are most pressing for grantseeking organizations - and we are happy to share those insights with the grantseeking community to help inform grantseeking strategies.

We've just opened the Spring 2015 State of Grantseeking survey, and hope that you'll take a few minutes to take the survey.

This year, there are new questions about Federal funding and support. These free reports, which will be published in early May, can serve as a valuable benchmark for organizations to review their grantseeking efforts, and will provide leading-edge information months earlier than other annual surveys.

Please take five minutes and complete the survey before March 31.  Results will be published on both the Altum and GrantStation websites.  Survey respondents can request an advance copy of results when completing the survey.

If you haven't already, you can download the Fall 2014 State of Grantseeking Report here.

Happy grantseeking!

 

Author: Dahna Goldstein
February 12, 2015, 01:01 PM

16th Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference!

This is a guest post from Kelli Romero, Membership Director at the Grant Professionals Association

GPA logo

“Building Bridges”…with other grant professionals at the 16th Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference!

GPA Portland

In October, the 16th Annual Grant Professionals Association* annual conference will be in Portland, Oregon (October 15-18, 2014). This year, the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) has cooked up a host of new and exciting workshop sessions and special professional levels of expertise to suit every non-profit and grant professional.

This is a must-attend event for anyone involved with grant proposal preparation and grant management. An extensive workshop list offers expert advice from some of the professions most successful and accomplished grant writers/managers. Workshop topics are wide ranging and are targeted to individuals with varying levels of experience of beginner, mid-level, and advanced.

Workshops will identify the skill track and SIG that aligns with the topic of the proposed presentation. Skill tracks include; Proposal Development – Planning, Grant Construction, Grant Management and Reporting, Communication Skills, Professional Ethics, Resource Knowledge/Grant Research, etc.

Workshops cover topics such as:

  • State of Grantseeking and Its Implications for Grant Professionals – presented by PhilanTech’s own Dahna Goldstein!
  • Overcoming Fear & Loathing of Online Grant Applications
  • Grant Proposal Fundamentals
  • The Power of Social Media for Grant Professionals
  • The Impact of Revised OMB Rules on Your Federal Program
  • Implementing Grant Compliance with Your Back Against a Wall
  • Practical Considerations of Direct vs. Indirect Costs

Several workshops focus on specific fields, such as education, human services, government and faith based organizations.

The conference will also feature some special experiences, which include the Night at the Museum held at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). This premiere special event will feature a trolley ride to OMSI, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a hands-on exhibit and networking with your colleagues. You don’t want to miss this event! This is a limited seating event. Please make sure you secure your seat today by registering online at the GPA website. Ticket prices are $60.00. To purchase tickets, go to: Night at the Museum.

This year’s conference will highlight some keynote and featured speakers as well as some wonderful sponsors and exhibitors, such as PhilanTech!


Who Should Attend:

Grant Writers, Grant Managers, Grant Consultants, Grants Officers, Grant Coordinators, Development Directors, Executive Directors, Government Relations Officers, Financial Officers. Any level of experience, beginner to expert.

In today’s extremely competitive world for grant awards, the organization that invests in the professional development of its grant professional increases its odds of receiving grant funding tremendously. The opportunity to meet and learn from this caliber of presenters will not be matched at any other venue. 

Registration for this conference is a small investment for the return of knowledge and increased competency that will be realized after attendance at this premier event. To find our more information about the conference or register go to: 16th Annual GPA Conference


*The Grant Professionals Association (GPA), a nonprofit membership association, builds and supports an international community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards. Founded in 1997, GPA has grown to close to 2,000 active members representing all 50 states and internationally. More than 50 chapters have formed in the past five years.

GPA logo and Portland photograph are owned or licensed by GPA and used with permission.
Author: Dahna Goldstein
July 15, 2014, 11:30 AM

What Grantseekers Can Learn from the Government Shutdown

closed for business

The government shutdown is hardly news at this point, and has directly impacted at least 800,000 government workers who have been furloughed.  It has also impacted a lot of businesses frequented by those workers.

While the full economic impact of the shutdown is still unknown, some nonprofits are directly feeling the effects.  Federal agencies, including NIH and NSF, have suspended their grantmaking programs for the duration of the shutdown.  While some nonprofits had already received grant allocations for the year from those agencies before October 1, some hadn't, and it's unclear what the impact of delayed funding cycles will be going forward, even once the government has reopened for business.

So what can grantseekers learn from the government shutdown?

  • Diversify your funding sources.  As we've written about before, relying too heavily on a given funding source (whether a single funder, or a single type of funder) can be risky for nonprofits.  If your organization has historically relied heavily on government grants, start building relationships with private foundations and corporate giving programs.  Connect with the community foundation in your area.  Think about adding individual donors and fees for service (if your organization provides services for which you can charge) to your sources of funding.  Your organization may not be directly impacted by the shutdown (and I hope it isn't), but it's never a wrong time to think about diversifying your funding sources.
  • Have a plan B. While your organization will hopefully never be in a position where a major funding source disappears overnight, it's always good to have a plan B.  When crafting your grantseeking strategy for the year, chart out how much money your organization needs from grants (versus other funding sources) to support your programs, which past funders you expect to support your organization again, which new funders you plan to approach, and the expected grant amounts from each.  Then think through what will happen if some of the grants you think are sure things don't come through.  Sometimes foundation priorities change, economic conditions shift and diminish foundation assets, or something happens like a government shutdown.  Knowing where you'll be able to make up any shortfall is critical.  And raising more money than oyou need is also a good thing.  You can always put additional money raised into a reserve fund (though be careful if any of the grants awarded are restricted) or offer more programs and services with the additional funds.
  • Store your grant information online.  What would happen if you were unable to access your organization's office for several days - or several weeks?  Would you miss a grant proposal deadline?  Or a grant report deadline?  How would that impact your grantseeking for the year?  How would it impact your relationship with your funders?  By storing all of your grant-related information online, in a system like PhilanTrack, you can access your grant information and write your proposals and reports anywhere, at any time, to ensure that you're able to keep your grantseeking going, even if there are unexpected events that prevent you from accessing physical files in your organization's office.

To learn about how the PhilanTrack online grants management system can help your organization's grantseeking efforts, request a demonstration, or register for a webinar.

 

 

Photo credit: adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcostin/3449288718/
Author: Dahna Goldstein
October 07, 2013, 10:30 AM

15th Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference!

This is a guest post from Kelli Romero, Membership Director at the Grant Professionals Association

“O’ Say Can You See”…Yourself at the 15th Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference!

In November, the 15th Annual Grant Professionals Association* National Conference will be in Baltimore, MD (November 13-16, 2013). This year, the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) has cooked up a host of new and exciting workshop sessions and special professional levels of expertise to suit every non-profit and grant professional.

This is a must-attend event for anyone involved with grant proposal preparation. An extensive workshop list offers expert advice from some of the professions most successful and accomplished grant writers. Workshop topics are wide ranging and are targeted to individuals with varying levels of experience of beginner, mid-level, and advanced.

Workshops will identify the skill track and SIG that aligns with the topic of the proposed presentation. Skill tracks include; Proposal Development – Planning, Grant Construction, Grant Management and Reporting, Communication Skills, Professional Ethics, Resource Knowledge/Grant Research, etc.

Workshops cover topics such as Program Assessment, Steps to Becoming a Grant Writing Consultant, Program Development, Tactics for Enhancing Donor Loyalty, Fund Raising Strategies, and Proposal Development. Several workshops focus on specific fields, such as education, human services, government and faith based organizations.

The conference will also feature some special experiences, which include the Sail Away with GPA Evening Outing/Dinner Cruise held on the Spirit of Baltimore. This premiere special event will feature a dinner buffet, cruise along the Baltimore Inner Harbor and waterfront, view breathtaking views of historic Baltimore, dance to live DJ tunes and network with your colleagues in the enclosed ship or out on the deck. You don’t want to miss this event! This is a limited seating event. Please make sure you secure your seat today by registering online at the GPA website. Ticket prices are $65.00 and includes dinner, dancing and the view. To purchase tickets, go to: Sail Away With GPA Evening Outing.

This year’s conference will highlight some keynote and featured speakers as well as some wonderful sponsors and exhibitors, such as PhilanTech!

Here are five STAR-STUDDED benefits to attend this year’s conference:

1) Opportunity to visit with sponsors and exhibitors that have DAZZLING products and services to help you in the BATTLEFIELD!

2) By attending some of the 70 Workshops provided, you will become a LEADER in the grants profession. Some workshops include: "Seducing your grant reviewer"; "Thriving Social: 10 Steps of Social Media for the Grant Pro"; "Crafting a Killer Needs Statement - Using Data Effectively"; "The Funder is Coming! 10 Tips for a Successful Site Visit"; "Clearing up the Confusion about Program Evaluation" and many more!

3) Don’t be left out! Attend the GENERAL and Pre-Conference Sessions.

4) Take advantage of a PLETHORA of Networking Opportunities with others in the grants profession.

5) Don’t MARCH to the beat of your own drum. Get connected with others in your Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

Who Should Attend:

  • Grant Writers
  • Grant Managers
  • Grant Consultants
  • Grants Officers
  • Grant Coordinators
  • Development Directors
  • Executive Directors
  • Government Relations Officers
  • Financial Officers
  • Any level of experience, beginner to expert.

In today’s extremely competitive world for grant awards, the organization that invests in the professional development of its grant professional increases its odds of receiving grant funding tremendously. The opportunity to meet and learn from this caliber of presenters will not be matched at any other venue. 

Registration for this conference is a small investment for the return of knowledge and increased competency that will be realized after attendance at this premier event. To find our more information about the conference or register go to: 15th Annual GPA Conference


*The Grant Professionals Association (GPA), a nonprofit membership association, builds and supports an international community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards. Founded in 1997, GPA has grown to close to 2,000 active members representing all 50 states and internationally. More than 50 chapters have formed in the past four years.

Author: Dahna Goldstein
July 30, 2013, 11:57 AM

Not Getting Enough Funder Love? Try These Grantwriting Tips

grantseeking tips

I’ve written before about grant dating (here, and here, among other places).  As strange as it seems, the grantseeking process does bear some resemblance to dating, so revisiting it on Valentine’s Day seemed apropos.

So if things are not working out in your pursuit of a funder marriage, it may be because your dating approach needs to be adjusted.  Here are a few tips to help you get to that long-term funder relationship:

  • Make sure you’re dating the right foundations.  A good relationship starts with meeting the right foundations.  If you have nothing in common, the chances are not good that a relationship will work out.  You can start by doing thorough research on the foundations you’re approaching.  Study their mission statements and their guidelines.  See which organizations they’ve funded in the past, and which organizations they’re currently funding.  Do your programs seem like a good fit?  Trying to fit square pegs into round holes by tweaking your program descriptions to meet funding requirements that you don’t naturally fit is not a recipe for a lasting relationship.
  • Make sure you’re speaking their language.  Many foundations have specific requirements for grant applications – everything from the specific information that they want to receive (specific questions to answer, issues to address, documents to provide) to when and how they want to receive it.  Be sure that the request you’re putting together meets those requirements, whatever they are.  (And we’ll be happy to show you how PhilanTrack can help you manage multiple proposals to multiple foundations.)
  • It’s not all about you.  Many nonprofits take an “it’s not you, it’s me” approach to writing grant proposals.  They talk extensively about their programs, their constituents, their successes, their plans.  While grant applications should absolutely include those things, they also need to position your programs in terms of the foundation’s priorities and its mission.  One of the things Marty Teitel talks about in his book “The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants” is the importance of aligning the proposal with what the foundation – and the people in the foundation, including both the program officer and the directors – is trying to accomplish.  Part of the grantwriter’s job is to make it easy for the proposal reader to see how the program in question will help the foundation further its own goals.
  • Presentation matters.  Think about how you’re coming across.  Just as you would probably choose your outfit carefully for your first date, think about how you’re presenting yourself to a funder.  Is your proposal well written?  Is it persuasive?  Your organization can be doing great work, but if you don’t convey it clearly, you’ll have a hard time getting it funded.  Program officers and trustees generally read many more proposals than they are able to fund.  Think about it from their perspective – it’s so much better to read a proposal that is well written!  Have someone else proof-read your submission to make sure there aren’t any mistakes and that the prose is clear, and supported by relevant quantitative information.  First impressions matter!
  • Once you’re in a relationship, don’t neglect your funder.  Funder relationships, like all relationships, take time and care.  Don’t take your funder for granted.  If the funder asks for updates, provide them in a timely manner, and with the information requested.  Don’t overwhelm the funder with communications (they don’t need to be copied on every email that you send to your supporters), but keep them up to date on key developments that relate to the grant they’ve given you, even if there isn’t a report due for a few months.  Of course, if a funder makes it clear that they don’t want to hear from you aside from reports, then respect that (some funders need their space).
  • If it doesn’t work out, ask for feedback to help your next relationship.  Sometimes funders will break up with you for no reason – or what seems to be no reason.  Maybe you’ve been in a relationship for several years and the board decides to change priorities in a way that no longer includes your organization’s mission and programs.  It can be heartbreaking, but it happens, and there isn’t much you can do about it.  But sometimes, funders will break up with you for a clear and explainable reason.  While they may be inclined to spare your feelings by not coming right out and telling you the reason for the breakup, it’s frequently worth asking the question.  The truth may hurt, but it might help position you for greater success as you pursue your next funder relationship.

Feel free to share your grant dating tips in the comments below!

 

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dantaylor/3280435161/
Author: Dahna Goldstein
February 14, 2013, 10:30 AM

Please Take the Spring 2013 State of Grantseeking Survey

grantseeking questions

Twice a year, PhilanTech partners with our friends at GrantStation to survey nonprofits about the current state of grantseeking in the U.S.  We've gained valuable insights in the five reports that we have published to date, which we are happy to share with the nonprofit sector to help inform grantseeking strategies.

We've just opened the Spring 2013 State of Grantseeking survey, and hope that you'll take a few minutes to take the survey.

We've added some questions this year, based on feedback from the last survey in which we specifically asked what additional questions respondents would like us to include to ensure the survey is addressing the grantseeking issues that are most pressing for their organizations.  Those questions are:

  • What is the household income in your service area?
  • How would you describe your organization's location or service area? (rural, urban, etc.)
  • With which racial or ethnic group do those in your service area most identify?
  • Is your organization well known in your service area?
  • What is the age of your organization?

Please take five minutes and complete the survey before March 15.  Results will be published on both the PhilanTech and GrantStation websites.  Survey respondents can request an advance copy of results when completing the survey.

If you haven't already, you can download the Fall 2012 State of Grantseeking Report here.

Happy grantseeking!

 

Image credit: adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/6289600762/
Author: Dahna Goldstein
February 13, 2013, 01:54 PM

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