Ever heard the phrase “running a tight ship”? How about “stay on your toes”?
Being “Grant Ready” is more than just having all the necessary documentation prepared and ready to submit with a grant application. It should be a statement of how ready your entire organization is to respond and seek grant funding opportunities.
Let’s look at the documents and other information required in most grant applications:
- Current narrative
- Organization background
- Description of current programs
- Description of evaluation process
- Non-discrimination statement
- Board roster
- Board member bios and qualifications
- Volunteer roster
- Strategic plan
- Organization budget
- Project/program budget
- Proof of IRS federal tax-exempt status, (dated w/in 5 years)
- Organization annual report
- Evaluation results
Running a Tight ship
Grant funders care about how well your nonprofit is functioning. It should also be your Number 1 concern.
“What is not measured is not managed”
No successful business can operate without some way to measure success. Managing your operation include keeping the paperwork up to date and ready for any opportunity that arises. Waiting until a grant opportunity comes along to prepare your documentation is not a recipe for success. An active, dynamic, thriving nonprofit is one that is pro-active.
“That which is measured improves.”
How do you measure success within a nonprofit organization?
Working together, your budgets and your narratives should tell the story tell your story. Your mission statement and your strategic plan tell the funder how you have succeeded and plan to continue to succeed. Your board roster, with biographies/resumes/CVs tells the funder about the strength and integrity of your nonprofit.
How current, and how well written are your documents?
How well do they tell your story? How transparent are they? Does your entire grant proposal seamlessly tell a coherent, compelling story? How current are they? Document content can get pretty stale in a couple of years.
“That which is measured, improves.”
Whatever role you are filling on a nonprofit board, you are doing a job. That same job has an equivalent somewhere in private business. Most professional people in private business have resumes or CVs, describing their qualifications and experience. I have more than a couple from years in working in various industries.
Maintaining a resume database of the board is a valuable asset to any organization. Some grant funders want to see officer bios and program manager bios, so they can feel confident about who and what they are investing in. It also provides opportunities for volunteers to grow professionally and personally, as their acquired skills are recognized and called upon, or they seek opportunities to learn.
A successful nonprofit organization creates lots of opportunities for resume entries. I have accumulated a few since I retired from tech writing, but I expect to earn of few more in the next couple of years.
Personal satisfaction is the driving force for volunteers, typically. The satisfaction of having, somehow, contributed to improving the world we live in, in some small way.
I see continuous personal quality improvement as an ideal and a mission.
But you must be prepared for opportunities when they appear. And the more ready you are, proper paperwork in hand, and a firm belief in yourself and your cause, the more opportunities will become available.
Being ‘Grant Ready” is also about being a “tight ship”; being well prepared and ready to respond to opportunities to support and promoter their cause. To be “on your toes”. It will win grants. It will produce nonprofit leaders.
“That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.” – Karl Pearson.
Ed Hanson, Grant Writing Consultant
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