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Networks can be powerful tools for organizations seeking competitively awarded grants.

 

This post is the first in a series; its focuses are the purposes and benefits of grant writers’ networks. Later posts will survey existing networks of grant seeking organizations and will explore possible ways to set up and operate a new network.

 

Background:

As a full-time grant writer for a large urban school district, I launched the Tulsa Area Grant Writers Network (TAG-Net) by using a business card collection as my source of initial contacts. From the start it was designed to be a collaborative effort. Its primary rationale was to respond to an escalating need for applicants to be able to have robust partnerships in place when competing for new grants.

 

During its first five years, I was the nominal chairperson of TAG-Net during which time it expanded to involve 80 participants from 65 grant seeking organizations in the metro area. In varying formats, TAG-Net continued to operate for another five years after I had accepted a position in a different organization and could no longer participate in it.

 

Purposes of Networks:

Creating and sustaining a network of grant writers serves a number of capacity-building purposes for its participants, all of which can contribute to positioning them to win grants. Among such purposes are to:

  • Maximize eligibility as applicants
  • Catalyze the building of partnerships
  • Facilitate planning of partnership proposals
  • Share data (with protections of privacy and confidentiality intact)
  • Exchange and share effective practices
  • Exchange and share knowledge and expertise
  • Exchange information about coming grant deadlines
  • Leverage existing community resources and assets
  • Provide professional development for participants

 

Benefits of Networks:

Actively engaging in a network of grant writers can generate a number of definable and measurable benefits for its participants, among which are that they:

  • Become more familiar with modes of operation of diverse participant organizations
  • Become more familiar with varying executive sign-off protocols of other organizations
  • Become more familiar with who does what in other participant organizations
  • Expedite obtaining memoranda of agreement and letters of commitment or support
  • Make it easier to identify potential project staff and potential external consultants
  • Create the competitive asset of pre-existing collaboration and partnerships

 

In addition, through actively engaging in a network, grant writers can:

  • Learn what types of data other organizations collect and maintain (but may not report)
  • Engage in more extensive sharing of data for developing assessments of need
  • Acquire more ready access to resources for specialized reviews of research literature
  • Mitigate the potentially adverse effects of turf and silo mentalities
  • Win more grants to support worthwhile local projects and initiatives

 

 

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