Too often, grant seeking is assumed to be the work of a single writer laboring behind a keyboard. But there’s much more to winning a grant than the solitary work of writing the application. Succeeding in all the stages of the grants process requires a team approach.
A team approach to grants can unify ideas, build organizational knowledge, boost morale, and lead to greater success. There are opportunities to foster teamwork and collaboration at each stage of the grant seeking process:
Stage 1: Vision + Strategy:
Winning grant proposals are grounded by the best ideas and shared agreements cultivated during organizational group-think. Have an emerging program idea? It’s vital to vet, discuss, and finalize your concept with the appropriate internal and external partners. Be sure to engage the input and involvement of your organization’s executive and program staff early on. Better yet, a strategic plan built by staff, leadership, and key stakeholders can help direct the long- and short-term goals of a program or project and produce a clearer, more compelling grant application.
Stage 2: Needs Assessment + Unique Value Proposition:
Once your team has decided on
Stage 3: Relationships + Partnerships:
When seeking new or renewed grant funds, relationships with foundation contacts are key. Share the names of foundation prospect trustees with your leadership and board to assess connections, then leverage alliances and build trust through introductions, proposal cover letters with important signatories, follow-up calls, and post-grant thank you notes. When approaching a foundation for the first time, it is ideal to collaborate with a specific leader or program manager on a brief call to the organization’s grants manager to make introductions, assess the project’s funding viability, and answer any questions. Your colleague will then bring his or her own knowledge to any pre-proposal brainstorming and will be a powerful addition if a foundation site visit is scheduled post-application.
Stage 4: Proposal, Budget, and Materials:
Engage others as you prepare your proposal for submission. Weeks before the proposal is due, alert your organization’s financial officer about proposal budget requirements. Wrap back to program managers to gather program service numbers and powerful quotes. Factor in attachments that might require design or technological help from your colleagues. For another set of eyes, schedule proposal review and editing time with a key coworker.
Stage 5: Evaluation, Reflection, Refinement, and Renewal
Hooray, you got the grant! Be sure to inform staff members, especially those who assisted you. Convey any guidelines, recognition requirements, or measures of success required by the foundation, so that your colleagues can help you meet or exceed expectations and prepare an impressive report at the end of the program period. Weeks before your final report is due, encourage allies to reflect on any significant successes and challenges of the particular year or