Grantseeking in 2024: Strategies for the New Year

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January 30, 2024

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​Looking ahead to 2024? End your year strong! 💪

​Join Instrumentl for this expert panel that will help narrow your funding focus & build momentum for the new year. We’ll discuss best practices on building proactive grantseeking strategies and mapping your organization’s 2024 funding needs with professional insight from our partners, featuring:

Who should attend?

  • ​Grantwriting, development, and advancement professionals
  • ​Nonprofit leaders
  • ​Those looking to proactively organize their grant strategies for 2024

Takeaways by the end of this Instrumentl Partner Webinar:

  • 🤔 Gain insights directly from industry experts with actionable recommendations
  • ✍️ Learn practical tips to craft your 2024 grant strategy
  • 🔍 Discover new ways to forecast grants & research funders

‍

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​About our speakers

​Elizabeth Burrows | Principal, Burrows Consulting LLC

​Elizabeth started Burrows Consulting in 2014, where she has assisted numerous rural health clinics, federally qualified health centers, institutions of higher education, critical access hospitals, rural health associations, and other non-profits attain over $225,000,000 in grant funding and over $400,000,000 in enhanced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and 340B Shared Savings. She has worked with healthcare facilities in over 35+ states. Currently, Elizabeth serves as Interim Executive Director of Purdue University’s FQHC, Family Health Clinics in White and Carroll Counties in Indiana.

​Jacob B. Chase | CEO, Chase Consulting Solutions

​Jacob B. Chase is the CEO of Chase Consulting Solutions, a premier grant consulting and public affairs firm dedicated to empowering organizations with strategic insights to drive impactful change. Upheld by a proven track record of success, we deliver a tailored approach to address the unique funding and public policy concerns of each of our esteemed clients. Our team of public affairs consultants and expert grant writers offer a robust collective experience of more than two centuries, successfully securing more than $1.5 billion in competitive grant funding across various industries, agencies, and practice areas.

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.

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Grantseeking in 2024: Strategies for the New Year - Grant Training Transcription

Rachel:

‍Hey folks. We're going to get started in just a moment, waiting for a few more folks to join us, but thank you so much for being here. I'll hop back on in just a second.

Good morning, or good afternoon everybody. I'm going to launch a quick poll for folks to just add in some thoughts about kind of who we have in the room today, so you should see that pop up automatically. Our first is just a check-in for how we're kind of feeling about our grant strategies so far for the new year. The next is a little bit about yourself, your expertise, how you would describe your grant writing experience. And lastly, I'm just curious to know: what's in your toolkit? Are you currently using Instrumentl or are you interested in using it? If you can kind of add your thoughts in there, that'd be great. I'll give folks a few moments to kind of add in their thoughts here. And while we do that, please make sure you've said hello in the chat box. I see some folks chiming in about our soundtrack. I appreciate that getting us into the groove with our meeting today. And then as a reminder, if you don't already have an Instrumentl account, you can feel free to make yours with the link we have on the screen. My co-host Mia will also drop that into the chat for folks. So I'll give us a couple more moments to answer that intro poll question and then we will get ourselves rolling.

Hello everybody. So great to see everyone. Thanks for being here. Awesome. I'm going to go ahead and close our poll. Thank you so much for sharing and we're going to get our event started today. Hello and welcome to our event Grant seeking in 2024 strategies for the new year. I definitely see some familiar names on the guest list, so thanks so much for being here.

For any first timers, this is a free grant workshop that is an Instrumentl partner webinar. These are collaborations between Instrumentl and our community partners to provide free educational workshops to grant professionals like yourselves and nonprofit leaders. Our goal is to tackle a problem that grant professionals often have to solve while sharing different ways that Instrumentl can help y'all out with your grant writing goals. So for those of you who are new to Instrumentl, we are the All-in-one grants platform for grant tracking, prospecting and management.

And we currently help more than 3000 nonprofits (we just reached that number fairly recently!) and grant writing consultants save time on finding and applying for more grants. To start us off today, I want to quickly introduce the Instrumentl team that's putting this event on. My name's Rachel and I'm actually one of the newest team members at Instrumentl. My job is to help develop helpful and educational events, like this one, and share them all with the community. And this is actually my first event, so thanks for making this day extra special. I have a decade plus of experience in the informal education field, specifically in museums, and I'm based in Los Angeles, California - any of those Pacific Standard time friends out there representing, I appreciate that. I'm joined today by my lovely colleague Mia, who I'm sure many of you know. Mia, do you want to take a quick moment to introduce yourself?

Mia:‍

Yeah, sure. So my name is Mia. I'm the Demand Gen Lead in Instrumentl, which is a fancy way of saying that I do marketing and communications. And yeah, very happy to be a co-host of this event.

Rachel:

Awesome. Thanks for helping me out today, Mia. She's going to be supporting behind the scenes in the chat box, so if you have questions or want to get some links for things I'm referencing, Mia's going to help drop those in the chat as we go along today. Just some quick FYIs to start our time together. Our event is going to be about an hour long and this is a panel style discussion that I'm going to moderate with our wonderful partners who you'll learn more about in just a moment. If we don't answer a question that you have during this panel discussion, you're going to have a chance to ask more during our live q and a. This workshop is being recorded and live stream (hello for folks watching on YouTube!) and the slides will be shared afterwards, so keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email later this week.

If you want to review anything from today for anyone watching on YouTube, the slides will be added to the description of the event after this concludes. I know as many of you're probably well aware, this year is rapidly coming to a close, so I know we're all very busy and working hard and thank you so much for taking time to be with us today. So I want to ensure we take care of all those personal needs. Make sure you bring a snack, make sure to hydrate and of course feel free to take a bio break as needed during the program, but I hope you're back in your seat, make sure you're here for our live Q&A that starts at about a quarter till, so make sure you come on back at that time. And I'll also share how to enter our raffle. So if you're sticking around to the end today, I want to make sure that you know that we're raffling off some of our best gifts yet to our live attendees.

And even if you don't get lucky in the raffle this time, you will get a free template just for sticking around. So anyone who submits their feedback form at the end of the event today will get a copy of the Ultimate Five Step Grants Calendar Planning Guide, which also includes a handy Excel sheet calendar template, and you'll also get a link to a webinar that kind of covers this template as well. Our partners have also generously offered the following to anyone who attends. So if you stay till the end and submit your feedback form, you'll get the discount code for Chase Consulting Solutions' Grant Writing for Beginners course and a link to join a free intro class with Burrows Consulting. Thanks, partners!

And lastly, we're raffling awesome fun prizes for anyone who submits those feedback forms. So if you submit your response, you could win a free subscription to Headspace, which is one of the best (I think), mindfulness and meditation apps on the market. And we're sponsoring a three month subscription for the lucky winner. And as a thank you to any of our Instrumentl newbies out there, if you submit your feedback form and you sign up for a free trial by tomorrow, you'll be entered to win an additional prize, which is this holiday gift box filled with a pretty delicious themed treats for the season. So we hope you'll stick around today and stay to the end so you can be entered for these wonderful prizes.

Alright, I'm just about done with some housekeeping, but I want to remind us how we can participate today. So this is your time to learn. We don't get as much dedicated time to be learners in our busy adult lives, so jot down whatever is kind of sparking a chord for you and those little nuggets of wisdom that you think you can take with you. And let's get inspired and learning together by being present one another as much as possible here. You can type your questions into the chat with the three hashtags and I'll make sure to kind of review those at the end when we get into our live Q&A. There'll also be some times when I'll ask you to virtually raise your hand or maybe add some thoughts into the chat box, so make sure you know where those reactions are in Zoom and kind of what the features of your Zoom panel. And lastly, I know we've all been on Zoom a lot in the past three years or so, so I know we know the drill, but please stay on mute unless you're called on to speak. We want to make sure we're making the best possible environment for learning.

Okay, now that we've got be that housekeeping out of the way, I am very excited to introduce our two panelists for today. And up first, we've got Elizabeth Burrows, principal at Burrows Consulting. Elizabeth started Burrows Consulting in 2014 where she has assisted numerous rural health clinics, federally qualified health centers, institutions of higher education, critical access hospitals, rural health associations, and other nonprofits attain over 225 million in grant funding and over 400 million in enhanced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and 340B shared savings. She has worked with healthcare facilities in over 35 states and currently, Elizabeth serves as interim executive director of Purdue University's family health clinics in White and Carroll counties in Indiana. Thanks for being here, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth:

Thanks for having me. I'm excited and I'm seeing some friends joining in the chat, so I'm excited to chat with all of you today. It's going to be great.

Rachel:

Yay. Thanks, Elizabeth. Next up we have Jacob B Chase, who's the CEO of Chase Consulting Solutions, a premier grant consulting and public affairs firm dedicated to empowering organizations with strategic insights to drive impactful change. Upheld by a proven track record of success, Jacob and his team deliver a tailored approach to address the unique funding and public policy concerns of each of their esteemed clients. Their team of public affair consultants and expert grant writers offer a robust collective experience of more than two centuries successfully securing more than 1.5 billion in competitive grant funding across various industries, agencies and practice areas. Thanks for joining us, Jacob.

Jacob:

Thank you, Rachel, and good morning or good afternoon to everyone, wherever you are. Really excited to be a part of this panel and it's my first event with Instrumentl as well. So thank you so much for extending the invitation.

Rachel:

So glad to have you both here. Alrighty, and thanks for continuing to add your hellos in the chat. It's so great to see you all. Kim, Ciara, so great to have you here. Okay, so we asked you all to share some questions you have about grant strategy when you registered and y'all absolutely delivered. I went through every single question, which there were almost 700 of, and worked with our panelists to identify ones we thought everyone can learn from. So we're going to break down our discussion today into four key takeaways, starting with mapping our strategy. We're going to get back to the basics and explore what it means to be strategic with our grants and funding in the new year.

Second, we've got managing our time. As you probably well know, strategizing on how we manage our time is probably one of the most important things to be organized and ahead of the game. And I know it can also be one of the most challenging, especially for our small teams, for our nonprofit leaders in the room who are wearing multiple hats (I see you all out there!), and in moments when you just don't have the luxury of planning your time.

Third, we're going to focus on what we can do to build those funder relationships. We all know this is valuable and we're going to dig on some specific tips in funder development here. And lastly, we're going to talk about knowing the field. We'll chat about some predicted trends for giving in 2024. As a quick reminder, we're going to do a live moderated Q&A at the end of our panel discussion, so if you have questions that are coming up for you, please drop them in the chat and Mia's going to help me organize them so we can cover them at the end of the program. So let's get to it. We're going to start from the beginning and I'm going to ask Jacob here, what does it mean to map a grant strategy? What should this look like for a grant seeker?

Jacob:

Sure, sure. Excellent, excellent question to start out. So really mapping a grant strategy, it's really a systematic approach and there's multiple components to that from identifying to prioritizing, to pursuing external funding opportunities that are really aligned with your organization's specific goals, whether you're, and it could be a nonprofit or a health service agency, municipality, et cetera. So you really want to assess your needs, of course, research potential funders, and really sort of create a roadmap for securing that external grant funding.

So I'd say one, before you even start researching potential funders, you want to identify what your organization's goals are. Maybe you have specific projects or programs that need funding. Maybe it could be the purchase of a building, renovation of a building. General operating support is always one. Maybe there's a new program you want to launch in the next 6, 12 months. Whatever those goals and needs are, that should really be the basis of your strategy.

From there, of course researching potential funders. This could be foundations, state or local government agencies, federal agencies who align with those goals and priorities of your organization. Every funder has different funding priorities might be the environment, might be children, might be homeless, might be whatever it is, food insecurity. You want to be sure that those funders to whom you're applying really align with your organization's goals. If let's say you're seeking general operating support, if you're researching foundations who come across the foundation who would be a perfect fit, they align with your priorities, but maybe they don't fund general operating grants, well maybe that's one that you take in a little bit of a different direction for more of a project specific grant. So research those, understand those funders, understand their priorities and how you fit into those priorities.

From there, you really want to prioritize those opportunities by one deadline. Of course you can find the perfect opportunity, but if it's due tomorrow, there's a good chance you're not going to have time to really develop a robust competitive application. And you can use really whatever you're comfortable with to sort of map that out, whether it's a spreadsheet, or Monday.com, or Instrumentl has excellent capabilities for that to sort of filter those opportunities by deadline once you do identify those to which you want to apply. So prioritize by deadline, by alignment with your organization's specific priorities. And then just a couple other things to think about. Ensure your organization has the capacity to really effectively manage and implement the fund project, whether it's staffing or systems in place to monitor progress, monitor the program's, progress towards those goals, objectives, intended outcomes that you're including in your proposal. So lots of moving parts to this, but really start with identifying your organization's goals and needs and then identify those funders who support those goals and needs. And that's a great way to get started.

Rachel:

Awesome, thank you so much for sharing Jacob. So we've got our kind of overview of what is a grant strategy, all those elements that are involved. And if we want to be our best selves going into 2024 and set ourselves up for success, kind of how do we measure that we are being successful? So Elizabeth, Lucy had actually asked us: "What metrics should we use to actually track our progress?"

Elizabeth:

Well, I think there's a lot of different metrics and depending on your organization, you need to set up specific ones, but, and when we meet with clients, one of the first things I always ask them is what is something that they want to be successful with? So for example, one client that we took on this year had never received a SAMHSA grant and they had applied 11 times to SAMHSA (the federal agency). So when we wrote our first one and were able to attain that for her, that was a huge win for that client. So that was the win of the entire year. She didn't care about anything else. So I think it's definitely knowing, if you are a grant writer, what your clients want or what your nonprofit wants, but what metrics, I think obviously all of us are held to the dollar sign metrics and we would lie if we weren't.

So definitely what kind of money you're bringing in. I think specifically highlighting new money, in other words, new funding sources. Have you looked at new foundations? Are you using new strategies? It can sound great to get 10 million in grants, but if the previous year they got 15 million and you actually got rejected from grants, that's not really a great success. So you want to look at where you've been in the past, where you're going, what improvements have been made. And then I think most importantly too, when we're tracking our personal grant success, we also want to think of what we're tracking within our organizations and how we're showing is the money effective. Because if we want to go back to those grant funders, that's what's going to be hugely effective.

And so one of the things that I work with many of my clients on is specific healthcare measures, so I was just talking to someone who lives in the state with the worst diabetes and, in their part of the state, it's the worst in the entire country. Well, definitely something that we want to track is are they getting their diabetic patients back into the clinics? Are they able to reduce hemoglobin A1Cs for their diabetic patients? So specifying those specific metrics is huge. If you are seeking funding on any particular method, and I will give you a disclaimer, I talk a lot of healthcare because that's my focus, but any of these can be used for anything. So my husband's a teacher, you could also talk about how many students were educated on something, did their test scores improve? I just tell a lot of healthcare examples because that's been my professional life of the past 17 years. So those are my examples. Also, you should have metrics from the grants that you have written in the past. So definitely if you have been awarded grants in the past here and you're new to your organization, go read those grants and look at what they were actually going to track and make sure your organization is tracking that accordingly because you have no idea how many people fail to track those metrics that they're supposed to.

Rachel:

So true. Thank you, Elizabeth. I know many of us are trying to take advantage of every funding opportunity we can and it's hard to not feel like we're constantly playing catch up. Christie had asked us a thoughtful question: "How can I convince my organization to be more proactive, rather than reactive, when deciding to pursue a grant and not feel scrambled to push to the bitter end?" Is there anyone else here who can identify with this experience? You can use the raise hand feature or just write "Same" in the chat. Oh yeah. Seeing some raised hands for sure. Okay. I know we can all identify with this. Jacob and Elizabeth, I'm going to both ask you to each respond if you can kind of briefly to what is one tip that we can share to help an organization be proactive, rather than reactive, when pursuing funding sources? And Jacob, I'm going to ask you to go first.

Jacob:

Sure, thank you. I would say the big thing is of course, plan ahead, set a timeline, set a schedule, and stick to it. If you have two weeks or even one week if it's a small foundation grant or whatever it is, estimate how much time it's going to take with foundations, that can range wildly in terms of the commitment of time. But this day we're going to focus on this section of the narrative. This day we're going to focus on the next section of the narrative budget, et cetera. So plan ahead, set a timeline and stick to it.

Elizabeth:

And my response on being proactive is are you looking at what these funders funded the previous year? So I know you're going, "Okay Elizabeth, I want to be proactive and you're talking about the past. This makes no sense." You need to be proactive. Once a grant is announced, it's almost too late to apply and I don't want to discourage you, but you need to have in your plan what grants you want to go after for the whole year and you're waiting for those grants to open. My previous call to this was a team member who said, "Hey, a grant we've been waiting for is open. We're connecting with who we need." So while I'm doing this call, my team is in the background sending to people that we already have drafts of grants written that we were waiting for things to open and now we can perfect those.

So I just want you to be thinking, okay, let's look at what funders funded in 2023. And oftentimes it is similar to what they fund in 2024. I know there are exceptions to that rule. The Pacers Foundation is one, the Indiana Pacers Foundation that has changed what they fund and that does happen sometimes, but I would say at least about 95% of the time in my experience, they are funding similar projects. So go look at what was funded in the past and start developing your program so you're ready when these same funding sources open in 2024 and beyond.

Rachel:

Great advice. I don't have my New Year's resolutions quite figured out yet, but I thought I'd be a little proactive and suggest a few that we might all be interested in. So I've got a little New Year's resolution for each of our four themes today. And this first one is let's try and be proactive and not reactive with our funding. And you can set the tone for your funding strategy. Maybe we need to get some of our leadership in the room so they can also embrace this resolution. Or if you are leadership in this room, think about how you can support your team on this type of resolution. I'm going to drop a quick poll in the chat to kind of just see how we're feeling about our proactivity going into 2024. So let me know your thoughts. If you're feeling like you're generally leaning into the reactive stage or you're feeling pretty proactive or you're somewhere in the middle. And then a quick bonus for anyone that's using Instrumentl, you can help meet this resolution with the Smart Grant Matching tool. So you can just let those opportunities find you - you input your needs for your funding projects and Instrumentl is going to pull those tailored funding opportunities right into your inbox, which means you should be on top of every new opportunity. Way to go. Thanks for sharing your resolution feelings. I feel like where a lot of people are somewhere in the middle. So maybe when we get to the end of 2024, we can redo this poll and see where we're landing.

Alright, thanks folks. We're going to jump into our next theme, which time management, how do you balance it? All right. Attiqa was a small nonprofit leader wearing multiple hats and she submitted a question about how to divide her time effectively between building those deeper funder relationships and just having time to put the actual grant together, right? Kimberly was sharing that she's not only writing grants, she's also coordinating campaigns and supporting her organization's membership model. Anyone else out there who's kind of relating to this wearing multiple hats? You can again use the raise hand feature or just write "Same" in the chat. Yep. Seeing a lot of raise hands, we've got a dozen, two dozen. Yeah, for sure. So let's think ahead about how we're managing our time at 2024. Starting off with this question, Elizabeth: Courtney wanted to know, "How do I plan for 2024 with personal and organizational bandwidth in mind? How many grants is too many?"

Elizabeth:

This is a hard question and I am a person that is not good at one thing and that is saying no, I am not good at saying no. So when people come to me, I'm always, yeah, let's do it. And I know...and I, that I'm currently running clinics again because I want you to know I'm in your shoes. So not only am I a consultant grant writer, but I'm also running four nonprofit clinics. So I feel you're pain. I'm dealing with HR issues and having to know everything that's happened at the nonprofit and making sure that we have our doors open for the right hours around Christmas and the holidays and New Year's and everything. So I feel your pain. I am living it, running a nonprofit right now, so I know how that is. And I think for planning, I think you have to look a few things.

One is what are your organization's main goals and what aligns with the strategic plan? I know some of you were saying you don't have strategic plans. I encourage you to help your organization, no matter how small, apply for one get one going, write it for them. Work with your team to try to get something in line, so you know what your goals are and you have those set. Additionally, making sure that you do have a plan for when you think grants are going to get announced, you don't always know, and so you have to be ready. But if you're looking at federal grants, you need to look at how much time you have available. And so I know when I was writing all my own grants and writing a nonprofit, I was only able to write grants at night. I never got anything done during the day so I could really only write one or two federal grants at a time.

Now that I'm a consultant, we can be working on numerous federal grants at a time for many different clients. That's a different setup because we're not running the day to day. So you have to evaluate what's going to work best for you and what works for you and your family. I know many grants for my first nonprofit were written between 9:00 PM and midnight after my children had went to bed, and that was the only time I had to write grants before I would go to bed and get up the next day. So I think just watching for what you need and meeting those needs now, if you're writing a lot of foundation grants, and Instrumentl's there to help you and keep you organized with all the deadlines, we can write for a client five to 10 each month without a problem. And even more than that.

So I would say it depends on what you're doing. If you're writing a lot of federal grants and doing program development, you may need to write a little less. If you're working on state and foundation grants, you probably can write a lot more. So just evaluating that. The thing you don't want to do is you don't want to just apply to 25 grants to say you apply to 25 grants. You want to write each of those specific for that funder and be ready for that. But how many grants is too many? I don't know that there is a set answer. You have to look at what you can evaluate and what you can do and handle.

Rachel:

Great advice. Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing your kind of personal anecdotes. I know some people can identify with that. So hopefully our grant opportunities aren't coming up too last minute because we went to this webinar and we plan to get ahead for the whole year go us. But as we probably know all too well, that's not always how funding opportunities work. So Jacob, I wanted to kind of ask you, how do you balance planning ahead and being nimble with those last minute opportunities?

Jacob:

Great question. And that's one thing I have a little bit of a challenge with, too, because I am a planner and we can develop a whole strategy for the year for a client with different foundation grants. And those are pretty constant as far as their deadlines, whether it's a quarterly deadline or an annual deadline or whatever it is. And even a lot of times with federal opportunities, many of those are repeat programs. Sometimes though, and especially with sort of state and local opportunities, those can just kind of be released whenever and sometimes you're not, are not really on your radar, which is also the case of with some foundation and federal grants.

And my last answer, I said set a schedule and stick to it, but sometimes you want to be flexible and you need to be flexible to take advantage of some of those other opportunities that could very well be worth the investment of time and resources. So you do want to remain flexible, and one thing with planning ahead, if you have a strategy set for the year, planning ahead actually allows for greater flexibility. In some cases when you have your time delegated well, you have a schedule, it opens up additional time where you can actively pursue those newer opportunities.

The other thing that's really helpful is developing a boiler plate. And there's kind of a disclaimer here. One question we get a lot is can we write a proposal and send it to 10 funders? And that's one thing you always want, and Elizabeth mentioned this, you always want to tailor it to the funder. You don't want to send the same thing to 10 funders because it might go great with one of them, but the other nine it's not going to align. So you can use a boiler plate, take snippets of text that might be applicable to insert into different grant opportunities. So that's a great spot where you can save time, saves you time when you're applying to those new opportunities and regularly assess your priorities to ensure alignment with your organization's specific objectives. The big thing is stay flexible.

Rachel:

Yeah, it's a tricky balance and it's something we probably are all working on a little bit, but I like that combo being prepared while also checking out for those last minute opportunities that might really work well. Okay, our last question for this section, we all know the expression that time is money, right? So we want to value our own time value, the time that we spend on working on grants in the coming year. Laura asked, how frequently should I be looking for new prospects? Weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually. Jacob, do you want to give us a sense of the pacing for prospecting?

Jacob:

Sure, sure. And one thing I want to just mention because I'm seeing this a lot in the chat with my last answer, what is a boilerplate? A boilerplate is simply a document with essentially building blocks for a narrative. And you might have multiple boiler plates for multiple programs. Let's say you're a food pantry and you have a food distribution program. A boiler plate would simply be, okay, let's look at this program. What are our goals, objectives of this program, intended outcomes, target population, et cetera. Maybe you have another boilerplate for a seniors program. Maybe you distribute personal hygiene materials for seniors or adult diapers, et cetera. A boilerplate is simply a document with those building blocks for a narrative that can be reused, recycled on multiple applications. I just wanted to answer that quickly. As far as how frequently to look for new prospects, it really depends on your bandwidth. I would say at least quarterly do a comprehensive prospect search quarterly. That's what we do. But again, remain flexible and vigilant for any emerging opportunities as they're released to the public. Awesome.

Rachel:

Thanks so much, Jacob. Great. Okay, so I'm going to share our next New Year's resolution. This is my next suggested one is honoring your time as a precious resource, right? Your time is valuable and if you have a grant strategy in place, you hopefully have a clear sense of what funding opportunities you should or should not dedicate time to. So I'm going to send around another little poll just to get the pulse in the room about how we're feeling on our time management skills right now. And Jacob just kind of mentioned this idea of a boilerplate, but if you're using Instrumentl, you can actually save a little time on those applications with saved application responses. These will help cut out piping those repetitive answers over and over again. What is your organization's mission or how will you measure impact on such and such project? So if you've written the same answer a zillion times for different applications, using that saved application response feature can really help save a little time. Thanks for answering my poll. It seems like we're kind of in the middle. It could be better, but good thing we got 20, 24 around the corner. We can work on that. All right, awesome. We're going to jump into our third theme here, which is focused on building funder relationships and we're going to be super proactive and work on building relationships with the funders in 2024. So Elizabeth, how should we plan ahead for communication with funders both new and existing in the new year?

Elizabeth:

Well, first of all, I think any documents that you have, make sure you have if you have an annual report. And trust me, I know some of you're saying we have small nonprofits. I remember I started a nonprofit with boxes. That was my first desk, so I feel your pain. I literally worked off of boxes to start my clinic. That was not a nice place to work, so I get it, I feel your pain. But here's the deal. That first year that I did everything, the next year, buddy, I typed that stuff up. Here's how many patients we served. Here's all the great work we did, here's all the outreach that we did. Here's pictures from every possible event. And I started selling that place. And now you walk in there and everybody has fancy desks and lives a good life and they've got tons of staff and all those things.

So just need to think what communication you want. So it is so easy to make nice things anymore with our great resources. I'm not the best at it, but I have a great team that puts together things that look beautiful. Instrumentl does it all the time, but how do you plan ahead? Making sure you have the data from the previous year, a previous project, a previous grant, and you sell that, make sure you're getting word out to your offenders, whether that's through email strategy, social media, your website, and making sure everything is consistent. And again, it never hurts. I will tell you, when you look at the data of offenders that get a handwritten thank you note or a handwritten card, it is amazing at the low numbers that you do. I will tell you behind me is our old school cards. I literally send at least one to two to three old school cards, snail mail, whatever you want to call it, handwritten notes to people all the time.

I encourage you to do that with your fenders. Also, this is a story that I love when you're planning ahead A-U-S-D-A grant that funded a library in Nebraska. I did not write this grant, but I worked at USDA Rural Development, so I know the story. And actually the reason it got funded, a homeschool student wrote how important that library was for his internet access to continue his studies. They framed that letter that was from the grant and put it in a big nice frame at the clinic and USDA rule development hung that, or not at the clinic, sorry, at the library that they funded because they were so impressed that they had seen the need and the student was so excited about the services of the library and what they can do. That is how you build relationships with offender.

Rachel:

It's the little things that can sometimes make a big impact. Alright, so let's say we know there's supposed to be a funding opportunity coming up because we have it in our tracker if we're an Instrumentl user or we put a little note on our calendar on our desk to check in on it in 2024, but maybe the deadline hasn't been made available yet. Marco and Megan were curious, can I reach out to the funder and ask them when the deadline will be announced? Jacob, what's kind of the etiquette around cold calling or emailing a funder to request that type of information?

Jacob:

And that's a good question, and a lot of times it is hard, especially this time of year. They might not be posted or they might not have their funding cycles released, but you can certainly reach out to them. It never hurts to reach out to 'em whether they have an email listed or a contact form on their website. One thing I will say is some foundations, the communication varies and sometimes you won't hear back. And this is the case with asking for feedback on proposals too. Feedback varies as well. But many funders do appreciate a proactive, more proactive communication and will provide updates on their application cycles. So I would say if you're expecting it to be released and it certainly doesn't hurt to reach out them.

Rachel:

Great. And since we're using time this year to actively nurture our relationships with funders, Jacob, do you have a couple of tips that we can use to strengthen those funder relationships?

Jacob:

Certainly, yeah. Well, to reiterate Elizabeth's point, communication is huge. Communicate if this is a funder that has funded you previously or over the previous year regularly, update them, progress on the project, progress towards those outcomes. And many times they will ask for those reports, financial reports, progress reports, et cetera. But communicate with 'em and be honest with your progress towards those goals and objectives. Provide compelling stories, maybe your program participants, maybe there's some stories that you can share. Pictures data is huge, showcasing really the impact of their support. If you have an annual report you can share with 'em. That's one thing. When I was executive director of a nonprofit, all of our funders got a copy of our annual report every year. Those little things that show that you're thinking of 'em

Elizabeth:

And a holiday card and a thank you card when they fund something. And yes, someone probably needs to go to their annual dinner where they're raising money to eventually fund you again at that annual United Way Dinner, community Foundation dinner, all those little things do matter. Sorry, Jacob, I had to add that in.

Jacob:

No, that's great. That's great. And this is just kind of a sidebar, but any opportunities for any sort of joint initiatives, and this is really big with foundations like corporate foundations where their staff can be a part of some project or some initiative or work with your participants at your organization to really deepen that partnership beyond just the financial.

Rachel:

I love that. I've seen that coming up more and more recently. I think that's really great advice. Okay. And our last thing for our funder relationship building, many of you, Kelly, Elaine, Darlene, Alyssa, Paula and more had questions about invite only proposals. Stacy shared that invite only proposals seem to be increasingly common these days, and they present a lot of roadblocks for grant seekers in terms of seeking new funding. Jacob, do you have one strategy that you can share briefly that connects with funders who maybe don't have an open application process in place?

Jacob:

That's an excellent question, and yeah, it is. I'm seeing it a lot more as well where that is increasingly common. I would say, again, it never hurts to reach out if there's an email listed, if there's a contact form, it never hurts to reach out, introduce your organization, what you do, how long you've been in operation, and keep it casual. You don't want to sort of just, we'd love to apply for a grant, keep it conversational, simply an introduction. Get your foot in the door. Just a couple other quick things, networking events, conferences, introductions through mutual contacts or mutual connections. Those are all huge. That face-to-face contact is huge in the age of Zoom and teams and Google Meet and all of those things and establish those personal connections where you can.

Rachel:

Awesome. I think we're going to make communicating one of our New Year's resolutions for this year, and we're going to help make new friends that keep the old as the saying goes, so how do you feel you're doing with this right now? Sending around another little quick poll to kind of get a sense of where your strategy is at on maintaining those funder relationships. And if you're using Instrumentl, you can actually get a leg up on some of those kind of cold emails that you're doing out there by looking at funder profiles. So those funder profiles include in-depth nine 90 analyses that will help make work a little easier for you. You can see

Elizabeth:

What that's our favorite feature,

Rachel:

Yay

Elizabeth:

TV uses all the time because you never know who you happen to know, and someone on that board may know someone on this foundation board and helping make those connections is huge. I could tell you story after story of that, but yes, we use those nine nineties and how much time that saves us. We used to have to go onto GuideStar and download 'em and search and the whole thing, and it's all right there on Instrumentl. So take advantage of those nine nineties. It's a big deal.

Rachel:

Thanks, Elizabeth. Yeah, seeing what where and who your prioritized funders are funding is just incredibly helpful and informative for your strategy. Okay. We have about five minutes remaining to get through our last category here, which is knowing the field, it's not quite awards season yet, but we've had a lot of folks wanting to hear about the hot and not on the funder trends that we're going to see this year. So Jacob, Lanita wanted to know: "What are some of the upward trends that you see in giving or what areas or causes might we see increased investments in?"

Jacob:

Great question, and I'll keep it brief. I know we have limited time. I'd say there's three that I am seeing a lot, and one has been kind of over the last couple years really, environmental sustainability, climate, all of those sorts of things. Social justice is huge, DEI initiatives and health and healthcare. And really those are really three of the big global challenges that funders are. And it goes beyond grant makers, donors, sponsors, et cetera, are showing interest in these topics and innovative solutions and collaborations to really address those challenges.

Rachel:

Those are some great tips for keeping those areas of interest in our North Star. Right. Let's dive even a little deeper into what we might see next year. Max is wondering how might the grant landscape change next year, if at all, Elizabeth, would you mind sharing some thoughts on this?

Elizabeth:

Sure. It's an election year. I know I don't have to inform everyone of that. Typically you do see a lot more federal dollars come out in the even years and specifically in presidential election years in my healthcare world, we are expecting more than ever coming out of a pandemic and seeing that there's a huge need for healthcare with hospital closures across the country and less places to deliver babies than there has ever been in America. And looking at the statistics of we are almost better off, if you are certain minority in America, you're better off to deliver in a third world country with better birth outcomes than you are in America. So we are seeing a lot of money come out from maternal health for access to primary care, access to labor and delivery and improving maternal resources. And also there's a big push from what I have seen to ending the HIV epidemic and eliminating that as much as possible.

So there have been trends in that, but be ready for a lot of federal grant dollars. Also, state grant dollars, because it's a state, many times it's a state budget year, so watch for your state money. And there are still, there's interesting pockets of money popping up every day. The opioid settlement, if you haven't heard that, the Sackler family had to try to do something to undo the horribleness they did to our country. So look for that opioid settlement funds that have been allocated to many counties across the entire country. So again, keep looking for any of that. That's in my world. And again, I cannot estimate, talk to people. I mean, you get tired of hearing about how great my health centers are. I cannot tell you, I love the ones who are telling me, oh, I have the best food pantry in Maui. They're telling us on the Zoom chat, they're already giving us their elevator speech. Those are the types of projects that can and will get funded. So again, talk to anyone and everyone, you never know who knows whom and how they can help you.

Rachel:

That value of networking absolutely is just truly invaluable. Since we are making sure we're in the know on the field, we don't want to miss any opportunities that might come up. So Elizabeth, Beth wanted to know what are some methods for forecasting good fit grant or funding opportunities?

Elizabeth:

If the opportunity does not fit in your strategic plan or does not carry out your mission, your vision, or what your board of directors wants, steer clear of it. And I know we see a grant opportunity, we want to go after it. Great. No, not great. Stop. If it does not go along with your mission, your vision, your values, your strategic plan, anything of what you're trying to do, just because you can get money doesn't mean you should get it. It will not help you because then you may be having to hire more people to even carry out the grant. You may be stretching yourself too thin and not have the proper infrastructure in place to meet the requirements of the funder. So again, looking at does this fit within what my organization do? Does? Do we have the right mission, vision, values? Do we have the people power and the facility power and the infrastructure power to pull this off?

If those things are a yes, do it. Go after it. Now I'm also going to throw out, think outside the box. I have a lot of clinics opening food pantries, clothing pantries, I love it. They're doing community gardens. I love it. Is it community garden within what I traditionally think as a healthcare facility clinic? No. But it all goes with food as medicine. And again, that's another new trend. So again, throwing that out, yes, you want it to go along with what you're trying to carry out. And again, does a community garden help build a healthy community? Yes. If so, okay, great. That is going to help me carry out. So really thinking about that, and again, I cannot tell you enough, don't just go after money. You only want to go after money that meets the goals you're trying to meet and reach, and that is all that makes sense. Otherwise, you're only creating future headaches for yourself and for the funder.

Rachel:

We got to prioritize, right? What makes the most sense for us to be pursuing? Okay, and we have one last question before you move on to some of our live q and a. And I invite you both to answer this one. With the funding market so competitive, what is just one tip, one thing you think that our audience should walk away with today that should help their proposals stand out and get funded?

Jacob:

Good question. And it can be extremely competitive. Just think how many nonprofits are out there in our communities and the ratio of grant seekers to grant makers. I would say pull at the heartstrings is a huge thing. Those stories are so compelling. And again, this goes for grants, donors, sponsors, if you're putting on some sort of event, use those stories to really pull it at the heartstrings and of course clear writing, review your work proofread, have other people look at it, both people who know the field inside and out and people who know absolutely nothing about it. Those are really my top tips.

Elizabeth:

I'm going to stick with one and that is make sure everything is consistent. So if you talk about a certain numbers and projections in your narrative, make sure those are consistent on the forms, on the attachments, on all the letters and everything is consistent. Make sure your budget matches with your program narrative. You think that's a little thing. I will tell you that is a big thing. So make sure everything is consistent. I know as a federal grant reviewer and a foundation grant reviewer, that is where I see most things get thrown out or get scored down due to lack of consistency.

Rachel:

Great advice, great tips. I'm going to hold those close as we go into our new year. And our last resolution is just that it's kind of up to us to stay informed, right? In 2024, we're going to be, so on top of it, we're going to want to be in the know on all those emerging funder trends and the giving shifts for the new year and attend maybe events like this or get on a newsletter and hear about upcoming funding trends that we might want to be aware of. So one last poll to launch. I'll make sure this one stays up a little longer. How are we feeling about our current know-How, how are we staying up to speed on funder trends? I'm going to relaunch this because I think it's getting ended a little quickly. And then for anyone that is an Instrumentl user, you can use that reverse search tool to kind of get into the weeds on some similar nonprofits that have been funded, maybe by funders you're interested in, and you can learn a little bit more about who funded them.

So use that reverse search tool. It's super helpful to just get a sense a lay of the land for the funding landscape. Awesome, awesome. Okay, great responses. Jacob and Elizabeth, we got through a lot with our discussion. We have a few minutes to get through a couple of questions and I'll ask us to kind of keep our responses brief so we can get through and just send out our last info for the raffle and all those fun things that we're ending our day with today. So our first question someone asked here, assuming that we don't win a hundred percent of our grants, what percentage over our goal should we plan to pursue on our strategic plans? So for example, we need a hundred thousand and we apply for 20 to 30% over assuming that we don't win them all. Does anyone have any kind of advice for this?

Elizabeth:

Person? I think you have to look at your past success. So what has been your percentage of success in the past and estimate based on that? Plus deep down, you know what your chances are of getting that grant. If this is a totally new funder, it's going to be less likely if it's what your chances are. So I would say be realistic, but I will tell you probably just gut without knowing anything, I would request double make sure to apply for double what you are wanting or needing. But again, you don't want to be over the top because what if you did get funded? I have been in this situation where every grant I wrote in a year got funded when I was running a nonprofit, and then we had to hire the staff to carry that out. So you do want to be careful on that, but just gut check tells me double. But again, look at your past success. That's going to tell you where you're probably going to be right now.

Rachel:

Yeah, that's great advice. Jake, did you want to add to that?

Jacob:

Yeah, yeah, I would. And I would agree wholeheartedly with what Elizabeth said, and consider the average. If you haven't applied for grants ever, just know on average about 10% of proposals result in funding. So remember that. Don't get discouraged. Keep going after them. And the other thing, like Elizabeth said, look at your past performance. And I've been in a similar situation where we've gotten more funded than we anticipated, and we had a staff member who was percentaged out on federal grants, and that was a little bit of a mess where her total time was over a hundred percent. So keep those things in mind. Certainly

Rachel:

Great advice. I'm going to wrap us up with one last question. I know there were a lot of questions in the chat, and I'm going to try and keep track of all of them after this event so that we can cover them in future programs. Well, one question that came up for me that spoke to me was that it's sometimes hard to work in stories when grant questions maybe focus on data and have a character limit. Do you have any creative suggestions for how to get around this and share some of those authentic impact stories?

Elizabeth:

One thing I would say is use your social media and your website. How many people, as soon as we hear an organization, we end up Googling it. That's something that's been really interesting to me is how much the government checks you out online before they ever fund you. So again, even if you can't fit it in your character space, tell your story online as much as possible. Also, even though it is technical, if you can tell your story that we served 14,000 patients and improved the diabetes outcomes of 22% of the patients that had diabetes, that doesn't take very many characters. And it says a lot.

Jacob:

Yeah, and again, I agree wholeheartedly with Elizabeth's response. The one other thing I would add is letters of support, and we see letters of support a lot in the government grant space, especially federal grants and letters of collaboration, letters of commitment, et cetera. Many times, even with a small foundation, they allow space for optional attachments, and I would take advantage of that. Get some letters of support from other organizations in your community with whom you have established relationships. The more prestigious, the better, whether it's a chamber of commerce, a local mayor's office, a local United Way, all of those having letters of support from those really speak to, of course, the support that your organization has in the community and the impact that you make in the community. So I think take advantage of that.

Rachel:

Great advice, and thank you so much for sharing all your expert insight. We had so many good tidbits from our time together today, but I know there were many questions that we didn't have time to answer, so just know I've kept track of all those and everything you sent in your registration in the chat box, I'll be using those to inform our live grant writing courses for the new year and for Beth and Janie, Deborah, Lindsay, Laura, and others who had submitted questions like, what tool can I use to forecast and track grant opportunities? Or what is the best site to receive grant notifications from what programs? Track funding? I do happen to know a platform that can help with all those things. Instrumentl is I think, an absolutely essential tool to help you with forecasting notifications for those opportunities and tracking your funding. As of two weeks ago, we've reached 15,000 grants live on our platform, and over a hundred are added almost every single week.

So test out a free trial. M has dropped it in the chat a couple times, and if you're a newbie, you get to be entered into that new extra raffle if you are signing up for the first time. If you're wondering of how to take advantage of everything in the next two weeks, there is a new how to make the most of your 14 day trial guide that Mia has shared in the chat as well. And this includes a checklist for folks. Just some helpful things to make sure that you're keeping that in mind while you try out Instrumentl for the first time. So thank you so much for being with us today. To close this all out, all I need you to do is just share your feedback. So as a reminder that one helps us improve our programs, but also you'll be eligible for those freebies and be entered into our raffle.

Those freebies as a reminder, are a grants calendar planning guide, a free intro class with Elizabeth and a discount for Jacob's grant writing course. You'll also be eligible to win a three month subscription to Headspace, and if you're a newbie, you can submit your form and be eligible for that bonus holiday basket raffle. We really appreciate your honest feedback and take what you share to heart. So thank you for submitting that. Lastly, I want to share a huge thank you to our partners who shared their wisdom with us today. Elizabeth Burrows and Jacob V. Chase. I had so much fun hearing what you had to share, and we're lucky to have you in our community. So thank you. I'm working on a Oh, yeah.

Elizabeth:

And I encourage you, we use Instrumentl every single day, and I just did a class to a State Department of Health yesterday about how great it is. So definitely take your trial and use it because it's been really life-changing for some of our organizations. It's been great.

Rachel:

Awesome. Love hearing that, Elizabeth. I'm working on a whole new calendar of exciting programming for 2024, so keep your eyes peeled on this list that you probably got notified for the event from some educational and fun programming in the new year, and stay tuned for some exciting developments around our Instrumentl community. If you're interested in joining our wait list for that, Mia has a link for that as well, that she'll drop in the chat, and we'll also share info about that in our follow-up email. Great job showing up today, everybody. Have a wonderful holiday season and beautiful start to your new year.

See you all soon. Bye. Thanks again. Bye everybody. Bye. Oh, Deia, yes. I see your chat. It is possible to sign up for the free trial later. If you want to wait and start it in the new year, just hold onto that link and it'll also go in the follow-up email if you're interested in it. Awesome. Bye everybody. Thanks for joining us. Bye everyone. Thank you. Thank you for being here.

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