Archive | September 2015

Lesson #43 – Relationships and Lesson #44 – Chapter Website and Facebook

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Well we are all back from the national conference and I learned so much.  It was great talking to so many of you. The most interesting thing that has happened in my life has nothing to do with the national conference and has everything to do with my first “great” grandson being born on Saturday, September 26, he has an impressive name Scott Joseph Gentry III. I am sure that he will do wonderful things for this world as he grows. Now we are going to move into an area called Marketing. The chapter Grants Committee and Marketing Committee need to work together.

Section IV – Marketing
Marketing is a critical component of the grant writing process. The following lessons focus on relationships; and the chapter website and Facebook.

Lesson #43 – Relationships
It is sometimes hard to establish a relationship with a funder because they do not want to appear to be biased in the decision making process of which organization gets funding. Read the application over at least three times. Frequently, one finds a statement like, “due to the number of applications received the funder cannot receive questions about the application” especially questions like, “Will my application be funded?” Once an application is submitted it can take from one month to six months before a determination is made. Again if the funder does not want calls do not make calls while you are waiting.
Sometimes a member of the foundation’s board of directors will call and want to meet with someone from the organization. Be sure that you return the call as soon as possible within one business day. If the funder wants to talk, invite them to your chapter house and show them around and be sure to focus your conversation around the program for which you are requesting money.
Once you receive funding you will find that either the funder wants recognition for their donation or they want to remain anonymous and do not want to be included in marketing efforts on your part. Be sure to respect their wishes.
So how does one impress a funder with information about the chapter outside the application? Marketing your chapter is very important. There is a reason why nearly every application asks for a website address. It is important to work with your website administrator to make sure all data is relevant and up to date. For instance, you do not want last year’s list of Board Members on your website. Be sure that your philanthropic program information provides information about the good work you are doing. Placing anecdotal stories from recipients on your website is a valuable addition to funders who rarely ask for this information in a application.
Do you have a Speakers Bureau, this is another great opportunity to express your appreciation to funders who help make the chapter’s philanthropic programs possible. Do you have a community newsletter, this is a great place to list those funders who provide grants and contributions. Do you have an ongoing DVD running in your thrift shop that shoppers view when they visit, this is another place to be sure and have a slide that covers those funders who want the recognition. Are you lucky enough to have a local radio or television commercial where you discuss your philanthropic programs and how they are funded? Do you have an annual report, be sure to list the funders and send them a copy. You have to remember you never know who you are having a conversation about the work you are doing and your ongoing need for funding! Word of mouth is still one of the most common ways to spread the news about your chapter.

Lesson #44 – Chapter Website and Facebook
A chapter’s website and Facebook page are great ways to provide more information to funders.
Website
Nearly every application asks for the applicant’s website. What does your website say about your chapter? Does it look fresh or tired? Is the information up-to-date? Does your website still have last year’s Board of Directors when your application has this year’s Board of Directors? Do you have your financial documents posted on the website, i.e., Form 990 and audited financials? Do you have any recipient stories and/or pictures about your chapter’s work? Have you obtained GuideStar Gold standing and have you posted the widget on your website? A potential funder may look at your website to get more information about your operation.
Facebook
A website contains static pages while Facebook pages are dynamic in that they are changing and create a timeline of events. Also others can make comments about your chapter’s posts. Facebook lets a funder see the human side of your work so Facebook pages should be populated with recipient pictures (be sure to get photo releases). Also, if a funder goes to your Facebook page and it has only a few “likes” that is not very convincing that your nonprofit organization has much public support. You should do a campaign so that your Facebook page has many “likes”.
Marketing both your philanthropic programs and your fund raising opportunities demonstrates to the community that the chapter is doing important work as well as raising money for its programs. However, running a Facebook page takes someone committed to finding fresh material and photos to put on Facebook. Again would your Facebook page convince a funder that your organization was the best. Like I am always saying, “You never really know who you are speaking to or who is reading about your chapter online”.

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

This entry was posted on September 30, 2015. 2 Comments

Lesson #42 – Duplicated and Unduplicated Counts

Lesson # 42 – Duplicated and Unduplicated Counts

Greetings from GrantLessons!

The weather is changing and cooler days are with us.

Another element that funder’s are concerned about is that the data collected is not made to look more effective than it is simply by not counting correctly.

Funders want to see unduplicated counts when they ask for the number of recipients. Program Managers have to be careful that they are not duplicating their counts when they are reporting the number of recipients they help in a program. First, lets talk the difference between the number of recipients we help and the number of services we provide. Operation School Bell is straight forward in that the number of children dressed each year is an unduplicated count. We provide clothes for one child which is an unduplicated count.

A program like Kids on the Block has the same group of children, who saw two puppet shows, the number of students is 100 and the number of services(shows) provided is 200. If we say 200 students observed puppet shows that is a duplicated count since we are counting each student twice. An unduplicated count is 100 students observed two puppet shows each.

Unduplicated headcount is the actual number of individual students enrolled. Students may be enrolled in one or more classes, but they are counted only once.

Duplicated headcount is the total class count. Students may be enrolled in more than one class and would therefore be counted in each class, it becomes a duplicated count of students.

Grantors are interested in unduplicated counts so that they understand exactly how many individuals will be helped with the program. Be careful not to inflate your numbers and also be sure to distinguish between the individuals you are helping and the service provided.

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

This entry was posted on September 23, 2015. 1 Comment

Lesson 40 – Who Should Provide Program Measurements and Lesson #41 – How to Collect Outputs and Outcomes Based on Goals

Greetings from GrantLessons!

It was great seeing and talking with so many of you at the national conference. Today, we are continuing with more information on measuring our programs.

Lesson #40 – Who Should Provide Program Measurements
The chapter’s program chairs need to set-up what expectations that the committee intends to accomplish with the administration of a chapter’s program. Developing program measurements is part of running a chapter program.
Ideally, the measurements are written prior to the chapter implementing the program and the process for collecting the data needed is built into the implementation of the program. However, Assistance League chapter programs have developed over many years and have been in place for decades without measurements being collected. This poses a problem for the application writer. One may decide not to write an application simply because there are not any valid and reliable statistics that can be quoted as to the outputs and the outcomes for a program.
If there are statistics available the application writer can review the statistics with the program chair and determine if the statistics available are going to meet the intent of the application question. Once the chair understands the importance of program measurement to gaining funding for the program, they can set-up a few committee members to structure appropriate measurements.

Lesson #41 – How to Collect Outputs and Outcomes Based on Goals
Maintaining simplicity is important. One has to be careful that they do not over study this part of the process.
Goals
Before we can collect data we need to understand what the program goals are.
Let’s use the SMART acronym to focus our attention on writing goal statements. Peter Drucker was the first to use the acronym in his management work. SMART stands for writing goals that are (S)pecific, (M)easureable, (A)ttainable, (R)elevant, and (T)ime-bound.

  • (S)pecific – target a specific area for improvement (any one of the services provided by a chapter’s programs)
  • (M)easureable – how will we know when it is accomplished (dressed number of children is an output goal where % of children reporting increased satisfaction in attending school is an outcome goal)
  • (A)ttainable – what we can accomplish with our resources (dressed number of children in state of _____is not attainable with chapter resources but dressed number of children within ____ County is attainable)
  • (R)elevant – choosing things that matter (dressing children who are being bullied as a result of inappropriate school clothing is suitable where dressing children who already have financial support and a full closet is not)
  • (T)ime-bound – time-based (within the next fiscal year is suitable where in the future is not)

 

Examples of Goals for Chapter Programs
1. Program – Operation School Bell

Goal – Dress school children
Output Goal – Dress 3,000 unduplicated school children between the 6 and 12 years of age, each receiving $100 worth of clothes, during FYE 2016 (June 1, 2015 – May 31, 2016)
Outcome Goal – 80% of 3,000 children will report receiving school clothes increased their satisfaction with attending school, during FYE 2016 (June 1, 2015 – May 31, 2016)
2. Program – Kids on the Block

Goal – Teach children about social situations through puppet shows
Output Goal – Present 14 puppet shows to 2,000 students in 5 Washoe County elementary schools during FYE 2016 (June 1, 2015 – May 31, 2016)
Outcome Goal – 80% of 2,000 Washoe County students express increased understanding of appropriate options when met with social situations, i.e. bullying, during FYE 2016

3. Program – Food Pantry

Goal – Provide food bags to seniors
Output Goal – Provide two food bags to 500 unduplicated over age 60 income eligible seniors during FYE 2015 (June 1, 2014 – May 31, 2015)
Outcome Goal – 90% of unduplicated income eligible over age 60 seniors report receiving food bags assists them to age in place
Collecting Output and Outcomes
There are many ways to collect data for chapter programs. The process and the form need to be simple to ensure that the data is collected and that it will be able to be analyzed.
Collecting output data is simpler because this is counting the number of occurrences. The program managers will have this data since it deals with the number of things that occurred, i.e., number of children dressed at Operation School Bell.
Collecting outcome data is not quite as easy. Often times a short survey is used to collect the data. Here are a few important points about using surveys:
• The survey needs to be short,
• The survey should ask direct questions related to program satisfaction or effectiveness,
• The questions need to be short,
• Only one item per question, and
• The questions may need to be translated into another language.
When to collect the data is important. For instance if one is trying to determine the immediate effect of receiving new clothes, the survey needs to occur soon after the recipients receive their new clothes from Operation School Bell. Trying to gather data after a program has been executed for a year is nearly impossible.

Okay take a deep breath, perhaps considering one program like Operation School Bell is the place to start.

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

Lesson #38 – What are Program Measurements? and Lesson #39 Why We Need Program Measurements?

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Today we are traveling to our national conference in San Diego. I hope to see many of you there.

Now we have gotten through the process of writing an application. One should be aware we have different levels of sophistication with our funders. When funders give out large sums of funding, they want and have an obligation to their organizations to ensure that the funding is being used correctly and that the work is effective. Some funders will simply ask to meet with your chapter annually to see how things are going. Others will want to have measurements of the program they are funding so that they can use that information to satisfy themselves or their board of directors that they have made a good choice by giving funding to your chapter.

Lesson #38 – What are Program Measurements?
Evaluating a chapter’s program can accomplish many things including determining what needs to change for the next year in the planning for the program, implementation of the program, and how effective the program meets the client needs. A program’s effectiveness is measured by two different types of statistics: outputs and outcomes.

Outputs
Simply outputs are the direct result of program activities. Examples include: number of children dressed, number of awards made to teachers, or number of over 60 income eligible seniors receiving food bags.
Outcomes
Simply outcomes are the benefits or changes that result from program activities. Examples include: percentage of decrease in bullying, percentage of participants who will graduate from high school, or percentage of participants who are able to age in place.

 

Lesson #39 – Why We Need Program Measurements?
There are different levels of sophistication as to whether a funder even asks for any measures that examine the effectiveness of the chapter’s program. They may ask for outputs or they want outcomes. As the writer examines the application form she will be able to determine if the funder is requesting information about the program’s measurements. Below are a few ways that funders ask the question.
• What measurable results do you intend to accomplish in the short-medium-long term?
• What information will you collect to show progress toward your results?
• Briefly describe your organization, its goals, major activities, and specific goals for your project?
• How will the organization determine it has accomplished the intended purpose of the program/project/event (other than satisfaction surveys)?
• How can you determine that the program is effective?
Many programs have developed over the years with only a few statistics being collected. Some programs have been getting funding for many years and now a new requirement is being put out to measure their work. It really is time to work with the program chairs to determine how  and when to complete program measurements.

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

Lesson #36 Understanding the Decision and Lesson #37 Follow-up

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Well were has the summer gone? The leaf colors are changing, there is a crispness in the air at night, but it is still getting warm during the day here in Reno. These two lessons are short but very important to our application writing process.

Lesson #36 – Understanding the Decision
Positive Decision

When there is a positive decision, we are always excited! Be sure to read carefully the acceptance letter to see if there are any requirements. The funder may require a grant agreement or a specific report. Be sure that the member who wrote the application receives a copy of the acceptance letter. It is important to acknowledge receipt of the grant immediately. The member writing the application should send the thank you letter.  Annually, the member who wrote the application should send a justification letter to the funder documenting how the funds were used. By having the same person write the application, send the thank you letter and follow-up with the  justification letter, the member is establishing a personal relationship with the funder. The funder now has a relationship with a member from the Assistance League chapter. Lastly, annually the committee should determine if they plan to write another application to the same funder for the next fiscal year. Of course if a funder gives us funding, we want to write again. A first time rejection still should be considered for writing another application the following year, especially if the writer on evaluation determines there are improvement opportunities for the next application.

Negative Decision

None of us like getting a negative decision, but we should be just as excited! Often I hear that someone does not want to complete an application because they are afraid that they will be denied. One needs to realize by writing an application, they are getting experience at writing applications. The more applications written the better the chances are one will be accepted. Often times a funder will send a comment back such as “thank you for making an application, however, we are not able to fund your project, we appreciate the hard work you are doing in our community”.  A funder rarely explains why they denied the application. One has to realize a rejection is just that a rejection to an application.

Lesson #37 – Follow-up

While this is a short lesson, it is a very important one. The acceptance or denial letter needs to be filed into Dropbox, as well as, the hard files. It will often seem like a laboriously task to complete this last element of the process, especially when it is a denial. Scanning the acceptance or denial letter, the thank you letter, and the justification letter and placing them into Dropbox and the hard files when the actions occur will help those who follow you. Next year, you may just be the one who is writing the application again. When you get many applications going simultaneously you will appreciate this attention to detail when you start or someone else starts their work next year.

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