Last Updated:

August 24, 2021

5 Time-Saving Tips to Boost Your Grants Productivity with Tiffany Nobles


Instrumentl team



September 15, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar (with 15 minutes Q&A), Tiffany Nobles, owner of T. Nobles Grant Consulting​, LLC, will share with you the 5 time-saving tips she uses in her grants consultancy to improve productivity. Tips will include ways to use Instrumentl to save time on prospecting and sharing info with clients.

By the end of this Instrumentl Partner Webinar, you’ll be able to learn:

  • ​about the productivity tools and techniques Tiffany uses to operate her grant consultancy
  • ​how to use Instrumentl to develop a grants calendar for clients
  • ​how Instrumentl has drastically reduced Tiffany’s time spent on grants research and how she transferred those hours to other aspects of client needs

Never tried Instrumentl?

Find and win more grants for your nonprofit!
Start saving 3 hours a week and increase your grant applications by 78%.

Try 14-days free

Create your Instrumentl account using the link above. By using that link, you’ll save $50 off your first month should you decide to upgrade when your trial expires.

Tiffany Nobles is the owner of T. Nobles Grant Consulting​, LLC. She provides grants services including assessment of grant readiness, proposal development, funding opportunities research, and post-award reporting.

Instrumentl Partner Webinars are collaborations between Instrumentl and its community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem grant professionals often have to solve, while also sharing different ways Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants. Click here to save a seat in our next workshop.

Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.

Instrumentl Partner Workshop Replay

Instrumentl Partner Workshop Slides

Click to find the best grants for your nonprofit from active opportunities.

Search 150+ subcategories

Explore More Grants

5 Time-Saving Tips to Boost Your Grants Productivity - Grant Training Transcription

Will: Hey, everybody. And welcome to five time-saving tips to boost your grant's productivity with Tiffany Nobles. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards. So keep your eyes peeled for follow-up email later today, in case you need to review anything, we go over today. In case it's your first time here, this free grant workshop is an Instrumentl partner webinar.

These are collaborations between Instrumentl and community partners to provide free educational workshops to grant professionals. Our entire goal is to provide workshops where we tackle a problem that grant professionals are often having to solve while also sharing different ways that Instrumentl's platform can help grant writers win more grants.

Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you want to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management to one place, we can help you do that. You can set up your account. And get some personalized grant results for your nonprofit by using the link on the screen, which is let's see here. 

And lastly, be sure to stick around until the end of today's presentation, because at the end we will be doing two freebies. It's a little bit different today. We're gonna be giving two freebies to everybody that attended live. All you need to do is follow the instructions at the end of the workshop.

Now, with that housekeeping out of the way, I'm very excited to introduce Tiffany Nobles. She is the owner of T. Nobels Grant Consulting, LLC. She provides grant services, including assessment of grant readiness, proposal development, funding opportunities, research, and post-award reporting. And we ask that if it's your first time here and you're not familiar with us, if you have questions, we like it if you can add in either two or three hashtags in front of your question in the zoom chat. That way it's easier for me to moderate it as we get through those throughout the day. Tiffany, go ahead and take it away.

Tiffany: Thank you for coming. I'm seeing people coming in from all different places. I'm going through some different scenarios and situations just to get here. And I'm really appreciative of that. Before I go forward, Will, I see someone made a comment asking about closed captions? So if that's something you either need to turn on or you can give them some help about turning that on, if you could do that, that would be great.

Will: I've gone ahead and enabled that. You should be good now. 

Tiffany: Thank you. Thank you. Okay. So do you want to add. Go to the next slide. I'll just share a little bit about myself. Will gave a great intro, but I was like, what can I tell people about me? That's more than just what I do for a living. So I've been a grant professional for over 10 years. Six years as a consultant. Worked within a couple of different nonprofits. I'm located in Columbus, Ohio. I earned my grant professional certified credential the GPC in April of this year. So I'm glad to be able to add that to my name. And you want to learn more about the GPC, we can talk offline about that.

I'm an ambivert, if you've never heard of that, it's being introverted and extroverted depending on the situation which comes in handy being a consultant. Also, I'm a wife, a mom of two boys and a one 14-year-old dog. I'm the only female in my house. So that's one of the fun facts about me.

I'm still trying to let them know that I really run everything, but it's all-male house around here, except for me. Okay. Let's see, where are we going to go today? So on this journey with me, the time we have, we're going to talk about how to schedule time for tasks in order to improve your focus, and how to use color coding for organization.

As a kid, I always loved to color. I still like to color. I don't take as much time for it as I used to, but I still color. When I use it a lot for organization, it's a very great system. How having a filing system can save you time. And that can be any type of filing system. We'll talk about that in a little bit more detail. And then we'll also talk about how you can use Instrumentl to track your grants, create a grants calendar, and overall improve your productivity and efficiency.

So tip number one, which is something that I kind of implemented in my life and in my work, actually, before I became a consultant, scheduling tasks, I know we like to, you know, we'll put meetings on our calendars or we'll put like a doctor's appointment or something like that. But I find very few people will actually schedule tasks and find time to do specific things that may not necessarily involve anyone else.

But it's something that you need to do. I really believe in kind of compartmentalizing or putting things into buckets, giving things a place. And I find that when you schedule something, you make sure it actually gets done. And so when you schedule those, it gets them out of your head. I don't know about you.

I know there's the, like the reaction buttons, or you can respond in the chat, but like, do you ever lay in bed sometimes at night and you come up with a really great idea and you're like, I got to write this down. Well, I actually keep post-its by my bed. I also type in my phone a lot and do that. But then when I think about those things later, I need to find a place to explore them more.

So if I come up with, oh, I want to have this, I found great content that I want to share on my Instagram account or on my LinkedIn page for my consulting business, or it's just, you know, a new direction I want to talk to a client about in terms of where they want to go with the program. I actually schedule time for that using it, blocking out a set amount of time to work on it.

I do the same thing when I'm working on grants, I break down the process of a full application. So if I need to work on the case statement, I will block actual time to work on that case statement. I can give it a set amount of time. I say, you know, I want to work, spend two hours out of my day, working on that. And I know in that two-hour block, that's all I'm focused on. It helps me know, okay, this is what I need to focus on. I actually will minimize my email. So it's not on the screen at that time, depending on how focused I need to be. I may need my phone or turn the screen over, so I'm not looking at it. Whatever it is that helps you kind of get into that it's, you know, the block or time chunk method.

It really also, when I have clients that I'm billing hourly, because then I know how much time I actually spent on something. So I find when I block that it works. And yeah, Christina, I see you're saying 2:00 AM ideas are the best. I literally have one note on my phone for that exact thing. And I have different notebooks in there because I would get up and go down the hall and go to my office and write it down. But then I started actually working. So I have to find a quick way to do that. I also find that blocking out things shows, it helps you figure out where you might be overbooking yourself or where you could use a little bit more flexibility in your day or things like that.

Will, can you go to the next slide for me - back there. So here's an example of what I do in terms of block scheduling. Don't worry about the colors right now. We'll get to that when we get to our next tip on color coding, but allocating that time helps you track your time. You can track it by client, by project. You can add in breaks or transition time that helps you keep your balance. I have certain meetings, for example, with clients that happen at the same time, either every week or every other week or once a month, I will usually block time before or after that. Now in this time of using Zoom a whole lot, I put blocks in between Zoom meetings so that I try to avoid Zoom fatigue.

So I'm literally not going from one Zoom meeting to the next Zoom meeting to the next meeting. Even if I only can get a 15-minute block in there, sometimes it's a five-minute, you know, refill my coffee, refill my water, use the bathroom kind of break, but it's something to help with those transitions because, you know, it takes a minute, it may take less time for you to physically transition, but you also need to mentally transition into the next project. So if you go from writing a grant to go into a meeting, to going back to working on a budget, you want to be able to help your brain kind of refocus as needed.

Adding travel time on the front and the back end of appointments is also something especially if you're going out there. I spent some time working previously as a fundraiser and I would go out to individual meetings and I would find where I would forget to put something like block time on for travel before and after a meeting. And I would have someone internally schedule a meeting and I was like, there's no way I can get from the other side of town back to the office for this meeting. So then they either have to reschedule the meeting or I have to call in or something. So it helps when you put that on there, especially if you're interacting with other people a lot or if you're using a scheduling system or something like that.

So a couple of tools, time-tracking things that you can use. Like I said, I use a calendar. I am a little maybe overloaded in terms of scheduling, organizing, but writing things down actually works better for me than just typing it out into a digital calendar. I still use my online calendar that also shows up on my phone because I need an actual audio alert to remind me that it's time to move to the next thing, but I also use a hard copy planner. I'm finding that that actually works for me. I know you can't really see it, but up on my wall over here, I have a big wall calendar and I put certain things on there. It's great for due dates and things like that.

I mentioned the online calendar. So, you know, if you're using Google or Microsoft office or something like that, the Pomodoro technique, that time of setting as amount of time, I just listed it here. I would invite you to go and look that up a little bit more to find out about it. It's actually a set method of how you, you set a time, you do a bit of work and then you take a break and then you can either go back to that or transition to another. But it's a really cool system if that works for you, or if you need to have that kind of -- this is set. Here's my timer going to the next thing. Clockify is a free tool that you can use. I think they have a paid version as well, but the free tool works just fine.

If you need to start and stop your time when you're working on things. I say, I always tell people, try something out and see if it'll work for you. I tried Clockify, it honestly didn't work for me because I kept forgetting it was up there. So I kept forgetting to turn the timer off. And so, I would be working on something for a long time and just like, oh, I can't actually bill the client for all this extra time because I have now moved on to something else.

The time chunking method, there's a book on that. That's also another good resource, and I'm sure there's probably some other ones that are out there.

So just to kind of share, I know real life examples are always great. So before I tried to really focus on a scheduling system and that's really what it is, it's a system. I don't use one particular way of doing things. I actually found for me what works best is I pull the best parts of a couple of different systems. And I created my system and my system is probably not going to be, I'm looking at some names there. It's not going to be Nina's system or Katie's system, but it's going to be, it needs to be the system that works for you. I felt before I figured out what system worked for me, I spent a lot of time trying to follow what all the cool kids were talking about was the best thing.

So I would try, oh, I'm going to go buy this type of planner. I found that for me, I didn't need to buy a $45 planner because if I wasn't filling it out or following anything in it, it didn't really matter how much that may work for somebody else. But when I didn't have a system at all, I felt very overwhelmed. I felt busy throughout the day, but I was not productive. When I was working within organizations, I'd have to go in and meet with my supervisor about, you know, what I did for the week, I feel like stuff, I did stuff. I had a couple meetings. I looked up a couple things, but I couldn't really tell you what I did because I spent so much time trying to figure out what I was doing next. I wasn't focused at all. I was so stressed and I found out that for me, when I feel like I'm stressed, planning is my reaction. I can't, some folks will say I'm stressed and they may do other things or they, you know, or just sit in the stress for a while.

I can't do that. If I feel like I'm stressed, I stop everything and plan it out. Whether it's work-related or like last year when I had my child, my oldest was in third grade last year and did remote learning. And he got sent home at the end of second grade with literally every book they had and a stack of papers that said learn all this by the end of the school year, before you start third grade. That was stressful to me. It only worked when I sat down and made a schedule and planned it all out, that that just, you know, really works for me. It worked, it ended up working for him. I put it up on a wall, so I'm a very visual person.

So it had to be on a wall. And I had time for it. I had breaks in it and it worked for all of us in the long run. Now that I have a system, I feel focused. I feel productive. I can tell you what I'm doing on a particular day. I know if I've actually completed something. Before the system, there were days when I literally went, oh, I need to make edits to that narrative. And I go in and realize I actually had already made the edits to the narrative. I hadn't marked it down. I was just working and kind of just out there on my own on autopilot. Now I feel more productive. I also feel flexible. So putting those breaks in there lets me know, okay, well, I can maybe there's a day when I can go meet my husband for lunch in the middle of the work day, or maybe there's a day when I can go and take a nap because that's what I need to recharge.

Or I can sit and drink a cup of coffee without being in front of the computer and actually doing anything. There are times when I will go sitout on my couch or, you know, catch up on a show quickly. But I didn't know I could have that flexibility there because my calendar, my system didn't exist before that.

I also feel very accomplished. I love checking things off the list. So I write things out and I mark it off and I'm like, this was done. I can erase it. Below my big wall calendar, I have a whiteboard and for every one of my clients, I list upcoming projects. The joy I get when I get to erase something off of that board is awesome. It makes me be like, oh, okay. This is what, this is great. This was done. This was submitted. It is. Yes. Maybe it is the best feeling ever. And Katie, I see you've mentioned something in there about the nap and the self-care. We're going to get to that because that's also very important and it means a lot about your productivity is definitely something that I've focused on this past year or so.

Sarah, I wish I could do a midday bath, but I would probably go to sleep right after. So I know that's not for me, but if you can incorporate that into your system, go for it, because that sounds absolutely awesome. Okay.

Did I do that, Will, or did you do that?

Will: Somebody did that. So I'm going to clear that out for us. [Inaudible] if you can, if you can hold off on annotating, that'd be great. Thank you. 

Tiffany: I was like, I moved my mouse at the exact time that happened. I was like, I don't know how to do that, so I'm pretty sure I didn't do it, but let's see. I'm just going to, I'm glancing over here just to try to see about some questions ' cause sometimes it helps to get questions. Barb is asking about what she said she heard, I've heard that 90-minute blocks of time are the most productive. I will say that, I think that, you have to determine what works for you and what you're working on at the moment. If I'm working on a chunk of research, reviewing a couple of results that match that I got an Instrumentl, 90 minutes is great.

I can go through a couple during that time and feel really, really productive. If I'm working on a grant proposal and I'm only working on maybe one section, 90 minutes, we'll also work. Sometimes I need more time. Sometimes I need just a little bit less time because I want to break it up. If it's something that, if I'm reviewing some research, and not like grant match research, but like actual research that I may be using the data from for a proposal I need to, I know for me, I need to mentally break that down into smaller chunks. I'm a, I'm one of those people I like to highlight. Even if I have it on a screen, I will still highlight it and make notes and things like that.

So try it out and figure out what works for you. It doesn't mean that if you have, if you only have less than 90 minutes, that you can't do something productive in that amount of time 'cause you definitely can, you can break that down, figure out where you can make those fits in. So that you're not overwhelmed, but you're feeling pretty productive in there and let's see.

Okay. So tip number two. This'll get into those color coded calendars. So color coding, I love. And so you can see here, these are actual post-its that I have in my office. I have a post-it problem. I buy all the post-its, all the different colors. I buy the little flags and all. I've always had a post-it problem, but I use them to my advantage.

They may mean different things. And I also have taken that color-coding and putting it into my calendar helps me really see things at a glance. I don't know about you guys, but I can't really function just day to day to day. I have to be able to see it from a world, like a wider view, you know, the work week or the simple seven days.

And color-coding kind of helps me see what priorities I have and things like that. So this is an example of just using Google calendar and you know how it lets you pick what your primary color will be. And so you can change that, but if you use the same color for everything, everything looks the same. Right? So in this example, I've got working on a grant budget, I've got lunch, I've got new client onboarding, and a dentist appointment. Now there's some clarity because there's, you know, it's a set time for things and all of that. But just glancing at this if my entire week was all this one color, I wouldn't be able to tell what things were personal.

So what things I was doing for my husband or my kids or something like that, or an appointment that I had for the house. I couldn't tell what was for a client versus what was for my business. I couldn't tell where I had my self-care built in or where I didn't, that just, it just wouldn't work. It would just, everything was mixed in there.

Now on the next slide, you'll get to see what color coding looks like in a calendar. So this is, this is actually my system and how I use this. When I look at this, maybe across an entire week, I can see where those kinds of blocks are. I can see where I have open time or where I can, I have some flexibility.

So when my system, once someone becomes, they move from a prospect to a client, any appointments, any work I'm doing all goes into purple. That's just what I picked. And it's like that darker purple. Yellow is the things that I did with my kids. You know, they have an appointment or practice because that affects what I can do, especially during the day, but even in the evenings, I can't go to an event if I've got to take my son to practice or training. I use lavender for my self-care because lavender is a soothing color to me. Blue is my favorite color if you haven't noticed the logo in my clothes, but lavender is a very soothing thing for me. So I look for the weeks where I'm not seeing any lavender at all.

I actually try to make sure I have some lavender in every day of the week, whether it's just lunch. Because trust me, I have had days where I go to pick up my kids from school at 2:30, and I realized that I haven't had anything to eat. I've literally sustained an entire day on coffee, which means I've been on fumes all day.

So I have to actually block in lunch. Sometimes it's lunch by myself. Sometimes it's lunch, just sitting in the, on the couch with my dog. Sometimes I actually go and meet my husband or I meet somebody else, but definitely putting time in there for that. Even if I'm going to go, I'm going to order lunch and go pick it up as opposed to having it delivered.

That is the drive there and back. Listening to my favorite music or listening to an audio book or something that's the little bits of self-care. Self-care, you know, can be the bubble bath and spa days, but it doesn't have to be. It can be very, very expensive. I know a lot of folks, but I don't have time for self-care. I don't have a budget to self-care. 

You have to make time for that. And we'll get into that just a little bit more, too, but I also use red for my blocks or breaks. So if I'm going to have a block where I'm not allowing any meetings to happen during that time, I'm not going to work on any particular project and it could be for whatever reason, I decide I want to block, you know, block that on this particular example, that block at the top at night from 9 to 10, that's actually because those two meetings right below are with clients. Those happen every other week. And because of that, I don't like to always get up. I don't do anything before 9:00 except take my kids to school. Like you have to be very important to me, for me to do anything with you before 9:00.

I know that about myself. I do have some meetings that happen at nine, but on a day when I don't have to, I block that because that means I don't have to do anything if I don't want to. Now, if I decide to do some work in there, I can change that. But I set that block on this particular day, so that it's a recurring appointment.

When I look at my calendar at a glance, if I don't see any red, I know I've over-tasked myself. And I try to make sure there's some red in every day and definitely throughout the week. Because I leave my weekends. Those are usually just whatever the family has to do that weekend. I don't schedule everything out for that, but during the week, I make sure I have those blocks in there and I chose red because when you don't see any red on there, it's very apparent to you.

Like, oh wait, I'm doing too much. I need to slow down. And go from there. That's a better example of that at a glance view of what that kind of looks like. Now you will notice at the end of that week, on that Friday, there's no red because I know I just said, I like to put my blocks in. I will let you know that I decided back in March that, because I work for myself, I'm working a four-day work week, so I don't work on Fridays.

I just don't. If I do it's because it's something that I made a choice to work on, but clients cannot reach me. I have an out of office set and all of that. And so that, like for this one, that purple that you see over that Friday, that was because I made a choice to work on something. And that there were a whole bunch of other things going on that week with why I did that.

But usually my Friday looks green like that one does because I'm completely off. I'm not responding to emails. I'm not meeting with clients. I'm not doing any of that. There are days when I do things and there are days when I literally lie around the house and watch Netflix. No, this is not, that was not an Outlook calendar.

You could probably do the same thing in Outlook. I haven't used Outlook in a while. I use Google Workspace. It was just the Google calendar. So I actually do similar things like this for my personal calendar, which is also Gmail. So it's all in there, but you can figure out I used to color code back when I did Outlook.

So when I worked within an organization. So you should be able to kind of change those color coding and Will is popping in some shortcuts for you. So you can figure that out there and Christina says, yes, it is the same Outlook. Thank you. So talking about building in self-care and having a routine helps you figure that out.

I don't know if anyone knows this, but the grant professionals association that we have if you're not a member, I encourage you to look into it. It's an awesome organization, but we have some great colleagues there who were realizing that people were tired. They would burn out. They were leaving some people real, like so burnt out there, like I'm leaving the sector.

I don't want to do any of this stuff. And they actually did a survey on burnout. And one of the results of their survey was that more than three and four grant professionals experience physical symptoms. So I can speak, I promise, socioemotional symptoms or both of burnout. And that's just some of the results.

There was also, as I was looking into a little bit further, there was, they also found that a lot of folks didn't even realize that they were burned out. They're like, oh, no,, this is just the way my life is. This is just, this is just what I do. This is how I operate. And when they started answering the questions in the survey, they were like, oh, I am burnt out.

I don't, I'm not, you know, that how I felt before I created a system. I was just doing, I was busy and I was overwhelmed and I was tired and my body was letting me know that. I know, I had, I always tell people that I have the knees of an 80-year-old and I've had this since I was a kid. I actually have arthritis in both of my knees, but as a kid, that's just what I, that's just what I felt all the time. Like my whole body was like, I'm just tired and I'm aching. So figuring out a routine, having a system, putting in those plugs for scheduling things, whether it's time off, lunch exercise, a nap, whatever that works for you, whatever works for you, whatever you happen to need setting that, establishing the boundaries for that is, you know, it's a great thing for you and you'll find in the long run, you'll feel better. You're more productive. You shouldn't take time for self-care and then feel, you shouldn't feel guilty afterwards. So figuring out how to do that and not feel guilty, figuring out how to say, I need to go to lunch that's not in this office or I need to go to lunch. Like, if you're like me and you work from home.

I need to go out somewhere and see outside. The office I'm in right now, it has a window, but it just looks into another room. I don't have an outdoor window, so I need to go outside and do other things, figuring that out so that you can boost your productivity. Even if you go take a walk around the neighborhood, it works.

So think about this a little bit. I know I've seen people putting in different comments. What does your calendar look like right now? And if you can't actually see it, can you visualize it? Does it make you upset? If you can see it, does it make you want to close the app on your computer? Can you tell where your priorities are as you glance at it, or is everything all mixed in and you're not really sure.

What goes, where do you go to meetings, to meetings or task to task without any breaks or transitions? And when do you take time for yourself? And we all give to everybody else, but when do you actually take time for you? Figuring that out will definitely, probably just help as you're figuring out putting a system in place, or if you have a system and it's not what you really want it to be, how you can fix that.

All right. So tip number three, folders, folders, folders, folders, and you can use folders. You can use all the same kinds of folders. You can use a digital folder system. So I use Google Drive a lot. I have used Dropbox, but it had some different issues with that. You could also use hard copy folders. You know, we all have those lovely file cabinets with the whole filing cabinet, a whole bunch of folders, or you just use your desktop.

But having an actual system is just like when I was talking about your calendar and kind of compartmentalizing and putting things in buckets, folders, do the same thing. You can find things, it boosts your productivity. So because you know exactly where to go for it. You're not going, oh, I thought I had that attachment somewhere. I attach it to every grant. So if you attach it to every grant, you should be able to find it a lot faster. It should not be something that you should be looking for. You're organizing the sections of your proposal. So organize your files to make it easier for you. To the next slide. So you can use general folders.

So if you do your own research, you can have any kind of notes you put in there. Anything someone maybe sends you through an email or you get in a newsletter or something that's outside of Instrumentl because Instrumentl's, you don't already, or if you're not already using it, you will find when you do a demo that it will help you because it pulls everything together and it keeps things organized and things like that.

Having a folder of grants attachments. So that 501 c3 letter that you have to attach to everything, you shouldn't have to go look for it. You've got a set folder. Here are the grants attachments. We're putting that in there. We're putting our audit in there, operating budget, your board list.

And when those things change, swap them out so you can keep that in there. Making sure that that's in there. Boilerplate information, your mission statement, contact info. You should only have to make edits to the contact info. We're not rewriting the mission statement every single time we enter it in. You should be able to have it so you can copy and paste it.

It saves you time, especially when you're working in those online applications. Then each folder you should have one. If you're a consultant like I am and you have one for each client, then you can drill down to each project, each funder. If you have, your organization has five programs, each program should have its own folder.

And then within there, drill down to the things that are related to that. It will save you time while you're working on it. And if you decide, you know what, I don't really want to do this anymore. I'm leaving. And the next person comes in, they will love you for it because you've given them a system and it carries on. It's that organizational information that everybody knows, oh, I can just go into this folder and find these things.

So don't just kind of hoard it for yourself and only keep it on your computer, especially if you're an organization, make it shareable so that they can find that, but then you can have separate items in there. So your letter of inquiry, full application and so on.

And then instrumental actually offers a document library for use. And this honestly is something that I didn't know about before I learned about this preparing for today's presentation. And so, there is actually in the system and I don't know if Will, do you want to show that where that, what that exactly looks like?

Never tried Instrumentl?

Find and win more grants for your nonprofit!
Start saving 3 hours a week and increase your grant applications by 78%.

Try 14-days free

Will: Yeah, it's right here in the bottom left corner here. When you're logged into your account, you're going to see a document library in the bottom left. And you can actually access that and it'll be organized by your projects as well. So what folks will often do is they will upload their proposals. And oftentimes when they're in their trackers, they will upload it to the individual opportunity.

That way it's going to show up in your document section here, which means that if you or somebody else on your team is going to be taking over it for next year, for example, if I wanted to make this for the next year, then everything's in the same place that way. You can pick up right where the things were left off last year.

So a lot of people don't make use of this, but those who do, I hear a lot of cases where it's helpful, especially when there's turnover in the team or somebody taking over for a workflow that was previously owned by another member on the team. So that's something to look out for in that document section.

Tiffany: So, these are just kind of screenshots of where, what my system looks like in Google drive. And I have these different folders just some examples of the general fund and funder specific folders. And then that's further down just letting you see how I, what I would put in like my grants attachment folder. These are the types of items that would be in there.

You can go ahead to the next one, because that's just an example. So grant tracking in Instrumentl. I will tell you that last year, when I first learned about Instrumentl, I scheduled a demo and I stopped and I don't remember her name now, but I stopped her in the middle of the demo and said, take my money because I got to set up a project beforehand. And when I saw the amount of time it was going to save me from using all the other systems or cobbling together a hundred different types of systems just to get the information, I knew it was something that I needed. I knew it was something that was going to help not just, you know, one or two organizations that I was working with, but every client that I was working with. And I let my clients know that I use it because they don't want to have to do it. And they think it's awesome that I'm using it, but I've actually had one client that said they want to keep me using it for what I do with them, but then they have their own grant staff that they're going to purchase so that they can use it.

So in grant tracking here, anything you put from your matches as something that you add to the tracker, Instrumentl tracks it, right at the top. So, if you right now on the one you're seeing on your screen is showing zero because of the way of the particular example that I showed. But if I was to actually be more detailed here, and I think if you go to the next slide, Will, you can -- the arrow will point.

So that row right there, it will track. So anything I've actually applied to things that I've won, whatever my goal is, that I've lost, anything that I've applied, I'm waiting to hear back from. It'll track it there. So if you don't do anything else outside of Instrumentl, Instrumentl will actually track it for you.

And you can export things like this to a report which you can then share with your board, share internally with other staff. If you're a consultant you can share per project with your clients and get that information out there. It's definitely a time-saver. 

Will: Yeah. And I will share some of the ways that folks can access each of the key views after we go into the next tip when we dig into the grants calendar.

Tiffany: Yeah. Okay. So once you have all those wonderful matches in there and we'll get to it, but once you have those, you can then turn that into a grants calendar. And how I've actually done it for my clients where I start with when I'm creating this calendar is I create a report and go through it and will show you that in a minute, but I put it into a spreadsheet.

I export it to a spreadsheet and I use color coding, of course, no surprise there, but I use it and it looks just like this. It has the funder names. It has a submission goal or the due date. If there isn't a specific due date, I'll keep it listed as rolling until I decide if we have a particular date, then I use those color coding to know what we're planning to apply for what we've already submitted, which ones are going to be a no. I usually will sometimes say, you know, it might be a no, but it might be, it might not be a full no, it might be a not right now because something doesn't say it but I leave it on here so that when someone else comes to me later and says, my board member have found the State Farm Foundation Grant we should apply for, I can say we already made a decision. We weren't going for that. So unless something's changed, we're not going for that. And then I use the yellow just as things that are held. There may be some relationship or behind the scenes conversations. Let's stop it now. 

So how do we get from having matches in Instrumentl to having a calendar that we can use like this? And I will tell you as Will is going to the next slide that I am actually, for some of my clients, I will go from that spreadsheet to actually putting them on an actual calendar. I have a couple of clients who also use the Google calendar so I have access to it. And I actually can add those as appointments so that they have that, you know, we can set a timer to remind us or things like that.

So here's the how. You create the project. And Instrumentl, the system identifies your matches. You review the mashes, you select those that you want to apply to, you mark them as planned, select plan, submission date, and then you click download report. And it's a little bit more in that. So you want to actually, do you want to go to the next.

Yes, there we go. That has a little bit more detail I think of work. So once you've kind of created your project, you'll see up there and then you get those matches that show up. Then you click download a report and the system is actually pretty easy all in one screen that you can find those in that view.

And then once it's down into, I download to a spreadsheet. You have the option to do a PDF, but the spreadsheet just, you can maneuver it a lot better. Then you can use that color coding to show the status of each and how it's going. I have some of my clients that literally take that calendar and spreadsheet, and that's what they give their board at every board meeting as a report, they do nothing else with it and that's what they show.

And then maybe later we might add on other columns that show how much we were. We were awarded. If there's a report due, you can just keep building onto it and you can create one every time, you know, add on to it for each fiscal year. 

Will: Yeah. And just to show this visually for those who might need to find where these things are, if you're logged into your Instrumentl account, the plus project section is going to be right here on the left-hand side here.

The reporting is going to be when you go into the tracker view. So let's say you started with your matches, this environmental project, and you started saving some opportunities. Once you save those opportunities, they're going to go into your tracker. And that's where you're going to be able to download that report that Tiffany's talking about.

And I could just pull for this environmental project, choose whatever I want, create that report. And then she's downloading that CSV, right here. So when we download that CSV, the download's going to generate, and then from there, you would open up that CSV. And as you can see here, that information is being fed out. And so she's color coding from here and that's essentially the workflow that was just gone over as well. 

Tiffany: Yeah. And once I download it as a CSV, I save it as an actual Excel document. So if you're not used to that, don't keep it as the CSV after that. It gets a little weird. That's literally the easiest way to just pull it. You let the system pull it. You'll see that the system actually pulls a few more columns than you might actually need, but you can feel free to delete those and use it, but it's easier than having to copy and paste things in, or type things in or mistype a link because the links are there as well. So you can use that and go right, right into it.

And it ends up being an awesome thing. So as I was talking about the why it's, you know, you can use that color coding, you can't color code in other systems, unless Instrumentl's going to come out with that, which I'm just going to say it and put it into existence and see if that happened eventually.

But it also creates a system of clarity. If you get sick and somebody else has to take over their work, they know exactly where things are. You know exactly where things are. Yeah, if you save it, I don't know if you save it as a CSV, if you can then open it in Google sheets, but yep. They will answer that.

I should've just waited 'cause I figured if I would've waited, Will would've answered it in there. It seems to be doing that. I need you for all my presentations, Will, just to answer questions.

As all the stuff I've gone over. And I know it, I feel like I've been talking a lot. I've seen a lot of good comments come in. I've seen some head nods. So those of you that have come on camera, I really appreciate that. But I hope that you have found the same takeaways that I hope to bring to you today about having a well-developed system and how it can simplify your processes. It can save you time using other systems to create the system that you need that works for you in order to move forward, knowing that taking that time to organize, to plan saves you time later, when you have other tasks, I actually schedule my time, my weekly planning.

I do it on Sundays because that's just what works for me. I do it on Sundays. I look at my calendar to make sure I have blocks and transitions and my self-care and timing there. And then also, you know, using Instrumentl, it's a time-saving resource. It's designed to help you. It's not, oh, here's another fancy tool that I'm not really gonna ever use.

I'm paying all this money for. I hear a lot of organizations that say that, oh, we have this tool, but we're just going to use this thing over here. Instrumentl was not like that. It is definitely a time-saving resource and you can use it to make your work better, to be better, to be more productive and to move forward so that you can have the breaks that you need and ultimately win more grants. 

Will: And before we open up to questions, we're going to go over some follow-up materials, as well as the freebies for folks. And then we'll see if there's, as you, as we are going over this, though, if you have any questions, feel free to put them into the chat and we'll start tackling those right after that.

Tiffany. Do you want to go over this part? 

Tiffany: Yeah. So if you want to reach out to me, whether it's just to ask questions, talk about anything, all that, my email is there. Phone number, website, and then I'm also on LinkedIn. So I'm on LinkedIn on my personal page. You can also just kind of search for me, Tiffany Nobles.

I do have a profile picture. I know sometimes it's hard because people, they were like, I don't know if that's the right person. I do have a profile page. And then I also have a LinkedIn page for my business. So for T. Nobles Grant Consulting it's on there. And then hopefully if you have not already signed up for your demo or subscribed to instrumental, you can use my Instrumentl link or use the code TNOBLES50.

Will: Awesome. And then for everybody that has attended today, some next steps here, like Tiffany mentioned, if you haven't signed up for your Instrumentl account, you can click this link and then you'll be able to be redirected to this page. This is where you'll then put in your name and sign up for your account using Tiffany's link. From there, you'll get a dedicated onboarding advisor who's going to go through your list of personalized matches for your organization. And so they'll be able to answer some other questions about your grant strategy as well.

That can be helpful for you. And then, as you go through that link or go into the raffle link that I shared with you folks as well. We will be giving you guys two freebies today. So Tiffany has a grant readiness guide that she's going to be giving everybody that attended today. So, you can just complete the actions there and you'll be redirected to the page where you can get that guide.

And then we're also going to be including the 10 best lessons from 10 grant writing experts. So if this was your first workshop with us, we've done this multiple times and we've essentially compiled the best, like five minutes of, of each one of 10 past workshops. So instead of you having to watch 10-plus hours, we're giving you the highlight reel and that is a 28-page PDF.

I believe that would be really valuable. I've heard some really good feedback where somebody yesterday was telling me they laminated it. So there's a lot of helpful tips in there. Just put those two freebies on your docket in terms of using the links in the chat. And then if you enjoyed this workshop as well, we'll be doing our next one in two weeks.

It's going to be step up your systems for success. You can tell our theme for October is systems and processes. So we're going to talk about how to simplify, streamline, and support your team with Teresa Huff, who is the host of the Grant Writing Simplified podcast. So you can register for that in the follow-up email that I'll be sending today, but if you have any questions, we'll open up to questions now, and then, take care of some of those before we wrap things up here.

The main question, Tiffany, it looks like is whether or not you should be presenting at the GPA conference it looks like.

Tiffany: I saw that, I said, well, we'll see maybe next year, not this year, I will be there, though. So if anyone is going in person, I will be in Seattle or I will see you virtually if you're attending that. 

Will: I think Katie did have a question earlier on. It's talking about some of the challenges as she was mentioning how she has some challenges 'cause she's hourly right now. And she's also responsible for keeping up with the organization's website and some other things. And so it'd be helpful to see if you have any tips for somebody in her situation.

Tiffany: I'm trying to see.

So you're saying. I want to make sure I'm answering it correctly. 

Will: So she's saying when it comes to getting your system up and going, what is that helpful way to make it easy to transfer it between office and home? Because of the fact that she's hourly, as well as she's doing some other priorities. And she probably has to go in and out of the office, literally physically in person and working remotely at home.

Tiffany: So do you have, if you have access to your email or your calendar system anywhere, or do you only have access to it, you know, if you have access to it outside of just the physical office, then that would be the best way because you can literally just have it all in one system. Or if you get it on your phone, like maybe you have a desktop, but that you don't actually have a laptop.

So maybe you're at home working some other way. You can, you know, use it that way. I find that. So, yes, I'm working for myself, but I use my computer, I have it on my phone. I also use, like I said, a hard copy planner, because then when I write down exactly what I'm doing, I just kind of remember it and I don't have to look at my calendar like every five minutes, because I don't know what I'm doing next.

But figuring, I think you can definitely have that system that works for that. Having, you know, your system. So if you're doing a file system, either Google Drive or if your organization uses SharePoint or something like that, those are all systems that you should be able to use, whether you're in the office or not.

And if you currently have something set up at your organization where you can't easily transfer that, tell them that you need it. Like you need to be, have access to, like, I need to be able to have access to this. If you want me to work in the office and at home, I need to be able to do this. You have to definitely, kind of just, you know, advocate for what you want because no one's going to do it for you. And if you really need that to be able to be more productive, I think you can definitely do that. Thanks, Will, for putting my email in there, I saw that come in and I was like, I can't type fast enough. But yeah, feel free to email me, you know, any questions or ideas if you set something up and you're like, I don't know if this is really working, you have to test it out.

Trust me, I've tested out a lot of different systems and all kinds of things to figure out what works for me. And it doesn't mean once you figure it out that that's it. Also be flexible enough to want to learn new things. Like, I didn't know the document library existed in Instrumentl. I didn't, honestly, I never paid attention to what that button was when he showed it to me.

I was like, oh, that's what that is. I will probably start using that more often now. So I can put that, add that into my system. So maybe this system worked for me up to this point, but now I'm doing this, the system I used when I worked within an organization, the system I use being a consultant. They're very, very different. I still have the same parts, but I added in a few more things because I needed to, I'm managing a lot more now than I was when I was in one organization. 

Will: Yeah, there was a question in the chat in terms of the freebie. So once you click this link for this, thank you page for attending, once you click submit, you'll get redirected to the two respective freebies. And the other thing, speaking to Tiffany's point on having something different, for those in the audience that might be running consultancies, what most people do is they will set up different projects for their clients. It might be super specific or just for the client, and that'll allow them to generate unique reports for each of their clients.

And they do that pretty much once a week or once every week or once a month. And their clients are always really happy with that because it saves them the time of having to create their own separate nicely formatted report, too. So it all goes back to that idea that Tiffany has been talking about in this presentation, where ultimately it comes down to how systemized you can get things.

And it's the system that you can fall back on that allows you to then increase your grant applications consistently as well, and get your work done and feel like you're combating burnout, which we all know, you know, a lot of people struggle with in this industry for sure.

There was a question as well, that was sent directly to me in terms of, from Natalie, in terms of the pricing of Instrumentl. When you log into your account and you created your account, it'll be on the left-hand side here. There's going to be a pricing window, but we can also just go to and then it's going to be an

And that's where you'll also find that in terms of our pricing plans and whatnot. So it starts at 149 a month on the annual, otherwise it's 162 a month. And then some of these Standard features, for folks who have not yet checked these out for our existing customers, we're going to have two-week trials for everybody to try that out.

And also for new folks, they'll get access to the Standard Plan features, but essentially these are going to be part of our big announcement in a couple of weeks from now in terms of some of the things that we're working on here. So pretty much, it's going to cover a ton of different new features that are just going to make finding a good fit funder even better.

And so it's going to cover premium funder insights, foundation discovery, and recipient profiles. And so you're going to be able to figure out things like what percentage of past grantees versus new grantees did a fund your fund in the last three years, as well as historical giving trends between new grantees versus repeat grantees and so on. These are all going to be new data insights that you'll see on Instrumentl and you're already going to actually see them if you're on the Standard Plan today, I know a few folks have already converted over, but this will just help you find good fit funders faster.

And then we'll also be doing a new thing that we haven't done in the past. We're going to be matching you to funders who potentially aren't open or are invite only, or just don't have an active website. So there's going to be a new feature that is going to be coming out. We're working on it right now.

And so, it's all going to be answering the same question, which is how to find good fit funders faster and more efficiently through your system. So we all kind of go back to the same point in the presentation. Cool. If you guys have any final questions, feel free to leave them in the chat and we can tackle those and get those wrapped up and then go from there.

Tiffany: Through and see.

Will: I think we're good. Awesome. Well, thanks so much for attending, everybody. Thanks. And we'll see you guys in two weeks and look out for your emails, for the follow-up slides and recording in case you need to review anything we went over today. 

Tiffany: Thanks, everybody. 

Will: Bye now. 

Tiffany: Bye.

Create Your Instrumentl Account

Never tried Instrumentl?

Find and win more grants for your nonprofit!
Start saving 3 hours a week and increase your grant applications by 78%.

Try 14-days free

Get 9 grant writing guides, exclusive to Instrumentl subscribers. Stress less and raise more—new guides every week, for free.

Grant writing advice, step-by-step guides, and more in our weekly newsletter.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

10k+ grant writers have already subscribed

Instrumentl team

Instrumentl is the all-in-one grant management tool for nonprofits and consultants who want to find and win more grants without the stress of juggling grant work through disparate tools and sticky notes.

Become a Stronger Grant Writer in Just 5 Minutes

Grant writers who raise millions stay up-to-date on trends and tips by subscribing to our newsletter.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Related posts

Try Instrumentl

The best tool for finding & organizing grants

128 reviews | High Performer status on

Try free for 14 days