This is Part IV of a four-part series that focuses on the written policies and procedures that your organization—whether large or small—needs to have in place in order to be grant ready. The topics in this blog describe the Do, Check, and Act parts of the PDCA process, which was introduced in Part I.
PART IV: Operational Aspects of Grant Readiness
Review of Part I, Part II, and Part II
- In Part I of this series, we offered the friendly reminder that it's good to have a plan—to think through your priorities for grant seeking and how you go about it—when it comes to grant seeking.
- In Part II, we emphasized that it's essential for your plan or grant strategy to be aligned with your organizational mission.
- In Part III, we focused on organizational aspects of grant readiness, including the roles, processes, and tools that can position your organization to be grant ready.
- In Part IV, we feature the operational aspects of grant readiness, with a focus on managing your organization's grant activity.
Grant Readiness: Communication
Communication is an important feature of organizational culture. It exists to one degree or another in every organization, but few organizations communicate exceptionally well.
If no one knows about them, it doesn't matter if your organization has the world's most complete, finely articulated written policies and procedures to govern grant activities. And it doesn't matter if most everyone knows about them, if they don't also know where to find them and how to access them.
When it comes to grant activity, it's crucial that all organizational members are on the same page—or at least in the same book! That notion goes back to the idea of a shared mission. If organizational members begin with a shared mission, then they are more likely to communicate the same message.
Well-organized and frequently used internal communication tools can play an important role in facilitating your organization's grant activity. Examples of such tools include:
- A password-protected website;
- An online policy and procedure repository;
- Online folders that contain current organizational documents, such as the mission statement, strategic plan, case statement, past proposals and reviewers’ comments, abstracts, boilerplate information, etc.; and
- Software applications that allow the relevant players to access and work on in-process grant proposals.
Grant Readiness: Tools and Tracking Systems
Speaking of software applications, a grant tracking system of some sort can serve as a useful tool for organizing and maintaining records and history relevant to your organization's grant activity. A simple Excel file can identify grants applied for, submission dates, and proposal results. A central folder for all past grant applications also can be a great resource. In addition, a free tool such as Google Calendar, which can be shared with multiple users, can make it easy for all members of the grant team to keep track of grant deadlines.
Grant Readiness: Show Me the Money!
And then there are the money matters. Organizations that make grant activity a targeted priority have budgets that reflect their commitment to grant writing efforts—in terms of both time and money. These organizations also set goals (a key component of the Plan phase) that identify expected results from their efforts to secure external funding. In addition, they have written policies related to indirect costs, in-kind contributions, etc.
Grant Readiness: Continuous Process Improvement
Once goals are set, results need to be checked against them. This step is the heart of the PDCA Check and Act phases. Also, because they acknowledge that no process is perfect and that all of the moving parts involved guarantee that change is always a part of the process, grant-ready organizations develop provisions for continuous process improvement. Then they incorporate continuous process improvement steps into their procedures, and they follow the steps to systematically review their grant strategies and approaches, making adjustments as needed.
This concludes our four-part series focused on the written policies and procedures that your organization&mdashwhether large or small&mdashneeds to have in place in order to be grant ready. Now what?
Perhaps as a next step you could review or create your organization's grant strategy with an eye to identifying ways to fine tune your policies and procedures to make them more supportive of your organization's grant efforts. You could begin that review by asking and answering questions such as:
- What is our grant strategy?
- How well does that strategy align with our organizational mission and key initiatives?
- How well do we communicate our grant strategy?
- Have we committed sufficient resources to carry out the grant effort as planned?
- Do we have written policies and processes, with personnel roles clearly identified, that support and govern our grant activities?
- What tools do we use to organize our grant-seeking activities? What additional tools do we need?
- What systems do we have in place for reviewing and improving our grant policies and processes?
- What can I do to improve my organization's grant-readiness quotient?
Once in place, you can also review your grant strategy against our Grant Readiness Checklist.
As always, TheGrantHelpers.com is available to assist you! We'd be happy to offer you a complimentary "grant readiness" consultation. Just contact us via the following link: http://www.thegranthelpers.com.