How to Prepare Your Board for Online Grant Applications

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If you're thinking about online grant applications for your foundation, you may be wondering how to get your board, well, on board.  Here are a few tips to position yourself to lead your board and your organization into online grant applications.

  • Get buy-in.  Who in your organization will be involved in using an online grant management system?  Talk with your board chair early in the process to get her or him on board.  If your board chair is likely to resist the idea, recruit another board member who is more likely to get on board, and the two of you can work together to gradually educate your board chair about the benefits of online grant applications.
  • Communicate early and often.  As you start the process of exploring options and preparing to move your system online, get input from people who will be involved (though who are involved in the grant application and evaluation process now, and those who will use the online system) and communicate clearly throughout the organization - and even to your grantees and applicants - that you are planning to move the process online, and when you are planning to make the move.
  • Mitigate anxiety.  Particularly for an organization that has been doing things in the same way for a long time, the prospect of change can bring up a lot of emotion.  Some of it will be positive ("just think of what we can accomplish with an online grant application!" "I'm so excited about all of the time we're going to have by moving online!"), and some of it will be negative ("What if I can't learn how to use the system?"  "What if the foundation doesn't need me any more to process applications?").  Understanding that people will experience that range of emotions is the first step in trying to mitigate the anxiety that some people will feel.  Creating ways for people to feel involved in the process and feel that their voice is heard goes a long way, as does clearly communicating what support will be available along the way.
  • Training and support.  From the start of the process, it's important to communicate that support and training will be available.  That training and support should come in different formats and at different times, taking into account the fact that people learn differently and have varying levels of comfort with technology (and varying levels of comfort with their varying levels of comfort with technology).  Talk to people about what kind of support they need.  Check in throughout the process to ensure that support is being given.  And create low-key ways for those in need to request additional support.

What are your top tips for preparing your board members for online grant applications?

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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/7803088/

Author: Dahna Goldstein
August 04, 2011, 06:06 PM

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