Category Archives: Grants

Ask Dalya: How can a nonprofit CEO, Director, or Board member facilitate successful grantseeking?

Q: How can a nonprofit CEO, Director, or Board member facilitate successful grantseeking?

A: Grantseeking is a team sport. As a nonprofit CEO, Director, or Board member you can help guide your team to victory — but you can’t do that if you hang back on the sidelines.

If your nonprofit is like the vast majority out there, you need (at least some) grant income to advance your mission in your community. Your role as a leader is to marshal the right strategy and resources so your grantseeking team can succeed.

Whether your team consists of staff, consultants, and/or volunteers, you need to help set (or at least know) the game plan so you can manage effectively. Without your vision and planning, your team will lack direction, priorities, and motivation.

Even if you are not personally involved in your organization’s day-to-day grantseeking activities, you need a solid grounding in how grantseeking happens. That is, you need to know what to expect from the process and how you can help it along. By preparing for success you will increase your likelihood of attaining it.

I’ve spoken with leaders of many new (and not-so-new) organizations who have not properly prepared for grantseeking. They simply want to see more money come through the door right away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. They have often been disappointed.

In my experience, strategic leaders who are starting or upgrading their teams’ grantseeking efforts best position their organizations for success when they:

  • Frame grantseeking as a team effort that enjoys strong investment from the organization’s leaders: in the form of timely information, adequate human resources, and appropriate planning
  • Encourage an attitude of ongoing partnership between the organization (the entity that makes changes in the community) and funders (the entities that underwrite those changes)
  • Model a sense of openness and curiosity about what makes the most sense in the current funding climate, from a funder’s point of view
  • Routinely share specific plans for accomplishing their mission and evaluating their activities’ outcomes and impacts
  • Establish community collaborations that the grantseeking team can leverage
  • Prioritize funding needs for at least 6-12 months at a time
  • Meet with their grantseeking team on a regular basis to strategize and define responsibilities

Is grantseeking high on the agenda of a CEO, Director, or Board member? It should be. Without the support of nonprofit executives, even the strongest grantseeking teams must often watch opportunities pass them by.

To learn more, join me for my February 15 free webinar, Grant Strategy for CEOs, Directors, and Board Members: What You Need to Know to Succeed.

[By the way, you can find more “Ask Dalya” questions and answers HERE.

Ask Dalya: First person or third person in grant proposals?

Question: I’m working on a grant application, and I find myself referring to our organization both in the third person and the first person.  The third person sounds more professional, and I feel more comfortable “bragging” about our accomplishments in the third person.  But the first person sounds warmer and more personal, and I think it tends to convey greater ownership/passion. Which approach should I take?

Answer: This is a common situation, and there is no hard and fast rule about  it. I have seen both.

Personally, I tend to go mostly with the first person but use the organization’s acronym when it seems feasible and appropriate (not to overdo the “we”, to get the funder familiar with the organization’s name, and to sound official).

By the way, your focus should be more on what you do for and with the community and less on you, as much as possible. The third/first person issue should not be that big of a deal; don’t let it disrupt your flow.

PS: You can find more “”Ask Dalya” questions and answers HERE.

Ask Dalya: Do funders hold all the cards in grant relationships?

Question: It seems that foundations and other funders hold all the cards in power relationships with grantseekers. Is that true?

Answer:

At first glance, it definitely can appear that way. It may feel like you are “begging for money” with a virtual tin cup. You may even get nervous when you prepare to speak with a funder one-on-one.

That’s totally understandable. (FYI, many foundation program officers used to be in grantseekers’ shoes so they can empathize with your sweaty palms.)

But while grantmakers hold the purse strings, by no means are they the only ones in the relationship who should be confident, empowered professionals.

Look closely at the situation. Continue reading

Happy 2016! Got some new writing goals?

 

If you’re anything like me, you are contemplating your professional development goals and priorities for 2016. It’s time to take stock and think about what’s really important to you as we enter this brand new year. A few questions:

  • Do you want to become a more polished communicator, online or offline?
  • Are you ready to finally brush up on your writing skills to get the most out of every piece you write?
  • Do you want to up your game in grantseeking, content development, or both?

If you would like to discuss options for yourself or your team, I am scheduling a limited number of complimentary strategy sessions.  Continue reading

A Holiday Gift for My Online Community

“So What? Who Cares? Zero In on Your Impact and Tell Funders About It!, a special presentation I made at the Puget Sound Grantwriters’ Association conference this fall, was not recorded. But I am happy to give you the slidedeck and handout for FREE (through December 31).

It was so well-received that I kept hearing from attendees for weeks. Here is a bit of what they said:

I recently had the good fortune to attend the Puget Sound Grantwriters’ Association annual conference – and while there, hear a presentation by Dalya. Who knew ‘So What?’ could be so inspiring and an impetus for change?! We’re excited to have that question guide the way we talk about our organization’s impact when speaking with our donors, the people we serve, and internally amongst ourselves as staff. Thank you for this awesome new tool! – Jen Vollmer, The Funhouse Commons

“As more and more proposals go online, your presentation was a wonderful reminder that we really need to get to the ‘heart’ of why we’re writing. Thank you—and thanks for coming to see us in Seattle.”– Susan P. Clark. Former PSGA President

Claim your free copy of the slidedeck and handouts HERE.