Getting Started/ Lesson #1 and Lesson #2

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Over the next 6 months, each week two lessons will be released to engage chapter members to write applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions. This is the time to get your team signed up to receive the blog which comes every week in an email. This is easy. Simply go to http://www.grantlessons.wordpress.com/ and sign up by entering your email address in the upper right corner. Remember it is also important to go to the actual website to look at the resources that are available. Also, we hope that the blog will become more interactive by you asking questions or making comments.

The lessons have been reorganized. There are five sections: Directions, Process, Program Outcomes, Marketing, and Next Steps. Each section contains a series of lessons. In the first section “Directions”, 7 lessons provide information on how to set-up a team. The second section is the largest section, “Process” since it contains 30 lessons. The Process section is  divided into five parts: preparation, funding sources, writing, submission, and decision. This section is where a member learns how to make a case for their application. Section III provides information on program outcomes and contains 5 lessons. Section IV contains information on marketing and its importance in writing applications and contains 3 lessons. The last section, Section V, discusses “Next Steps” and contains 3 lessons. Let’s get started.

Lesson #1: Strategic Planning
Each chapter has a strategic planning committee and there is help on the National Assistance League website where there is a Strategic Planning Handbook for your use. To summarize, strategic planning is not a recap or summary of what you are doing today. It is a look into the future and how you will get there. Strategic planning should take place before the budgeting process. As an organization works through its assessment, goals and strategies, a plan will be established. When the goals and/or strategies identify either establishing application writing for foundation grants or corporate contributions or to improve on the current program, a committee will be established to complete the task. Many chapter committees are simply called the Grants Committee. The next step for the Grants Committee should be to reach for GrantLessons – A Practical Guide.
Attempting to write applications by yourself or without strong support of the chapter members will leave holes that will delay the process or lead to ineffectiveness. So how do chapter members who have taken on this task begin? They really need to sit down and discuss the goal and strategies established by the Strategic Planning Committee and voted on by the membership. They need to understand the scope of the Grants Committee’s work and its requirements before they move forward.
What are the requirements? What should one do first and then next? The following 6 lessons provide further recommendations and suggestions. Next, let’s move onto budgeting.

Lesson #2 – Budgeting
Each chapter has a financial committee and there is help on the National Assistance League website where there is a Financial Handbook for your use. Expressing the goals and plan of action for a chapter in dollar terms is the process called budgeting. When the budget is put together it is important that someone from the Grants Committee participates in the process. Again this is a discussion, where the chapter’s finance committee determines how the resources will come to the chapter and how they will be expended in their philanthropic programs. There are many revenue streams. Now that the strategic planning process has established that application writing for foundation grants and corporate contributions will be one of the revenue streams there are many questions that may come up.
• Will all the money raised during the fiscal year have to be spent in that fiscal year?
• In the fundraising process how many different funding streams are there?
• How much money can the Grants Committee raise?
• Which programs have the possibility of being funded by grants?
• What has been the previous record of the Grants Committee to raise money? Is the committee new?
After all these discussions, a budget document is constructed with targeted numbers by program for the Grants Committee. Time will only tell whether these numbers are realistic or not.  Budget adjustments may need to be made during the year, if the Grants Committee raises more money than anticipated or some previous funding sources dry up.

If you need additional information about GrantLessons please go to http://www.grantlessons.wordpress.com .

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

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