One of the most important resources in nonprofit organizations is the staff. They form relationships with the people they serve. They build relationships in the community to find the resources clients need. Without them, the nonprofit programs and services which affect millions of lives would fall silent. While we are advocates of writing grants which describe how the target population is involved in the program, this does not mean that organizations should stop describing the strengths of their staff. Here are four ways to highlight the quality and importance of your staff in your next grant:

Institute of Museum and Library Services Last week, we featured the annual Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America funding opportunity, which supports project-based initiatives for museums of all sizes and disciplines. This week, we’re taking a closer look at an IMLS program that specifically supports capacity-building efforts of African American museums and/or archival collections at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC) program provides funding for eligible museums to increase workforce capacity, provide staff with professional development opportunities, and improve access to collections through a variety of eligible activities.

Institute of Museum and Library Services Last month, we shared information about an annual Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) opportunity focused on capacity building for museums. This month, we’re looking at some additional open solicitations from IMLS that are closing later this fall. The Museums for America (MFA) program is one such opportunity. MFA provides funding for mission-aligned, project-based efforts for museums of all sizes and disciplines. These projects can vary in type, focus, reach, or scale of societal impact, but they should – in broad terms – advance knowledge and understanding and ensure that the IMLS grant funding benefits society.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Does your organization work to improve access to and quality of mental and behavioral health services? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has several funding opportunities opening in the coming months that will support efforts to expand workforce capacity to address community-based behavioral health needs, or efforts that focus on serving infant/early childhood mental health or children with serious emotional disturbances (SED).

Are you laboring too much over grants? Grants are great to have, and they’re often crucial to an organization’s mission, but there are only so many hours in the day to apply for and manage those grants. Grant professionals are susceptible to burn out from the heavy responsibility and high-pressure, deadline-driven work, which continues day in and day out in our profession. Grant applications and management can even get in the way of your organization’s mission. I was recently on a call with a client who was looking for help managing their grant portfolio. When I asked why they were seeking support, the client shared a striking comment: “We are so busy trying to get the money that we struggle to actually carry out the work.” I understood completely because I’ve seen this state of affairs before.

Institute of Museum and Library Services Last month, we looked at an annual Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) opportunity focused on capacity-building for libraries. This month, IMLS opened applications for a similar annual program for museum folks, National Leadership Grants for Museums (NLG-M). This program seeks to address critical needs and improve services among the museum profession at a broad level. IMLS is looking for projects that demonstrate a thorough understanding of the needs and priorities within the museum field, employ innovative approaches and collaborations, and have the potential to make a far-reaching impact in the discipline.

Health Resources and Services Administration Does your organization provide health care in rural and medically underserved areas? The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently opened a funding opportunity through its Promoting Resilience and Mental Health Among Health Professional Workforce (PRMHW) program. The overall goal of the PRMHW program is to support health care organizations in the adoption, promotion, and implementation of a culture of wellness for their health professional workforce(s), including building resilience against burnout and supporting mental health. This program also places an emphasis on addressing social determinants of health, health equity and disparities, and the needs of rural and medically underserved communities. The due date for this year’s funding opportunity is coming up on August 30, 2021.

Recently, I conducted a pre-submission peer review on several federal grant proposals from organizations located in rural Kansas. The first question each organization had to respond to was, “Describe your geographical/service area.” Each organization named the counties served in their respective service areas and then went on to describe just how ‘rural’ their area is. While each applicant organization had some aspects of serving rural areas of Kansas in common, they each approached the description differently. Some of the descriptions included the total square mileage contained within their service boundaries; others referenced the state’s definitions that place a county on a continuum of ‘frontier’ to ‘urban’; others pointed out the distance in hours to the nearest major city. Ultimately, each applicant described their geographical service area with the purpose of convincing federal reviewers that Organization XYZ was the only provider of important services for its region.

Department of Health and Human Services Does your organization work to address health disparities among racial and ethnic minority populations? The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health is accepting applications for its cooperative agreement program, Framework to Address Health Disparities through Collaborative Policy Efforts: Demonstration Projects. In conjunction with the office’s Coordinating Center cooperative agreements for the same program, Demonstration Projects develop and demonstrate the effectiveness of methodologies for addressing health disparities. This includes assessing and identifying policies that contribute to structural racism and perpetuate health disparities, as well as modifying, developing, and implementing policies that improve health outcomes. Proposals for this program are due August 23, 2022.

You want me to write about what? How can I write about progress when the right data wasn’t collected to measure progress? Grant professionals are frequently faced with the reality of gaps in data in pre-award, and post-award. We are asked to respond to sections which require a discussion of national, regional, and local data to justify need; as well as sections requesting data-supported rationale for the proposed intervention, and finally a proposed series of measurable objectives indicated by an improvement over baseline. Sometimes there is something to work with. Oftentimes we are asked to work magic!