Sunday, January 20, 2008

How to Coordinate the Executive Director, the Board, the Volunteers, and Staff to Successfully Raise Grants

In Tracking Grantwriting Work & Organization I explain the method that I use to organize, track, and plan my grant writing work. In Intra Office Communication and Grantwriting I explain the critical fact that grant writers work in a team and that the team understand this to attain successful grant raising.

Another critical step in successful grant raising is coordinating the relevant people involved and the information that they either gather or have.

When you are preparing to submit grant proposals for a nonprofit there are a few major players. The board of directors oversees the organization, its operations, the executive director (E.D.), and staff. The cause, clients, volunteers, donors, constituency, and mission statement all sit above the board, E.D., and staff. Ideally, everyone involved in the organization understands the mission statement, cause, and constituency. Ideally. Yes, in a really great world, everyone involved in the organization understands the donors, clients, and volunteers, too; but arguably there are "specialists" (or could be) for each of these constituents, working for the organization. These "specialists" are the development or fundraising staff; the social workers, or scientists, etc; and the volunteer coordinator. These "specialists" are helpful to a nonprofit because your organization's donors, volunteers, and clients should receive a great deal of care, attention, management, and frankly (to be successful) time. One person can not do it all in a growing organization.

So, as grant writers, we are working in a team. E.D.'s, board members, volunteers, and staff; grant writers must receive quality time, attention, information, responses, etc. from you in order for your nonprofit's fundraising success. I provide some real-world examples that demonstrate why teamwork is critical in Those Who Don't Follow Through On Their Grantwriting Program.

Everyone involved must know that:

__ If anyone affiliated with the nonprofit has a relationship with any board members or staff working for a foundation that you are going to ask for a grant from - you (the grant writer) should be made aware of this relationship. You can then coordinate that person with their contact at the foundation, prior to sending your initial application material (letter of inquiry or the proposal). Your contact can just make the foundation contact aware that your organization is applying, what the request is for, and share a bit of information about your organization. It is not a sales pitch, it is not intense but just conversation, and there's nothing to ask for or pressure anyone for.

__ If anyone affiliated with the organization meets with or hears from a foundation, corporate leader, government leader, etc. (or potential grant donor) that they are aware of your nonprofit, its work, or recent press, etc. - you should be made aware of this connection, the discussion, and the relationship/contact. Note this contact in the potential donor's file as they are indicating an interest in your organization and its work. Their being aware of your group and its work can be a leg up in making a relationship with this potential donor. Look to get a grant now and in the future from their organization.

You as the grant writer can also tell people relevant to the organization's grant program (described above):

__ If anyone knows of a grant available that is a good fit with your group, its work, your programs/projects, and gives to groups in your region - they need to let you know.

__ If anyone hears of an organization that does work similar to yours' receiving a good grant - they need to let you know.

__ If they know about grants that your organization received years and years ago - they need to let you know who the donor was, how much they gave, and for what. Also, they should share any other information that they know, such as a contact's name.

__ If anyone knows anyone affiliated with a potential grant donor for your organization.

__ If a client, volunteer's, or donor's employer (or an employer that someone retired from) matches donations or asks its employees to direct its company's giving (i.e. grants or in kind donations).

Any of the information that you, Mr. or Ms. grant writer, receive needs to be noted, filed appropriately (in a hard file and in your computer grant management software or spreadsheet), AND this information needs to be followed up on by the appropriate person, in a professional and short manner, at the right time.

Connections and the information that your colleagues have can be immensely helpful. Coordinating everyone in the grant writing team is critical to raise grants successfully.

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