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!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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: