I’m not the type of person who sends out holiday cards. I want to be that type of person. I feel like I should be that type of person. After all, I love receiving them; the photos of our friends and family and their “year-in-review” recaps always bring a smile to my face. And I grew up with a mom who is great at sending holiday cards. I have vivid memories of her pulling out the notebook filled with addresses, often with amendments and notes penned neatly beside certain names. She’d carefully address and stuff envelopes with a card and letter detailing our family’s updates and accomplishments. By giving my brother and me some editorial power over our own paragraphs (so we could keep our very cool reputations intact) and soliciting our help with the envelope stuffing, she was giving us a primer in relationship maintenance.
The topic of ethics in grants is incredibly broad, as there are often many moving parts and people involved with grant awards. The fund-seeking agency might have a variety of staff members contributing to the process: the executive director, program staff, finance staff, a grant writer, maybe even the board of directors. And then, of course, if the agency receives an award, there are ethical considerations for managing the sometimes very large sums of money. Once again, there might be a host of individuals carrying out the program activities, reporting progress, expending the funds, and so on. In other words, the agency is responsible for ensuring ethical practices across many levels of a grant award.
But for the purposes of this discussion, I want to back up a bit. What about some of the ethics that go into researching and writing the proposal?
What to Expect When You’re ProspectingOr: What to Know About Working with a Consultant
A scenario: your small nonprofit organization has been in operation for several years now, thanks to the generosity and trust of individual donors and supporters. You have generated some promising outcome data from your programs, have a clear direction, and are making a positive impact on your target population. You feel you’re ready to move on to the next step in your organization’s growth: diversifying funding streams by adding in some grant dollars. But you’re busy running programs, your board is stretched thin, and you’re just not sure where to start.
Choosing to seek outside assistance from a grant professional is a big step for an organization. The combination of a very small staff (or perhaps even a one-person shop), a small pool of invested donors and volunteers, and the amount of time, energy, and resources spent in getting a nonprofit off the ground can make this a deeply personal decision. An outsider consultant who suddenly asks lots of specific questions about your policies, competitors, and finances might feel a little intrusive (at best) or downright offensive (at worst).
But wait! That consultant means well. They’re likely trying to gauge your organization’s grant-readiness and capacity for managing different types of funding opportunities to determine the most effective and efficient next steps. Here’s what to expect as you enter this new relationship.