Many times, being a grant professional feels more like an endless quest for information. We find ourselves at the mercy of those who create the programs and the individuals who hold the data. Navigating the twists and turns and the emphatic, “you need what!!??” can be daunting. Whether as a consultant or the grant writer on staff, our role puts us in the position of relying on others to provide us with the information necessary to craft a grant proposal worthy of funding. How this process unfolds is largely dependent on the culture of the organization and the way they communicate, plan, and process information.
There are lots of activities that can help a nonprofit organization become grant ready, and one of them is their internal roadmap of tasks that define their grants program.
The purpose of these practices is to help ensure staff have a documented process that covers the A to Zs of a comprehensive grant program.
Here at Assel Grant Services, we don’t just write many successful federal grants each year. Many of our clients are receiving their first federal grant or their first federal grant in the last five years. One of the reasons so many agencies large and small come to us is because we keep up with the constantly evolving federal government trends. So, what do we look for and how can you keep up on the departments most relevant to you?
Determining if a funder is right for your program
If you happen to be in the dating “scene” in this highly digital age, it can be hard to determine from just an online profile whether you and a potential mate are going to be compatible. Or perhaps a friend or acquaintance has someone they want you to meet and claims they’d be perfect for you.
As a grant writer, you might find yourself in a similar situation when you’ve found a funder online who seems to be a perfect match for the services at your nonprofit organization.
During my experience working for and in partnership with nonprofit organizations, one common thread is the perpetuation of a “scarcity mindset.” This mindset is based on the idea that nonprofits exist to help others in need and serve the greater good, therefore, staff and anything they might need to do their jobs (salaries, benefits, training) is often last on the list of funding priorities.
In a previous post, Julie Alsup, GPC looked at competency 2.2 through a budget lens. For this post, I’ll look at an agency’s readiness to seek project funding through an evaluation lens. Evaluation is crucial to project sustainability, a key factor in grant requests. Carefully considering project evaluation can help an agency obtain grant dollars for a project.
Many seasoned grant reviewers will tell you that they start with the budget. I believe this is why a discussion of GPC competency two, assessing an organization’s readiness to obtain funding to implement specific projects, should also begin with a discussion of budget. A deep understanding of the budget is necessary to communicate need to potential funders. The grant writer can help assess and advance readiness in the following ways.
YMCA of Greater Kansas City was recently awarded a $150,000 grant, over 3 years from the Best Buy Teen Tech Center to launch a Best Buy Teen Tech Center and offer programming designed for teenagers to learn in a non-traditional way, with training in Music, Multimedia, Video, Graphics, Digital Photography, Engineering and Animation.
Teens will leverage technology to develop projects based on their own interests such as creating art; producing music and animations; designing their own science simulations and mobile applications; writing and illustrating interactive poetry, stories and films; building kinetic sculptures and robotic constructions; and designing their own 3D worlds and games. These interactive learning spaces will help teens explore technology to discover new interests, collaborate with one another and prepare for the future.