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:

  1. Annual proposal calendar – detailing each foundation’s contact information, deadline(s), and funding preferences. 

  2. Proposal status report – listing the date proposals were sent, amount requested, purpose of request, whether or not the proposal was funded, and, if so, the amount received.

  3. Foundation files – containing contact information, copies of all information sent to and received from the foundation, foundation brochures and annual reports, articles and/or press releases, and details of all contacts (emails, letters, phone conversations, face-to-face visits).

  4. “Drop” files – containing the organization’s most important documents, such as the IRS letter, articles of incorporation, current budget, audit, list of board of directors, most recent balance sheet and income statement, 990s, organizational chart, volunteer opportunities, and collaborations. Protecting the original document in a plastic sleeve and having several copies readily available make assembling the application packet much easier. Or you can save electronic versions of these documents in a folder to be printed as needed.
Act like a Boy Scout and take the time to set up your system so it works for you. The next time you’re scrambling to compile all the information that a prospective funder requires and meet that all-important deadline, you’ll be glad you did.

About the Author: Chris Jessee is a contract grant writer with more than 20 years of experience working in Houston area nonprofit organizations, primarily in fundraising and grants management. She served as executive director of The Thyroid Society for Education & Research and development director for both ESCAPE Family Resource Center and I Have a Dream – Houston. Chris’s areas of expertise include grant writing, proposal review and editing, prospect research, and developing grants management systems and processes. Chris is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She was a founding member of the Grant Writers Network of Greater Houston, is a volunteer grants reviewer for the City of Houston, and serves on the board of Patrons for Bellaire Parks.

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