Observation is a method to gather data by watching events or behaviors that can give information beyond what you can draw from numbers and is helpful in several situations:
  • To collect data that is unavailable through other methods. People are sometimes unable or unwilling to participate in surveys or interviews.
  • To understand an ongoing situation or process. For example, you want to identify efficiencies/inefficiencies in the process of college registration process as students meet with advisors to create a semester schedule.
  • To know more about a physical setting. For example, you want to determine if a residential rehabilitation center’s facilities are conducive to recovery.
  • To understand more about interactions. For example, you want to determine if a motivational guest speaker sparks interest in at-risk youth in a college preparatory program.

Have you been tasked with evaluating a program and don’t know where to begin? If so, you aren’t alone. Many people struggle with program evaluation. This new three-part series on evaluation will prepare you to design and implement a strong evaluation comprised of quantitative and qualitative data analysis. You will also understand how to secure a third-party evaluator, if you need one. This post focuses on how to conduct an environmental scan and needs assessment.

It’s not news that grant professionals are often underrecognized for their vast knowledge, technical and subject matter expertise, and contributions to organizational success. It’s also not infrequent that grant professionals are excluded from project planning or meetings with potential funders until late in project development when they are asked to “just” find funding or write a grant. For many individuals, that lack of validation can often be internalized as a lack of acceptance or value. For others, the recognition received is passed on to others they believe are more worthy than themselves. This is especially true for women, BIPOC professionals, and those who have been subjected to microaggressions in their community and workplace (but that’s an entirely separate subject worthy of its own time and space). When highly qualified, high-achieving professionals question their value, competence, or adequacy to successfully perform work that they are 100% capable of performing, it leads to self-doubt, negative self-image, burnout, and workplace toxicity. While not a recognized mental health disorder – you won’t find this in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – the common term for these unfounded feelings of inadequacy is imposter syndrome.

From a very early age, we are taught to multitask. It seems embedded in the American culture of go-go-go and do-do-do. You may be eating lunch and socializing with friends, or watching a sporting event while taking a business call, or cooking dinner while helping your kids with homework. You probably do not even catch yourself multitasking, because it happens so frequently.

In grant seeking, fundraising professionals sometimes refer to low-hanging fruit as the donors who give year after year with little effort, synonymous with “easy money.” While the term is often tossed around, it can be frustrating to funders and grant professionals. Funders may have fewer requirements to increase accessibility to nonprofits or value the longevity of relationships. The funder is still striving to make an impact in the community. Grant professionals understand the nuances of grant seeking and can see the industry landscape increase in competitiveness as more organizations apply for funding and foundations give conservatively in response to volatile markets. Fundraising strategies that rely on these dollars without stewardship may find themselves in the midst of a drought.

All the time and effort you put into designing a great project and developing a clear, well-written grant proposal has paid off and you’ve received a notice of award from the funder. Now, it’s time to ensure that you are a great steward of the grant funds that you have received.

Defining Small Nonprofits: Whether a nonprofit or not-for-profit, a charitable organization’s “size” is not determined by its facility, number of staff, or services to the public but by the size of its operating budget. Large organizations have operating budgets in the $10- $50MM range, while organizations with annual budgets of $5MM or less are considered small. Large, nationally affiliated organizations tend to get the lion’s share of public recognition and visibility; however, they are not representative of the U.S. nonprofit sector as a whole. In fact, the National Council of Nonprofits reports that 92% of organizations within the nonprofit sector are small organizations with annual revenue of less than $1MM. Yet the reality is that all charitable organizations depend on public and private support (i.e., government or private grants, individual donations, in-kind gifts, volunteers) to achieve their missions, and small organizations often grapple with how to compete in a market publicly dominated by their larger counterparts.

Denial can be challenging, especially when your grant proposals seem to be on a losing streak. Before you start rethinking your grant strategy or wondering if you’re doing something wrong, there may be other proactive steps and factors to take into consideration. Grant funding is complex. There are a multitude of funding streams, networks and relationships, and preferences involved—most of which are beyond your control. And while you can do your best to present an aligned, impactful proposal, sometimes you will never know the reason a proposal is denied. Sometimes, a string of denials prompts a self-evaluation to evaluate how you could do better, or you take the rejection personally. While self-awareness is important, so is understanding the factors that are beyond your control in an application.

Have you encountered inefficiency, frustration, or even conflict when working with a group to develop a grant proposal? Take heart. This is normal. Most teams struggle and experience conflict before they begin performing at their peak. The Stages of Group Development framework, developed by Bruce Tuckman (1965) describes this process. This blog will briefly describe Tuckman’s framework and then apply these ideas to grant proposal development.

Congratulations! You have received notice that a local foundation will gladly support your organization and/or program during the coming year. The foundation board or staff are excited about your mission, your plans, and helping serve your community. You record the amount in your donor and accounting software, generate a letter acknowledging the gift, and move on to managing the implementation of program activities. Right? Well, no.