Mandy Pearce, CFRE recently joined us for a webinar in which she detailed the questions nonprofits need to answer prior to searching and applying for grant funds, outlined the seven basic elements of most proposals, and showed how to match their needs to funder priorities.
In case you missed it, you can watch the replay here:
Steven:All right, Mandy, is it okay if I get us started officially?
Steven:All right. Well, good afternoon, everyone, if you are on the East Coast, and good morning, I should say, if you’re on the West Coast, or somewhere in between. Thanks so much for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Granted: Identifying, Applying for and Managing Grant Funds.” And my name is Steven Shattuck, and I am the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always.
And just a couple of housekeeping items before we begin officially. I just want to let you all know that we are recording this presentation, and I’ll be sending out the recording later on this afternoon in case you want to review the content or perhaps share it with a colleague or just watch it again to get some more insights. So, have no fear. If you have to leave early, don’t worry I’ll get that in your hand. We’ll also resend the slides just in case you didn’t already get those earlier today.
And as you are listening along today, please feel free to chat in any questions or comments for me or our guests as we go along today. We love to keep it interactive. We’re even going to try to answer some questions along the way, so do not be shy at all. We’d love to hear comments and we’ll definitely get to all of those questions after the presentation if we don’t answer it live. So have no fear. Please do send us any questions or comments you have.
You can do the same on Twitter. If you’re a Twitter type person, you can use the #Bloomerang or our username is @BloomerangTech. I’ll be keeping an eye on that throughout the hour.
And just, one, final housekeeping item, if you have any trouble with the audio, in particular, with these webinars, it’s usually only as good as your own internet connection, so if you’re having any trouble, we usually find that dialing in by phone is much better quality and much more stable. So, if you have a phone nearby and you don’t mind using it, try that if you have any trouble. There is a phone number that you can dial in in the email from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour ago today.
And just in case this is your first webinar with us, I just want to say a special welcome to you. We do these webinars just about every Thursday. We bring in a great guest, expert guest, like Mandy, we have today to give a great educational presentation. But in addition to that, Bloomerang offers donor management software, so if you’re interested in that or perhaps going to be shopping around for a new provider soon, check us out. Visit our website, you can even download a real quick video demo and see the software in action. So we’d love for you learn more, if that is of interest to you.
But for now, I am super excited to introduce my new friend, someone I’ve been getting to know over the last few months. I’m really excited to have her. Mandy Pearce, joins us. How’s it going, Mandy?
Mandy:It is going great today. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Steven:Yeah, I’m excited for this too. We love individual giving here at Bloomerang, obviously, but grants are always super important, and it’s always great to have someone who can talk about how to leverage that opportunity. So, I’m not going to take up too much of your time, Mandy, but I want to brag on you for just a minute here.
If you guys don’t know Mandy, you got to check out her website, check out her blog. She is a grant writing expert, obviously. She’s an executive coach and she’s a nationally recognized fundraising trainer. She has been the leader over at Funding for Good, Inc. since 2009. And she has over 20 years of experience with executive coaching, strategic development planning, doing seminars, webinars, speaking at events.
She’s an animal lover. I’ve been creeping on her website looking at all of her dog pictures, because I’m a dog lover too. So, any of you who are animal folks here, you’ve definitely got a friend on the phone line with you today. So, Mandy, I’m just really excited. I’m going to pipe down, and let you tell us all about grants. So take it away, my friend.
Mandy:Okay. Wonderful. And I’m not to push the product, but I will also give a little shout out to Bloomerang. I have clients who use the software, which means I get to be in software some myself, and you do track individuals through that, but you can also track foundations and the relationships you’re building as you work on grants and funding through that source. So, you know, it’s not just for individuals, and I encourage you to, if all else fails, check out the free demo. But they do have great customer service and will walk you through the needs they have. So check out their software, if you need it.
Today, we are here to talk about grants, and we’re going to talk a little bit about how you identify them, how you apply for them, how you manage them. And, I will reiterate what Steven said, if you have questions, please feel free to type them in as we go. We will be checking the questions, and I will take a couple of pauses throughout and say, “Hey, let’s check the questions and see if there’s anything we should address right now.” Steven can feel free to interrupt me if something great comes along and he wants me to answer it on the spot.
And if all else fails, we have a Q&A section at the end. And then I will personally respond to all questions that did not get answered during the session, after the session via email. So, don’t feel like you’re not going to get your question answered. I will get back with you.
In order to help me a little bit better today, I would love for us to do a quick poll. So this is going to be your opportunity to, kind of, get engaged and participate a little. We will be doing a door prize a little bit later in the presentation, and we will pick a winner based on people who are participating, which means asking questions, participating in the polls, and that type of things. So here’s your first chance to participate.
If you could, answer for me, “Do you have any grant writing experience?” This really helps me as I tailor the examples that I use on the fly as I’m talking today. So if you could just go on and type. There’s a bubble on the screen. Do you have experience? So yes, no, yes, but not a lot, no, but it’s part of your job description, or, yes, but you’re here for it for refresher. And can they go on and just click the bubble there, Steven, on the slide?
Steven:Yes, they can. We should see the results here live in a second.
Mandy:Okay. Perfect. It looks like some people had experience, but not a lot. We have a lot of folks that have no experience. Some is getting ready to be part of their job description. Looks like the majority of the people don’t have any or have some, and we have about 50-55 folks who do have some experience grant writing. So yeah, thank you so much. I appreciate that. Appreciate you sharing with us. And this is the results for those of you that want to see how the answers came. I like that. Very nice, colorful bar graph. So that helps me a little bit. Thank you.
All right. There is some information that you need to know prior to working on grant applications. You’re going to have to have it, so you might as well compile it, put it in a file on your computer, type it up put and it in the document or several documents. You’re going to need your official name. Not the name folks know you by, but the official name.
So I know that there’s an organization in my area called Catawba County Hispanic Ministries. Everybody else knows it as “Centro Latino.” When they write grants, they have to use Catawba County Hispanic Ministries because that’s the name the IRS designated for them.
They also need to know their Tax ID number. If you’re an organization that is brand-new or you are starting an organization that does not yet have a Tax ID number, there are many, many foundations that you will not qualify with until you are actually granted that Tax ID number. So just know that before you can start doing research, but actually putting applications together might be a waste of your time until you actually are confirmed as a non-profit organization.
You’ll need your date of incorporation, which comes with the same paperwork. And then if you’re going to apply for federal funding, which many, many people will not ever, you have to have a D-U-N-S number. That is a free number that you can get online. It takes about 48 hours to get. And you would look for Dun & Bradstreet, the website, and that’s where you would apply for that. Now, this is not a state and federal grant writing workshop, this is just talking about foundation grants, so we’re not going to delve into that too much.
You’re also going to need to know your address, street address, and mailing address if they’re different. Some foundations will not mail checks to P.O. boxes, so you need to have a place where a foundation can mail a check or get in touch with you, if you only have a P.O. box to list as a mailing address. Your phone, in fact, if you have one, and then any social media information that might be requested on an application.
You’re also going to need to know your mission and vision statements and the difference between the two. For those of you that are either new to grant writing or maybe new to non-profits, a mission statement is what you’re doing right now to accomplish your greater vision. For example, your vision might be, “Ending world hunger.” That’s the be-all, end-all goal of your organization. That’s your vision.
And what you’re doing right now, maybe a backpack program in your local elementary schools. Okay? That is one way to help accomplish that particular vision. There may be other things over the course of time that you do. So your mission can change. Typically, your vision does not. You need to know those.
Your fiscal year beginning and end dates. Some people are on a January-December cycle. Some people are on a July-June cycle. Some people are on September-October. And the reason it’s important is that as you get into researching grants, you’re going to need to know when a foundation says, “Our application’s due September 3rd.”
So if you’re an organization who has a budget that starts over September 1st, like you’re a September to October fiscal year, then you’re going to want to reach out to that program officer and say, “Oh, if you need this year’s operating budget, last year’s budget, and next year’s projected budget,” and you’re going to submit this proposal October 31st, because you want to get it in early, you want to ask them, “What would you consider? Because our fiscal year ends in four days and, you know, we have all these options.”
Building relationships with program officers is one of the most important pieces of grant writing. Building relationships, in general, is the most important part of all fundraising and it extends to grant writing as well. You’re also going to want to know your annual operating budget. If you’re writing grants for a program or a project, you’re also going to want to know the budget for those particular programs and projects. And this is why.
When you’re doing grant research, you will run across guidelines that say things like, “We only fund organizations that have an operating budget of $1,000,000 or more.” That comes directly from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. If you don’t have an operating budget of that much, you’re wasting your time because you’re not going to qualify. If you don’t know what your operating budget is, then you’re wasting your time doing the research to begin with. So you want to know that information, and then you want to know it for your projects as well.
You’re going to want to know the programs that your organization offers, even if they’re not the program that you’re working on writing grants for. As you reach out to a foundation and talk with their staff, you might find out that the program you thought they would want to fund, is actually something they’re not interested in funding right now. However, they may tell you something that they’re interested in, and it could be another program or project your organization has going on, and that would allow you to continue that conversation and potentially still have an opportunity to apply for that grant.
You want to know the clients that you serve. So, those are the basics. There’s a whole bunch more information you’re going to want to have. And I’m going to give you a tool for that in a little bit.
There is a Grant Readiness Checklist that we use with all of our clients. And it’s free all. All have to do is go there, and you can download it. It’s in a Word document. You can edit it, make it your own, use it. But it gives you every category of everything that you would probably want to have together before you start working on grants. Things like all the pieces of financial information, all the pieces of information about your board, your policies, your procedures. So it’s a really good checklist to use, so you know you have everything together before you start.
Now, there’s seven basic elements to most grant proposals. If you’ve written any grants, which some of you said you had, you’re going to know there’s definitely more and some proposals have less and some of them use different verbiage. If you can put together these seven things, you’re going to have a majority of the information together for a majority of the grants you’re going to apply for. So you’re going to have to have a title, an executive summary, organizational information, a statement of need, a project description, a budget, and evaluation methods.
There’s one big piece called “sustainability planning” that’s not on here, but that’s a whole other conversation. Just know that you want to make sure you have a way to sustain the program or project that you’re asking for this foundation to support before you submit a proposal to them, because a lot of them will ask for that information.
So what’s included in the executive summary? Well, it needs to be coherent. It needs to be persuasive. Because executive summary should encourage people to read on, to find out more about your project. That’s the persuasive piece. If it’s not coherent, they’re not really going to understand what you’re talking about in that first piece of your proposal.
And you’re going to want to answer four questions in your executive summary. You’re going to describe the problem you have. If you didn’t have a problem you wouldn’t be writing a grant. It’d be like going to the bank and say, “You know, I really think I want to take out a loan today, just because I can.” Nobody does that. Nobody writes a grant just because they’re bored or because they would like to have something to do today. Typically, you write a grant because you need funding for a particular program or project, to purchase a piece of equipment to support the organization and you currently don’t have that.
You want to have a few key descriptors of your program or project. You want to talk about what makes your program extraordinary, and how your organization is uniquely positioned. Now, let’s look at those last two pieces for a second. Well, let’s look at the second one. The difference between a program and a project is that a program is long-term and a project is short-term. So knowing that, you should be able to determine which one you’re writing for.
What makes your program extraordinary is, typically, something that you can measure. You have metrics that you measure, goals and objectives, and something like, “We serve a larger percentage,” or “More people are successful after leaving our program,” or those types of things, so you want to have some data about the services you provide so you can determine what makes you extraordinary.
And then how your organization is uniquely positioned focuses around uni. Unique means one. So your organization should be the only one doing something or doing something a particular way or providing a particular service in a particular area, and you have to figure out what that is. I’ll give you a good example.
Here in Western North Carolina, the North Carolina School for the Deaf exists about 30 miles from my house. And there is a non-profit organization called the North Carolina School for the Deaf at Morganton Foundation. And it is a separate entity, not associated with the school that was created specifically to support the mission of the school. So they raise money, they do events, whatever, and they support the school.
Well, when people go to the school and then retire in our area, we have a large population of individuals who are deaf in Western North Carolina. So they did a survey in the local area and determined that a majority of folks in that population would like a retirement community that they can live in their culture in this area. So that’s what we’ve done. We’ve built . . . and I’m part of that capital campaign process. They’ve built a development. There are 12 other developments in the United States. All of them are for-profit entities. Our development here in Western North Carolina is a non-profit. So that’s one way they’re unique.
Another way they’re unique is they serve individuals who are deaf or blind or deaf-blind, okay? Most of the other ones are specifically for the deaf. And that’s the second way they’re unique.
The third way they’re unique is they’re the only one between here in Ohio. So, there’s nobody else providing that service in this area. Now, we had to do a little research to find all that out. I encourage you to go out, figure out what it is you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and who else is doing it, and where. Those things will help you determine how you’re extraordinary.
Another much simpler example is, let’s say you have two hospitals in your community, one of them has an open MRI machine, the other one does not. The one that has the open MRI machine is unique in that way. It can be as simple as that. All right. So those are the basic elements, and we’ve gone over the first one.
Then, the next page, I’m not going to read this whole thing to you. Here is a sample executive summary written for you. All the samples in this PowerPoint are grants that we have written and we have received. So nothing in here is made up. I even went through the trouble of typing for you and pointing out where the description of the organization is and how it’s uniquely positioned, the key descriptors, and what makes the program extraordinary.
So I know that Steven said he has shared the PowerPoint with you, guys. You can open that up, read it, copy it, paste it, use it in any way that you need. But there is an actual example for you, so you can use that.
I think now is a good time to just take a breath and say, “Steven do you see any questions you’d like me to address right now before we move on to organizational information?” while I grab a drink of water.
Steven:Yeah, we’ve got a couple of good ones in here. One from Bernadine, one from Jenna. Bernadine’s wondering when a foundation grant outline says they do not accept unsolicited profiles, should you still send them one or should you try to honor that request? Do you any experience going rogue in that regard?
Mandy:Yes. So, I do. And I will ask you how you want me to do that, Steven. We actually wrote a whole blog on that very specific thing, and there is a video on our blog on YouTube that answers that as well. So I can give that to Steven and he can pop it in the email that he’ll send out later today or . . . and it’s a lengthy response, so that’s the only reason I say. But we’ve already answered it, so I can send that to you or everybody if you want to read it.
That’s a great question, and I would say just because they don’t accept unsolicited proposals doesn’t mean that there’s not a way to communicate with them. It just means they do not have an open cycle online with a deadline that anybody can apply for. You have to go through the gatekeeper, build a relationship with them first. And a lot of small family foundations have that process because they don’t want to be overwhelmed with grants. So, do not look at that as a roadblock or a, “We can’t apply to them.” Look at that as a, “We have to dig a little deeper and build a relationship with them first.” And they’re set up that way for a purpose. Great question.
Steven:Cool. That makes a lot of sense. Yeah, great.
Mandy:How do you put data in your grant if you don’t have a good way of tracking it? Well, that’s very difficult to do, Jenna.
We’re a campus ministry and our numbers are always fluid because students labs are fluid. I always struggle to find good ways to communicate numbers and grants. You have to come up with a tracking system that works for whatever it is you’re trying to record. You have to either create things that you can record or you have to figure out different things that you’re going to report.
Most foundations don’t like qualitative data. Qualitative is the warm fuzzy stuff, the stories like, “The program made me feel better.” That’s really hard to quantify, right? So, everybody’s got a different thing that makes them feel better. So you have to come up with ways, and there’s ways to do that. But you have to figure out, “What exactly is it that we’re trying to measure, and is there a way to do that?” Good question.
And Jocelyn, “When you create a budget for specific program for a grant, do you include your entire operating budget or just a budget for that specific program you are applying for?” So that, I will respond to you individually via email. Don’t mark that one as answered. I will send you an email on that. It’s a little complicated.
All right. So, I’m going to hop back in, and we’re going to talk about organizational information. A couple of things you’re going to need to include in this section are, like we said earlier, the official name of your organization, a brief history. So if you’re brand new, your history is going to be brief. But if you’re 50 years old, you’re going to have to very much condense that, and I would say, focus on how you got started. Like, it might be, “A passionate teacher in the community saw a need for after-school programming for bilingual students. And as a result, after one year of tutoring with families in the community, decided to start a non-profit to better provide services.” Right? So that’s two sentences, maybe. Doesn’t have to be the entire blow-by-blow of how it happened.
Major programs, primary activities, mission or vision, whichever one most aligned with what this particular foundation was to support, collaborations and partnerships, that again, are relevant to this particular initiative, and you want to have collaborations and partnerships. Foundations want to see that you are working in the community with others to make a greater impact. They don’t want to see that you’re trying to do everything by yourself, and that there’s a duplication of services. So, make sure that you’re documenting and sharing your collaborations and partnerships. Any awards or accreditation that are relevant to this particular grant proposal that you’re putting together, and then the number and capacity of your staff.
These are some questions you’re going to want to ask as you think about how you’re going to introduce yourself. How are you going to introduce yourself and your organization?
So when Steven and I first started talking, he, maybe, did not know that I had dogs unless he had been on my website previously. So, you know, I might not have introduced myself as Leo and Ali’s mom. Because he might think those were my kids, they’re my fur babies. He’s never met my husband, so I won’t introduce myself as Ricardo’s wife. He doesn’t know my extended family, so I’m not Danny and Greta’s daughter or Daemon’s sister, right?
He knows me through my friend, Sandy Rees. So, I am Mandy, owner of Funding for Good until we get to know each other better, right? How are you going to introduce your organization? Because there’s lots of ways. Is it based on a program you started, an award that you got, a board member that you have? What are you going to do with the grant money? Why does it need to be done? Who’s going to benefit and how are you going to do it?
Do you know how much it’s going to cost? When and where will the program or project take place and who is going to do the work? If you know who’s going to do the work, what are their credentials? And if you don’t know who’s going to do it, how are you going to determine that and what are the requirements of their resume look like? How you’re going to determine that?
And then what are the program and/or organization credentials? Which means, why should your organization be the one doing it? So if you can think about an answer to those questions, you won’t have any problem putting together a stellar organizational information section for your proposal.
All right. So, door prize. Steven, take it away.
Steven:All right. So folks, if you will send me . . . Are we going to do the address thing, Mandy? Is that what you want to do?
Mandy:Sure. Well, you pick somebody. And then once you pick somebody, ask them to type their address in the questions section, yeah.
Mandy:Because you know who’s been asking.
Steven:Why don’t we . . . I’m going to pick out a question that I thought was really good here. I’m trying to find it. Here it is. Let’s say, Gary. Gary was wondering, what’s the best lie a non-profit has ever told on a grant application? Thought that was a great question. So Gary, you’re going to be the winner.
Mandy:Okay. So Gary, if you’ll just type in your mailing address where you would like me to send a copy of our book “Grant Writing, What the Pros Know.” It’s basically the 50 things I wish I had known before writing my first grant and the 50 things people ask me most often. So I just compiled that into a book, and we just released our second edition of that. So, I am going to put that in the mail to you this afternoon right after the webinar if you will give me your address.
Mandy:All right. Okay. Thank you.
All right. So let’s talk a little bit about a statement of need. There’s a couple of things that need to be in a statement of need: why the need exists, who has the need, and some data and statistics to sort of back that up.
Here is a sample statement of need for you from Catawba County Hispanic Ministries. I’m just going to read a little bit of this. So, “As the director of Catawba County Hispanic ministries, I had the privilege of designing and implementing an after-school program for at-risk Hispanic students with support of a $12,000 grant from the Smith Foundation in 2004. Please accept this proposal . . .” Kind of going to skim here. “This proposal represents a collaborative effort of . . .” and then we listed the community partners that we’re working with.
“This program was originally implemented to assist Latino students with homework assignments and offer them support throughout their educational endeavors. Since its inception in 2004, the program has expanded from 3 to approximately 120 students. We have been striving to meet the academic, social, and cultural needs of Hispanic families in our community through tutoring, cultural enrichment, team-building, leadership events, and a strong focus on prevention of risky behavior such as drugs, alcohol, violence, and teen pregnancy.
“Recently, members of our community and law enforcers have been coming together to combat an influx of gang activity. Within the last two weeks, we’ve had three Hispanic families come to our program seeking help for their young teenagers who stumbled into their homes, drugged up and beat up after a night of partying and gang initiation. These parents depend on our program because we not only understand their culture, their struggles, and their fears, we are able to effectively link them to community resources so their children can receive the support they so desperately need. Should the Abriendo Puertas program receive funding, our community partners are committed to helping us offer these young people the services they need in order to succeed.
“Last year, we received a $10,000 grant were able to attract our first group of high school students to the program. In order to continue this important program and increase community awareness and support of Abriendo Puertas, additional funding of $8,000 is needed.” So this particular part of a grant is your opportunity to do a little storytelling. It’s your opportunity to put something in there to tug at the heartstrings of the people you’re trying to influence to give you money, okay? This is just one sample.
Now, if you’re able to answer each one of these questions, with one or two bullet points, and then turn those into sentences, you’re pretty much going to have your statement of need. What is the need or problem? Who has the need or problem? Why is it a need or problem? What will happen if this need or problem is not addressed?
So if you don’t have a good answer to that and you can’t say anything compelling or negative or, you know, something that seems critical, it’s probably not going to be compelling to the person reading it. So you need to have a real reason why your particular need should be addressed. And then how do you know that information? And it can’t just because your executive director or your CEO told you to write the grant. There has to be a reason why that particular need exists. Okay?
So the next thing you’re going to look at is your project description. What’s going to be done? In what order do the tasks need to be completed? How much time is that going to take? What resources are you going to need? What is the timeline for the project? And how are you going to sustain it?
This is, sort of, the outline, like you would use in school when you’re writing a paper, figuring out what it is you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. If you are writing a grant and you’re looking at the guidelines, and you know that your project is going to start this September and it’s going to end next September, well, you might find a grant that opens in August, but it doesn’t close until the end of September. Okay? So your project’s already started. And then, it closes in September but you’re not going to find out if you got funding until November.
And then they’re going to cut checks in December, so you’re not going to get that check until December. You’re already four months into your project. Will the check come in time for what you asked for? Maybe you’re going to ask for something that is happening at the end of the project. But that’s one reason the timeline is especially important.
And then knowing how you’re going to sustain it. My very favorite sustainability model is you’re buying a piece of equipment because you don’t need to sustain anything after that. You know, hopefully it has a life of ten years and you’re not going to have to replace it for ten years, so great, you don’t have a sustainability plan to create. Or the second best one is we’re creating a program, we’re going to charge a program fee. In year one, we’re going to use grant funding to support the program, and then after we collect fees in year one, we’re going to offset the program cost with those program fees in year two.
So then the program has a sustainability model, right? There’s always money coming in after that first year. After those two, it gets complicated and you really do have to have a plan for how you’re going to generate dollars or diversify funding streams that will allow you to continue whatever it is you’re trying to do. Did I just get something? I sure did.
So here is a sample project description. The reason I include this one, it is from the Toms of Maine grant when they did their first grant cycle in 2009. Toms of Maine, for those of you who may not know them off the top of your head, they make deodorant, toothpaste, and those types of products. But this is on their website and people were allowed to go on and vote on grant applications for 30 days. And the top five vote getters were the ones that won the $20,000 grant.
Well, I put this up here because it is extremely well written and it is concise. And I like people to be able to see that you do not have to write 10 pages of stuff to get your point across. So, it’s from “Friendship Trays Garden: A plot to thicken community,” adorable title, very well-suited. Slow Food Charlotte’s the name of the organization. “The idea was to convert a donated urban lot, burdened with brambles and poison ivy, into a year-round garden to supplement fresh food to our local meals-on-wheels provider, serve as an education garden for the adjoining culinary school which cooks those meals, and offer it as a demonstration garden for urban gardening workshops and school field trips.” One sentence.
“Who benefits? The Community Culinary School educates people who experience barriers to employment. The school will tend the garden and add to their curriculum. The garden’s bounty will supplement meals sent to low-income families, the elderly, the homebound and ailing. The garden will be a classroom for all ages.” Four sentences.
“The Friendship Trays Garden will connect the crossing missions of multiple communities through the garden. The garden will produce, educate, demonstrate, and offer a spot for the rare crop repose. The measure of the garden will be the hands that tend it, the mouths it feeds, and the community it fosters.” Three sentences.
“Time frame, six months. Budget, $24,000.” There’s really nothing that I would ask because it isn’t answered in there. I know who they are, what they’re doing, how they’re going to do it, and what the results are supposed to be. I know the timeframe they want to implement it, and I know how much it costs.
So I encourage you to know that, just because some organizations will say you have 2,000 characters or you have 2,000 words or you have two pages or whatever, you don’t have to use all that space. Some people need to and some people will, but you don’t have to. So, just giving you examples.
You want to make sure that when you’re writing and you tell people what you’re measuring, that you’re using SMART goals and objectives. So those things are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely, okay? What does that look like?
Well, this is for your goals and objectives. They’re going to be, typically, in your project description area. And you’re going to be talking about what are you going to do to accomplish goals and objectives, you’re going to state these things in action terms. So you’re going to increase or decrease or modify or maintain. You’re going to talk about a population you’re going to serve. And then you’re going to make sure these things are measurable and have a timeline.
And this, typically, is one of the pieces of grant writing that most folks have a hard time with. So I gave you some very specific examples. Let’s say that we were writing our goals to start with, right? A lot of people would write this, “We want to serve more animals with our low-cost spay/neuter program.” What people should say is, “We want to serve 8% more dogs and cats in Jones County with our low cost spay/neuter program during the school year 2017.
If you just say “animals,” you could be talking about pigs and rabbits and gerbils. And you don’t say where, you don’t say by how much, and you don’t say by when. So technically, you could serve one more horse next month and you could say, “I accomplished that goal.” However, when you look at the SMART goal, you know what you’re supposed to measure and by how much and where and by when. That is what you want to strive for when you’re writing goals.
Now, how are you going to accomplish that? Those are your objectives. Generic objectives are on the left. “We will advertise our low cost spay/neuter program, we’ll do community outreach events, and we’ll do community educational programs or events.” Turning those into SMART objectives looks like column on the right. “We will work with local media to begin a radio/newspaper campaign in August 2016 for a minimum of six months for our low cost spay/neuter program. We will create a Facebook/Twitter campaign in August that will be ongoing.”
And I see that the dates at the other two haven’t been changed. They should be 2016. So you, guys, get the idea for how those should look. Hopefully that’s helpful as you go and start writing your own goals and objectives and you can pull this page out, and kind of say, “Am I doing this? Is this what it looks like?” And you should be able to self-check.
All right. So, let’s take a poll. Everybody’s opportunity to participate again. How many of you . . . We’ve been through half of the webinar at this point. How many of you need help learning how to find the grants that you qualify to write? So we’re not talking about grant research today. We’re just talking about the writing piece and I’m curious how many of you also need that piece of education. So we have yes, no, or not sure yet. And I’m going to take a look at the questions while you, guys, answer that poll.
Okay. “What type of grant do you suggest for sponsorship, like a fundraiser?” Well, that’s going to be in the grant research piece, Jessica. So, great question. There are specific types of grants you can search for that and that would come in the research piece.
“What is the best line non-profit has pulled on a grant application?” There’s so many, I can’t even begin to pick one. But believe me. That happens all the time.
Debbie, “Is by invitation only the same as unsolicited?” No, those are different. Well, there’s two different ways they phrase it. Only fund pre-selected organizations or don’t accept unsolicited proposals, so by invitation only is depending on the foundation, could be either one. Could be they want you to contact their gatekeeper, and then they would invite you. Could be they have a letter of inquiry process and then they invite you. Could be they don’t accept any unsolicited proposals. And there’s definitely some ways to figure that out. Again, I’ll find those links and send them to Steven so he can share with everybody.
Jim, “Do you have recommendation tips for how to build a relationship with a gatekeeper when making an introduction?” Yes. So there’s another video that actually Sandy Rees and I did, and it’s on my blog channel, about how to have cold-turkey conversations with foundations. And we do two scenarios for you. We do one where you have a reason to call like, “Hey, I ran into you last week at blah, blah, blah, and I was just following back up,” or one where you have no relationship at all and you’re literally making a cold call. So I’ll also try to find that. It’s on our YouTube channel, Funding for Good. So I will send that to Steven as well.
Okay. Let’s get the results. So the majority of you do need some assistance with grant research. Okay. That is helpful.
Moving on to number 30. Talking about the budget. So if you have a well-prepared budget, I should be able to look at that and kind of tell what it is you’re hoping to do. It should also be consistent with your project description, right? So don’t say that you’re going to hire someone new and not have personnel in your budget, that type of thing, make sure it’s consistent.
These are some things that you’re going to want to consider is you put your budget together. What’s the duration? Is it a six-month budget, a one-year budget, a two-year budget? How much are you asking the donors to support? If you have a $100,000 project and you’re asking someone for $20,000, you’re asking them for 20% of your budget, right? You need to figure out that piece, how much you’re asking them to support.
What is the level of resource commitment from your organization? Are you providing space? Did you do a fundraiser and you’re providing dollars? Are you paying for one of the staff that’s a part of the program? Are you providing supplies? So lots of different ways your organization can be written into that budget.
You also want to make sure that you’re reflecting in-kind contributions that make this program possible. What are the number, identity, and level of commitment of collaborating organizations? Might want to get those in writing, by the way. Detail those commitments. A lot of times, that’s called a Memorandum of Understanding or a Memorandum of Agreement.
You want to be generally specific. When I say that, I mean you don’t want to write a line item that says “postage,” and put $1,000 on it. Because then, you can only use that line item for postage. However, if you had written “Marketing Expenses, $1,000,” you could buy postage or envelopes or printer or toner or go to Staples and have stuff copied or get somebody to design your new business card, because all these things are marketing expenses, right?
Another one is, you don’t want to write “Mileage Reimbursement,” you want to put “Travel Reimbursement.” Because when you put mileage reimbursement, it can only be for a car that’s driven or for a vehicle that’s driven. When you put travel reimbursement it could be for the Uber that you took to the airport, could be for your plane tickets, your boat rides, your taxis, your hotel, your car. There’s lots of different things that come under travel reimbursement.
Create reasonable forecasts. If you have multi-year budgets, make sure that you’re putting in cost-of-living increases for your staffs. Anticipate changes when you’re doing that.
And then be consistent. Do not create a separate budgets for different foundations. Now, you’re going to put your budget on different forms if they have their own budget form they want you to fill out, but the information should be the same. Don’t create a budget for an organization because you think, “Oh, they can fund more, so let’s make it look like we need more,” or “Oh, I don’t think they can fund a lot, so let’s make it look like we don’t need a lot.” You provide the same budget to everyone, you just ask them for a different amount of support.
And then we get to the evaluation piece. So you’re going to need to know how the program or project is going to be evaluated, when it needs to be evaluated. That could be an internal parameter that you guys put on it or it could be from the foundation. The foundation could say, “We want to see a monthly report,” or, “We want to see a quarterly report.” So part of it is knowing what their expectations are, and then who’s going to be doing the evaluation. Is it the program officer? Is it the program director? Is it the executive director? Is it the financial person? Is it the grant writer? Who’s the person that’s doing that?
And then here is a great page I always tell people to pull out and keep to the side. Lots of different examples for evaluation methods you can use. If you’re looking at this list, some of them are going to be eliminated, excuse me, for you anyway. If you’re working with babies, you’re not going to be giving them interviews, right? Because they can’t talk to you. If you’re working with people that are not graduating a program or earning a certificate, then the stuff in the top right-hand corner under participation, probably, is not going to apply to you. So you have to look at what resources do you have, what things can you do, who are you serving, what do you need to measure, and then you can figure out what type of evaluation methods you can choose.
Another thing I always encourage people to do is to conduct a SWOT analysis of either the program, the project, the organization as a whole before you write a major grant. Key word there being “major.” You have to determine for your organization what is major. Some organizations might have thought a $5,000 grant is major. Some organizations writing a $500,000 grant is not major. So it’s going to vary by organization, but when you figure out what that is for you, and then you decide, “You know, I’m going to sit down to write my first $1.2 million grant.” That’s great.
But if that’s big for you, you need to do a SWOT analysis to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your organization. And you want to list those. You want to list them for your organization or your program or your project that you’re writing for, and once you list them, you want to ask these questions.
Will the proposal that you’re working on solve or address any of the weaknesses or threats facing your organization, your program, or your project? And it should. Will your proposal bring to fruition any of the opportunities listed? And it should. Will your proposal give your organization a competitive advantage or build upon its existing strengths? And it should.
If your proposal is not going to do any of those things, the next question you need to ask is, “Why are we writing this grant?” So if your answer is, “We’re chasing dollars,” or, “We’re creating a program because we want to bring in this income,” or any of those types of things, that’s probably not a grant you need to be writing. You want to make sure that it’s going to strengthen your organization in some way or your program or your project. So I encourage you to look at the big picture as you spend a lot of time on grants, because a couple of things to think about.
Grants should never be written into a budget unless you’ve been guaranteed a multi-year funding. You shouldn’t rely on them, it’s like it’s like relying on a yard sale. You know like, “Oh, we’re $10,000 short in our budget. Honey, let’s just have a yard sale every quarter. We can bring in $2,500 a weekend.” Really? What if it rains? What if you don’t have enough stuff to sell? Like, that’s crazy, and that’s what I tell people when we’re doing executive coaching. I’m like, “Why are there grants written here on this line item? Like, you need to bring in $57,000 in grants this year.” “Oh, that’s the money left over that we didn’t have anywhere else in our budget and that’s what we need to get the budget balanced.”
Oh my goodness. Nope, that’s not the right way to do it. So make sure that you’re writing these things and you’re being thoughtful about why you’re putting grant applications together. So again, if you need a grants checklist, a grant readiness checklist to determine the things you’d like to have in place that will help you be most productive, there is a free tool for you on our website. You can just go on there and download that. Again, it’s editable. It’s not a PDF or anything, it’s in a Word document.
And now, we’re going to do a little Q&A. Steven, do you have anything to get me to talk into the Q&A?
Steven:We’ve got a lot of questions. I put them in the question tab there for you, Mandy. Probably more than we can get to you in the next 15 minutes. So I’ll let you choose what you think is good, but they all look really great to me.
Mandy:Okay, fabulous. Okay. I’m going to do one thing, and then I’m going to start just going through the list and answering questions. So, Steven, are you taking them off as I answer them?
Mandy:Okay, perfect. All right, I’m going to show you guys this. For those of you who said you needed help with grant research, we are doing a live stream, 90-minute live stream event on August the 9th at 1:00 p.m. If you are interested in doing grant research, that is the next opportunity that we have. We will go in, we will show you how to do it, we will walk you through everything, you’ll get to see me online doing research, you will be able to see my screen, and then we will also give you a code that you can go in and use in the database for free for 24 hours to do your own research. So if that’s something you need, there’s the information. That’s how to find it.
And now, I’m going to go back to the Q&A. All right, Jocelyn, Jessica, Gary, did those. Casey, “As a newcomer to grant writing, I’ve reviewed many grants submitted by our organization in the past and many were submitted for general operating. Do we position that application differently than applying for a grant specific to a program or a project?”
Yes. General operating grants are things that you will typically want to tell a foundation what you’re hoping to use the dollars on, but it’s a little more difficult to find that funding and acquire it than it is to find project or program funding. And I’ll tell you the key to all grant writing, and what I end up telling people more than anything else is build a relationship with the foundation first. Call them, talk to them, do the research, find out who they are, what they fund, what their typical giving amounts are, what their priority areas are, who they funded in the past before you make that call.
And then, if you still have a question, you call and say, “This is who I am, and this is what I’m interested in and this is why I think my project is a good fit for you. Can you give me some feedback on that? Do you think that’s something that your board would support? Are these the types of proposals that you’re looking for?” And then if they say yes, then you move forward with that conversation, “How much do you think we should request this year?”
That is a real conversation that should happen on a very regular basis. There are very few and far between the foundations who stay in their guidelines, phone calls discouraged or do not call or whatever. They exist, there are some of those out there, but they are not the majority. Foundation staff want to help you submit proposals that they want to fund because that’s funding exist. So they want to be fiscally responsible for the dollars that they’re giving out, call them.
All right, Jenna. “Is it best to write grants in first or third person?” I think that depends on your writing style and your relationship with the foundation.
Wanda. “My non-profit has just recently started. How do I create this collaboration and partnership with community, agencies, and businesses?” So Wanda, actually, today’s blog that we wrote that went out this morning or yesterday morning, was about seed money and how to find that. But I’ll tell you that there are foundations that exist that want to help new non-profits if they believe in the mission and they feel like they have a good strategic plan for how they’re going to move forward.
The problem is, a lot of foundations won’t give you money until you have three to five years of proven success, which means you’ve been growing, you’ve been tracking your data, and you can tell them what you’ve done and the impact you had in your community. So if you’re using a model from another successful organization, you’re going to have an easier time finding money because it’s easy to say, “Oh we’re using this model and this organization has been around for 30 years, and they’ve been doing great things. And this model has proven successful across the country,” or, you know, that type of thing. But if you were a brand new organization with a great idea, and no one is really doing what you’re doing the way you’re doing it, then it will be more difficult. I’m not saying it’s not possible. It’s totally possible. But you just have a few unique challenges being a startup.
Suzy. “What advice do you have for grants that are seeking general support?” I just answered that one a little bit. It’s out there. Plenty of people want to support gen ops but there is definitely a little bit of wordsmithing that can happen with that. And a lot of general ops are, quite honestly, part of program and project expenses. And when I work with my clients, we do our best to create realistic budget that include those project and program pieces, so we’re not asking for as much general operating dollars as we are asking for program and project dollars.
Emily. “I work with a non-profit that has programs in nine different countries sponsoring children’s education. Where is a good place to look for international grants for a small non-profit? I am their first paid E.D. and only one being paid.” There are places to look for international grants. And the database that I actually show people how to use is accessible and free in communities across the country, and there’s actually an international research section in there. So that very specific thing does exist for you, Emily.
Julie McNeil. “If you had a large project with many different aspects, would you request a large grant from one person or break it up into several?” I think if you could find one person that wanted to fund it, fabulous, knock that out. But you probably won’t. You’re probably going to have to have different aspects of the project, kind of, like a capital campaign. You may have somebody that wants to support the building of a house, you may have somebody that want to support the kitchen, you may have somebody that wants to support the kids’ playground outside, you may have somebody that wants to support the gardening, but it’s not likely that you’re going to find one organization that wants to fund the entire project. And I don’t know what you mean when you say large, but I’m assuming that it’s not like a $20,000 project. So, you will probably have to break that down.
Great. “The statement of need refers to the organization’s need or the need of the overall mission?” That refers to the need that you’re writing the grant for. So, it could be a need to increase staff in one of your programs. It could be a need to purchase a van for transportation. It could be a need to create your first website, hire your first executive director. Depends on what you’re writing the grant for.
What I always tell people before they start doing grant research is to put together a list of your needs. You shouldn’t be looking for grants and then coming up with a need that fits it. You should look at your needs and then find the foundations that support those specific needs. So it could be various things.
Renee. “What should you say if your project is the main project of your organization that goes on every year and you use general donations to sustain it normally but we want to expand it with a grant?” So that’s just called capacity building, Renee.
Jennifer Smith. “What if you need grant money to sustain the budget expenses for long-running programs rather than a new start up grant?” If you need a grant to sustain anything, that’s a problem. That’s an organizational development issue, and you need to look at your diversified funding streams. So, anybody that would ever say to me they need a grant to sustain something, that’s not a great place to be.
Jim. “Should you try to fill word character limits as best as possible or focus on telling the story as quickly?” I think you should answer the question to the best of your ability without adding too much fluff and not paying attention to the character limits unless you go over them. So when you get done answering the question, stop, and see where your character limit is. If you still have 500 characters to go, you’re done. Answer the question, I’m done. If you’re 10 characters over, you’re going to have to edit some things. So, answer the question to the best of your ability and stop. I would say, you should not try to fill the space.
Jim. “Can you submit a grant application for multiple sources for the same project?” Yes, and most people do.
Lauren. “If we list SMART objectives that are maybe half-baked or we’re not 100% sure we have the capacity to achieve, are we likely to be dinged during grant reporting and future grant applications?” Well, I don’t know why you would do that anyway, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Write goals and objectives that you can achieve, that you want to achieve, because if you don’t get funded from the first place you submit an application, then you will use those same pieces of information to submit multiple applications.
But once you get funded, whether it’s through that or an individual benefactor in the community that just likes your program and want to give you money, if you write them well and you write them realistically, you already know what you need to do for the program or the project. So if you get hit by a bus tomorrow and someone else has to take it over, it’s already written for them. They know what they have to do and what they have to achieve and how they have to do it. So don’t make up stuff for grants. Write what you’re actually going to and are able to do.
Richmond. “How do you begin to develop a relationship with the program officers?” So again, we have a blog/blog about that. I’m happy to get that to Steven after the webinar and have him share that with you, guys.
“If the grantor does not require a report, do you recommend sending one anyway?” Yes. “I’ve been sending our general annual report to all funders. Do you think that is adequate or should you send a brief report specific to their funding?” I think you should send a specific funding report for them. You should also probably call them and build a relationship. Invite them to see the program, ask them for a tour, invite them to an event, all those types of things. That’s part of building that relationship.
Catherine. “There are foundations who don’t list contact information, so how do you find out how to reach the gatekeeper?” So actually, we go through that in the grant research webinar. There are a lot of ways to find that information. It’s sometimes listed on the website. It’s almost always on the 990. Sometimes it’s in weird places like if it’s a corporate foundation, it might be on their corporate website. There’s a lot of different ways to find that.
Ed. “Are there certain grants that you have a better chance to receive than others?” Always. Part of that has to do with did you do your due diligence when you were doing the research? Is it really a good fit and did you call the foundation and build a relationship with them first to make sure they also still feel like you should apply?
Angelique. “The organization that I’m associated with is a specific branch of a national philanthropic group. When a grant is asking for a budget, do I give our specific budget or the national one?” You ask the program officer at the foundation which they would prefer.
“Is it advisable to have a board member, call, contact grantor to chitchat between funding processes?” I’m not really sure why they would. It’s possible that could be beneficial in some way, but I can’t really think of it off the top of my head. That’s, kind of a unique question.
Wanda. “Some of the grants say that they do not sponsor fundraising. How do you get these when you need assistance and you qualify with other requirements?” Well, if they don’t sponsor fundraising and you’re trying to get it for a fundraising event, you’re not going to qualify. So, I wouldn’t waste my time with that.
“At what point would it be better to be specific about expenses in the eyes of the grantor?” I’m not sure what you mean. Taylor, can you be more specific with your question? I’m sorry, I don’t understand that one.
Karen. “Provide the same budget for everyone, you just ask them for a different amount of support. I understand this is also very difficult because if you don’t get all the support from all the funders you might not be able to do the project and they made their decisions at different times. Any thoughts on overcoming these barriers?” No, you just tell them what you need. I mean, yes, everyone has a different grant cycle, but a lot of foundations will ask who else you have submitted proposal to because they like to see that multiple foundations are supporting a request. So you don’t present them with a different budget, you want them to see that you’ve got some support.
For example, if you have $100,000 budget and you start writing grants, you might not have anything, to begin with, and eventually, you might get $35,000, right? So now you’re $65,000 away. When you’re submitting new proposals, you’re still saying it’s $100,000 budget, but now we only need $65,000. And then that number is going to continue to change.
You don’t ever change the budget, you just change the information you’re sharing with the foundation to say, “We’ve received this much support, now we need X number of dollars. We’re asking your organization to consider giving us $15,000 or $18,000 or whatever.” There’s a lot of different ways to do that. And then part of that will fall into the questions that you have during your conversations with program officers as to, you know, how much they recommend that you request, etc.
Okay, Kelly. “How much cost should you state for in-kind dollars? Should you figure costs for facility? An example would be the breakdown you supply to IRS and write-off deducted office space in your home.” So, Kelly, you should include all in-kind contributions to your organization, and if you talk with your CPA, they will tell you that there are some of those they can and should include in their 990 for your organization every year. There’s differences between services, volunteer time, and space or goods. So you should be tracking all of those and the ones that are relevant to a program or project should definitely be included in that program or project budget.
Cindy. “Are forecasts accessible in data stat measurable? May need to forecast?” Yes. If you can say how you came up with that forecast, it’s just like a pro forma. You know, you’ve done your research, you have a real reason for coming up with those numbers not just randomly making stuff up, then yeah.
Okay. “Is it best to write grants . . .?” Okay, we already did that. “Advice for reapplying for a grant you org did not receive in the past?” Okay. Annalise, the first thing you do is call the foundation when you get rejected and find out if they can give you any feedback on why you were rejected and if they would recommend that you apply again in the future. Then, before the next grant cycle, you call them again and say, “Following up. We were rejected last year. We did speak with the program officer, they recommended that we reapply making these changes to our application,” or providing this information or whatever and then resubmit. Don’t just randomly resubmit.
Maureen. “If looking at small grants for educational programs or projects, should or shouldn’t a grant writer submit applications directed at teachers who often do not have the time to write or do the follow through? Applications tend to ask what grades do you teach, etc.” I think if you’re going to apply for a grant on anybody’s behalf, like as a consultant, I never submit grant applications in my name. I always submit them in my client’s name. But I would never submit an application for a client without talking to them first and saying, “These are the requirements. So this is a follow up that you’re going to have to do if you get funded. Do you have the capacity to do that? Because I’m not going to be there writing the grant for you. I’m not going to be there writing the report for you. I’m not going to be there tracking the data for you. So are you able to do that?”
So I would say, it’s great to write grants for teachers if they can then manage the grant, that’s the grant management piece once they get it, because they will have to measure things, they will have to do follow-up reporting.
Taylor. “What if our organization . . .” Where did it go? “What if our organization is new and we are looking for upwards of $10 million in year one for development costs?” To Taylor, I don’t know you and I’m going to say that that should have been a planning process about 18 months before you needed the money. Not really sure you’re going to fund that in year one unless you have a significant amount of time to work on it.
If you’re writing grants, you need to be looking for dollars one year before you need them in the hand. Because grants can take six to nine months to acquire, from the date you find them, to apply for them, to finding out if you’ve got funding to getting a check. So, I’m not really sure the type of resources your organization has, but I would say that you need at least a year, if not 18 months, and if you’re a brand new organization, depending on what you’re doing, $10 million is a lot for your first year.
“Can you provide an example or two of the new orgs that are really unique and different, and what they are delivering and how?” Not off the top of my head.
“At what point would it be better to be specific about expenses?” I didn’t understand that question.
Cindy. “How does one find grant making organizations their clearinghouse for this?” There are a lot of databases and we cover that in our grant research classes. There’s just a ton of resources. We have a lot of free resources on our website. So there’s a lot of blogs about grant writing, there’s videos about grant research, there’s blogs about grant research. So you can go in there and find some free stuff. And then again, like I said, we’re teaching this August 9th webinar.
Okay, it’s 2:00, Steven. I went as fast as I could to try to get as many as I can. I don’t know if you want me to continue because I’m happy to if people want to stay on. I see we still have 200 people on, but it’s up to you.
Steven:Well, yeah. We’ll probably leave it there in case people haven’t gotten to lunch or anything, but Mandy, I think you broke a Bloomerang record for answering the most amount of webinar questions. So, congratulations. That was amazing.
Steven:I was like, “Oh, my gosh. She’s really doing it.” That was great. Mandy, this was really awesome to have you. That was a ton of information. Thanks so much for all the freebies and the templates. I tried to share as many of those in the chat as possible. Mandy came highly recommended by someone I really trust and did not disappoint me for sure. So, thank you, Mandy. This is awesome.
Mandy:Thanks. If anybody . . .
Steven:And thanks to all of you. Yeah, go ahead.
Mandy:They’re going to send this to me and I’ll answer it this afternoon. I’ll get back to you via email by the end of the day today.
Steven:Yeah, I’m going to get Mandy all the questions that we didn’t have time to answer, so have no fear. And we’ll definitely share everything that she mentioned in my follow up email. So be on the lookout for that, with the recording, the slides, if you didn’t already get them, I’m going to send everything this afternoon. So, keep an eye out. But thank you, all, for taking out an hour of your day. I know it’s probably busy time of year. Really appreciate you hanging out with us.
And of course Mandy, thanks again for joining us. It’s really great.
We’ve got a great webinar coming up one week from today. We’re going to keep it going with the Thursday webinars. Richard Perry, from Veritus Group, is going to be joining us to kind of, show you a way to, kind of, package your annual budget into a way that can be enticing in terms of your appeals and your case statements and things like that. It’s going to be a really interesting presentation, so do join us one week from today, if you do have time, if that’s a free window for you.
If it’s not, there are lots of other free webinars you can check out on our webinar page throughout the . . .even into the fall, already. It’s hard to believe we’re almost in Q4. But check that out, we’d love to see you again on some other Thursday, but if not, we’ll say goodbye for now. Have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a great weekend. And look for all those goodies from me a little later on. We’ll talk to you soon.