Archive | February 2014

Lesson #23 – Shared Responsibility

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Before we start today, we have added a sample job description for a Grant Chairman and Committee for your use, it can be found under Resources/Downloadable Files/Sample Job Description (scroll all the way down) at .

Ok, let me get back to today’s lesson and it is an important one for long-term development of a grant team. I am sitting back and thinking again about my family of origin and how they worked as a team. Our family has 6 girls and 7 boys. When we were growing up the girls took on the traditional work inside the house like food preparation, washing clothes, and cleaning. The boys took on the traditional work outside the house, like mowing the lawn, hunting for food, and fixing the cars. But everyone who wanted to eat worked in the garden. We all shared the responsibility of making sure that we planted, weeded, watered and harvested the food on the acre of land set aside.

Out to the Internet again, I found some interesting information about shared responsibility. One definition, reads “Shared responsibility is a concept that deals with the recognition that each member of the team is in charge or responsible for the whole team’s efforts. It deals with the agreement between two or more people to bear a portion of an obligation”.

Back to our grant writing team, we have discussed a structure for the team and provided an overall view of what tasks each member can do to lighten the workload for all working on obtaining grants and contributions for chapter programs. It is not only the structure and task assignments that are important, it is how the members interact with each other, that is, how they play the game. Or in my family’s case how to eat every night. Continuing to review the information on the Internet and thinking about how my family functioned here are some key points.

Shared responsibility is having respect for the skill and contribution each member makes to the goal (researching and writing applications).

Shared responsibility is recognizing the success as a team and not as any one person .

Shared responsibility is knowing when you need to step back and let someone else take the lead on a subject.

Shared responsibility is not over talking another person during a meeting but instead spending more time in active listening.

Shared responsibility is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each other and bolstering the strengths and understanding the weaknesses of each member.

Shared responsibility is looking at a grant application as taking a forward step whether it is approved or denied.

Shared responsibility is knowing when you need help and asking for it.

Shared responsibility is earning the respect of other team members.

Shared responsibility is knowing how to handle a disagreement with class so that all members feel good emotionally about the outcome.

Shared responsibility is picking up for another with a smile on one’s face. 😉

In summary, it is the responsibility of all working together that provides the synergy that makes working on a team actual fun, especially a team that can bring in significant dollars to a chapter’s programs that helps the community where we live.

It also kept food on our table while we were growing up! Weather has been beautiful in the Reno-Sparks community.

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


Lesson #22 – Team Structure

Greetings from GrantLessons!

The winds have been a blowin all weekend but warm in Reno-Sparks, maybe some snow later in the week.

With your assessment done, you now know whether you are moving towards a committee or a team. You also know how many people you have to work with and how many people you need to attract if you want to build a team for long-term grant development. If you don’t start now to build for the long term you will not be able to develop the skills needed to complete applications and bring in the money for your chapter’s programs.


Let’s start with the leader of the team, the captain. The captain or chair needs the following skill set: ability to attract people to work on the team, ability to organize, meeting facilitation skills, ability to set an agenda and call a meeting together. More than anything they need to set a tone within the team of shared responsibility to accomplishing the goal of the team, that is, raise significant funding for chapter programs. She handles all administrative functions, such as, completing reports to the Board, managing the budget, assigning an application to a specific grant writer.

The chair should not have the position for more than two years. After the first year she needs to be actively mentoring her replacement. Hopefully, she continues to stay on the team and takes on one of the other positions if she is not an active grant writer. With time she  will find that completing applications is not that difficult. The chair will provide training as necessary to the other team members.  She works with the Treasurer and Budget/Finance Committee to ensure that the grant team budget is reasonable for the present year and assists in projecting that the grant team budget is reasonable for the projected year. Remember, the chair does not necessarily have to write any applications.


The secretary will record and distribute the minutes to the team members. The secretary can also notify the team members of the meeting time and send out a reminder a couple days prior to the meeting to remind the members of the place and time. Remember, the secretary does not necessarily have to write any applications.

Researcher and Tech Support

The researcher and tech support member must have average computer skills. Additionally, they should like being a detective. The researcher will search databases like GrantStation or Foundation Directory Online to find potential foundations or corporations where someone will make an application for one of the chapter’s programs. They should understand the chapter programs. They need to evaluate database profiles (GrantStation or Foundation Directory Online), Form 990s and funder websites to assist in making a decision about potential applications. They need to be able to update online websites, such as, GuideStar with information about the chapter. She will act as the Dropbox administrator to make sure all files needed for an application, such as, the IRS Determination Letter are available to the grant writers. She will assist the grant writers if they have technical computer issues with filling out applications like how to import a document into an online application. A list of applications completed is maintained by the researcher showing the pending to write applications, pending for decision applications and actual decisions whether they are an actual monetary award or a denial.

Grant Writer

Grant writers simply need to answer the funder’s questions in writing by completing an application. She needs good writing skills including grammar and spelling. She needs to write succinctly and to do that she needs to understand the chapter’s programs. Once a grant writer writes for one foundation or corporation she should complete the application again the following year, teaching one of her colleagues about the idiosyncrasies of the particular funder application. She needs to ensure that the application is filed in Dropbox. She needs to ensure that the hard copies are placed in the chapter’s hard files in preparation for the auditors. Hopefully, the grant writer finds so much joy in her work that she will be glad to complete several applications per year. Additionally, when the team is well structured and work load distributed over many she will be able to attract other grant writers to the team and the number of applications completed will increase. I know for a fact that the few hours it takes to complete an application can be worth thousands of dollars to her community and gives her significant joy when the decision is made.

Grant Auditor

The grant auditor has one job and that is ensuring that all the hard files are in order and have all the required information for the CPA’s that will complete the tax returns. The grant auditor works closely with the Treasurer to ensure for each funding opportunity that a hard copy of the application is present and the decision whether it is a positive or negative is included. She completes her work once a month and reports back to the grant writer and the grant team captain about any deficiencies identified. Again, this function does not require the individual to be a grant writer.

The team structure as described above leads to everyone having specific tasks to do that contribute to the grant writing process. Everyone shares in the success of the final decision because like a sport’s team every player is valuable to winning the game. Next week we will move onto shared responsibility. In the meantime, give some thought of how your team is functioning and evalute the roles of each and then start to write up job descriptions and attract members to join in your efforts.

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

Lesson #21 – Committee versus Team

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Energy is building, I am dreaming about Spring! Flowers sticking their heads out of the cold dirt.

Okay, let’s get down to business. 😉 What do you think about the words “committee” versus “team”? For me the word committee is a tiring word. In my previous lifetime known as my professional career, I sat in, participated in, and facilitated thousands of meetings (literally). They were labeled as committees. In my lifetime before that when I was living with my family of origin, I participated in a team. Let me explain I am the eldest of 13 children born in 16 years, with no twins in the family and it was not a “blended” family. For two and a half years there were 15 people who sat around the table every night. 😉

I went out onto the Internet looking for information about the difference between a committee and a team. What I found is of interest to us as we discuss building a group to do grant writing for our chapter. Over the last two years I have heard from many that they can not get people to participate in the chapter grant work. If you are the only one writing grants for your chapter you are neither doing the chapter nor yourself any good!  And this is neither a committee or a team! Okay I said it, now let me try to explain what I mean.

Here are some of the contrasts. A committee has a strong leader while a team has shared leadership. When it comes to accountability for goals and objectives, the committee has individual member accountability where the team has mutual accountability. The committee has efficient meetings while a team has open-ended discussion and active problem-solving meetings. In committees, members raise their hand to talk. In a team, members carefully work at expressing themselves in rhythm with the other members using active listening.

Committees discuss, decide, and delegate! Teams discuss, decide, and do real work together!

Again, I find the term “committee” tiring and the term “team” exciting! So lets think about our grant group as a team. On a team there are special individuals who come in at the last minute and kick for the extra points. In grant writing an individual member does not need to do everything. Actually, the group can bond into a team with different members having different talents in the entire process of grant writing. The team still has a leader or team captain. The team has a recorder who summarizes succinctly the content of the meeting. The team has a researcher who focuses their time on finding grant funding opportunities. The team has writers who can complete both written and online applications (they are different). The team needs an editor who knows the chapter programs as well as spelling and grammar. Lastly, the team has an auditor that maintains the hard files making sure that everything is in place for the auditors.

This week I hope you take a few minutes to look at your grant team. The team positions discussed above do not all require the member to be able to write a grant or a corporate contribution application. You may have someone that is really good at facilitating meetings, regardless of what the topic. You may have a computer nerd who can set up online files on Dropbox, update information on GuideStar, and knows how to import a document into an online application. You may have a member who takes good notes and disseminates them timely. An auditor is simply looking to see that all the grant documents are filed correctly in the right folder.

Most of all look for people who can get along as they make money and I mean a lot of money. You will be surprised how much fun you can have. 😉 I am glad my family worked as a team to put the food on the table each night rather than as a committee. I can’t imagine as the eldest person delegating the dessert making to my brother Willie, we would never have had a pie. Besides Ronnie makes a tasty apple pie and she actually likes doing it. Next week we will start to explore each of the positions on a chapter grant team.

A small storm came through over the weekend producing snow in the mountains. Now we are back to pre-Spring weather, I can’t hardly wait to see the flowers bloom again. 😉

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

Lesson #20 – Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Greetings from GrantLessons!

I see the weather is still very cold in much of the country. We had a few snow flurries over the last few days and we continue to wish for some more snow in the mountains. Waiting to hear from funders is so hard. Many do not want to be contacted to see where the status of an application stands.
If a decision does not come in a reasonable time 4 to 6 months one is tempted to do some follow-up. My grant committee chair and I often chide each other okay it’s time to check on this application only to have the other one say let’s wait a bit longer. One must remember it is always time for a “high five” when a decision is made whether it is a positive response or a negative response.

A positive response should have an immediate call or letter back to the funder depending on the relationship the grant writer has with the funder. If a negative response, a denial, comes it is still time to celebrate and one should consider sending an email or letter to the funder thanking them for their consideration to evaluating your application.

When trying to find out why the application was rejected the most common response is that “We had more applications than we could fund”. It is not time to give up evaluate the letter and see if you can determine by the wording why it was rejected. One letter I received said something like, “We do not have these resources to allocate.” I took that as we asked for too much. So as one of my professors said, send in another application with improvements. In the above case, request a lesser amount”. His philosophy you don’t give up until you have made three applications.

Remember to keep every application in a Word document so that later a denied application can be recycled for a new opportunity. Recently, I was able to pass an application document that I had done a lot of research on to a member who has a very good lead for the same program. I was happy to share the application with her and I will be even happier if we receive funding. Grant writing is sharing!

Be sure to thank the one who wrote the application and let them know how much you and the committee appreciate their work. Remember if you don’t ask you won’t receive!

Next week we will be starting on a new section on the Grant Writing Committee. Have you asked all your committee members to join the GrantLessons Blog, if not why don’t you send out an email and get them involved in our conversation.

We have discussed the preparation, funding resources, writing, submission and decision components of GrantLessons, please let me know if we have not covered all areas where you need help. If you have a question, please ask! The Grants Committee is perhaps the most important lessons that we can give on promoting the long term development of your chapter’s grant writing opportunities.

It is off for a toasted cheese sandwich on a cold night and then grandma duty with my three little granddaughters for the night. Have fun and stay warm 😉

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

This entry was posted on February 5, 2014. 1 Comment