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beyond the boilerplate - grant writing that works with Shavonn Richardson

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Grant writing. It’s one of those things that every organization struggles with. Often grant writing seems like it’s a bad investment of time and effort - you put 100 out there, you hear 1 back. So how can nonprofits be more “grant-ready” and less overwhelmed with the process. On today’s podcast, CEO of Think and Ink Consulting, Shavonn Richardson, walks us through the key steps to prepare for a successful grant writing cycle.

Myths that Shavonn wants us to walk away from

  1. “Let’s start writing right away!”. Getting straight into the writing without doing any pre-work is not necessarily a sign of proactiveness when it comes to grant-writing. There are steps to set your organization’s grant strategy and writing up for success, See tips below.

Shavonn’s tips on preparing your organization to be grant-ready

  1. Building relationships with funders. Do the research to find funders that are truly in alignment with your needs and values and have a conversation with them before applying if possible. This step will help you narrow down the list of prospects.

  2. Conduct a logic model exercise. What is the theory of change that your program has, and how are you going to deliver the impact you want to deliver? Articulating the logic model of your program will help you anticipate and answer so many grant questions that by the time you write, it will feel effortless.

  3. Establish measure of success and track metrics consistently. You don’t have to follow a grantor's definition of success, but you do need to establish your own measure of success and be able to track those metrics consistently. Regardless of which grant you’re applying, have these measures in place and develop the habit for tracking metrics now.

  4. Have a detailed program/project budget. Build out a program budget that has a very detailed, line-by-line program budget so that if the funder asks for a detailed budget, you already have it, and if they don’t, then you can simplify it.

  5. Train your board to take part in the process. The board needs to be involved in collaboration with the staff to come up with the strategic direction of programs, and they should be involved talking to funders when needed. Make sure your board understands their role and is supporting the staff.

Favourite Quotes from Today’s Episode

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“Really take the time and focus on quality over quantity and do the research to only select foundations that are really aligned with what you do. Not a stretch. Not outside of your current program. But are really aligned with what you do. And if you take the time to cultivate a relationship with that funder, you will go much further when you go to submit an application.”

“A logic model will pull out all those juicy details that funders ask for. They will ask what are your smart outcomes? What are your short term, intermediate term, and long term objectives? What's your overall vision? What are your activities? How are you measuring them? One logic model can answer 500 questions that a funder would ask you.”

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership

Connect with Shavonn on Linkedin

Think and Ink Grants Consulting

Shavonn’s writings on Forbes