You Found a Grant! Now, What's Next? with Shavonn Richardson
In this 1-hour webinar (with 15 minutes Q&A), Shavonn Richardson, founder of Think and Ink Grant Consulting, will share with you how to take action today and develop a proven reusable strategy for every grant your organization finds.
By the end of this Instrumentl Partner Webinar, you’ll be able to learn:
- How to use Instrumentl to set up your grant seeking strategy
- How to build relationships with funders before submitting your application
- How to write a proposal that aligns with the funders focus areas
Create your Instrumentl account using the link above. Save $50 off your first month should you decide to upgrade when your trial expires with the code SHAVONN50.
Shavonn Richardson is the founder of Think and Ink Grant Consulting. She specializes in helping 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations get grants in the areas of women, children, health, and education.
She and her team at Think and Ink Grant Consulting help nonprofits "think" then "ink" your next grant by providing a one-stop-shop of outsourced end-to-end grant-seeking support through five services: nonprofit consulting, grant research, grant writing, grant management, and evaluation support.
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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You Found a Grant! Now, What's Next? - Grant Training Transcription
Will: Hello, everyone and welcome to "You Found a Grant Now What's Next" with Shavonn Richardson. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards. So keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email in case you want to review anything from 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 for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem that you are often having to solve and then show you ways as well that you can use Instrumentl's platform to help you win more grants.
Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you're looking to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management to one place, we can help you do that. And you can set up your own personalized grant recommendations using Shavonn's link on the screen here. Lastly, be sure to stick around for today's workshop. At the end, we'll be sharing with you some freebies that everyone can get for attending live. More details to come after the presentation.
Now with that housekeeping out of the way, I'm very excited to introduce Shavonn Richardson the founder of Think and Ink Grants Consulting. She specializes in helping 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations get grants in the areas of women, children, health, and education. She and her team at Think and Ink Grant Consulting help nonprofits think and then ink your next grant by providing a one-stop shop of outsourced end-to-end grant-seeking support through five services -- nonprofit consulting, grant research, grant writing, grant management, and evaluation support.
We ask that if it's your first time here and you aren't familiar with it, if you have any questions along the way, please include three hashtags in front of your questions so that we can have it stand out in the Zoom chat, and we'll save those for the very end in the Q and A. Other than that, Shavonn go ahead and take it away.
Shavonn: Thank you, Will, for that gracious introduction. Thank you for having us here and talking about this super important topic. I will say this topic was born out of real genuine experience as far as. Why can't I move? Hold on. There we are. It was really born out of just real genuine experience about a lot of things that nonprofit leaders go through.
So we are a room of nonprofit leaders. I know you all have already started dropping your name and your organization and your state in the chat. If you have not already had the opportunity, please also drop your number one challenge when it comes to forming your grant strategy. So if you were looking for the webinar "You Found the Grand - Now What?" You are in the right place.
I am Shavonn Richardson. I am the founder of Think and Ink Grant Consulting. I have had the privilege of being on both sides of the getting and giving grant equation. Had the privilege of being a program manager at Bank of America Foundation and also a nonprofit leader. So I really, really look forward to these types of interactions because it's an opportunity to leverage my experience or bring some very real world practical advice to help nonprofit leaders like you think and ink through how to optimize grant seeking strategies and write competitive proposals.
So Will briefly talked about my firm, Think and Ink Grant Consulting. We are headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. All we do is focus on women's children, health, and education. A lot of people ask, well, why, you know why those topics, we really feel like that's how we can move the needle to change the world one grant at a time.
If you want to learn more about our firm, definitely check us out at thinkandinkgrants.com. So we started talking about kind of like why we are here. Right? You found the grant. Now what's next, right? And I find that a lot of nonprofit leaders will come across grant opportunities or have spreadsheets of grant opportunities.
And because of capacity or lack of planning, they're missing deadlines. They're not really able to really take advantage of these opportunities that they're finding. Right. And it's a common cycle, right? You have these lists, you have all the intention of submitting grant applications and building the relationships.
But for some reason, it just falls through the cracks. Right? So today we're going to learn about what we can do to change this cycle, right? One step at a time. Today's agenda, right? So we're going to learn three things. We're going to learn how to build relationships with funders before submitting the grant application, quite often before the RFP is even out.
We'll talk more about that and how you use Instrumentl to identify funders. We're also going to talk about how to write a proposal that aligns with funders in your particular focus area. And we're also going to learn how to use Instrumentl to set up your grant seeking strategy. Now, this is a webinar where if you guys can hold your questions towards the end, we'll have some time to kind of answer any questions you guys have.
You have some opportunity to kind of get through the presentation for today. First thing is to know thyself. This is going to be a three-step process that we'll walk you through with the very first step being to know yourself, right? It's important to really know your organization and truly understand what makes your organization unique, right?
Doing this will help you better align your organization and program to potential funders and clearly communicate your alignment within the proposal. A lot of times when I'm reviewing applications, I can always tell the nonprofits that did not do the steps because it's very obvious within the proposal.
And we don't want anyone on this call to be one of those people. So let's learn more about how to know yourself and know your organization before submitting a proposal. Now, we all have heard the quote "to know thyself is the beginning of wisdom." So this is the first step of us learning together. And as far as this being wiser about how we go about submitting proposals and kind of knowing ourselves.
So we're going to start at the very, very beginning. I know this is a very, very high level. Really talking about your vision statement. I know you guys are like, well, why are we starting here, Shavonn? I feel like a lot of people skip this step and are not really thoughtful about their vision.
And then the next thing we'll talk about is a mission statement for organizations that have been around for a really long time. This is not something that you want to do often, but if you're just starting out, you definitely want to make sure that your vision statement is audacious.
It really represents the dream and the desired end state of what your organization is trying to accomplish. You want it to also communicate your core competencies. You want it to be inspiring, motivating, purpose-driven when you're submitting an application. These are things that they ask about, the funders ask about, and these are things that when it's on your website, funders kind of go to, to learn more about your organization, especially when you're submitting an application. Again, this is something that you don't want to change, but you know, you definitely want to have already done the homework to make sure that you have a powerful mission statement.
There are a few vision statements in my personal opinion that I think are really impactful if I can move to the next slide. Hopefully, maybe let's see. Okay. There are a few what I consider winning vision statements. And I think they all kind of include everything that I just shared as far as very key characteristics.
If we think about the Smithsonian, their vision statement is shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world. They really share kind of like everything that they're wanting to do and the desired end state through the work that they're trying to accomplish.
Others are Feeding America. A hunger-free America. That's very, very clear as far as I desire and stay in the same thing with the Alzheimer's Association, a world without Alzheimer's. So if you've never really sat down and really looked into your vision statement and if you're new, if you're starting out, these are kind of the spirit of what you're seeing here is what you want to make sure that your nonprofit embodies.
Know thyself -- your mission statement. Does your mission statement succinctly communicate who you are, what you do, and who you serve? I cannot explain how many times [inaudible] very very long, almost kind of taking from your organization description. I find if you have a really long mission statement, mission statements, [inaudible], very clear, very simple.
Usually one sentence. And usually the language should be very, very simple. Usually aligned with the eighth grade level of reading or less. They should be very specific. It should be easily explained by others because your mission state is something that your board of directors are going to use in the community when you're advocating and you're explaining what you do and anyone else that comes across your organization, it should easily be able to communicate your mission statement.
Your mission statement is also very key because everything flows through your mission statement. So when it comes to creating programs or including in an opening sentence and an application, a lot of times it's from mission statement, right? Just like mission statements, I kind of pulled some mission statements that I think are really good and very succinct and are very clear.
The Smithsonian, again, to increase the increase and diffusion of knowledge, AARP to enhance quality of life for all as we age. Today we were really short on time. So a lot of times when organizations are coming out with mission statements and vision statements, there's a full process around how to come up with these vision and mission statements.
I know at our firm, it's a 10-step process that we take organizations through to come up with vision and mission statements. So we don't have the time to go through it now, but just really highlighting the kind of the things that you want to make sure that you include in your vision or mission statements.
I will take a brief pause just to make sure we don't have any pressing questions that we need to address at this time in the chat. I don't see anything. Will, do you see anything that I missed while I was talking?
Will: No, we look good so far.
Shavonn: Okay. Very good. So we'll keep going.
Okay. So now that we've talked about vision and mission statements, now we're at the meat and potatoes of it all. The reason why I called this the meat and potatoes of it all is because every single funder will ask you about your goals, objectives, and outcomes either directly or indirectly. I will say a lot of people may not know the difference between goals, objectives, and outcomes.
And so I think it's really important for us to take some time just to understand this, because this will really speak to aligning your proposal with funders' intentions. I describe goals, objectives, and outcomes as a V. It's because at a very high level you're really doing just as far as goals, you're doing a high level communication of what you want your results to be.
Very, very high level. Just enough to kind of give an understanding of what you're looking to accomplish. But as you kind of get narrower and more specific in what you're wanting to do is when you start really talking about your objectives and the relationship between your objectives and your goals is that your objectives are your goals broken down into steps.
These are more so milestones that are needed to achieve your goal. As we get even more specific, we're talking about outcomes. Now, your outcomes are specific results to be achieved within a limited time. These often need, in my opinion, to be smart. So that's specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time down.
So doing this, again, is a process. It takes a lot of thinking before you can understand these three things so that when you are having these conversations with funders and when you're writing applications, you're not thinking, "Okay. They asked me about my goals. I told them my goals. Now they ask me my objectives.
Am I just repeating my goals? Or am I being very thoughtful about breaking down the milestones?" And so, that's super important to know the difference between two to three, and to also be able to communicate what it means to your organization.
Okay. Now there's another kind of really important stuff. Like you need to know about your organization and communicate it to funders. And so knowing what you're trying to accomplish, and also knowing how much it will cost. I think sometimes we do a really good job at creating these awesome programs, but then when it comes down to, okay, what is the cost associated with this activity?
I think sometimes people may have a hard time kind of connecting the two and also, understanding what you do align with the funders. And so one of the things, especially now we're in January. This is the beginning of a new year. There's some things that you all should already have in place in order to really be able to meet your grant seeking goals for this year.
Do you have defined goals for 2022? Do you have the goals, objectives, and outcomes that we spoke about on the previous page? Having a written program description to succinctly describe your program and the intended goals. Do you have a board-approved, fully-vetted budget that is ready to submit to a funder?
And a lot of times, organizations may have an operational budget, but sometimes they are not aware that you also need a program budget, a budget specifically for that program that will roll up to your operating budget. But funders need to know specifically pulling those expenses out, putting in a program budget.
And when you're applying for program funding, knowing that you were to include the program budget, not your operating budget, unless they asked for it. Lastly, iron out any details that you are still trying to sort out through a logic model. How many here have done a logic model before just put, you know yes in the chat, if you've ever done a logic model.
Now I'm a very, very much a proponent of logic models. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I'm getting a lot of yeses. I'm a proponent of logic models because I find that it forces you to really be thoughtful about each step of the process. And I find sometimes people may not understand them or they may say logic models, you know, why do I need that?
And you need to start writing an application. But I think doing a logic model is super duper duper important. So if you haven't done that, I'll definitely look into doing the logic model. It will help you sort out the details of your programming.
So why does all this matter? Knowing yourself will help you answer these questions that are on the slide. Who are you serving and why? Where's your target audience located? What activities will this funding support? What will this program achieve? How will you measure success? And in our industry, we call it the four Ws and the one H. Like the four who, what, where, why, hows to address those in each application.
Another good tip is to when you're looking for funders, you know, they all talk about their focus areas, right? You can make sure that when you are addressing their questions, you can literally copy and paste that into your proposal as you're composing it in the draft, not in the final, but that will kind of help you make sure that you are addressing each and every part of the question.
A lot of funders will have multiple part questions. I think sometimes when people are writing, they will answer one part and may not remember to answer the second part. So if there is an "and" there to make sure that you're addressing both parts of the question and doing that is just kind of copying and pasting the questions within your draft will kind of help you make sure that you address every part of the question and don't skip it.
I would also say having an outside person read your draft to make sure you're answering as far as the question is very, very important, too. I think sometimes as human beings, our brains will fill in missing information and we don't realize it until we have someone else read it that there's a disconnect between the communication.
So, you know, having another party review it is super, too. All right. So we're going to look at a use case of the Betty Fitzgerald Davis Foundation. Okay. So on the next slide, this is an example of what is in Instrumentl. A very high level. Instrumentl has so many additional things as far as little tidbits on each funder, but very high level.
They will share with you who the foundation is, the guidelines and the eligibility. And so, looking at who this funder is, they focus on honoring Betty and Davis Fitzgerald. They want to make a difference in the lives of others, primarily through education and healthcare of disadvantaged residents of Metro Atlanta, and Georgia.
So with just that there, just understanding who this foundation is, if your organization is in Alabama, do you think this is a good funder that you should submit an application to after they've already kind of been very clear about supporting residents of Metro Atlanta in Georgia. Maybe not. There are some funders and Instrumentl will help with this that will include all the areas that they support.
Some are national, some are multi-state, but if they specifically say we help residents . Of Metro Atlanta, and Georgia, then this may not be a funder that you want to include in your list. And you definitely want to spend your time and energy with funders that are more aligned with the work that you do.
Okay. And then getting a little bit deeper. Getting into the guidelines. They talk about specifically what they're wanting to do, increase access to mental health resources, support education for disadvantaged students in a way that promotes high school and college completion. So if you're focusing on middle school, if you're focused on K through 6, this is not the funder for you.
Definitely look for funders that are focusing and wanting to support organizations in that space. And most importantly, you want to always look at the eligibility. They really speak to nonprofits that are in Georgia that are focusing on these three areas. They also talk about other things as far as filing one (c)(3) qualification.
And really, and this is really important because I think a lot of people overlook this, they're saying that they will support operating funding, funding for special projects, and capital projects. And so for the most part, most funders do prefer to give to program funding. So to find organizations that will also support operating funding is very unique.
Sometimes that's not always on their website. Sometimes you do have to, you know, reach out and use the contact information Instrumentl to learn more about their giving. But this particular funding is being very clear that they are also open to supporting operating and funding for capital projects.
So that's really important to know the difference. If you're either applying for operating or program funding. Next, we're going to talk about a logic model. So we mentioned logic models earlier in the presentation, and I want to zero in on three parts of the logic model. Now logic models, just as a quick review, do include inputs.
So these are any resources that we're going to use to support the program. The resources can be staff, venue, curriculum, training, kind of anything they should be wanting to do. Activities would include identifying things, creating things, coordinating things, supervising things. They all often start with a verb.
These are things that you're actually doing. Outputs are what the activities are creating. And most importantly, you have your short-term and your long-term outcomes. When we're talking about aligning your organization with funders, you want to take your logic model and look at the activities that you're wanting to do for this program.
If these activities are ineligible activities, then that potentially may be a funder that may not be a good fit for you. So if the funder is saying, you know, we will pay to train job trainers, we will pay to train job seekers. However, we will not pay for marketing opportunities or we will not pay salaries, you know, things like that.
And so use that as a key to help identify funders that align with the actual work that you're planning to do. As far as outcomes, short-term outcomes, depending on the organization can range from six months to up to two years. Long-term outcomes could be anything beyond that. And so all outcomes generally, since they are smart, they will genuinely kind of start with some verbiage around timing.
So by the end of the program year, or by the end of year two, or at the end of six months, we are hoping that there is an X percentage increase in this particular example of jobs with additional details, preferably comparing to a baseline of either a historical data point last year or whatever previous data points that you have.
If you have your outcomes that are laid out of what you're trying to accomplish and if you're looking at the focus area of a funder, if they are not consistent, if you're not seeing similar words, if you're not seeing similar patterns, then potentially, it may not be aligned. Okay? And these are broken down by short-term and long-term sometimes funders, don't break it down that way.
But looking at both, will kind of help you understand whether it's a line and of course your overall impact. So in this case, it's to train and connect job seekers to living wage jobs. If you look at that very high level of who we are, if that who we are of a funder does not match your impact, then potentially they are not the funder for you.
Any questions there before we move on to the next slide?
Will: One question in general is Jessica had a question. If you offer any specific training for logic models.
Shavonn: I do. We'll talk more. There's an opportunity to learn more about that towards the end of the presentation. So the next step, step number two, we've talked about knowing thyself, right, organically. Now it's time to know thy funder.
And the next part, I can't emphasize enough, which is where Instrumentl comes in. Research, research, research. How well does your program align with funders' goals? You have to learn as much as you can about potential funders beyond what is on their website. And that's where Instrumentl comes in. Instrumentl provides that deep information, that deep data that you would probably have to go to 15 different resources to get in one place.
I remember years ago, pre-Instrumentl, I'd have to look up 990 on the foundation center at the time, and then I'd have to go to their website and then I'd have to go to LinkedIn to see who's on their board of directors. And then I'd have to go to like 50 different places. And then if you're not familiar with how to read a 990, that's a whole 'nother skillset.
But Instrumentl does all that work for you in one place. It's really, really, really, really easy. Another thing that happens sometimes, organizations find funding and they're like, oh, I want to apply for COVID vaccine funding when they've never done any projects like that before.
And so in our industry, we kind of call that mission creeping, meaning you were just kind of like changing your mission to meet the needs of a funder because you saw a really good opportunity and you feel like you're going to miss out on it. Funders are hip to that. They know that organizations will try to create new programs to get new funding.
So a lot of times they will ask you a question about your work history, your track record in delivering those types of programs. And I have to say, if you don't have a track record, you can't get a grant, but sometimes funders will ask that question. So a lot of times, if organizations are looking to grow and expand their programming, a lot of times I will say collaborate.
Submit a collaborative application with another nonprofit organization that does have that track record. And you all could do the project together. It would increase your chances of getting funding and funders love supporting collaborations. So, you can use it to get contact information, to reach out and ask additional questions.
There's a lot of detail about past giving amounts, which you can submit a great proposal, but if your ask is off, if they, on average, don't give any more than $5,000 a year and you're asking for 20 as a first-time applicant, that might raise a few eyebrows with the funder. Another thing to consider is the percentage of new applicants versus existing applicants.
Very good information to know. And then just in general, Instrumentl helps you learn how to identify funders and know who to pursue and who to not pursue. So with that being said, we're going to transition a little bit, and we're going to look at some real life examples and Instrumentl and Will's gonna pull up Instrumentl. And kind of walk you through some of the things that I mentioned.
Will: Awesome. Shavonn, thanks for that handoff. And if you're looking at the Zoom chat right now, there's Shavonn's link. It's instrumentl.com/shavonn. You can create your 14-day free account. If you don't already have one, create it to get some personalized grant recommendations for your nonprofit.
I feel like for the first example, the best example is the one that you just talked about, the Fitzgerald Foundation grant. So I went ahead and pulled into Instrumentl the Betty and Davis Fitzgerald Foundation grant. And here you can see some of the key information that you're going to see about pretty much any active grant opportunity on Instrumentl.
You're going to see things like the fields of work that relate to this particular opportunity. What sort of applicants types they're looking for, as well as what are the funding uses? So Shavonn mentioned how it's very rare sometimes to find those general operating grants. Well, that's something that Instrumentl can parse through for you and make it easier to find those opportunities.
But in every single Instrumentl instance, you're going to have the case where all of that key information is in the same place. You can see here, we have this 990 snapshot, and if I want to view that 990 snapshot, what that'll do is it'll summarize some of the key information from the funders' 990 report.
One of the freebies for folks that stay with us until the end is helping them evaluate good fit funders. And so within that, there's going to be the freebie that works you through 16 key questions that you can ask yourself when you're working your way through this sort of information.
But one of those key questions that Shavonn mentioned was, you know, what do the giving trends look like? Are we asking for the right amount? Is it going to align well to my project? And in this case, what you can see here is that, you know, these grants have a pretty wide spectrum, but for the most part, the bulk of awards for this funder are coming in at under five grand.
And so you'll want to plan for that accordingly. And then you also see things like the Past Grantees section. So I think the example that Shavonn references, if you're in Alabama and applying for a foundation completely based out of Georgia, are your odds very good? Well, you look at this map and I don't think your odds are very good in terms of Alabama.
And that's something that you can quickly answer when you're looking in Instrumentl. But what I can also do is I can actually sift through these as well. And whenever there's a clickable result, I can also look at who's funding these funders. And so that can be really interesting. And so you'll see these sorts of pieces of information whenever you create a project on Instrumentl.
So when you set up your project on Instrumentl, what's going to happen is Instrumentl is going to ask you, what are you working on? What are you fundraising for? What exactly are you looking to actually fund? And when you set up your project, you're going to tell us where your project is based out of.
What we recommend is when you're setting up your projects with your overall account, choose to be as specific as possible, and then go broad. So in other words, in this case, I've got this Cuyahoga County, Ohio project going on, and I'm doing this as opposed to just setting up for the entire state of Ohio, because Instrumentl's still going to account for the fact that my product's based out of Ohio, but it's also going to factor into account that I'm in this specific county.
So when you're setting up your Instrumentl account, I definitely recommend that you do that. You can choose multiple counties as well. When you start to get to the fields of work, this is where you really want to think about those keywords and what exactly can you think that relates to the projects that you're working on?
So in this case, I've got a food security project. So you can see some of the fields of work I've selected: food, safety, security, minority services, senior services, and things like that. But as you start to research your funders, Instrumentl is going to do a short list result for all of the results that are coming up for grant opportunities that are active, that meet these fields of work along with your project requirements.
So when you start to set this up, you'll be able to do things like what size grants you're looking for as well as what funds will be used for. And when you save that project, Instrumentl's going to do that heavy lifting, like Shavonn said, and here we see for this food security project, I've got 170 active grant opportunities that have come up.
And three of them are actually new since the last time I logged into this project. So that's another nice thing about Instrumentl is that while other tools you might have to go back, restart your search from scratch, pull out that list and see, you know, cross-reference what you did last time. All of your progress is saved in Instrumentl.
And when you start to filter through, if you're trying to answer that question like earlier, that Shavonn was asking, well, what about just the general operating projects or the initiatives around those funders? Well, Instrumentl makes filtering really easy, too, in which you can just filter out for the ones that match that particular need that you're looking for.
And as you work your way through this, this is very much like an email inbox. You're going to have your opportunities on the left-hand side. We'll outline all the key information as to why we're showing it to you. And then from here, you'll be able to do more research about these respective funders as you work your way through these different opportunities.
And then what Shavonn also mentioned are some of our new plus features. And when you start to really dig into that, what I'll look into is I'll see if I can find the Clif Bar Family Foundation as an example. And what'll happen is when Instrumentl can parse it, we will also parse relevant data that is going to make it easier for you to assess whether or not the funder is a good fit for you.
So on that know thy funder part, this really speaks to this point in that you can look at what the average grant amounts are, the median grant amounts, but you can also look at things like, who are some of the key people? What are the key trends over the years? What I tell folks is look at the last three years and look at whether or not the trend line is more or less holding.
Is there an uptick? Is there a down tick? When you have certain years, like 2020, where COVID is coming on, is onsetting, then you have different priorities in terms of funder focus areas. And so that may result in different areas in terms of, you know, those particular components. And then as you start to work your way through the grant amounts and things like that, you're going to see the distribution of what that looks like.
Past grantees you can see with the Clif Bar Family Foundation a lot of it is coming out of California. What you can also do is you can click into each of these, it'll show you their past recipients as well. And that's really cool because I think Eric actually asked me a question if you can see a funder of who are the funders' funders? That's a great question, Eric.
So what I'll do is I'm going to open a few of these and whenever it's clickable, I tell folks to go ahead and click through because there's this section called Past Awards Received, and that's where you can actually go through the last few years of funding and find another short list of good fit funders.
So Past Awards Received is the key trick there, Eric. Good question. And then as you're working through some openness to new grantees. If you are working on an opportunity that typically has less than 30% of new grantees, there might be another opportunity out there that is more open to a new applicant than the one that you're working on.
So that's generally our benchmark in terms of what we tell folks here. And then also that point of, are you asking for the right amount? Well, in this situation, it looks like more or less repeat grantees and new grantees are getting about the same amount of money, but you might find a funder that actually gives twice as much to repeat grantees.
And so just knowing that information is crucial. And then lastly, this Giving by NTEE Code section, this is really helpful in terms of just aligning funder interests. So if you see that there is a lot of interest in your project area, in the top three to five results, then it's usually assigned for you to go into this bottom section where you can then dig into exactly what their funding related to that NTEE code.
So that's something to check out when you're working your way through your results. And then once you set up everything in Instrumentl, you'll get everything into your Tracker as well, and you can save it. And from here you can start to project manage everything in the same place as well. I know Shavonn's got a big team with her consultancy, and so she's got different team members that are working within Instrumentl doing different components.
And that's all enabled through the tracking and management side of Instrumentl. So what you can do is you can click into one of these and you can essentially leave notes for yourself. Leave that for a team member, create different tasks as well. And that can be really helpful when it comes to, you know, streamlining all the work so that you don't have to have a Google doc here, a Dropbox folder over there, a Google calendar invite for the deadlines, all of that gets rolled into Instrumentl.
So that is what you can essentially do in terms of bringing all of your work here and that makes reporting really easy as well. So in the case where somebody on Shavonn's team says we need to give her an update for the month of January and where we've gone so far. Well, we could just select our different client projects.
We can go ahead and select what the different statuses you want to pull from, look at the year, and then from there create a report and we've got a report that we can attach and send a Shavonn in pretty much two seconds. And so that's really powerful when it comes to client relationships, too. If you're a grant writer in the audience and you are looking to just streamline your updates to your clients, this can save you tons of hours, just in terms of that side of things.
You can even bring these sorts of reports into your next client meeting, because you can essentially give these on a regular weekly basis and just save a ton of time there. I see that there are a few questions about the differences with Foundation Directory. Great questions as well. In the footer of our site, there's a page called Foundation Directory.
FDO compare. You can feel free to click that guide, but essentially some key differences. Foundation Directory Online mainly covers just the prospecting side of things. It doesn't include smart matching in terms of the search process whereas Instrumentl provides both prospecting, tracking, and management in one tool.
So if you're trying to deal with some of the tracking components, if you're using an Excel sheet, for example, you won't be able to really do that from start to finish in FDO. And you also see some of the other features that are different between the two platforms when you visit this page. And I'll leave that as well in terms of the chat in case you have questions, but at a high level, pretty much what we've got here are smart matching being one big distinguishing factor, robust grant tracking and management, coupled with easy collaboration. FDO doesn't really support multiple users in a very seamless way.
Whereas Instrumentl allows you to have your entire team on the site and essentially collaborate with one another. And we'll have even more features in 2022 that we're excited to announce as we start to introduce some calendar tabs and other things that our customers are clamoring for. So I think there's a couple of questions and I'll try to tackle that I may not have covered yet, but in the meantime, let's see, Patricia, can you talk about next steps?
For example, if we want to apply for the Clif Bar grant, what should we do in Instrumentl next? Great question. So let's say for example, I've got that Clif Bar Family Foundation grant. What I can do is I can click into the funder. And I can just add something new from here. If Instrumentl already has an instance of an opportunity from that funder, I can select it.
Otherwise I can type it in for myself. In this case from here, I would align it to a project. If I recall, their work was mostly in environmentally-based projects. So in this case, I'm gonna select my Environmental Project and then maybe I'll move it to Planned and then I believe the average grant was around five to six grand.
So I'm going to put that as my goal. And then I might have my submission goal here and then review with the team. And then that would go ahead and go into my Tracker. Now, when I go into my Environmental Project, what I'll see is that the Clif Bar Family Foundation grant is now ready to go there. So that's something that would be really helpful in terms of just streamlining everything in one place.
So yeah, if you need help in setting up your Instrumentl account, you can feel free to use Shavonn's link. Everybody that signs up for a free account gets an onboarding specialist. So we'll have, you know, more time carved out for you guys in terms of digging into all the power behind the platform and whatnot.
And yeah, it overall is there, if there's any particular other questions, we can feel free to answer them in the rest of the chat as well, but I'll pass it back to Shavonn in terms of the presentation.
Let me let -- can you unmute yourself now, Shavonn?
Shavonn: Now I can. I had so many things I wanted to say. I will say to emphasize Will's point in a few questions that came in. It is so important to see other organizations that they've given to you. You don't understand how golden that information is because it would take you having to go through a funders’ annual report to see everyone they funded.
If they list everyone and then you'd have to go do the research individually. Instrumentl gives it to you all in one place. And so I just wanted to highlight that because I don't think people understand how important that is. Patricia, you asked a question about collaborating with another organization.
Aside from a foundation search, would I suggest any other search features? I would say everything that Will shared. Everything that he shared is a feature to me that I and my team find super valuable. There are other things in this presentation that I will share that are more on the strategic part.
So it's to work in conjunction with the search features in Instrumentl.
Okay. I lost myself for a second. So to that point, we're gonna really start to transition to the next part of the presentation, which I feel is super key and really the main takeaway I think for breaking the cycle. And that's planning and executing which is step three of this presentation.
So we have another quote for you. And everyone has heard of this quote. If you fail to plan then you are planning to fail from our dear Benjamin Franklin. So planning, planning is key. And I think this presentation is so timely because we are in the month of January. And today I published an article on LinkedIn and talked about how January can make or break your year.
And so I think right now, you all are in a good space to take advantage of the strategies and the resources that Instrumentl provides to be able to plan, to have a successful year. The first thing I want to do is to level set. Time is a premium and capacities, especially your premium for nonprofit leaders.
I know you all are always asking yourself, do you have the time and capacity to invest in pursuing all these relationships. And the reality is you really don't have the time and capacity to pursue and invest in relationships with a hundred funders or maybe even 50 funders. And then, you know, taking into consideration, finding them, building relationships.
We haven't even gotten to the part of even pulling together a competitive application. You really have to be really thoughtful about your time, your capacity, and doing all those activities. My recommendation is depending on the size of your organization, this may fluctuate, but I find that most nonprofit organizations, realistically, may only have the time to really go after 10 to 20 funders and actively engage them, actively build a relationship with them before submitting a competitive application.
And I only say that because it's more about quality than quantity. When you're pursuing relationships, sometimes it can take six months on average to build a relationship with a funder before submitting an application. If we're talking about foundations, sometimes it may take 20 hours or more to write a competitive proposal.
Not one that you're just kind of pulling together the night before, not one that you kind of just copying and pasting and not really being thoughtful about structuring the proposal specifically for that funder. I'm really talking about submitting proposals that win and being very thoughtful about it.
When we're talking about federal grants, it can easily take over a hundred hours to compose a federal grant application especially if you have another organization that you're applying with. So that's why I say my recommendation is a target list of maybe 10 to 20 funders that you can actively reach out, build relationships with and submit a competitive application.
Sometimes it takes as much time to halfheartedly chase a hundred grants as it does to really build deep, meaningful relationships can take 10 to 25 years. And you'll have a better outcome with a more competitive application. So that's just kinda level setting, like my opinion that the world is not your oyster.
Like every grant you come across may not be for you, but being very thoughtful about those funders and putting in the time, energy, and resources to pursue those funders will turn out, will create better results in the long run. So let's talk about setting up a winning plan for 2022, and we're going to learn how to break the cycle.
First step in breaking the cycle, and this is key to determining what funders are aligned and what funders are not is creating a rubric based on your own "no or go'' policy to help narrow down funders that are in your Tracker in Instrumentl. So if you've never heard of a no or go policy, that's basically a policy that helps you decide whether you want to go after a grant opportunity or not.
This no or go policy would come into play if you're looking at grant opportunities in Instrumentl, if someone emails you a grant opportunity, if someone mentions the grant opportunity in your network, or if your favorite board member says, "Hey, I found this grant. I think it'd be great to apply." Having a no or a go policy really makes you disciplined as far as determining what grants you go after and what grants you don't go after.
Oh, what we do in our firm is we have recommendations for either one, two or three. Three meaning we highly recommend pursuing this opportunity. Two meaning maybe we might have to do some more research to figure out if we feel like this opportunity is a good match.
There might need to be some cultivation that we need to do to learn more before we know it's a good match. And one would be, we definitely do not recommend pursuing this opportunity. So as nonprofit leaders really banking and talking with folks within your organization and agreeing on what your rubric needs to be, and that you should have a rubric in place. I've seen some really complex rubrics with just 15 different questions.
I say for sustainability, for long-term growth, keeping it simple is the best way to go especially if you're just starting out. As you grow, if you feel you need to add more different parts of the rubric then you can do that. But I find when you're starting out doing that, sometimes it can get very overwhelming.
And it's kind of easy to abandon the rubric. You start with three, especially in the beginning, you have a better likelihood of kind of sticking with it over time. So the way it would work is you would assign weights to the rubric based on what your organization values. Some of those things can be, do we have an existing relationship?
Have we won this grant before? There's a lot of other things that come into play as far as deciding whether you should go after a potential grant opportunity. Is this funder aligned? How well is this funder aligned with the work that we do? Did they give last year? Are they still giving this year?
You know, some funders will give one year and the next year, you know, not offer a cycle. And then you kind of have to wait for maybe the following year to see if they decide to open a cycle again. And so assigning weights to what you feel is most important of those three metrics in your rubric is super key.
And if you in one of those metrics find that yes, we have an existing relationship. Yes, we should. We should go after this grant opportunity, then they would get a three. Anything less than that, of course, we'll go from three down to zero. And then after you kind of add up the numbers from your weights of each metric, have a cutoff point.
So if it's like, you know, three, two, one, and like three different numbers going on there, decide what your cutoff should be. Should it be 2.5? Should it be 2.8, right. A three is a perfect score, but where should your cutoff be? And you'd have to kind of determine that for your organization, that way, anything under a 2.5, if you determined that to be your cutoff point, are grants that you're not going to go after.
So that's how you narrow down the hundred grants that you found to maybe 10 to 20 grants, because you said anything over 2.5 is what we're going to go after. So that is a helpful start. The next part in setting up a winning plan is automating your relationship building to be more efficient. Like I said earlier time is of essence.
Your capacity is limited. So using technology to help you, especially when it comes around to creating nudges to follow up. Okay. It's been three weeks since you sent that email, creating something in your calendar or creating something within Google or the systems that you use as a nudge to follow up is super important.
Scheduling emails to go out for initial context is super important. I'm really not a fan of blind carbon copying foundations. I think very intentional, specific outreach is key. But scheduling those things or having just kind of pre-set up information will definitely save you a lot of time. Also be careful that when you are sending those emails out, understand and know, and I say this because I used to be a program manager, we will forward that to other people.
So just know that, you know, make it forwardable and just include language that you, you know, that a lot, a lot of people are going to read, although you're making it personal, but just know that it can end up on anyone's desk, anyone's inbox. It could be printed and brought to the next meeting.
Okay. So I'd be very aware of that. If there's any existing conversations with funders, keep that in one thread. Sometimes, you know, memories are short and sometimes they have to scroll back up and say, okay, wait a second. What are we doing? And what's the history here? So if there's any back and forth communication, it's better to kind of stick within that existing thread so that everyone is kind of on the same page.
And when you're sending things, be careful with large attachments. I know when I was in the Bank of America Foundation, if it was a bunch of PDFs that exceeded a certain amount, I wouldn't even get the email. And so when you're kind of putting together some initial information, a one, two-page PDF is all that's needed as an initial kind of introduction to your organization.
And of course, additional follow-up, doing a phone conversation would be ideal, but a lot of times they do not want to receive a 20-page PDF. You can save that for your proposal, but just maybe very high level one to two pagers, super important. Save time by creating email templates with standard language for potential funders.
You do not have to recreate the wheel every time you email a funder, half standard language, ready to go and customize it to that particular funder. As far as managing your own time and capacity, scheduling, work blocks. And I personally use work blocks on your calendar to invest time into building relationships and writing grants.
I find that sometimes for lack of a better term, sometimes nonprofit leaders' time gets hijacked. That you have the time to sit and do it. And then there's a meeting or someone comes in and there's some question. And then there goes your time to build relationships and write grants, but protect that time block at all costs and have it be time, little by little over weeks.
And so that way you're progressing towards building relationships with funders and writing grants, week over week. It may be two hours here, two hours there, but you'd be very surprised by how much those time blocks add up and you're able to actually get some stuff done. And finally, don't do it alone.
Engage your team and delegate tasks to different people. Make sure you have a way to communicate through some regular touch points, whether that's meetings, email, shared drives, whatever that looks like for you to make sure that everyone's on that same page. So that was a lot of information, but very, very, very important information.
And so kind of as we wrap up, I just want to summarize some of the key takeaways. So one of the things that we were going to do today during our times, build relationships with funders before submitting your application. The insight for that is to create a concrete plan with templates so that you're automating, creating a system to build relationships with funders.
The second thing we were together to accomplish today is to write a proposal that aligns with funders' focus area. My recommendation is using a logic model. And some of the other tools that we talked about to think before you ink. And lastly, using Instrumentl to set up your grant seeking strategy.
So identifying key funders that align with your organization, try to limit it to no more than 10 and 20, be very thoughtful of building relationships and you will really go far. So, I don't know if we, I feel like we have questions, but I'll get through these next two slides and then we'll take questions.
People were asking how to get help with logic models and stuff. So everything that I talked about creating mission statements, logic models, literally everything we do for our clients, we do have a part of our business. It's a new subsidiary Get Grants Better, which is just for emerging nonprofits. And so, the information is here.
If you guys want to learn more information. We have training where we can walk you through how to do it yourself through our newbie membership or emerging, we have the same training where we'll teach you how to do it yourself, but then you also have access to grant professionals to help you along the way.
So if you need help, you know, we'll write grants for you or do some consulting for you just to kind of give you some insight as you're going through your journey. We have those as well. And so you can learn more about that. We do have incentive for you guys that does expire January 31st.
So if you check that out, you can learn more. And of course you also get your discount off of Instrumentl. And I think that is it for me. I know we'll have some kind of follow-up for you, but I am happy to take any questions that are coming up in a chat or if anyone wants to ask a question at this time..
Will: Awesome. I'm going to field through those questions in a little bit. Following up with Shavonn you can see the information on the screen.
Again, I just put in the Zoom chat as well. Her Instrumentl link, I put in some freebie links as well, as well as our upcoming future events. If you enjoyed this workshop today, our next one's going to be in terms of partner workshops on the 26th covering four tips for building relationships with charitable corporations, with Jenni Hargrove, the host of Nonprofit Jenni podcast. That'll be at 1:00 PM.
You can register on the events calendar as well. And then in the next slide Shavonn we have the freebies that are happening. So, the next slide after that, pretty much in the Zoom chat, you'll find that there's the link to that Woorise link. With 1-12-22. Just fill that out. It's a feedback form for what you thought of today's presentation, what topics you guys want to see next.
That's exactly what we use to then plan out our content calendar. And then, we're going to go ahead and start asking a few of these questions, tackling them one by one. I know several people ask this question, in different forms, but Shavonn, what are your suggestions when it comes to first getting to know funders?
Currently Dana goes for grants that they've done before, but that she would love more tips in terms of establishing those relationships with new funders.
Shavonn: Yeah, I think sometimes nonprofit leaders are afraid to reach out. I think they think like funders are in this glass castle somewhere and it's like, oh, I can't talk to them.
Funders are just super approachable. Although organizations vary by culture, especially with COVID some aren't even in the office. So sometimes there may not be the opportunity to call, but you'd be very surprised by how friendly funders are. If you just pick up the phone and call, ask questions, have conversations, have very informal conversations, even if there's not an open RFP. Instrumentl provides contact information.
And if a fund is providing contact information, that means they're open to contacting you and having conversations. There are some that say, please do not call us. Please do not reach out. The way you engage with us is a LOI, which is short for letter of intent or letter of inquiry in some cases. And so if you're giving guidance to engage in that way, always take that guidance. But if there's contact information, definitely feel free to reach out.
Will: Awesome. Jessica asks the question of, do you have any tips on creating a process to get the information you need for grants to your admin staff, for things like budgets, program, proposal information and so on.
Shavonn: Is this for the admin staff to pull together the proposal?
Will: That's correct.
Shavonn: Okay. So that's just basic technology, right? I know when we're supporting our clients, we're fans of ShareDrive. We're fans of links, which we're fans of reminders with links and having people kind of upload things to one place that way everyone always has access. That cuts down on the need to send an email or to attach a file and send it to so on.
And so that might be beneficial. I'm sure there's some other technologies out there that could be helpful as well.
Will: And Shavonn, the other thing that someone asked was if there are any templates for building relationships.
Shavonn: Yes. There are templates in our Get Grants Better training.
Will: Awesome. So definitely check that out for those resources. Jessica asked earlier for me, if the information provided on Instrumentl's, any different than what's on Foundation Director at the library. The main difference is really how we really synthesize the data for you. So if you're looking for things like percentage of new grantees versus repeat grantees, what amounts are those folks getting as opposed to repeat grantees, as well as other insights like those, those are things that only we know to our knowledge, we're the only provider that does that sort of synthesis.
In terms of the actual raw data itself, all of these companies, all of us are drawing from the business master file, typically from the IRS. And those have been 990 filings that are submitted by the foundations. And so that's the answer to that question.
Shavonn: I could add to that, Will, if you don't mind. I will say, Instrumentl has saved me and my team a lot of time.
I find using other databases, we have to use multiple systems to get all the information we need and then we have to take the time to synthesize the data. So to Will's point, the fact that Instrumentl already does it for you, you save so many hours that you would lose if you had to kind of find that information on your own.
Will: Yeah. And what we did when we studied our customers, as our impact study found that we were averaging for each team member using Instrumentl three hours a week on average, as well as 78% of an increase in grant application output. And so, what I usually tell folks is think about what another 12 hours for each team member on your team means for you and in terms of what you can accomplish, whether that's for your own nonprofit or for the clients that you're serving.
Eric had a question in terms of where to find that information of, you know, first-time funding, as opposed to repeat grantees. I'm going to share my screen real quick so I can show that to you, Eric, in case you're on your Instrumentl. When you are going into the section in Openness to New Grantees, that is where you're going to see that breakdown of new grantees versus repeat grantees.
So sometimes what I've seen for example is, I'll see a case where repeat grantees are getting three times the amount of money of new grantees. What that typically signals to me at a high level is that funder probably wants to first establish a relationship, actually have a proven track record in terms of you delivering on what you wanted in the first year.
And then before they start to scale up the ask there. The other resource that I would say since so many people have kept on asking about, you know, building relationships and things like that. Our blog has a ton of free resources on top of these workshops, just go to instrumentl.com/blog. There's grant writing classes, where you're going to see replays of these sorts of workshops.
One of them that just relates to what Shavonn was talking about was Dr. Bev Browning and her presentation on smart objective statements. We break down exactly how to do that. We had a few examples today, but if you want a full hour of that content, you can do that. And then the other thing is our blog has a ton of new content this year in terms of relationship building and things like that as well.
So you can just check that up if you're looking for more written content, in addition to some of the resources that we shared today. But other than that, we are at the top of the hour, we are right on time. Thanks so much for presenting with us, Shavonn. This replay will be up in a couple hours from now and we hope to see you guys soon again.