Author Archives: Dalya Massachi

“Ask Dalya”: Grantwriters as Strategic Leaders (Part 2)

orchestraToday we pick up where I left off in Part 1.)

I recently presented a webinar entitled “Grantwriter as Strategic Leader: Your Crucial Role.” It covered a topic not often discussed in the nonprofit world: how can grantwriters assume a leadership role in their organizations? Grantwriters are actually perfectly positioned to be inspiring, confident, and competent leaders who can help their organizations plan strategically for their grantseeking futures.

I got so many great questions, I thought I would share some of them here. Following is Part 2 of this article (Part 1 appeared yesterday).

Q: What do you recommend for handling team members who do not want to participate in grants?

A: Everyone in the nonprofit sector should know that at some point, they are likely to be part of fundraising (it’s the nature of the beast). Most nonprofits are not set up like businesses with income-generating arms.

See if you can demonstrate how much better the grant proposal will be with the input of that non-cooperative team member. After all, no one else has  their expertise! Then try to make it as easy as you can for them to participate. For example, if time is the problem, consider drafting the piece with blank lines for them to fill out with the information that only they know (i.e., “_____________________”). It’s much easeier for them to fill in the blanks than to start from scratch.

Q: At my organization, the director doesn’t see the value in having a full-time grant writer. Thus, program staff does grantwriting. Do you have any advice for folks who are in that dual role?

A: Grantwriters are often not enmeshed in the day-to-day of our organizations’ programs, so we can adopt an outsider’s perspective. But even if you ARE involved in both program and grantwriting, imagine yourself switching hats so you can see things from both separate viewpoints.

Q: As a new grantwriter with a small network, what are some ways in which I can find/network with new potential funders on behalf of my organization?

A: You definitely want to start out with doing as much research as you can to find potential matches in the funding world: the Foundation Center’s database is a great first step. There are also many more resources online for ferreting out those leads. Once you have identified some good matches, go ahead and approach them in their preferred ways (email, phone. etc.).

I also suggest attending as many nonprofit fundraising events as possible. If you meet any funders there, try to learn about their interest areas, values, and funding strategies. Keep your “pitching” to a minimum and try to understand where they are coming from. But be prepared with a few brief talking points to interest them in learning more about your organization.

And once you have some funders on your side, ask them for referrals to other contacts in the funding world. Know that networikiing is a long-term strategy that will pay off over time.

Q: Do you know of any online tools to increase a new grantwriter’s skills without learning by fire?

A: As a matter of fact, I do! I would recommend checking out the 4-week Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program, which is specially designed for new, emerging, or returning grantwriters. We go into depth on all of the above-mentioned issues – and much more. Learn more HERE.

(By the way, you can find answers to many more grant-related questions right HERE.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(By the way, you can find answers to many more grant-related questions right HERE.)

“Ask Dalya”: Grantwriters as Strategic Leaders (Part I)

orchestraI recently presented a webinar entitled “Grantwriter as Strategic Leader: Your Crucial Role.” It covered a topic not often discussed in the nonprofit world: how can grantwriters assume a leadership role in their organizations? Grantwriters are actually perfectly positioned to be inspiring, confident, and competent leaders who can help their organizations plan strategically for their grantseeking futures.

I got so many great questions, I thought I would share some of them here. Following is Part 1 of this article (Part 2 appears tomorrow).

Q: How do you communicate to your Executive Director and board that it’s not just about the quantity (number) of grant proposals you send out. But the quality too?

 A: This is actually common, especially among folks with limited experience in grantseeking. You can compare grant proposals to resumes. It’s not a good strategy to send them out in scattershot fashion, in the blind hope that something will stick. It’s a better use of your time to really do your homework, and then plan out and customize each one. Competition for funds is stiff, and the better targeted your proposal the more likely it will get a second look.

Q: How do you lead a grantseeking team that has constantly shifting program/vision priorities?

A: This says something about your organization. Without a clear programmatic strategy, your fundraising efforts will suffer. It’s o.k. to want to get a full picture of a situation, especially for new or transitioning organizations. But at some point you will have to clearly tell your colleagues that program plans need to stabilize so that fundraising can happen. In fact, grantseeking usually takes several months (or even a year) before the funds come through. So you will need a solid strategic plan or Logic Model  to work from.

Q: To what extent should the grantwriter be responsible for evaluations and client feedback, vs. the program manager who designs/implements the program?

A: While the grantwriter should not be designing the programs, he/she is serving as the eyes and ears of a funder snooping around.  A grantwriter knows that evaluation is always going to be important to funders. That means that whoever is designing/implementing the program needs to find a way to measure results – in the short term and long term. A grantwriter can offer suggestions on how to go about that, but s/he is not in a position to make the final plans for evaluation (let alone carry it out). A grantwriter should also be asking how the evaluation results will be used to improve the program over time.

Client feedback and stories are also important to funders. They will want to know exactly how people have benefited from the program…and what difference that has made in their lives. Stories collected from throughout the organization should then make their way back to the grantwriter, as proposals should include some of that information.

[Stay tuned for Part 2]

(By the way, you can find answers to many more grant-related questions right HERE.)

Quote of the Month: April 2014

quotes“If you want to appear expert, your writing must be expert: professional and clear… Words matter. Craft, sand and polish your words religiously… Assume everyone in your company could communicate more clearly, and invest in learning how… Most people write just a little better than they draw.” – Harry Beckwith in What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business

Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program: Spring Session Runs 4/28 – 5/22

 high-speed-rail  CFRE_ContEd_Logo14

Announcing the Spring Session of the….

Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program

~A personalized online community to shorten your grantwriting learning curve and help you win grants faster~

April 28 – May 22, 2014

ONLY 5 MORE SLOTS AVAILABLE: GRAB YOURS NOW!

The 4-week intensive Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program is a unique opportunity to receive in-depth group and individual training and coaching to fine-tune your grantwriting skills. We’ll cover a wide range of topics concerning the strategy and craft of grantwriting to foundations and corporations. You’ll earn  up to 11 Continuing Education credits for CFRE Int’l certification!

The FastTrack Program includes group training, thorough feedback and advice, and individual “laser” coaching: all to help you improve at least one grant proposal (and edit many others). Together we will create a safe and supportive online group of trusted colleagues.

This online program is designed for you if…

  • You have grantwriting responsibilities as a nonprofit development or program staff member, volunteer, or board member
  • You are a beginning/intermediate grantwriter
  • You have strong writing skills and want to explore the world of grantwriting

Continue reading

Describe Your Unique Role in Collaborative Efforts

fabric threads[Dalya's Note: This is an excerpt from my award-winning book, Writing to Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact.]

You may recall my post about the value of collaboration. Today I want to talk about the importance of carving out a unique niche for your organization in those collaborative efforts.

Your work to advance your organization’s unique brand involves illustrating how you contribute essential threads to your community’s interwoven fabric. You serve as a crucial resource and contributor to social and/or environmental responsibility.

Collaboration combines your organization’s power with that of other organizations that share your values, in a strategic effort to benefit a larger number of people than you could alone.

Ask yourself: How does your work fit into the larger picture of your community’s well-being?

Continue reading