Archive | January 2014

Lesson #19 – Review and Submit

Over the last few days, I had an opportunity to meet with the National Resource Development Committee and we discussed where we are at as a national committee with helping chapters with their ability to obtain grants. This review has led me to want to review where we are at in our process here at GrantLessons. So far, over the last few months we have discussed preparing for grant writing, finding funding sources and over the last several weeks tips on completing an application. We are making progress. Now, we have an application ready to submit and we need to have someone else from the team review our work.

The reviewer is simply looking to see there are no major omissions of information or required documents. In the process it is important to give the reviewer ample time to review the total application before one hits the submit button or sends in the application by snail mail or hand carries the application to the funder address.

When one submits the application online, the computer program generally sends an email back to the applicant letting them know the application was received successfully. The member should print the email and place it in the history file folder.

When an application is submitted by mail, a signature receipt should be obtained and placed in the history file folder.

When an application is hand carried note the date and time of delivery in the history file folder.

Now it is time to wait. Sometimes this is the hardest part of the grant writing process. Most funders do not want to be called to check on the status of an application. Sometimes the funding agency will provide hints as to when the decision is expected to be made. The wait time can be from one to nine months. As you wait, start the process over and find another grant to write and submit.

The weather in Reno-Sparks is delightfully warm. It is time for a morning walk ;-).

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

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This entry was posted on January 29, 2014. 1 Comment

Lesson # 18 – More on Grant and Corporate Contribution Applications

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Many of us are enjoying unseasonably warm weather hoping that some of the snow we see on television could come our way!

Today I want to explore the topic of applications from a slightly different slant. Before an application can be written for a grant or a corporate contribution, we have to have a chapter program.

We as grant writers need to discuss with our program chairs what it is we need from them to be able to write an application. Any of us that have written applications for grants or corporate contributions knows that each application has its own nuances and that no two applications are exactly the same.
However, besides the demographic information and the standard documents (Form 990, IRS Determination Letter) which are the same for all applications, we need information from the programs to match what funders are willing to fund.

First, the goal of the program must align with what the funder wants to provide resources. The program needs a major goal that they are trying to accomplish, to clothe 3,000 eligible elementary and middle school children in (your) County during FYE 2014.

Second, the application must show that the work being done has measureable components (outcomes) that can be completed. The data must reportable in a simple format. The program chair needs to report on such predetermined outcomes as the number of children receiving clothes by grade and school. I say predetermined to make sure that the request for data reflecting the program outcomes is discussed with the program chairs prior to initiating the program annually.

Third, the application must demonstrate the target recipients match the group that interests the funder. A grant writer cannot configure an application for low income adults if the funder wants the resources to go to low-income children.

Fourth, the program needs to have process milestones that include the overall steps needed to accomplish the program. The grant writer needs the steps in writing so that it is not only in the head of the person running the program this year but is also available to the grant writer to include in an application. The program chair should write down major milestones captured by month to accomplish this task.

Fifth, the grant writer will need to provide a budget. The funder may want the overall organization budget, he may want the overall program budget, he may want the current profit and loss versus actual budget, and he may want a detailed budget that outlines specific revenue and expenses. The last budget that outlines the specific revenues and expenses is the one that is frequently not available to the grant writer and frequently requested by the funder.

Sixth, lastly the funder wants to know that his funding is not the only revenue source for the program. While we think the work is so important that everyone will want to fund it, we have to look at the application process as a way to demonstrate to the funder if their money runs out what we are doing will continue. We need to demonstrate to the funder that our program is helping larger community goals.

The more dialogue you have with your program chairs the more they will be able to help you and your Grant Committee to write an application.

The above points are a lot to think about and a lot of working with others but it helps in the grant writing process. However, once all understand the need for this information and common goals are established between the grant writers and program chairs, the easier it will be for your community to reap the benefits of grants and corporate contributions that require applications completed by your chapter. It really is a team approach that makes this work!

Enjoy the warm weather, pray for snow if you need it, and keep warm if you are in a place where the temperatures are plummeting 😉

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

Lesson #17 – Narrative/Case Statement

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Having returned from a long trip bouncing around in the back seat of a Dodge Ram pick-up truck trying to sew, I was glad to find my computer was ready to get to work. At least I can sit quietly to write!

While much of the other information in a grant application is simply filling out demographic information about the organization or uploading forms that support the organization’s existence the narrative/case statement is where the “sales pitch” is made.

Narratives/case statements are the “heart” of a grant application since this is where the funder sees what the chapter will do with monies they receive from the grant application. This is where you “sell” the funder on giving their resources to your chapter!

A grant writer really needs the help from the members who are running the programs to provide vital information about the program. It is important to read over the funder’s requirements prior to writing the narrative/case statement. One also needs to determine if there is a word count requirement for online submissions. In other words, an online submission may limit the number of characters or words that can be used in describing the information being requested in this case the description of the program. Even a paper application may provide only a block that limits the amount of words that will fit into the space.

Writing a good program narrative/case statement is part art and part science. It helps if the program has been established for a period of time so one has some outputs to use, such as, the number of children clothed in the Operation School Bell program during the last year. In writing a good narrative/case statement here are some tips:

1. Put your good writing hat on (know your grammar and spelling issues)
2. Simple is better, be sure to write in the active voice
3. Remember the funder knows nothing about your chapter, paint a picture
4. Support your writing with current data
5. Know what you are asking for and why you are asking, tell a compelling story
6. Tell your story with passion
7. Proofread what you write
8. Ask someone else to critique what you have written

Use three committee members to write the narrative/case statement. The dialogue between the committee members will flush out extraneous material and make our work concise, to the point and compelling. Be sure the committee members are knowledgeable about the program.

Here are some thoughts on what I consider important to include:

• The name of the program and the year it began;

• Identify the specific need or issue that the program accomplishes for your community and write a workable solution (spend your words here and do it early in the passage);

• The population being served, unless that has been identified in another question on the application and you need to save words;

• If you are the only nonprofit with this solution in your community, be sure to tell the funder;

• Quantify what you did last year and what you expect to do this year (be realistic and don’t go overboard with statistics); and

• End with a compelling reason why your chapter needs the funding.

You must realize that the narrative/case statement may be the only portion of the application that the funder reads. After you have written the narrative/case statement have several other people read it. EDIT! EDIT! EDIT! It is important to be concise, choose your words with care, and lead your reader to fund your chapter’s program. Do you have a narrative/case statement for each of your chapter programs? Has it been updated recently?

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

Lesson # 16 – Practical Experience – Walmart Foundation

Greetings from GrantLessons!

And I thought it was cold in December! Hopefully you are all keeping warm and have some time to renew your interest in learning about grant writing. Last year we spent a lot of time preparing for our grant writing activities. At the beginning of the new year it is time to get down to some practical experience.

Almost every town or city in the country has a Walmart store. Walmart has renewed its approach to the distribution of their philanthropy. It is worth your time to get with your chapter friends and spend some time poking around the Walmart Foundation grant site located at http://foundation.walmart.com/apply-for-grants/ . There are three options: national giving program, state giving program and local giving program. Lets focus on the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program.

Lets’s take a few moments to look at their process and grant opportunities. First of all one needs to identify the time periods for which they can make a grant application. Each state has two application cycles annually. Each state is assigned to either application cycles 1 and 3 or application cycles 2 and 4. Take the time now to find out when your application dates would be due for your chapter.

Let’s dig a little deeper to learn what applications can be received in which cycle. Cycles 1 and 2 are designated exclusively for applications in Focused Giving areas. Cycles 3 and 4 are open to both Focused Giving and Community Engagement Giving areas. More importantly lets look at what types of programs the foundation is willing to pay for in each cycle.

Focused Giving applications will need to focus on Hunger Relief and Healthy Eating and Career Opportunity only. Community Engagement Giving can focus on the same areas of Focused Giving but also will include the unmet needs of underserved populations that may fall outside of the focus areas listed above. Examples include education, health care access and other human services programs. Bingo! Some chapters may have opportunities in the Focused Giving cycle but every chapter has an opportunity in the Community Engagement Giving cycles since we all have Operation School Bell programs and are serving underserved populations.

The challenge is to start exploring, get a couple of your chapter friends together and get some goodies and hot tea and start to plot your opportunities now. Before we know it will be time for Spring to start and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to find money for your chapter. By the way three of our chapter members spent a few hours together filling out the local Wlmart grant applications one morning to 10 stores in our community and gained over $5,000 for our food pantry. The local application was really simple to do especially if you have done all your home work that we have previously discussed.

Well I am starting a return trip to Reno after being in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. And I will get to spend the next couple of days with good friends riding in the back seat playing with my sewing stuff. Hope your days will be filled with as much fun 😉

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie