Thursday, May 22, 2008

#54: How to position your grant proposal financials

Yesterday I had lunch with a fellow free-lance grant writer, Jim Kopp. I don't often have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with other grant writers, so I enjoyed the camaraderie.

At one point in our conversation, Jim commented that he often has to explain to clients the importance of presenting a project proposal within the context of the organization's overall financial picture. Some clients resist sharing their financials with funders. They forget that information is available to the world on the organization's 990 form.

So, here's a tip from Jim. The funder can look at the agency's finances anyway. Your job, as a grant writer, is to make it easy for them to see how this project fits into the big picture.

This is so important. In fact, when the Foundation Center asked the question, "How do you usually read a grant request?" here's what some of the respondents had to say:

"I look at the budget. Over the years I've learned that narrative can be enriching, but the numbers are stark and straightforward. I want to see that the money is doing the job described in the proposal." Joel Orosz W.K. Kellogg Foundation

"I skip around the document in the following way: first the budget, to see if the request is appropriate and to see the agency's financials; then the project section, to see what they want to accomplish; then the board list." Lynn Pattillo The Pittulloch Foundation, Inc.

"I often look at the budget and then read the proposal backwards." Michael Gilligan The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.

If you're new to preparing grant budgets, the Foundation Center offers this [free] basic tutorial.

Tutorials - Proposal Proposal Budgeting Basics: "This online course is designed to help with the basics of developing a project budget, and it is geared for those who have general knowledge of proposal development.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

#53: Say Thank You for Your Grant

Here's a tip from an excellent article. If you're a grant writer you should read the whole article, The Secret Life of Foundation Officers as told by Lee Draper, but I selected this particular tip to share. Since I'm an independent consultant, I'm not the one who gets the grant and wouldn't be the one to write the thank you. However, I'm embarrassed to say that I never had this on my list of tips to share with clients.

Thanks, Lee, for this and your other tips.

NCFY : : Publications : :The Exchange: "One other thing is, when you’re successful, write a thank-you note within 2 or 3 days. The number of nonprofits that do not thank their funders is very high. And what does that say to the donor? That says you are ungrateful. When you send a thank-you note, it makes the funder feel appreciated. They feel you care. And they will be receptive the next time you come with a new proposal. I cannot tell you how frequently I hear my colleagues who are grant makers say, “A third to half of our grantees never send a thank-you note. And they think that we’re going to fund them next year. Ha, ha, ha.” So that gets back to the fact that those are people behind the desk. And when they have helped you, it’s important to remember to thank them."
And, for my own self-interest, send your grant writer a thank you, too. It's one way of ensuring she knows you received the award. It amazes me how often people forget to let us know. And, of course, we like to be appreciated, too.

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