Archive | May 2015

Lesson # 10 Populate Online File Management System and Lesson # 11 Word-processing Tips

Greetings from GrantLessons!

We continue with two more lessons. Lesson #10 describes the documents that your committee should have available for members to use in writing applications. Lesson #11 describes some word-processing tips that will help you work productively as you complete your applications, especially when you are writing paper applications

Lesson #10 Populate Online File Management System
Once an Online File Management System, such as, Dropbox, is put in place, it is time to populate with the files needed for writing applications. Initially, the Dropbox administrator creates a folder that will house all the sub-folders. Below is a list of needed sub-folders:
• IRS Determination Letter,
• Nonprofit Form 990,
• Mission statement,
• Audited financials,
• Organization budget,
• Program budget,
• Chapter history, and
• Program descriptions.
After creating the appropriate subfolder, the administrator saves documents to each making sure that scanned documents file size is reduced.  You can reduce the file size with a program like Adobe Standard. Documents that are large in megabytes (MB) may not transfer over the Internet based on the criteria that has been set-up by the funder’s online program.

Lesson #11 – Word-processing Tips
Each word-processing program works slightly different depending on the program and version being used. The following four features will help the member save time and helps make the work more enjoyable: autorecover; spelling and grammar usage; number of words feature; and the track changes feature.
Autorecover can be set on one’s computer to prevent the loss of a whole document should one lose power or the computer has another malfunction. By activating the feature, the member ensures that original typing is being saved ever minute.
Microsoft 2003
Microsoft 2007

Spelling and Grammar Usage
Microsoft Word provides a feature that allows the member to search the document for spelling and grammar usage.
Microsoft Word 2003
Microsoft 2007

Number of Words Feature
Microsoft Word provides a feature that allows the member to determine the number of words/spaces in a document or a portion of a documents. This feature is valuable will the member is developing a document in Word and then is going to “cut and paste” the document into an online application.
Microsoft 2003
Microsoft 2007

Track Changes
Microsoft Word provides a feature that the reviewer can activate that tracks the changes suggested by the reviewer to the writer.
Microsoft Word 2003
Microsoft 2007

Don’t let this information overwhelm your committee, take one suggestion at a time and teach it to the members. Remember it is our job to create enthusiasm for our work. Our communities are depending on us to raise monies for our local Assistance League chapters philanthropic programs. If you have questions please let us know by sending an email to or by hitting the “Comment button” below the post at .

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


Section II Process, Part A – Preparation, Lesson #8 and Lesson #9

Greetings from GrantLessons!

This is a great time to get new grant members to join the GrantLessons blog. Simply go to and have them enter their email into the box on the upper right side of the screen.

Section II – Process
It is so important to complete all the lessons in Section I – Preparation, prior to moving forward to the next section. In Section II, the committee will gain skills in finding potential funders, writing and submitting applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions. There are five subsections: Preparation, funding sources, writing, submission, and decision. There are 28 lessons in Section II. We have a direction, a budget and a committee; we are ready to start moving towards our goal of establishing a long-term committee and our short-term goal of finding funding resources for our philanthropic programs for this fiscal year

We will do some things over and over forming a routine. A model serves to visually demonstrate what we are going to do to find our success.


Application Model

The application model is a continuous circle from preparing, to finding funding sources, to writing applications, to submitting applications, and waiting for the decision. Every component teaches the committee something they didn’t know before. If an application is denied it is not wasted time, it is taking a step towards getting a successful application and lots of money. Prior planning prevents poor performance is an old statement, the author unknown but one that makes sense.

Part A – Preparation
In the first component, Preparation we have 10 lessons that prepares the committee to work as a team.

Lesson #8 – Email Account
The purpose of setting up a committee email account is two-fold: online applications and coordinated communications.

Online Applications
To start an application, the applicant has to set-up a user name and a password to start the process. Every online application has the applicant register an email address. There is a chance that a chapter’s administrative email address administrator may not realize the importance of a message and may not respond do it. Additionally, when a personal email account is used, no other member has access to the application. Having a specific email address allows all members to check on the incoming emails as needed. For instance, they will be able to determine if an application has been submitted by checking the communal email box. Having a communal email address also allows the applicant’s work to be checked by a reviewer without divulging their personal username and password for their email box.

Coordinated Communication
The committee chair should check on emails on a daily basis. While all members have access to the email, the committee chair should also monitor the email and she may need to forward emails to specific members. The committee chair file emails in appropriate folders. All emails should be kept forever since one does not know when they will need to access them.
Two popular email vendors are ( and Google ( ). With Yahoo one sets up a Yahoo email address and with Google, a Gmail account is established.

Lesson #9 – Online File Management System
Dropbox is a valuable tool in the on-line application writing process. Writing applications requires the handling of documents.

Availability of Documents
The members appreciate the ability to access documents from an online filing system. When members share the same system they are able to work individually or collaboratively. When holding a meeting, everyone can pull up the same document to review. Completing online applications requires the uploading of several documents (files) to the funder’s online program. As the committee develops and continues to write applications one year over the other, they can refer back to applications from previous years.
Preparation of Documents for Online Use
Many members use word-processing programs like Microsoft Word. When using these programs it is important to save the documents in the lowest version possible. Not all members will have the latest version and when documents are saved in the newest version they will not be able to open the files.
There are documents that must be attached to the online document, such as, the Internal Revenue Service Determination (IRS). These documents are converted from a paper document to an electronic document by scanning and saving to a portable document format (PDF). After converting to a pdf file, the file needs to be condensed to the smallest size file possible in order for the online application programs to accept the file.

Dropbox is a popular online file management system. In order to use, go to . Dropbox allows the committee to share all the files created and used to write applications. One can work from anywhere since all the files are located in “the cloud” as well as one’s local computer. Dropbox is a free program unless more than 2GBs of data is stored. Dropbox places an icon on your computer desktop. There is also an “app” for your iPhone.
Dropbox needs an email address and password to get started. The Dropbox administrator sets up the account for the committee by inviting each member to join the communal Dropbox. The administrator sets up the initial committee file and then many subfolders. Each subfolder contains several files related to a specific topic. Here are several important points related to the use of Dropbox:
• The Dropbox administrator has an important responsibility to ensure the files remain intact. She must teach members how to access and delete a file without deleting the entire folder housing all the committee’s work. The administrator controls who has access to the files. As new members come onto the committee and others leave, she needs to ensure that access is given to some and removed for others. All members need to own the responsibility of not deleting the major folder where everything is kept. It is important that at least two people know the Dropbox username and password.
• When several members are reviewing a file simultaneously, only one person should make changes. All others should exit out of Dropbox, with the person making the changes exiting last. Conflicted copies will occur if multiple people make changes and save them simultaneously.
• When working on a document as an individual member it is best to save the file to one’s desktop and then to resave to Dropbox when completed.
• When saving an original document the first time, use the “save as” feature to ensure the ability to select Dropbox and the correct subfolder.
• It is possible to have Dropbox on an older computer and then decide to have it serviced and the staff does not realize the significance of removing all the files from a hard drive. That action also erases all the files from all the members who have access to the folder. So if someone is going to buy a new computer and donate their old computer, be sure they are removed from the Dropbox folder prior to erasing the files. They can always be reinstated when they get their new computer.
• When files are erased they can be retrieved by the administrator. She must go into the folder and restore the files that have been deleted. Files can be retrieved for a 30 day period, after that time they are permanently removed from Dropbox unless the files are protected with a feature called “Packrat”. Packrat is priced at $3.99 per month but also protects the files from deletion for one year. Additionally, every member should back-up their local files routinely.
• We should all be backing up our computers regularly. Have you looked at your backup process recently? It make take a professional to recover the files lost but if there is no backup in process there is nothing to retrieve.
• A good protocol is to save all documents into Dropbox with a “.doc” filename as a routine. You may get an excellent new application writer who only has an older computer. If you save Word or Excel documents in the latest version, she will not be able to access the files.
• After the first year or two that you have Dropbox in place you have to clean out Dropbox and add new folders. You will have to orient the committee if you make major structural changes to the filing approach used. Be sure if you are changing Dropbox administrators that a good orientation between them occurs.

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


Lesson #7 and Summary

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Lesson #7: Sustainability
Sustainable is an interesting word meaning “a resource is able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed”.  As we build our long-term team to write applications it is important that we do not use up our main resource for doing the work, which is the team member’s mind.
Unlike other work we may do for our chapter, the team member’s mind is what makes for success in getting checks for the chapter’s philanthropic programs. If the team member is enthusiastic it spills over to the other team members. If the team is patient and persistent about its work, it sets them up for success. If the team writes more applications that are a good match to the funder’s need to make awards, it increases the chances for success.
In order for the long term success, the words commitment, passion and conviction that as a team, success will come has to be part of the team’s culture. Lastly, if each member has the right attitude, they will find fun in their work and will be ready to celebrate their participation and success in getting funding.


Section I sets the stage the directions for raising funds by writing applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions. Developing a budget with identified line items provides financial goals. By structuring a committee with individual roles, the work is distributed among several members. Emphasis on team spirit and shared responsibility provides the relationships between members to support each other to follow the chapter’s direction and making fundraising a reality. As it is important in the short-term to write applications for the current fiscal year, the long-term goal of being able to develop and the maintain committee work for many years is more important. In Section II, we look closer at the real work of the committee.

You can find more information at .

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

Lesson # 5 and Lesson #6

Greetings from GrantLessons!

We continue today with Lessons 5 & 6. We have received several new followers to GrantLessons! This is a great time to ask your committee members to join GrantLessons and we can all learn together.

Lesson #5: Shared Responsibility
The roles discussed in Lesson 4 are critical for the committee to function and to become successful. A separate lesson on shared responsibility is really a discussion on being a team player. Take a look at your current committee and how it functions. Does everyone try to do the same thing? Is there a leader, a secretary, a researcher, a technical support, a writer, and a reviewer? How are the roles divided up? Are all members team players?
While the work is parsed out to individuals they have to work in tandem for the committee to function like a well-oiled professional sports team. While everyone has their key role, they also share the responsibility of the whole committee. Members must work together and over time they will learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few thoughts on shared responsibility:
• Shared responsibility respects the skill and contribution each member makes to the goal (researching and writing applications).
• Shared responsibility recognizes the success as a team and not as any one person.
• Shared responsibility knows when you need to step back and let someone else take the lead on a subject.
• Shared responsibility spends time in active listening, rather than talking over someone at a meeting.
• Shared responsibility knows the strengths and weaknesses of each other and bolstering the strengths and understanding the weaknesses of each member.
• Shared responsibility looks at a grant application as taking a forward step whether it is approved or denied.
• Shared responsibility knows when you need help and asking for it.
• Shared responsibility earns the respect of other team members.
• Shared responsibility knows how to handle a disagreement with class so that all members feel good emotionally about the outcome.
• Shared responsibility picks up for another with a smile on one’s face.

Lesson #6: Orientation and Mentoring
A new member needs orientation and mentoring when they join a Grants Committee. A short interview will let the committee chair understand what tasks the new member can accomplish and the time commitment they are able to make. Generally the member will need to understand how to accomplish their work using computers. However, when there are paper applications, the member may find them easier to accomplish.


The orientation focuses on the member’s role on the committee (outlined in Lesson #2).
• Time and date committee meets
• Dropbox
• Email username and password
• Review of documents stored into Dropbox
• Sample paper application
• Sample paper online
• Specific functions for the committee member:
o Leading the committee
o Taking minutes
o Completing research
o Writing Applications
o Chapter reporting of activities

Once orientation is completed the member needs assignments. It is best to start with small tasks and builds to larger tasks. The mentor can work with the member to determine the speed at which they can proceed.
Different strategies work for different people. Some individuals may want to explore after they have been given an orientation. Others will desire to have someone sitting at their side, especially if this is the first time they have complete an online application. While others, who have done this work before, may just need to be given an application to complete.

Remember you can see more information by going to .

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