VOLUME 3, ISSUE 2FEBRUARY 2010
| | More...on News
by Jim Abernathy
When to exit Grants.gov
Several federal agencies that post notices of grant availability on Grants.gov require that applications be submitted to a different web site. Because this is happening more and more, the article "Online Submissions Systems Beyond Grants.gov" (Local/State Funding Report, December 21, 2009) warns that you should scrutinize the RFP carefully to make sure you’re submitting your proposal on the correct site. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for example, announces all their grant programs on Grants.gov, but while Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS applications must be submitted on Grants.gov, Continuum of Care program applications must be submitted on HUD’s e-snaps site. Even more confusing—the U.S. Department of Justice accepts some applications for new discretionary funding only through Grants.gov but continuation grants only through their Grants Management System.
Two top trends in corporate giving
Increasingly, corporate donors are directing employee involvement toward charities whose needs match well with employee skills. And they continue to favor the nonprofit organizations most in sync with the donor’s business interests. Two articles that discuss these trends—"Corporate givers look for strategic employee engagement" and "Corporate grantwriters [sic] aligning giving with business interests" both from the January 2010 issue of Corporate Philanthropy Report—are based on presentations made last fall at the Independent Sector conference by top giving officers at American Express, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Deloitte & Touche, and the MetLife Foundation. In making grants, companies are seeking public recognition, genuine partnerships, and ways to strengthen their own employee recruitment and client relations. The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, another conference participant, says the value of corporate employee time devoted to capacity building and other support for nonprofit organizations has reached $400 million and continues to grow.
Stay connected with your grantmakers
How do grantmakers decide which grantees they’ll continue funding and which ones they’ll drop? Their level of involvement with, and understanding of, their grantees is a major factor, says Teri S. Blandon in "Show and Tell—and Ask" (CharityChannel, January 6, 2010), and she lays out ways to steward and solidify relationships with funders:
1) Show Them[Full article can be accessed only by CharityChannel subscribers.]
Details count in federal grant applications
Two key elements of successful relationships with federal funding agencies are (1) the way you prepare to apply for a grant and (2) the way you manage the finer points of the grant requirements after you’ve been funded. "Start the New Year Off Right by Covering Your Bases" (Local/State Funding Report, January 21, 2010) highlights several areas where attention to detail is crucial:
by Brett Pawlowski
Writing winning partnership proposals
The following article, which originally appeared in the K-12 Partnership Report, focuses on proposals, not for funding, but for partnerships. And it’s aimed specifically at those working to build stronger K-12 partnerships. But the principles Brett Pawlowski lays out here can easily be adapted by those at other kinds of public agencies and not-for-profit organizations. And given the high value grantmakers place on collaborative relationships, this thoughtful little guide deserves a place in your grantsmanship tool kit. In partnership development, like in sales, sometimes a strong proposal can make all the difference in getting your prospective partner to commit. Proposals are certainly not required in every situation: smaller-scale initiatives rarely justify them, and they are not always needed when talking with a sole decision-maker. But in cases where you’re requesting a large commitment, or when many people are involved in the decision to partner with you, a well-written proposal is an indispensable tool in securing an agreement. It is important to note that writing and submitting a proposal should be the last step, not the first, in the partnership development process. A proposal should only be developed after working through the following phases with your prospective partner:
The exact structure of your proposals will vary based on your audience and what you are trying to accomplish. But the elements below should be addressed in some way:
At an early point in the proposal—preferably beginning on the first page of your proposal—clearly lay out the benefits of the partnership in terms of both student/school outcomes and partner outcomes. Sample text: "By working together, [partner] and [school] have an opportunity to increase interest in science, and therefore impact career awareness and selection, among [targeted student population]. By working with [school] on this initiative and promoting its successes, [partner] will not only be able to present itself as a socially committed company among its customers and stakeholders, but will also realize specific benefits including increased employee morale and an improved labor pool as these students enter the workforce." Remember that the benefits highlighted here must be identified based on the interests of your prospective partner and be backed up by specifics later in the proposal. Don’t promise improved morale, for example, if there are no mechanisms for developing and measuring it.
It’s helpful to list the key players in the partnership so that your new partner knows who is involved, what their role is, and whether they’ve already committed to the project. Be sure to include your school or district on the list and identify their contribution (such as a commitment of staff time, facilities, or access to data).
This section combines a description of where things currently stand with statement of need—in other words, why the current state is unsatisfactory. As an example, you could explain that graduation rates for your targeted student population are 20% below those of other groups, and outline the implications of that in terms of poverty rates and a shortage in the local workforce. This will set up the need for your proposed solution.
This is the "meat" of the proposal: a description of how your program will help students get from Point A to Point B. You should be sure to highlight the evidence backing up your proposed solution: you don’t need to write a dissertation by any means, but your partners must feel confident that your solution is backed by evidence and has a reasonable chance of success.
If someone is going to invest their time, talents, and treasure in your partnership initiative, they need to know that their investment is going to produce results. Once you’ve laid out your solution, you must explain how you’ll measure success according to your objectives. This could be by tracking test scores, but it could also involve pre/post assessments of interest, graduation rates, or the percentage of students exploring postsecondary opportunities. Include interim measures (to guide the development of the program) as well as final outcome measures. The key is to find measurements that are tied to your objectives and that your partners find to be relevant. Remember also to measure the returns desired by your partner, whether those relate to brand awareness, employee morale, staff development, or some other goal. These measures, and responsibility for tracking them, may come from your partner – but they should be referenced so it’s clear that they are being included in the plan.
The point of a proposal is to secure a commitment from your prospective partner; you must therefore spell out exactly what you’re asking of them. Be as specific as possible: Instead of asking for volunteers, ask for five volunteers to be present at the school from 3 pm until 4:30 pm on Mondays and Thursdays in October. And ask them to participate in a review or advisory board as well; they will want ongoing input into your work.
In the beginning of the proposal, you offered general information on the benefits your partner will receive; you should provide specifics on those benefits in the body of the document. This includes how those benefits will be defined and measured, in terms relevant to your partner. For example, you may say that "by allowing employees to participate as mentors, [partner] can expect to see an improvement in employee morale. [Partner] can track this through its annual employee survey or by having employees participate in a pre/post survey."
A proposal is a request for a commitment; get yours in writing by asking an authorized representative of your partner to sign the agreement. Have the proper person with your organization sign it as well. This is a great resource to have to prevent confusion on each party’s role and to keep the terms of the relationship in place in the event of a leadership change.
It will be helpful to provide information on your school, district, or nonprofit organization as an appendix to your proposal. Remember that some of the people reading the proposal may not have been involved in discussions. In addition to sharing basic facts, you might present yourself as an attractive partner by highlighting areas of strength and recent accomplishments; you can also significantly strengthen your case by outlining other past or current partnership successes. The key with any successful proposal is to speak from the point of view of your prospective partner. If you can explain in ways that are personally meaningful to them what they will get in exchange for their participation (i.e., their ROI), you will find a strong reception to your proposals, and a much greater chance that those prospective partners will join with you as a powerful ally in your work to improve student outcomes.
|The Grantsmanship Center | PO Box 17220 | 350 S. Bixel, Suite 110 | Los Angeles | CA | 90017|