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Monthly Archives: July 2012

As a consultant, determining whether a client should pursue a competitive grant is not always easy.

 

At times, all signs are that a client is ready to compete. The leadership’s go-ahead decision is unequivocal and has broad-based support. All of the organization’s assets necessary to prepare a proposal are committed to the task.

 

At other times, the signs are more uncertain. Some outspoken leaders or stakeholders may be anxious about subsequent commitments if a proposal is funded. Internal or external critics may question the wisdom of pursuing a particular grant. And the organization as a whole may be reluctant or unable to commit significant time and money to developing a proposal that may or may not yield funding.

 

The more list-items below that a client can mark as present the more likely it is ready to pursue a specific grant opportunity.

 

Strategic Readiness:

An applicant is probably ready to seek a grant if the specific grant opportunity fits:

  • Its organizational history and strengths
  • Its strategic plan
  • Its mission and vision statements
  • Its short-term and long-term organizational goals
  • Its internal understanding of a significant and resolvable problem or need
  • Its capacity to disburse, manage, and account for grant funds
  • Its capacity to track, measure, and report evaluation outcomes

 

Proposal Development Readiness:

An applicant is probably ready to apply for a grant if it can furnish its proposal developers:

  • Enough lead-time to complete a competitive proposal
  • Consistent internal support and accessibility from leadership
  • Access to meeting space and other necessary physical resources
  • Access to necessary internal subject area experts and decision-makers
  • Access to necessary statistical data and research literature

 

This post has focused on strategic and development readiness. An earlier post discussed organizational and leadership readiness.

 

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As a consultant, determining whether a client should pursue a competitive grant is not always easy.

 

At times, all signs are that a client is ready to compete. The leadership’s go-ahead decision is unequivocal and has broad-based support. All of the organization’s assets necessary to prepare a proposal are committed to the task.

 

At other times, the signs are more uncertain. Some outspoken leaders or stakeholders may be anxious about subsequent commitments if a proposal is funded. Internal or external critics may question the wisdom of pursuing a particular grant. And the organization as a whole may be reluctant or unable to commit significant time and money to developing a proposal that may or may not yield funding.

 

The more of the list-items below that a client can mark as present, the more likely it is to be ready to pursue a specific grant opportunity.

 

Organizational Readiness:

As an applicant organization, a client is probably ready to pursue a specific grant opportunity if it can:

  • Supply adequate proofs of its legal status and eligibility
  • Provide sufficient data to substantiate need
  • Propose creative and innovative yet realistic and practical solutions to problems
  • Anchor its choice of key strategies in the scientific research literature
  • Identify and describe appropriately qualified key personnel
  • Bring other agencies on board in a partnership, if required
  • Track and report on its funding and expenditures
  • Adopt and execute a sufficiently rigorous evaluation design
  • Measure and report on interim and final outputs and outcomes
  • Commit enough matching funds or other cost sharing
  • Monitor and protect confidentiality and privacy, as needed
  • Enact and enforce human subjects research protocols, if needed
  • Commit to continuing its initiative after initial funding ends

 

Leadership Readiness:

As an applicant, a client is probably ready to seek a grant if its leadership has:

  • Completed its process of selecting priority grant opportunities
  • Validated a specific grant opportunity as a viable option
  • Firmly decided to pursue a particular grant opportunity
  • Adopted a proposal submission approval process
  • A shared awareness of the commitments that a funded proposal will entail
  • Sufficient human and financial resources to dedicate to developing a proposal
  • Policies in place for ensuring fiscal and programmatic accountability
  • Sufficient technologies available to create and submit an application

 

This post has focused on organizational and leadership readiness. A later post will address strategic and development readiness.

Private foundations tend to award capacity-building grants to small or large organizations that have already-proven staying power. Such grants are not intended to rescue failing enterprises, nor are they intended to support delivery of direct program services.

 

Sometimes a pre-existing relationship with a specific funder is a prerequisite for being an eligible applicant; other times, it is not. Potential applicants should review each potential funder’s preconditions and verify that they satisfy them before they decide to apply to it for funding.

 

Purposes of Capacity Building:

Ultimately, capacity building proposals focus on an organization’s internal needs, particularly, on improving its ability to achieve and fulfill its mission and to deliver services. Proving a record of accomplishment in this area is essential. Other aims are to increase an organization’s long-term sustainability and effectiveness. Consequently, seeking a capacity building grant often follows upon an organizational self-assessment by board and key staff.

 

Uses of Funds Related to Grant Seeking:

As always, allowable uses of funds depend upon the purposes and priorities of each specific grant maker. Among the many potential uses an applicant may propose for a capacity building grant are:

  • Fund development planning
  • Revenue diversification
  • Fundraising (e.g., developing grant proposals, donor recruitment campaigns)

 

Other Potential Uses of Funds:

Beyond or in lieu of resource development, foundations also may favor:

  • Organizational assessment or self-assessment
  • Evaluation of overall organizational effectiveness
  • Strategic planning
  • Improving governance and management
  • Board/staff development (e.g., workshops or conferences)
  • Leadership development
  • Leadership succession planning
  • Marketing/community outreach
  • Volunteer management
  • Membership development (e.g., recruitment and retention)
  • External communications (e.g., website improvements)
  • Computer skills development (e.g., using donor databases)
  • Organizational mergers or restructuring
  • Financial management
  • Media relations
  • Technology integration (e.g., hardware or software upgrades)

 

This post is one of a series on Grant Writing as a Career. Earlier posts have discussed various business expenses and fees as well as arrangements for paying for grant-writing services.

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