Saturday, February 26, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why Your Grant Wasn't Funded: Part II

This is a continuation of my previous post in which I outlined the first five reasons your grant may not have been funded.  So let's jump right into it shall we?

6. You ran out of time and did a poor job on your budget narrative where you could have added deeper detail on the computers you wanted. (Details, details, details, that’s where the devil is.)

7. Your evaluation plan was shallow – you should have asked the consultant you plan to use to develop that section with you. (Tradition wisdom among mountain climbers is that 90% of the falls happen in the last 10% of the climb when people think they’re done and relax.)

8. You missed a webinar in which the funder gave explicit information necessary to be competitive – but it wasn’t a mandatory webinar. (Remember that the grant maker holds all the cards and may choose to show one when you least expect it.)

9. Your grant was submitted in the same geographic region as one from a more favorably fundable demographic group. (You can’t control for this but you can do the best job possible to demonstrate your client’s needs.)

10. Your grant lacked adequate research citations – perhaps too narrow in scope, out-dated, or authored by researchers whom one, or more, of your readers do not subscribe to. (Convene some experts, spend some time on the phone with one, spend some time in the stacks, whatever it takes to base your program on a solid foundation.)

Grant funding is difficult to obtain and when you throw in the human factor you’ll sometimes get a less-than-satisfactory result for a reason you can’t discern, or which in the reader comments seems prejudicial and unfair. That’s just the way the ball bounces. The best you can do is write a proposal that you are confident about, the rest is up to the readers who score your narrative.

Posts like this one:
What is a Grant Competition?
Grant Writing Rejection

Friday, February 25, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why Your Grant Wasn’t Funded: Part I

There are lots of possible reasons why a grant isn’t funded. Obvious ones are things like missing the deadline (I want no scuses Lucy), the funder ran out of money (recessions hit everyone), the dog ate your application (bad dog), etc. There are also subtle reasons and here are ten I’ve taken from my experience scoring grants and reviewing reader comments.

1. Your grant was reviewed by somebody from another state who has a grudge against your state. (Personally, I would never fund anything for Hawaii, they’re blessed with 360 degrees of beaches and 365 days of sun, what else do they need? Joking, joking, stop throwing coconuts.)

2. Your grant was reviewed by someone with a strong bias in favor of a particular methodology – and you didn’t use it in your program design. (In the old days you could get caught in the old Apple-PC debate!)

3. Your grant was reviewed by someone unfamiliar with the field you’re writing for – and you did not explain your program adequately for them to understand it. (The project director for agriculture in northern Iowa might be called in to read early childhood education grants.)

4. Your grant was the last to be reviewed by a frustrated triad of fractious – and unemployed – PhD’s competing to prove they’re qualified to serve on your dissertation committee. (Mail order PhD’s are particularly fractious and tend to stuff their computer bags with continental breakfast snails and Splenda® packets)

5. Your grant lacked the detail necessary to tie all the parts together – things like numbering the tables, figures, and graphics then providing a table for these elements. (Or you used too much of all of these things and did not explain your program in enough detail in narrative.)

Five more later...
Posts like this one:
Ten Quick and Easy Ways to Make Any Grant Application Better
Getting Past the What to the How

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Non-Profit Executive Directors: Do’s and Do Not’s for Using a Grant Writer

Executive Directors (ED) are busy people. They’ve got a lot to deal with from the day-to-day operational stuff to constant fund raising and donor-cultivation. Most ED's of large organizations have a grant writer on staff while in smaller organizations the ED may do most of the grant writing.  Some organizations choose to hire an external grant writer and that can create some confusion about the role of a grant writer.
Here are a few Do's and Do Nots for ED's as I have come to understand the proper use of an external grant writer.

Grant research
Do - Provide the researcher with specific direction on fields of interest, types of funding desired, existing grant maker relationships, level of funding desired, list of information desired for each grant maker.
Don't “Do Nots” in this category are failing to do the “Do” list!

Preliminary phone calls to assess interest
Do - Better to make these calls yourself; but, if you’re going to ask someone else to make them, have a detailed conversation about what it is you want funding for and how you want to provide the services.
Don't - Ask your grant writer to make these calls simply based on fields of interest.  It will waste everyone’s time and make your organization look unprepared.

Letter of Inquiry writing
Do - Ask your grant writer to write these for you.
Don't - Forget to read and edit LOI's carefully before they are mailed.

Grant writing
Do - Ask your grant writer to write these for you.
Don't - Forget to review, respond, and edit one or more drafts; provide adequate feedback; provide data and a budget; sign all necessary forms; get a copy of the final grant submitted.

Respond to inquiry phone calls from a grant maker
Do - Take these calls yourself.
Don't - Assume that a grant writer can replicate your ability to sell your mission and close the deal.

Some of the potential benefits to an Executive Director in using a grant writer are:
  • Time savings;
  • Consistent quality in grant applications;
  • Higher funding rates;
  • More applications being submitted; and,
  • Fewer lost opportunities through consistent and timely research.
A grant writer can be a great asset to your organization when used in the proper way; however, the positive impact of hiring a Grant Writer can be minimized by asking them to carry out tasks they’re unqualified for, or by not providing adequate support.
Related Posts:
Working with a Grant Writer: You Get What You Pay For
Good Grant Writers are like Wedding Planners

Related Creative Resources and Research Services:
Grant Writing Services
Non-Profit Services

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Ten Best Things about Being a Grant Writer

1. Being paid to write.

2. Finding money to fund energy and ideas.

3. Helping other people achieve their dreams.

4. Supporting worthwhile causes.

5. Competition.

6. Ability to work anywhere, literally.

7. The broad range of topics to write about.

8. Working with a variety of people, in a variety of locations, across a variety of agencies.

9. Working with highly motivated people on a mission.

10. Calling a client to tell them their grant was funded!

I heard a great example given last week in a meeting. The speaker told us all to write our name with our dominant hand, simple, easy. Now, he told us, write your name with your other hand. Hard isn’t it? I had to agree, my scribbled name attested to it.

He said to us that working where you are gifted is like writing with your dominant hand, it’s easier and it flows out of you. But trying to work outside your gifts will make your life feel like you’re writing with your other hand. It’s harder and less productive; it just doesn’t feel right.

Maybe the example hit home even more strongly for me since I am a writer, but it resonated for me. Grant writing feels like writing with my right hand, that's probably the best thing about being a grant writer for me.
Related Posts:
Relax - Tell Your Story
Are You the Bear or the Salmon?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eleven Ways to Earn Valentines as a Grant Writer

Grant Writers are either hero or goat depending on the outcome of our latest application. It is a fact of the profession that our best efforts to write a perfect grant are not always rewarded. Failure is not appreciated by clients and it can strain relationships. Around Valentines, you may be wondering "where's the love?"

Here are ten ways to avoid excessive rejection and/or make lemonade from the lemons of grant rejection.

Limit disappointing grant rejections by:

1. Being clear up-front with each client about the competitive nature of the grant business.

2. Making no guarantees and have a frank discussion about the risky nature of submitting grant proposals.

3. Charging an ethical price for writing. (fair to you as well as your client)

4. Carefully work with the client on selecting what you will and won’t write so you are not inflating your client’s expectations falsely in terms of a) your ability in a specific field; b) the likelihood of receiving funding.

5. Involving the client in the writing process including approval of the final narrative it is submitted.

Making DELICIOUS Lemonade by:

1. Offering a free rewrite policy like Creative Resources & Research does.

2. Reviewing the readers’ comments with your client.

3. Assisting your client with planning processes to resubmit.

4. Identifying additional sources of funding that the grant could be re-tooled for and submitted to.

5. Assisting your client with a protest if warranted.

6. Writing a brief, objective summary of why the grant was rejected and send it to the client (if you know why). They can use this with their supervisors and Board members. It may help diminish the impression that you just did a crummy job of grant writing.

Grant rejection can erode the affection of your clients. If you’re in the business for any length of time you’re going to lose a competition every now and then straining even a good relationship with a client. This is a fact of life as a grant writing consultant so do your best to avoid writing unlikely proposals and when you do miss one, spend the time with your client to review, plan and rewrite whenever possible. This way you’ll build a partnership with your client that will stand the test of occasional grant rejection, and perhaps you'll get some flowers and candy on Valentines Day.

Related Posts:
3 Lessons Learned from Failure
If It's Not Right, Just Say No
Is There a Formula for Grant Writing Success?

Photo Credit : D. Sharon Pruitt

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grant Goddess Affiliate Program

Veronica Robbins has initiated a brand new Affiliate Program for web site owners and bloggers to earn commissions by promoting Grant Goddess products.

Site owners can gain approval to post ads for products like Veronica’s book, “101 Tips for Aspiring Grant Writers” or “Federal Grant Resources.” Affiliates earn a generous commission (50%) for each sale!

All that is required to become an Affiliate is to submit a short application with the web site URL’s where the applicant intends to promote the Grant Goddess products. It’s that easy!

Payments are process securely to site owners via PayPal an industry-leading, highly secure, and well-respected online payment processor.

Now is the time to make your online real estate pay you for all your time and effort! Sign up as an affiliate today!

More details on the Grant Goddess Affiliate Program are available here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

How NOT to Treat Your Grant Project Partners

I don't know about you, but I can learn just as much - sometimes more - from a bad example as I can from a good example.  I was in a grant partnership meeting this week and I witnessed a whole bunch of examples of how not to treat your grant project partners, so I thought I'd share some of those with you.

1. Don't throw one of your partners under the bus for your own political agenda. I'm speaking figuratively, of course.  I assume none of you would actually throw anyone under a bus. In a partnership setting, you need to remember that the value of your relationships with your community partners will extend far beyond the issue at hand.  It might seem expedient to make one of your partners look bad now so you can gain something, but in the long run, it's never a good idea and it almost always comes back to haunt you.  Besides, it's just not very nice.

2. Don't reprimand your staff in front of your partners. Any good manager knows that reprimanding staff in public is a lousy idea, but it can be particularly harmful in a partnership meeting.  If you don't have confidence in your staff, why should your partners? Maybe your grant partners are much more comfortable working with your staff than with you. In that case, reprimanding your staff in front of them will make them defensive. Again, it's just not very nice.

3. Don't spring big decisions on your partners at the last minute. Just like you need time to carefully consider important decisions before you make them, so do your grant partners. Don't show up at the meeting with a bunch of new and important information and expect a decision immediately.

4. Don't jump to conclusions. In a complex collaborative project, there are many interests.  Some of those are complementary and some are competing.  Unless you have been part of every conversation about a particular topic, don't assume you know everything that's going on.  You probably don't.  It's especially important not to jump to conclusions if you haven't been present for all of the regular partnership meetings.

5. Don't insist that the group re-discuss issues from last meeting because you didn't show up to the last meeting. If you are unable to make it to a meeting, you are responsible for getting the information and bringing yourself up to speed on things.  That may mean contacting your partners in-between meetings.  If you know that is an item on the agenda that is important to you, you should have a representative present who can speak to it on your behalf.

Building and nuturing partnerships is a complex task.  Months, even years, worth of work and trust can be shattered in an afternoon if you are careless about how you treat people.  Think of the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would like to be rteated and you will rarely go wrong.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

3 Ways Non-Profits Build Trust with Grant Makers

There are literally tens of thousands of prospective foundations to sift through as you seek non-profit grant funding. Each foundation has its own timeline, guidelines, and fields of interest. All foundations have one thing in common, they look for evidence that your organization is trustworthy before giving you a grant.

New non-profits may find it hard to get their foot in the door with a foundation. Here are three key things to pay attention to that will increase your chance of building trust with foundations so you can secure grant funding:

1) Build it – Build a solid base of local support before seeking grants. I define support as donors, volunteers, and partner organizations.
2) Account for it - Establish an accounting system that would make a CPA proud and then conduct an annual audit to prove it’s as good as you think it is. If you can prove you are trustworthy with small amounts of money, someone might trust you with larger sums.
3) Prove it – By this I mean collect evidence - hard data and anecdotal – to show your programs are working and are appreciated.

If you serve undernourished sea turtles then keep records on how many turtles you take care of this year. A variety of data may be collected such as how many you turned away (if any) for lack of support or how many survive and return to the sea. Ask for written statements from volunteers, take a survey of the community, work with local marine organizations, talk to the media about what you do, join the local Chamber of Commerce, take pictures, and post videos online. Find a volunteer who is a scrap booking enthusiast and let them run wild. You goal is to build a portfolio of evidence that you’re active and effective. Don’t forget to put all this evidence online!

Finding grants for a non-profit organization is a lot easier when you can validate the impact of your programs and prove you are skillful in managing them.

Related Posts:

How is Your Organization's Governance Equilibrium?
Assessing Results: Are You a Quant or a Qualit?

About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
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.