Thursday, March 11, 2010

Form a Grant Planning Committee

Non-profit consultant and grant writer, Derek Link, offers some advice about forming a grant planning committee:

For those of you brave enough to read a post with such a seemingly reckless title, one that could severely curtail our readership, forfeit RSS feeds by the millions, and perhaps even be banned in certain Western states, please keep reading you intrepid seekers of grant knowledge.
What I am suggesting is that if your organization needs grants, forming a planning committee will enable you to do several important things:

1) Bring potential collaborative partners to the table – Successful grants these days – large ones in particular – often require that there are collaborative partners. This is because there can be overlapping and competing interests. Funders are worried that grant money will be wasted on poorly targeted or duplicative efforts.

2) Accurately targeting needs for grant funding by spending enough time around a table talking, to truly understand an issue from diverse perspectives. Sometimes the answer to a problem is sharing existing resources not seeking new ones.

3) Break past agency turf wars by spending enough time with leaders from other agencies to form solid relationships. Everyone wants the client to win, but sometimes agencies hold their mission so tightly they drive off potentially helpful collaborative partners.
There are other good reasons for forming a planning committee, and there are also cautions. Here are some key don’ts:

1. Don’t accept members who won’t send a decision-maker to the meetings.

2. Don’t keep members who don’t/won’t make the commitment to attend every time you meet.

3. Don’t birdwalk – Make meetings N.E.A.T. (Nature-Expected Outcomes-Agenda-Time).

4. Identify the common priorities using a needs assessment.

5. Don’t keep meeting if common ground can’t be established.

While another committee and another set of meetings may initiate a reaction similar to a carnival tilt-a-whirl, a grant planning committee can yield well-targeted, productively collaborative grant applications.


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Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.