Saturday, December 4, 2010

How to Help Your Organization Prepare for a Site Visit

I recently wrote an article for Charity Channel about the grant professional's role in the all-important site visit. For those of you who want to avoid an unimpressive visit and the disastrous consequences it may bring, here are some ways to help your organization prepare:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Improve Your Grant Writing Skills

I was asked by someone recently on how to improve their grant writing skills while staying on a budget. For all those who don't have the time, money or inclination to take a grant writing refresher course, here are some creative ways to improve your skills:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Prioritizing Grant Projects

Once in a while every grant writer is faced with a unique situation: finding the perfect grant opportunity but not knowing exactly which project to apply for. True, there are always more needs than resources as far as grant funds are concerned, but not every project is fundable by the same grant opportunity. So when funds are available and more than one project or program fits the bill, how does one decide what project to apply for? Here's where prioritizing comes in.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why Assess Capacity?

Capacity Assessment can be scary; many nonprofit leaders don't want to learn the truth about their own organizations, while others simply don't know what capacity assessment means or implies. In a nutshell, capacity assessment refers to a determination of the current level of effectiveness of a nonprofit.

So why are we so scared to take a look at ourselves in the mirror? Isn't seeing a pimple on the face only going to push one to apply acne medicine? Or is it going to make one hide in the closet and cry?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Working with Other Departments to Enhance Grant Seeking

The concepts of teamwork and synergy have been around for decades, and used religiously by businesses as well as nonprofits to improve performance and efficiency. But for some reason, grantwriters often tend to neglect or ignore this essential determinant of organizational effectiveness. Be it due to a lack of cooperation between departments, or a tendency towards being an introvert, many grant writers work quietly behind their computers, plodding towards arbitrarily set goals of number of proposals submitted or grant reports submitted. There has to be a better way to work, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Philosphical Questions to Ask a Foundation Officer

Increasingly, the foundation world is becoming more and more accessible, and grantwriters are now finding opportunities to converse with grant officers for a variety of reasons not available a decade ago. We all know that instead of sending boiler plate proposals to every foundation in the directory (or online database), it's always a good idea to make personal calls to grant makers before submitting proposals. Some funders, especially those that have funded your organization in the past or are considering a current request, are also amenable to face-to-face meetings with your senior leadership. Beyond the immediate proposal, here are some questions to ask if you ever meet a foundation officer:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Five Ways to Get Your Proposal Rejected

Let's admit, we all make mistakes from time to time. But when it comes to writing grant proposals, even little errors can end up being very costly. Here are some small mistakes that can push your proposal into the trash can:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guest Post: Creating a Grants Management System that Works

The Boy Scouts’ motto, “Be prepared,” is valuable advice for grant writers. Timely submission of multiple proposals requires organization and advance planning. Having a reliable grants management system in place will save time, enable fund-seekers to compile all the funder’s required documents much more easily, and reap lucrative rewards. While each grants management system should be tailored to an organization’s and grant writer’s specific needs, there are several basic components of the system that apply to almost everyone:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Complicated World of Corporate Grants

A colleague asked me today to expand on that often elusive world of corporate grant making. I wrote her a long email full of research and resources, then thought what a great post that would make for this blog. So why re-invent the wheel? Here is the information repeated for every one's benefit:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Traits of Successful Grant Consultants

There’s a saying in the nonprofit sector: if you’re in this, it’s not to become rich. To prove this saying wrong, many grant writers decide to freelance... perhaps because they think it will allow them the freedom to earn more money than working as an employee at a nonprofit organization. Yet years later they are no better than when they started, searching for high-paying clients, struggling with freaky organizational dynamics of staff and volunteers, and hoping for a vacation. What is it, then, that separates the average grant writing consultant from those few who earn exorbitant amounts of money and recognition in their field? Oh yes, we all know who I am referring to!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teamwork Really Works!

Grantwriters often tend to work in a vacuum, sometimes due to organizational dynamics and other times because they prefer to. How many times have we wished that our program people were more hands-on, more involved, more knowledgeable? How many times have we wished that we weren't doing everything from A to Z by ourselves? And how many times have we been glad that we didn't have to deal with the drama of the program department who do nothing but delay our proposal writing process? Sounds familiar?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Websites You May Want to Check Out

I thought that today being the unofficial start of the weekend, I would give my readers a list of valuable websites and/or blogs to check out in their spare time. Over the years I have found all of these very valuable to my grant seeking, and I hope that they increase others' skills and knowledge as well. I encourage you to send me more links so that I can update this post in the coming months:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Needs Statement - Friend or Foe?

Until a few years ago, I used to hate writing statements of need for grant proposals. Even though I knew what the problem was, I could never really explain it well on paper... after all, if high school drop outs are on the rise, need I really sit down and explain why that could be dangerous for not only the students concerned but the entire nation. Everyone gets it, right?

Wrong! Let's explore the many assumptions in this argument...

Monday, June 21, 2010

We Recommend: Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools

Grant writers often find themselves struggling to define key sections of their grant proposals... who and where is our target audience, what impact do we expect our program or project to achieve, how will we evaluate success? Really, this is the meat of the proposal, yet many don't have enough information to adequately describe it. Program officers don't seem to have time to sit and explain it all to us, and evaluation methodologies are too often outside our area of expertise. If only there were some handy dandy tools to assist us in understanding what information we need, where to find it, and how to craft it into a powerful proposal.

Well, good news, there are just such tools! The Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools, to be exact.

Friday, June 18, 2010

PND Reviews my Book

So we all know how important a good book review is, right? As a buyer - and borrower - of countless books over the years, I always rely on reviews by my peers and those I look up to in order to make my decisions. I never realized until now how equally important the review process is to authors (in case you're wondering, really really important!).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Evaluate Your Grants Office

Nonprofits love to evaluate: we evaluate programs, we assess how grant funds were used, we review staff performance, we even try to gauge volunteer and client progress. But how many times do grant professionals weigh the grants effort itself... how are we doing as a grants office, what results are we achieving, and what can we do better?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Is Grant Consulting Worth It?

Grantwriters employed full-time often dream of opening their own shop and being their own boss someday. I know I did, until one day I gathered up the courage and told my boss I was going to quit. Ahhh the relief that brought, just the feeling that after serving my two week's notice I would be free, able to set my own hours and pick and choose my own causes to serve. No more drudgery, no more doing things I didn't want to do... such as special events, telephone campaigns and the like!

Then it struck me, how will I support myself once the security of this paycheck is gone?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Prospect Research Need Not be Scary

Many grant professionals feel intimated by prospect research. It's a whole different world, isn't it? Data analytics, real estate records, prospect identification... many of us really don't know what to make of all of it, and whether it really is important for the average grant writer.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Can I Get a Grant For That?

Okay, so here's my pet peeve: I get a desperate call/email from someone saying they are in dire circumstances - family emergency, domestic violence, single parent - and they want to receive a grant for assistance.
Well, I ask, do you have a 501 c 3 status?
What's that? They ask.
So I explain.
Uh, no, they respond.
Does this scenario sound familiar? It's difficult to explain that grants are available only to nonprofits. Even organizations have to get their act together before they can get grants from funders or government agencies. So what makes these people think they can get a grant for food, clothing or a car?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sharing the Good News

We all know the feeling: the euphoria, sense of awe and relief as we read the award letter from a funder telling us that our hard work has finally paid off. WE GOT THE GRANT!!

Do you shout it from the rooftops? Despite feeling zany enough to actually do that, remember that there is a plan to follow when a grant is funded. Leadership first, then program staff and then the general public. Why? Well, just imagine a board member reading about a grant from the local foundation in the newspaper rather than from you! I dount if that could ever be a smart move!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Are You Ready for a Grant?

You'd be surprised by the number of people who call and email me everyday asking if I can help them secure grant funding... well, but if you are also a grant professional you may not be so surprised! In a large number of these requests, the organization is not even close to becoming ready to apply for grants. They are either too small or too new or don't have the correct documentation.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Time Management Can Make or Break a Grantwriter

Who among us has not pulled out their hair or cursed the day they were born in the event of a looming deadline? More than once, I'd have to say, if I was being completely honest. That's why time management is such a crucial aspect of good grant writing, and although it may be easier said than done, it's still important to try to implement for the sake of sanity and good proposal submissions.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Logic Models Can be Easy

I am asked repeatedly by grant professionals and program staff if there is an easy way to create logic models. I wonder why these extremely helpful tools make even the most seasoned nonprofit professional uneasy? Here's a simple way to get started on even the most difficult of logic models:

Monday, May 31, 2010

When Not to Apply for a Grant

Many nonprofit leaders have a simple rule of thumb when it comes to grant writing: apply to every grant opportunity that fits your geographical region and area of interest. Grant professionals would do well to remember that it's not always wise to apply even if the opportunity looks really really attractive. Here are just some reasons to NOT apply:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dealing with Rejection

A colleague called me the other day, distraught on her fifth rejection letter from a foundation. The program is wonderful, she said, and she only applied to foundations with a past history of giving to her organization. Imagine her surprise when I assured her this was good news.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

I resisted for a long time, but here I am - finally writing my own blog! Funny... I was the last one to buy a cell phone, and was using a paper calendar when everybody else had a PDA back in the day. And once again, it seems as if every last human being on earth - well except maybe for my mom who just recently discovered email - has their own blog. So I thought, why not me? I have something important to say, don't I? If I can succeed as a grant writer and an author, what makes me think blogging will be any different? So here goes...

Welcome to my blog - a place for and about grant professionals (what else did you think it would be?). I hope the tips, advice and articles I provide here will be of help to you. Good luck in your endeavors!