You submitted your proposal, and you had your cup of coffee now what? As with any good artist, you probably aren’t going to paint only one piece of artwork or write only one grant in your career. After you complete the grant application, there are several steps still to come. In the meantime, you will pay attention to the submitted grant and track its progress, you will develop a grant cycle, and you will hopefully engage in grant management. This final chapter walks you through the steps outside of the grant writing process that help you manage the current proposal and plan for future grant writing.
If you haven’t already, check back to the original application materials or the grantor’s website to find out when the grantor will inform you of their decision. Decision deadline statements give you a rough idea of how long you will wait to hear back. Grant application materials often report
“Grant Deadline: April, Decision Deadline June” or
“Grants accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year but decisions
occur concurrently with quarterly board meetings.” or
“Due to the number of proposals received, we are unable to respond
to all applicants but will be in touch within four weeks if we
plan to move forward with your project.”
If the materials do not state when you will hear back then during your conversations with the Program Officer, this is a great question to ask. Also, if you forgot to ask during your initial discussions, it is probably okay to send a quick email to the Program Officer that states:
“Hello, Ms. Darcy,
Thank you for your help throughout our grant writing process. Your information was invaluable; our conversations helped me to understand the priorities of XYZ Foundation in greater detail.
I just submitted our proposal and look forward to hearing back about the foundation’s decision. Could you please tell me how long the decision process generally takes?
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Knowing the expected decision deadline helps you to relax and wait without anxiously refreshing your inbox every five minutes. It also informs you about when to start to wonder what is taking place. Decision deadlines by no means require a grantor to get back to you in the specified timeframe; often, it takes a little longer for boards to meet or Program Officers to compile all the information.
Although, if more than a month passed from the anticipated decision deadline, you have a few options. You can keep waiting, and busy yourself with other work until the grantor responds, or check the grantor’s website and social media to see if they made any recent press releases about awarded funds, or you can contact the Program Officer for an update.
Keep a spreadsheet of grants, their decision deadlines, the amount requested and more so that you can refer back to it and have all your information in one place. This is especially helpful if you are working on several grants at once. Below is an example of a spreadsheet created to track the progress of different proposals.
|Foundation Name||Amount Requested||Program||Submission Date||Response||Amount awarded|
|Turney Foundation||$75,000||Seed Grant||December 1, 2019||Yes||$75,000|
|Kace Foundation||$75,000||Seed Grant||September 30, 2019||Yes||$75,000|
|Community Foundation||$50,000||Capacity Building||April 15, 2019||No|
|Micro-Grant||$1,000||Seed Grant||August 15, 2019||Yes||$1,000|
|Able Family Foundation||$46,000||General Operating||December 1, 2019||No|
|Kennedy J. Foundation||$40,000||General Operating||January 15, 2019||No|
|Fern Foundation||$50,000||Seed Grant||September 30, 2019||Yes||$35,000|
Creating a chart will also help you visualize which types of proposals are successful and which aren’t. For example, All the Seed Grant program proposals received funding but the grantors denied funding to the general operating or capacity building proposals. This indicates that the grantors in the region may be more interested in funding projects.
Success! The grantor funded your proposal! First off, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Next, find out when you can promote the new collaboration. These days many grantors have robust web presences, and therefore you need to find out from the grantor when you can announce to your audience the fact that you received the funds. Many times grantors will want to make their funding announcement first and then will allow you to share the news afterward. It is wise to check and make sure so that you don’t step on any toes.
Once you get the go-ahead to share the news, you will want to obtain permission to use the grantor’s logo. Grantors are often happy to share their logos because when you share about the collaboration, it acts as mutual promotion for both your project and the funder. Create space on your website with the heading “Community Sponsors” or something similar and place all the logos you receive from awarded grants. Doing so lends credibility to your project with donors and future funders.
Imagine that the decision deadline for your proposal came and went a week ago but just as you were getting ready to scour the grantor’s website and social media accounts for news you receive an email.
From: Foundation Account <Foundation_Account@capstonegives.com>
Date: Mon, Nov 4, 2019 at 9:57 AM
Subject: Capstone Gives Foundation Award
FROM THE OFFICE OF GAIL DAVEES
Dear Mr. Smith:
The Capstone Gives Foundation is pleased to announce that a grant to Disability Connections, Inc. has been approved in the amount of $5,000 to be paid over one year. This grant is in support of the Disability Connections’ Voices Event.
Please complete and return the attached Electronic Funds Transfer Authorization Form (EFTAF) (preferably by secure email) to email@example.com.
The funds will be sent to your organization’s financial institution once we have received the following:
- the completed EFTAF.
- the required EFTAF attachments (a separate document such as an invoice from your organization with banking information, a signed letterhead from your organization with banking information or a voided check with banking information).
For any public awareness needs related to this charitable contribution, please contact our Foundation communications lead, Colleen Roberts at grants@Capstonegives.com.
We look forward to working with Disability Connections, Inc.
Gail M. Davees
President, Capstone Gives Foundation
One Main St.
Anytown, AZ 48226
When you see the subject line you get excited, however, after reading the email you quickly become concerned. What happened is that in August you submitted four grants to support an event. Three of the four grantors denied the proposals and the original request to the Capstone Gives Foundation was for $50,000; they awarded $5,000.
Sometimes grantors award funds but they lower the amount from what you requested or they limit how the funds can be used. For example, your proposal stated that you would purchase equipment and lease an office space but when the grantor awarded funds they specified that the money could only be used to purchase equipment. If this happens then it is important to negotiate the terms of the grant with the funder.
In the case above, due to a lack of support Disability Connections, Inc. no longer felt that they had the capacity to produce the event so they requested a meeting with the Program Officer, Ms. Davees, and asked if they could use the $5,000 in a way that still achieved the objectives of the original proposal but in a manner that scaled the project to meet the $5,000 award. Ms. Davees was open to the suggestion and asked Disability Connections to re-write submit the Statement of Need section to match the new project aims. In the end, Capstone Gives allowed Disability Connections to use the $5,000 to fund a similar but smaller project.
Even if the award seems disappointing it is in your best interest to find a way to make it work with the grantor. A small grant award can open doors to future funding possibilities after the funder gets to see your project in action and build relationships with you and your staff. Never ask a grantor “Why did you think I could operate the project with only 10% of the money?” Instead say “We are so excited about this collaboration. Can we find a time to talk about the details?”
One of the business owners I consulted recently on how to write grants said to me, “If I get a grant, am I going to have to report on every staple I use?” The answer is yes, and no. No, you probably won’t be asked to account for singular staples, but yes, if you said you would engage in an activity in your grant proposal, you will be asked to report on that activity.
Grants management is the process of handling and reporting on the use of the awarded funds. Failure to report on a grant or misusing funds leads to severe consequences. You may be asked to return the funds, and you put yourself at risk of limiting the grantors who will work with you in the future.
After you receive a grant, have a meeting with all of the individuals involved in implementing the project and decide who will be in charge of the various aspects of the reporting process. Identifying who is responsible will make sure that the reporting happens on time, and it will ensure that the report is accurate. For example, your head of human resources might take on the role of hiring the new employees outlined in the proposal and reporting on that aspect of the grant. In contrast, your program manager might report on the client outcomes or survey results.
Make sure to specify grant funds in your financial accounting system so that you can quickly and accurately understand how you spent each dollar. Include your treasurer, finance director, or a financial advisor in your grants management plans to ensure that you are handling the funds correctly with the appropriate checks and balances.
Lastly, make sure that you report on the progress of the grant promptly. Don’t wait for the grantor to hunt you down about turning in your six-month report. Instead be professional, trust the system you created to manage the grants, and turn in reports on the due date or slightly before. Timely and robust reports speak highly of you or your organization’s ability to follow through and set you up for discussions about future funding possibilities. Think of your first grant from a funder as a dating opportunity. You and the grantor and trying to figure out if you are a good fit and if there will be a second date.
The last thing to note about follow-up and reporting is that grant money is time-limited. Whether in three months, six months, or two years, grant money runs out. Make sure to anticipate the funding cycles of your grants. For instance, you may have more time for grant writing in the spring because of a program break, but if you only turn in proposals in the spring, then funds will arrive around the same time and run out around the same time. When you don’t stagger grants, you leave yourself open to funding gaps.
Also, remember that grant writing should never be your only source of funding for your project. Grant writing is an integral part of a diversified funding plan that includes donated funds and earned income as well. Relying solely on grants to fund your project leaves you at risk of losing all your funding due to the changing priorities of a grantor. In other words, don’t put all your project eggs in one funding basket.
One way to track grant cycles is to use a Gantt chart. Gantt charts overlay multiple project timelines. You can use Gantt charts to outline your grant dates and visualize gaps. For example, the chart below shows several grants funds available in the first, second, and third quarters of the year but only on grant running in the fourth quarter. It also indicates that the general operating grant will run out halfway through the year, so if the organization needs to write another proposal for general operating funds, they need to begin that process soon.
|Grant||1st Quarter||2nd Quarter||3rd Quarter||4th Quarter|
|Seed Grant Program|
Submitting grant proposals is not the end of the grant writing process. Afterward, you need to track your proposals, announce awarded projects to your supporters, highlight collaborations on your webpage, negotiate grant terms, manage the reporting process, and keep an eye on grant funding cycles.
Keep in mind that the more grants you submit, the better your odds are of receiving grant funds. Developing a process for tracking grant proposals and effectively handling grant management will set you and your project up for success.
Hopefully now that you are done reading this book you’ll feel confident enough to submit your first grant proposal. When groups ask me to describe the grant writing process to them briefly I always mention that grant writing is about a lot of preparation, researching the best opportunity, building connections and viewing the process through the grantor’s perspective, and then following the rules.
Remember that a large part of grant writing is about practice. Write a grant, see how you fare, evaluate what you can do better and try again. Good luck becoming a skilled grant writing artist!