Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Policies And Procedures For Grant-Ready Organizations Part III

Posted by Rita A. Jensen, Ph.D. on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 @ 16:07 PM

Org-I_small.jpgWelcome to Part III 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. This blog transitions from the Plan stage in grant readiness to the Do stage described in Part I.

PART III: Organizational Aspects of Grant Readiness

Review of Part I 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 itwhen 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.

Grant Readiness: Roles, Processes, Tools

In Part III, we move on to the organizational aspects of grant readiness that can help you be better prepared to anticipate, adapt, and act when funding opportunities present themselves. We begin by focusing on roles and then move on to processes and tools that can position your organization to be grant ready.  As you read through the descriptions, you’ll see that an effective grant-seeking effort takes a commitment of personnel and other resources. Developing a plan with a refined focus is what separates the highly successful recipients from those with a more hit-or-miss, ad hoc approach.

Grant Readiness: Roles

As we mentioned in Part I of this series, many organizations are not staffed in ways that allow for a full-time grant administrator or coordinator. Given that piece of reality, your organization needs to ensure that there are specific individuals within the organization whose written job duties and key performance indicators include outcomes directly related to grants. In addition to identifying specific individuals, your organization needs to describe each individual's role with regard to grant activity and management.

Board Members. For example, board-level involvement, support, commitment, and oversight are essential components of a successful grant strategy. Basically, the board must be on board with the organizational grant strategy. Yes, so they can openly support the strategy, but also so board members can communicate that strategy clearly and consistently across all levels of the organization, as well as externally. Board-level buy-in is also critical in allocating sufficient resources to establish and maintain a continuous, successful effort over time.

Administration, Faculty, and Staff. Different members of the organization are involved in grant processes to different degrees and in different ways. For educational institutions, faculty members may play the role of principal investigators, whereas staff members may play major roles with the budget details, and administrators may be part of the approval process.

Grant Coordinator. Although your organization may not have an individual who dedicates 100% of his or her time to grant activity, hopefully there is a specific person who wears the grant coordinator hat and is designated as the clear leader/coordinator of grant activity. The grant coordinator typically tracks specific proposals, seeks out funding opportunities that match your organization's mission, manages the process, and leads grant communication efforts across the organization.

  Insider Tip: If you'd like no-cost help you identify funding opportunities that match your organization's mission and key initiatives, then join The Grant Helpers Watch List.  

Grant Writers. Larger non-profit organizations often have one or more members whose full-time responsibility focuses on grant writing. In smaller organizations, grant writing may be an expectation associated with multiple positions, as in "other duties as assigned." For example, employees who work for a foundation may be expected to devote most of their time to working with individual donors and programs, but also be expected to help out with grant writing as needed.

Volunteer Grant Writers. Some organizations also use the services of volunteer grant writers. Those that do are well-advised to develop and rely on written policies and procedures to govern their use of the services of volunteer grant writers and to maintain continuity as volunteers come and go. Conflicts of interest, background checks, and qualifications are examples of details that need to be addressed.

Outsourcing.  Naturally, as a grant writing company, we are quick to point out the advantages of outsourcing grant support. We subscribe to many databases with thousands of funding opportunities, so we’re well positioned to quickly find agencies that are interested in supporting your efforts. Also, we’ve written millions of dollars in successful proposals. The Grant Helpers can greatly increase your chances of funding--and can be available as needed without the expenses incurred with full-time staff.

The Grant Helpers also can help your organization build your own capacity in-house, if that’s in your long-term plans. If so, we’ll be more involved initially and will spend more time explaining how the process works. We'll also help you develop some of the processes mentioned below and the tools mentioned in Part IV of the blog. Over time, we can take a more advisory role.

Grant Readiness: Processes

The different roles introduced above need to be defined so that specific tasks are aligned with specific

Most grant proposals request similar, basic information. Organizations can save time when preparing grant applications by maintaining a central file with this information. The file should include your 501c3 status letter, annual budget, resumes of key staff and the Board of Directors, and identifying information, such as your organization's address and any tax or grant registration numbers (like CCR and EIN).
-- excerpted from What Goes into a Grant Readiness Kit? Posted by Katie Adams

roles. The end product is a map or flowchart of the grant strategy and the different roles organizational members play. Timelines and the grant proposal approval process should be pieces of the flowchart.

As The Grant Helpers have emphasized in previous blog posts, organizations that have the right tools and procedures in place can shave hours off their grant proposal preparation time.

Grant Readiness: Tools

Your organization can use tools and documents such as checklists, templates, organizational case statements, boiler plate information, and approval flowcharts to systematize the development of grant applications. In addition, software programs and databases that alert you to funding opportunities that align with your organization's mission statement and key initiatives serve as helpful, time-saving tools.

What's Next?

Next time we'll focus more on tools your organization can use to manage and monitor the grant process. We'll conclude our four-part series by featuring the operational aspects of grant readiness that can help you be better prepared to anticipate, adapt, and act when funding opportunities present themselves.

Action Item

Until then, we invite you to review the roles, processes, and tools that are part of your organization's grant strategy. Of course, if your analysis reveals gaps in your grant readiness plan, then you have an opportunity to address those gaps through continuous process improvement.


As always, The Grant Helpers is available to assist you! Just contact us and ask your grant question

Topics: grants, grant planning, grant ready, grant management, grant readiness, be grant ready, grant-ready organizations

Policies And Procedures For Grant-Ready Organizations

Posted by Rita A. Jensen, Ph.D. on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 @ 22:07 PM

This is Part II 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. This blog is still in the Plan stage of the Plan – Do – Check – Act cycle described in Part I. Good planning can make your organization more agile and better equipped to respond in a timely manner to requests for funding proposals.

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PART II: Grant Strategy and Organizational Mission

Review of Part I: The What and Why of Grant Readiness

In Part I of this series, we focused on these three areas:

  1. What it means to be grant ready: Able to identify and respond to funding opportunities them efficiently with competitive proposals.
  1. Strategic and operational elements of a plan: Priorities for funding, types of grants to go for, partnerships to cultivate, resources to allocate, tools to use.
  1. The potential benefits and ROI: A systematic effort can pay for itself many times over.
  1. The importance of a written grant strategy: Know why you're doing what you're doing

It's essential to assure that your organization's answer to the question of why you're doing what you're doing with regard to grant activity is aligned with your organizational mission. That's the focus of Part II of this series.

What's So Important About Alignment Between Your Grant Strategy and Organizational Mission?

If your back is out of alignment with your hips, the result of that misalignment is pain.

If your vehicle's tires are out of alignment with each other, the result is a bumpy ride and uneven wear on your tires.

If your organization's grant activity is out of alignment with your organization's mission (the statement of purpose prominently featured on your organization's website and on the mugs left over from the last capital campaign), the result of that misalignment is pain, a bumpy ride, and uneven wear on the organization's priorities—not to mention its members.

While I acknowledge that the above examples feature two different kinds of misalignment, the results of these different types of misalignment are remarkably similar. Whether the misalignment is attributable to parts or objects not being arranged in a straight line or to a disconnect between an organization's stated purposes and the initiatives and projects it pursues, sooner or later the result is dysfunction.

A common temptation is to pursue grant funding just because there are dollars available.  A for-profit company we have worked with applied for and received a million dollars from the federal government to develop a technology to improve particle detection in accelerators.  However, there aren’t very many particle accelerators in existence.  Even though the company was funded for the effort, they could have spent time in areas that positioned them better in more plentiful markets.

How Can You Ensure Alignment Between Your Grant Strategy and Organizational Mission?

Before you can check for alignment between your grant strategy and organizational mission, you need to know what the mission is. So—if you don't know your organization's mission statement or you aren't even sure there is one, then that item becomes number one on your list of things to do. Obviously, an organizational mission statement isn't important just to your grant strategy, but that's our focus here.

As Michelle Hansen emphasized in a previous Grant Helpers post:

            Many grant-making organizations want to know about your overall organization and goals, not just about the project you are hoping to have funded. Often an application will ask for a mission statement explicitly. A mission statement is a clear, concise statement that summarizes your organization’s goals and the philosophies underlying them...Having a strong mission will help with your funding request and assist you in meeting your overall goals.

A clear mission statement should be included in the boilerplate information your organization has at the ready when responding to requests for funding proposals. Other important information pieces you should have at the ready include your organization's:

  • vision statement
  • history
  • goals
  • strategic plan
  • lists of leaders
  • board members
  • tax exempt documentation
  • website URL
  • contact information

 

The Role of the Organizational Case Statement 

An organizational case statement is another important piece of boilerplate information. Its purpose is to clearly present your organization's funding priorities and to demonstrate how those priorities closely align with your organization's mission and address your strategic initiatives. 

An "all-purpose" organizational case statement is the "generic" or go-to document you can provide in initial discussions and incorporate into many of your funding proposals. In addition to presenting the information identified above, the case statement describes needs, scope and reach of the organization, and impacts—best with hard data to support the claims. 

Sometimes it can be helpful to design specific case statements for targeted audiences, activities, and programs. For example, each college or school within a university may have its own case statement, which is targeted to its alumni and the professional associations related to its programs of study. Or if your organization is launching a new program or service, you may want to design a special case statement that profiles that unique project. And if you're launching a special campaign of some sort (e.g., capital campaign, endowment campaign), then you might find it helpful to modify the case statement package to emphasize that initiative. 

What's Next? In Part I of this series, we offered the friendly reminder that it's good to have a plan when it comes to grant seeking.

 In Part II, we emphasized that it's essential that your plan or grant strategy is aligned with your organizational mission. 

In Part III, we move on to the organizational aspects of grant readiness that can help you be better prepared to anticipate, adapt, and act when funding opportunities present themselves. 

Grant Readiness Resources

Those of you who are familiar with The Grant Helpers' past work may recall that this is not our first rodeo when it comes to offering you grant readiness resources. Here are links to other Grant Helpers resources that we hope you will find helpful as you improve your organization's grant readiness quotient.

http://www.thegranthelpers.com/blog/bid/77098/What-Goes-Into-a-Grant-Readiness-Kit

http://www.thegranthelpers.com/blog/topic/grant-readiness

http://www.thegranthelpers.com/blog/bid/65612/What-is-a-Grant-Strategy-3-Components

 

Action Item The Grant Helpers resource entitled Making the Case can help you in your efforts to write compelling case statements to support your grant readiness efforts. Just click on the link to request a copy.

Topics: grant readiness, grant ready, be grant ready, grant-ready organizations