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

 

This post is the second in a series; it focuses on procedures for a new network of grant writers in terms of why, who, what, where, when, and how. An earlier post focused on the purposes and benefits of networks. Later posts will survey existing networks of grant seeking organizations.

 

Background:

The Tulsa Area Grant Writers Network (TAG-Net) was an informal initiative that lasted about 10 years. Its purpose was to building local to win more grants, particularly in programs that required partnerships. Its membership was open to professionals who wrote competitive grant proposals and/or managed grant-funded projects. Members met monthly. Meetings had agendas and lasted an hour or so. Different organizations hosted the meetings at their facilities.

 

Why:

This question involves the reasons for starting a grant writer’s network. One reason is to win more grants for the communities and constituencies represented by the network’s members:

  • Circulate a declaration of purpose, rationale, and goals
  • Focus on partnership building and collaboration in seeking competitive grants

 

Who:

This question defines the intended membership of the network. One point of departure is professionals who write competitive grant proposals:

  • Invite counterparts who are engaged in grant seeking in area organizations
  • Rotate leadership of meetings among network members
  • Exchange contact information
  • Compile and share a membership directory
  • Collect and report meeting attendance data to members

 

What:

This question refines the tasks of a grant writer’s network. One fundamental task is to provide information and insights that lead to more effective partnerships and more grant awards.

  • Request members’ inputs for agenda topics and themes
  • Incorporate members’ inputs in establishing agendas
  • Publish and follow an agenda for each meeting

 

Where:

This question establishes the network’s ownership and visibility. One aspect is ensuring that it not be seen as belonging to or benefitting only one grant seeking organization:

  • Meet at varied locations – to maximize ownership among organizations
  • Meet at varied locations – to expose members to members’ facilities and staff

 

When:

This question requires committing enough time to make a network useful for its members. One aspect is calibrating time allocations to members’ priorities and availability.

  • Hold regular meetings at predictable times – biweekly to monthly
  • Dedicate an hour or more to holding the actual meetings
  • Hold additional ad hoc meetings as grants opportunities arise

 

How:

This question entails basic assumptions about forming and operating new collaborative networks of grant writers. They reflect a singular intention to use the network as a means for building capacity for seeking and winning competitive grants.

 

Particularly at the start, it seems prudent to avoid over-formalizing the network:

  • No website
  • No 501(c)(3)
  • No dues
  • No budget
  • No elected officers
  • No single-site affiliation

 

With time, it is likely that active members may desire to formalize the network in some way. It’s then up to the members to determine how they wish to proceed. A later post will explore what other networks have done with particular attention to their apparent formality of approach.

 

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  1. […] Grant Writer’s Networks: Questions for Start-Ups (grantresults.wordpress.com) […]

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