Archive | January 2015

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Greetings from GrantLessons!

How do we expand our skills? When we volunteer we bring with us all our skills to the table. I was recently sitting with someone in a meeting. This person is bright, a very skilled writer, with good computer skills. She knows Assistance League like the back of her hand. We were discussing assignments for application writing for the next six months. She was hesitant to say she would work on the applications until a more seasoned grant writer said “I will help you”. Perhaps one of the most important things we can do in our work as a committee or a team of application writers is to step up and say I will help you learn. No one wants to take over a big job without some orientation. So my question this week, “When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?” We need to support each other in our work so that we can increase our opportunities to search for and then to write applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions.

Here is another example of stepping outside of your comfort zone. In presenting a review of a potential funder, the member said she stopped at the point just prior to logging in to an online application. Often time the only way you can ensure yourself that the funder you are evaluating is worth the time for completing an application is to step into the actual application and review the questions being asked and the specifics only found in the drop down boxes. Again stepping out of your comfort zone will help you make a more informed recommendation to your committee to either write or not write an application.

We had a great time in Burbank as the Assistance League Leadership held their January meeting. We discussed the work that we are doing with chapters with our GrantLessons blog. We firmed up our need to reorganize the materials and videos written over the last two years. In order to do that you may find that you don’t always  have a post on Wednesday mornings. Remember you can always send a question or comment to .

I have been working at updating our chapter’s GuideStar profile. I find there are a couple of new sections for us to complete. More on this next week!

It is hard to believe that the snow reached such record numbers when the sun is shining with clear skies over Reno. Here we wish we could have just some of the snow that has fallen on the East Coast show up on the West Coast.

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


Thinking Ahead!!

Greetings from GrantLessons!

It is another beautiful day in Reno, but we really need rain!!

Here we are in January with only four months before most of our chapters will be changing the guard. It is time now to prepare for the next Grants Committee. In order to grow and continue our sustainability to raise monies from foundation grants and corporate contributions we need to plan now for the next committee. Here are some things you should check out.

  • Is your GuideStar profile complete and have you updated it since you now have the new audited financials and Form 990?
  • Have you filed all your applications and other documents in the hard files?
  • Have you cleaned up your Dropbox files?
  • Have you remembered to renew the chapter’s annual subscription  to GrantStation?
  • Have you gotten yourself on the Orientation Committee”s schedule so you can talk about the Grants Committee and to see if you can attract any new members to the committee?
  • Have you developed a calendar for your grant writing activities?
  • Will you have grants that will need to be written at the beginning of the next fiscal year, it is only 5 months away?
  • Do you know when your deadlines for applications arrive for the next year?
  • Does any of your members need additional training to take on new responsibilities next year?
  • Have you started the talk about outcome measurements for your programs for the next year?

I really have come to understand that working on the Grants Committee is a year long process, the work never stops and we must plan now for a smooth transition for this next fiscal year?

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

This entry was posted on January 21, 2015. 1 Comment

The Year of Organization

 Greetings from GrantLessons!

Well that was a really nice vacation. I had hoped to be back online on January 7, but when you are having fun you sometimes just have to have fun. 😉

Recently our GrantLessons team met and we discussed our next year here at GrantLessons. We did a short evaluation of what we have done so far. GrantLessons started on February 2012. To date we have provided 127 posts and we have 123 followers.  The number of views has increased from one year to the next, however, it is impossible to tell if all the views are from Assistance League chapter members since we do not have a “locked website” and it is open to the public. However, someone is looking since Calendar Year Ending (CYE) 2012 there were 1,814 page views; CYE 2013 there were 2,220 page views; and in CYE 2014 there were 2,655 page views.

As a follower you receive an email with the post after the publish button is hit. What you get is a short blip of information about something of interest for the week. The GrantLessons website has two components: posts and pages. The weekly post comes to you via your email, the previous posts are available to you on the website. Additionally the website contains 53 published pages of information. In order to see the previous posts and to look at the pages you have to enter the website at .

If you want to search on a topic such as “GuideStar” in the search field only the posts are sorted and retuned from the search process not the pages. Therefore, you are not able to see the resource materials including 10 videos that are also on the website, unless you go in and pick around. There are four videos on the GuideStar process itself.

Over the last 3 years we have developed the content for application writing of grant and corporate contribution applications. The process of application writing is fairly static in that the process itself does not change only the way each funder asks for the material. Therefore, from one year to the next there is not a lot of new material.

The problem is the material is not organized in an easy way for a user to find the information they may need. For instance, you have to go back to August 27, 2013 to see that there is a series on 35 posts that gives specific lessons on application writing. The lessons are very useful for someone who is just starting out.

The GrantLessons team has decided that we need to take all the material published on the website in both pages and posts and reorganize it and present it to our followers in a more useful format. We are starting this work at our Resource Development Committee at the Leadership meeting in Burbank on January 25 to 27. So we are printing the material published, sorting it, and evaluating how to organize it in a way that will be useful to our end users who may be changing every year. In the meantime, if you are looking for help on a specific issue, send an email to .

For now how are we doing? Over the last few weeks, I really began to realize how much the application writing is year round work since we are dealing with funders who have variable deadlines. While our chapter is rounding up our work for fiscal year ending (FYE) 2015, we are now starting to look at what applications we need to write in the next 5 months during our FYE 2015 that will actually be awarded in FYE 2016. As the number of applications grow and your chapter’s success increases be sure you are looking how you are managing when applications need to be written, so the hand-off between chairman is smooth and you do not forget to meet an application deadline in the transition.

Well I am off to the cutting board with a pair of scissors and tape. I always liked being in kindergarten, it is so much fun! 😉

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