Is Your Client Truly Ready? How to Assess Client Readiness w/ Chermain Jennings

Want to know how to assess client readiness?

​In this 1 hour special workshop hosted by Instrumentl, you’ll be able to know the difference between "grant ready" and "client-ready", and how to prepare an organization internally.

By the end of this one-hour workshop with Chermain Jennings, you’ll learn:

  • ​What is the difference between "grant ready" and "client-ready"?
  • ​How to prepare an organization internally for federal grant funding opportunities?
  • ​How to assess the client's readiness?

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Chermain Jennings, MA is the CEO and Principal Consultant of C.JENNINGS LLC. She earned a graduate degree in Organizational Communications in 2015 and jumped into her career soon after. Her work history includes notable organizations such as Girl Scouts, United Way, University of Houston, Metrocare Services, and Centene Corporations. She has nearly a decade of grant writing and fund development experience and utilizes those skills and experiences to prepare and coach clients through the proposal development process. She has used her expertise to support clients in urban and rural organizations across the country. Her general areas of focus include healthcare and education.

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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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Is Your Client Truly Ready? How to Assess Client Readiness - Grant Training Transcription

Celia:  All right. Hello, everyone. And welcome. I'm glad to see everybody here today. Welcome to “Is your client truly ready? How to Assess Client Readiness” with Chermain Jennings. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared with you afterwards. So, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email later in case you want to review anything from today, or if you want to share anything from today with your colleagues or your clients, or anyone else that you sort of worked with in this space. 

So in case it's your first time here, this is a free-grant workshop with Instrumentl. So, these are instrumental partner webinars. And essentially what we're doing, we're collaborating with our community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals, consultants, and nonprofits. And our goal, really, is to tackle a problem that you all might have, and share some different ways to kind of think about that and solve that. 

Along the way, I will tell you a little bit about Instrumentl. And Chermain will as well. And how we can use that to sort of tackle a few problems and show you some different ways that grant writers and consultants are using it to kind of bring prospecting tracking management in one place and sort of efficientize a lot of things. I don't know if that's the word, but I'm going to make it up. 

So when we get to that place, feel free to follow along. I will drop a link in the chat if you want to sign up. It's 14 days free. No commitment and no obligation. Just follow along if you're interested or if you want to kind of pull your own list of good fit funders for your clients or for yourself.

And then definitely stick with us to the end. We are raffling off something awesome. Thanks to Chermain. So, you want to stick with us in the end so you can make sure that you learn all about that and have an opportunity to kind of hop into that. And then we will also have time at the end for Q&A. So, I'm going to drop a couple of things in the chat for you right now. The first is that sign up link for 14 days free. And then the other thing is just a little bit of a template on how to ask questions, add those three hashtags before any questions. It'll just make it really easy for me to find and make sure that we get those answered for you at the end. 

So with all of that kind of housekeeping out of the way, I'm really excited to introduce Chermain Jennings today. She is the CEO and Principal Consultant of C. Jennings LLC. She earned her graduate degree in organizational communications in 2015, and jumped into her career pretty soon after that. Her work history includes notable organizations like Girl Scouts, United Way, University of Houston, Metrocare Services, and Centene Corporations. So she has nearly a decade of grant writing and fund development experience. And she utilizes those skills and experiences to prepare and coach clients through the proposal development process. So, I think she's going to be a great person to talk about this topic today. 

She has used her expertise, also, to support clients from urban and rural organizations across the country. And her general area of focus includes kind of health care and education. So with all of that done, Chermain, take it away.

Chermain:  Hello, hello, hello. Good morning or afternoon, depending on where you are tuning in from. So as Celia mentioned, I am Chermain Jennings, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, though I did live in Texas for about five years. And I absolutely loved it. I am the CEO and Principal Consultant of C. Jennings LLC, where I help executive directors of nonprofit organizations improve their grant readiness, develop proposals and submit competitive for government grants, which kind of lends us to this space here. 

And contrary to popular belief, I did not dream of being a grant writer when I was little. I get that all the time. People automatically assume because I'm a grant writer that this was my dream. No, absolutely, it was not. 

I don't know many people who ever dreamed of being in the philanthropic space as a kid. And if you did, please drop them in the chat because you're an anomaly. In my book, I was just kind of thrown at it and thrusted into this space randomly. And here I am, nearly a decade later, having authored and co-authored nearly $15 million in proposals. And now, a federal reviewer as well as a GPA-approved trainer.

So, that's a little bit about me. And I'm hoping that today we'll get a better understanding of why you're here and how this may be able to assist you and your organization as you continue in your grant readiness, client readiness journey. 

So just to go over the agenda really quickly, we’ve talked a little bit about me. We'll go into why I'm here, why you're here, what is grant readiness versus what is client readiness. We'll look over a client readiness assessment. My personal favorite, the nonprofit wellness audit. Thanks to Holly. And then we'll look at the assessment benefits and go over Instrumentl and then answer any questions that you may have. 

So, why are you here? This is my assumption. You're either a grant pro or a nonprofit professional, or consultant and you're interested in pursuing corporate, foundation, state, and/or federal grants. You want to better prepare your clients or your organization for grant opportunities. You're stressed, confused, and overwhelmed because you don't know what you don't know. I get that one quite a bit. You're also likely understaffed, overworked, and lacking bandwidth and human capital.

And while I was in the nonprofit sector, that was something that rang true for me personally. There was always maybe one additional person, two and most. But for the most part, my development team consisted of myself and the director of development. So understaffed, overworked, and lacking bandwidth was the name of the game, essentially. 

So right now, the road to funding for most nonprofit organizations probably looks like this, a little squiggly and has a bunch of twists and turns. But I'm hoping that after this presentation in this webinar, it'll kind of level out a little bit. So right now, you're probably going on FTO, grants.gov, corporate websites, foundation websites just looking for grant opportunities and then you finally find an opportunity. And then you have to figure out if you're actually eligible for the opportunity, or if you have capacity to pursue the opportunity that you found. So then you say, “Yeah, we can pursue this. We can do this.” Now you have to look for and/or create the things necessary to kind of conjure up and develop your proposal in addition to the documents and attachments that kind of go along with stamping your proposal as, “Yes, ready to go. And we're done.” 

Additionally, you're scrambling to find those signatures. And that was a huge struggle within our organization. Our CEO was always on vacation as well as the CFO. So finding opportunities and ways to get those signatures, as well as the signatures from people who you're collaborating with, all of your partners, when you have to do MOUs or letters of support. Always a headache. 

So, you do all of that. And then now you're ready to apply and submit the proposal. And then you're probably either tracking in an Excel spreadsheet or some other database that is not Instrumentl. And I worked with quite a few. And so far, Instrumentl has been my favorite. And you'll see why.

So, why am I here? I'm here to help your organization learn the difference between being grant-ready and being client-ready, and how to assess your client readiness. And most importantly, how to prepare internally for grant funding. Keyword is internally because there are a lot of things that you can do as an organization and/or as a consultant to better prepare your organization for grant readiness. So ultimately, this will result in an increase in grant competitiveness, increase in organizational efficiency, as well as departmental efficacy. 

So, what is grant readiness? Feel free to drop it in the chat if you have some sort of ideas of what you think the definition of grant readiness is, and we'll compare it to what we've found out the actual definition is. And so, I can't necessarily see. Is it okay if I hit the chat button? I can't see the --

Celia:  Yeah, yeah, you can. If you hit the chat button, then you'll be able to see what everybody is saying. Yeah, so drop that in there kind of what you think grant readiness is. I think everyone has a little bit of a different--

Chermain:  Exactly.

Celia:  Definition.

Chermain:  Absolutely. So if we can get somebody to kind of share what they think grant readiness is, we can go ahead and look if you're not too -- does the organization believe the end of the road is once they receive the funds? I hope not, Valerie. There's way more to apply in the grant than just hitting the application submit button and being done with it. So, I hope that they don't think that that's the end of it. 

Yes, the board is ready, resources are in place. It's complex. Yes, yes. 

These are all really, really good. Ashley? Yes. You're a consultant. You're cheating. Yes. So, you guys are spot on. 

So right now, Instrumentl is defining grant readiness as a measurement of your organization's capacity to research, apply, win, and manage grant applications successfully. So, a lot of you were spot on in your definition. So again, a measurement of your organization's capacity to research, apply, win, and manage grant applications successfully. That has nothing to do with the organization itself. Just your ability to do these things. Right?

So courtesy of Holly, Holly Rustick. If you are able to look at these 10 items, does your organization have a tax-exempt nonprofit 501(c)3 status? Does your organization have bylaws and articles of incorporation? Does your organization have an EIN, DUNS, which isn't DUNS anymore? It's UEI, I believe. And CAGE CODE number? Do your board members contribute financially to your organization? Do you know your mission statement without Googling it? That gets people all the time, including the board members. I would often make sure that my clients, board members are aware of their mission statement, a whole presentation and training around that you'd be surprised. Does your organization track in-kind/volunteer hours? Does your organization have an active online presence? Does your organization have an annual budget? Does your organization apply for grants? Do you have other systems in place to evaluate/measure success for your project? 

So, take a look at all of these options, right? If you are truly ready for a grant and to apply for a grant, you should be able to say yes to each and every one of these on this checklist. So, I’ll give you a couple of minutes to look over the chat or a couple of seconds to look over just for a little bit longer because now I want to hear from you. How many did you answer yes to out of those 10 items? How many did you score yes to? Eight. Okay. Okay. So you guys are on the way, on the way. It's still coming in.

Celia:  Yeah, we're at 23% of people participating in the poll. I know a couple people dropped it in the chat. So, that’s great.

Chermain:  Yeah, I’m looking at them though.

Celia:  Yeah. 

Chermain:  Yes. Yes, Becky. Yes to all of them. Good. 

Celia:  Nice, nice.

Chermain:  That's what we like to hear.

Celia:  We'll just give it another second. We'll see. We’re at 46%. Maybe we'll get to 50%. Yeah. Just for someone else who asked, there is an opportunity for you to grab the checklist at the end. So, you can kind of take that --

Chermain:  Yes, yes, yes.

Celia:  Come and study it. All right, that's a good poll. Let's see what the results look like. Yeah?

Chermain:  Okay. So for the most part, five or more. 66% of you answered yes to five or more. So, we have a little bit of work to do. 

And in this training, in particular, we're going to take it up a notch. So like Celia said, at the end of this presentation, you'll be able to access my Client Readiness Assessment Checklist. And through that, you'll be able to really level things up. 

An example of leveling your readiness, in addition to those 10 things that highly has on her checklist, I specifically asked these things of my clients. So I want to make sure that your board members consist of at least three members and that you all meet at least two times per year. Additionally, I'll ask you to provide any sort of training or minutes from your organization, your board meetings, so that we can get an idea of what's happening while they're in there. I also want to look at your organizational chart. A lot of organizations can provide a chart, but it's not up to date. So if your CEO hasn't been there in the last six years, I can't do anything with it when it's time to submit the grant. So making sure that you have an organizational chart, making sure that you can provide your financials. 

So, do you have your 990s? Your audited financial statements? Your org budget and your project/program budget on hand and ready to go? When it's time to submit a grant, these are the things that we're going to need. 

The number one thing that I ask of my clients and where people tend to have trouble is the strategic plan. So a lot of times, organizations don't have a strategy or a direction for how they're making their decisions to pursue funding, whether that is funding from individuals or that's funding in the form of a grant. So I need to see a written process that details to me how you're going about bringing in revenue for the organization that doesn't solely rely on grants because grants should not be your first stop when you're looking to secure any type of funding for your organization. 

So, we went through grant readiness. What do you think client readiness is? What do you think that definition is? Feel free to drop that in the chat. And then I'm going to just go with maybe one or two after we get one or two guesses. And then I'll move forward and show you what the actual definition is. Do we have anybody who would like to take a guess? 

Celia:  Client readiness. So my guess is that this differs from grant readiness a little bit.

Chermain:  Yes. Maria says, “Having their programs in place with budgets to run them so they can find funding for them. Do they have the capacity to carry out the project, human capital, and bandwidth?” Yes, these are all huge components of client readiness so you guys are on the right track in terms of how you're thinking about it. 

So if you've never heard of client readiness, that's because I kind of made it up. So after several years of onboarding clients and realizing that there's a deficit internally, I came together -- I put a bunch of things together and have defined it as an organization's ability to demonstrate the administrative capacity to manage money, contracts, financial reports, programmatic sustainability, and stakeholder relationships. 

So if you've been in the nonprofit world, at any point, you realize how important all of these things are in order for you to be actually grant ready. So if you don't have the capacity on the backend internally to actually manage the money, manage the context, manage your financials, manage the reporting that's required to actually be in compliance in terms of grant funding, if you don't have anyone to manage the sustainability and the program sustainability, as well as the stakeholder relationship because those relationships are key, then you're not ready as a client to even start the process of funding, looking for funding opportunities from various agencies. 

So, what I have put together for you is a little bit of an idea of how they differ. So remember we said grant readiness is a measurement of your organization's capacity to research, apply, win, and manage grant applications successfully? Whereas client readiness is an organization's ability to demonstrate the administrative capacity to manage money, contracts, financial reports, programmatic sustainability and stakeholder relationships. 

So while you can be grant ready, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're ready as a client because there have been a lot of instances where I've been a part of organizations. And we've been able to manage the actual application process and win the grant. But then when it's time for us to actually execute and implement all of the things that we wrote and said that we could do, we were stressed. We didn't have the people in place to actually do the things that needed to be done to carry out everything that we said that we would do. So, we want to make sure that internally the client is ready before we even start the grant writing process.

So, my favorite tool and assessment of choice is the nonprofit wellness audit. And this is also courtesy of Holly Rustick of Grant Writing & Funding. And the Nonprofit Wellness Audit just ensures that the board structure, the financial framework, organizational structure and branding is in good health. So what that looks like for me is as soon as I onboard clients, this is non-negotiable. 

As a consultant, if I'm going to write any sort of grant funding opportunities for you, then I need to, A, have all of these documents so that I can write effectively and not necessarily have to bug you as often. So, B, when I take these things, I'm able to say, “Okay, give me all of these documents. I want to look at all of these documents. And I want to decide if this is actually going to be worth your while. Do you have these things in order, in place? And can you effectively and efficiently gather all of the documents so that when it's time for us to submit, we'll have it ready to go?” 

So, it's a pretty lengthy list. But what you find when you're actually in the process is that hands down, top tier, highly recommended. And at the end, we should be able to share a link, if you're interested in purchasing Holly’s Nonprofit Wellness Audit Course, if you want to do this on your own. Now, I additionally offer it as a service. But this is the client readiness assessment of choice for me. So I send this out to my clients and they send all the documents back. And once they send the documents back, I put them into these categories, right? And so, I look at each document and I rate it as zero because they don't have it. Or five, they have it and it's a very strong document. 

And so, just to kind of give you an idea of what the breakdown looks like. So organizational documents consist of the bylaws, the determination letter, staff resumes, and board biographies, board member roles. Then looking at your board structure, I want to look at your removal policies. I want to look at your board minutes, your trainings, your meetings, do you have conflict of interest statements listed in your board structure? Do you have your 990s on hand? Are you tracking your volunteer time and time gifts for your finances? Are all of your physical year projections and documents in place and ready to go? 

And then your other documents are kind of titus along the lines of branding. So, this more or less focuses on how other people can find you and how you're representing your organization where you're out in the actual world. Right? So, what does your strategic plan look like that determines how you are moving within your organization? Do you have a Guidestar profile? What's your elevator pitch? If I ask you or ask a board member, “Hey, what's your elevator pitch? What's your mission and vision statement? What are some of your impact metrics? Are you able to provide that for me?” And so, I'm able to look at the documents that you provide to give you a well-rounded score. And then we're able to coach through what it looks like to get you from “maybe this isn't as good as it should be” to “this is really, really good. You're in a really good position. Let's go and get these grants.”

So what I've found is the top three opportunity areas or areas for improvement for most of the organizations that I've worked with, is that they lack the grants’ database content. So your organizational documents, they're usually missing staff resumes, job descriptions, or board biographies. And these are super important for me as a consultant because if I'm writing a grant for you and they asked for it, I have it on hand. I've worked with a number of organizations that didn't have resumes on file for some of their members or some of their employees, which do -- it's a non-negotiable. It's non-negotiable. Everybody should be accounted for. 

So that's an area of opportunity for most organizations that I've worked with, as well as the financial documents. They don't have any idea where their audit is. They don't know if they've actually done it. They haven't been necessarily in contact with their finance team. There's just a huge breakdown in communication. So they have to go and look for these things every time that they're applying for any type of funding, which wastes invaluable time. And if you've ever written a grant, time is of the essence. 

So additionally, your organization, your project program, budgets, if you don't have a budget for your program, then how can you articulate that in your grant request, right? And then additionally, like we've already mentioned, the strategic plan/development plan. So if you don't have a strategic plan, then you don't necessarily have a development plan because the two go hand in hand. So, these have been the most prominent things that people kind of lack in terms of being ready internally. 

So if you do any sort of client assessment, readiness assessment, this is kind of what you'll get some benefits. Right? So you'll increase your competitiveness, primarily because in instances where you use the nonprofit wellness audit, you're able to identify any red flags within the organization and then mitigate any future red flags that may interfere with development opportunities. You will increase your efficiency because now I'm able to look at your board structure and your organizational structure and ensure that, A, you have the correct people and the appropriate roles. And then assess any staffing/board needs and any gaps that you may have within your organization. 

And this is huge because I've been able to look at resumes in some instances. And then look at the job description that the person holds and say, “This person has a wealth of knowledge in this area. Why aren't you utilizing them in this space? So, it helps the organization better utilize the team that they have and increase the efficiency of the organization in general. And then obviously, increase efficacy because you create specific funding strategies that support long-term sustainability and programmatic impact, which is the overall goal. Your goal is to make sure that your organization is sustainable. And that whatever it is you're doing is having a huge impact on the population and target areas that you are serving. 

So after looking at all of this, we have a quick poll. Would you say that your client organization is truly ready to apply for federal funding? And if not federal funding, is your organization ready to apply for funding in general based on what we've talked about? Quick poll. Celia, do we have the poll up?

Celia:  Yes. Sorry about that. My computer is just a little bit funny today. Yeah. Guys, look, look at the screen and answer and tell us what do you think? Is your client organization really ready to apply? “Yeah, definitely,” or, “No way, we’ve got some more work to do”? So, tell us what you think. 

Cool. I also see a couple questions coming in the chat. Just make sure you put those three hashtags and I'll make sure I grab them for Chermain. Yeah, we're at about 50%. Anybody else want to chime in and tell us if you think you're ready? Or if your organization is ready to apply? We have a couple more. 

Chermain:  I was hoping for an increase for “yes, definitely.” So, we have quite a bit of “no ways.” And I think a lot of that has to do with most organizations not having the capacity to get ready internally before it's time to actually apply for the funding. So it's almost like, ``What came first, the chicken or the egg?” 

And in those instances, it's a little bit more difficult to be proactive when we are constantly being reactive in the nonprofit space. So before, we said that popped up again. Before, we said that, “Your road probably looked a little crazy. And you're doing all of these things, in addition to the 150 other tasks that you do on a day-to-day.” Right? And so, my hope is that once we finish this and you hear from Celia on different ways that Instrumentl could help alleviate some of these things, as well as working in terms of client readiness and figuring out some sort of client assessment that your road to funding will look a lot better. 

And so, Celia… 

Celia:  Yeah, I'll kind of take over here. 

So I think a lot of what Chermain is talking about is being able to kind of quickly communicate and collaborate with your clients and with your team, kind of collect data and make decisions quickly and sort of iterate. Right? We're always sort of working towards it, how do we do this a little bit faster? How do we sort of decrease the number of back and forth emails that we have to have? And make sure that we're sort of, A, choosing the right funders up front and then, B, sort of keeping that process moving along in a way that sort of uses everybody's time efficiently. Right? 

So if you want to hit the next slide, Chermain? So, I think there are a number of tools out there, right? We've talked about a few of these. I would love to hear in the chat from you all what other tools potentially you're using to do either prospecting or actually the sort of tracking collaboration, and then the post award management.

Some of the things that we've seen over and over again are Google. Google is a great one. Trello. Roberta. Yeah, well, we'll get to that. Yeah. 

So, Google is a great place. But you've got to dig through a lot, right? Same thing with funder websites. If you know who the funder is, then that's great because you can kind of go see what's going on there. And then there's obviously 990 forms, Guidestar, IRS sites. And those are great, too, because you're getting a lot of data there, which is awesome. And then some other paid databases. I saw Grant Direct, I saw FDO, I saw Grant Station. And so, those are all good sort of options as well. 

And then on the tracking side, we've got Asana, Monday.com, and then we've got email and calendars. And so, I think we're talking about a lot of different tools. There's plenty of options out there. I saw someone mentioned Trello in there. I saw someone mentioned Excel in there. So, there's a lot of ways to kind of do this process. 

If you want to hit the next slide for me, Chermain. 

Obviously, I'm partial. I like Instrumentl. I think that a couple of people I saw on the chat like that as well. And so, I think that the key thing here is that we're bringing all of those tools that I just went through and bringing them all into one place. So that as you're doing your tracking, as you're doing your tasks, as you're sort of collaborating with your teammates, you are also able to kind of keep all the information about the organization kind of there as well. Right? 

So I think that what I mean by that is having a library of records. And I'm going to show you kind of what some of this stuff looks like. But essentially, everything's in one place. And a couple of things that I want to kind of highlight here from the Instrumentl part, I saw Holly, you asked, yes, Instrumentl does have tracking. 

So first, the prospecting. Right? So, we've got a matching algorithm that once you put your information in there, it's just running in the background for you. It's going to send you a weekly email with new options, which just allows you to free up that time you were spending prospecting and do something else with that time. Maybe that's taking on an additional client, maybe it's getting additional funding for an existing client, maybe it's working in your garden and hanging out with your children. Right? It could be any of those things that you now have the time back to do. 

It also only has active options. So, you're not finding things that then you find out they're close or it's old or it’s from last year. And so, you've wasted time on that. And then their tracking component is really awesome. And I'm going to show you what a couple of these things look like here in just a second. But the main kind of takeaway here is that this saves you a lot of time and it also increases output at the same time, which is awesome. 

We also have a consultant view for those of you who are consultants, which I think many of you are. And that's really nice because it allows your clients to use Instrumentl and you can kind of push your clients in that direction without having to pay for it on your own and without having to manage their account. That means that if they're already an Instrumentl user and then they come into your sort of offering, you can really easily plug in. There's no payment for you. And if you're interested in that, definitely reach out to me because we have a great partner program where we can get you all the stuff you need, and even some kickbacks, if that's something that you're interested in. 

So I'm going to show you what a couple of these things look like, because it's one thing to kind of talk about it. And it's another thing to sort of see what this means and sort of get your hands on this. So, I am also going to drop a signup link in the chat. That is 14 days free. No credit card needed. You can get in there. You can poke around. You could see if it works for you. It might not work for you. But it could be a potential good additional tool to kind of think about. 

So, I'm going to take an oversharing here. And I'm going to take this over. And I'm also just going to make this a little bit bigger so that we can all kind of see what's going on here. 

Okay. So, this is kind of our main page. So after I've set up my project, I've told the platform a little bit about where I'm working, what I'm focused on, what am I looking for funding for? Is it capacity building? Is it general operating expenses? Do I need a fleet of trucks? And so, I need to sort of find some funding to pay for that. Right? And once I do that, I get this list of matches. So, you'll see I have 265 matches. I am using the example of an organization that I volunteer with who does entrepreneurship training and that sort of business support for entrepreneurs in my area of Denver. 

So essentially, on the left hand side, you'll see this looks kind of like an email inbox. And that's kind of what it is. It's as if someone had just sent you a good fit. And then on the right hand side, I can dig a little bit deeper on any of these organizations, right? So I can kind of look at kind of what's going on, what is their website, some information on what they are funding for. General operating, that's great. A lot of folks don't fund for that, right? 

And then I can get some more information if I want when I kind of click over to this 990 section. And here, we're going to see things like what the total assets are. We're going to see each other. We're going to see key people. And this is awesome because we can send this off to our clients and sort of say, “Hey, who owns this list? Do you guys know? Who can we get an introduction from?” 

Beyond that, we get a much better sense of the trend of the founder. So, it's nice to look at a single data point. But it's way nicer to look at a trend and sort of understand who this organization is. And if I like this, I can sort of save it. 

And this is where I think it becomes really helpful for you as a consultant. Because if you're doing this and you're working in this space and you're working with clients, you probably are at least understanding. You have a little bit of a domain authority in terms of what options and opportunities are out there. 

But once you actually add those options to a tracker, how are you keeping track of all of the pieces? How are you communicating with your client, collecting the important information that you need? And this is where this gets really good, because if I like an opportunity and I want to start working on it, once it's saved, I can leave notes. So I can say something like, “We need more info on our DEI to apply for this,” right? And then I can also make a task. So I can set a task for someone for my client potentially, and say like, “Upload DEI findings.” And I can set a timeline and say, “I need that by the end of the month and it's done.” And that person that I've tagged is automatically going to get an email about that. 

So now when they go in and they say, “Okay, I've got to find the DEI findings,” they can upload that here. But they can do it in the context of this opportunity. So, I'm not having to send a link. I'm not having to send them over here to an Excel spreadsheet. It's all kind of here in its nice little library of record. 

One other thing I want to show you as a consultant is the download report tool. So, this will be how we can sort of tell our clients what we are working on. So, let's say that their project is this curriculum development one. And I want to show them maybe everything that we're working on this year. Well, I can create that report. I can download it as a PDF or a CSV file. And now all of a sudden, as I go into that meeting, I've got all of this information right here. We can stay totally on track. They can see exactly where we are. And we can kind of make sure we're moving this forward. So, that's a little bit about it. 

I'm not going to go too much further. There's tons of information on our website. And I'm happy to sort of chat one-on-one with anybody who's interested. But, yeah, if you're working with clients and you're looking for a faster way to do a lot of this stuff, I definitely recommend trying out that 14 days. You will see that it is for organizations that are 501(c)(3) with operating revenue of sort of 90k or above. And that’s just because that is what we have in those opportunities on the site. And we want to make sure people aren't wasting their resources on things that aren't helpful for them, so. 

All right. Chermain, I am done talking. I will hand it back over to you. 

Chermain:  Okay. 

Celia:  All right. Can you share your screen, Chermain?

Chermain:  It's saying that I can’t. It’s saying that your screen sharing is paused.

Celia:  All right. Well, do you want me to --

Chermain:  Yeah, you can click. It’s fine.

Celia:  Yeah, yeah. Cool. All right. 

So, here we are. Let's hop back into it. So, we talked a little bit about kind of what Instrumentl looks like and how Instrumentl kind of tackles some of these things that Chermain is talking about. And I will pass it to you now.

Chermain:  Yeah. So, we remember the road before where there were a lot of twists and turns because you had a lot of things that you kind of had to do. Now, if you decide to move forward with Instrumentl, then you obviously can kind of cut some of those steps down because you'll receive weekly notices from Instrumentl about funding opportunities that are specific to your organization and your client. Right? So, you don't necessarily have to go through all of these different hoops to look for these funding opportunities because they'll be sent to you based on the criteria and information that you put into Instrumentl.

And then basically, all you have to do is review the opportunities, determine if you want to pursue them or not, and then retrieve all of the documents and boilerplate language that you have already saved in Instrumentl and develop your process or develop your proposal. So, it takes so much of the behind the scenes rush work and fight -- like, putting out fires because I think that's a lot of what grant writing is in smaller departments. 

But you're able to apply for the funding opportunities in half the time, in my opinion, because you're not doing as much backend work. And so, I think this is an opportunity for everybody to kind of just test it out, see if it's something that interests you, as well as see if it's something that fits for either you or your clients and kind of determine what works and what doesn't and how you can kind of benefit from it. 

So, next slide. 

Celia:  Awesome. Yep. Cool.

Chermain:  So top takeaways from this webinar. So how to prepare internally for grant funding, whether that is organizing internally or developing automations, like with Instrumentl, and then learning the difference between being grant-ready and being client-ready. We've kind of drilled that in. So hopefully, you guys are pretty comfortable with what that looks like. And then download the -- or do they have to download for the freebie, get the freebie, and then you're able to kind of follow along and follow up with it to kind of check it off as you go to make sure that you can do your best to not only be grant ready, but to be internally ready as a client to receive funding from funders. 

And then the last thing, how to determine if your organization is truly ready to pursue federal grants? So, you know the basic baseline checklist that I showed you with the 10 items. But that's basic for corporate as well as some of your -- just general funding opportunities. But if you're looking to pursue more government or federal related opportunities, then you definitely want to download my freebie so you can kind of get a head start in what it looks like to move forward with that and be ready for that. So, Celia?

Celia:  Yeah. Okay. So, Chermain, if you want to get in touch with her, there's a couple different ways to do that. Go ahead and find her on LinkedIn, send her an email. She is sort of the person to talk to about a lot of this stuff. 

And then if you're interested in sort of getting more of her time, she has very graciously offered to raffle off some free consulting time with her. So half an hour for the winner. So the way we're going to do this is I am going to drop a link in the chat. This is for the raffle. You enter some information about yourself just like your name, your email address. And then there's a couple of little activities that you can do if you want to increase your entry. So, you can invite some friends to our next event. You can give us some feedback on the webinar, whether or not you loved it, or if there's anything that you want to learn more about. You could tell us a little bit about that as well. 

As a thank you just for doing that just for entering the raffle, we're going to send you Chermain’s checklist. So definitely fill that out if you're interested in the checklist, because you're going to get that straight to your email inbox. And then on Friday, we will announce our winner. So, I will go through. We will pick a winner at random. And that person will get to chat with Chermain for a half an hour for free, which is awesome. So thank you, Chermain, so much for that opportunity. I think that's going to be great for folks. 

So again, that link is in the chat. It will also be included in the follow-up email. So, make sure that you check that out. If  you're not dealing with the chat, if it's getting stressful, if you're on your phone, just keep an eye out for the email because that link will be in there as well. 

All right. Let's see. I think that's it. We will get to questions. Just a reminder, everyone, we do these webinars weekly. We actually have another one on Friday where we're going to be talking about grant stewardship from a DEI perspective. So, definitely check that out if you're interested. We would love to see you add more things. And if you are a consultant and you're interested in the partner program, definitely shoot me an email [email protected] Or just respond to any of the follow-up emails I'm going to send you here shortly. But, yeah, let's hop into some questions. 

Yes, Jessica, you will receive a copy of the recording and the slides. 

All right. So, we had a question, Chermain, from someone who asked, should a hospital not pursue a grant if they're not willing to share their hospital budget with a potential funder?

Chermain:  I've never had that experience. I've worked, obviously, with hospitals and I've never had them be reluctant to share that information. I don't know how you could not share it if you're looking for funding. So, I would advise you to have them err on the side of caution in terms of just letting them know that if you don't share, there's a chance that you may not be awarded. Most funders want to be able to look at all of these documents and be able to determine if it's a good fit for them to invest their dollars, and their resources in your program or your project. So, just let them know that not providing that could result in them not being awarded any type of funding for consideration in the future. You don't want to burn those bridges over those relationships. Hopefully, I answered your question. 

Celia:  Yeah. If you are the person who asked that and you have any follow-up, just make sure you drop it in the chat. We'll try to get to it. The next question was one issue I have is getting my clients to actually get all those documents to me. What do you say about how to accomplish that?

Chermain:  So, it's a part of my onboarding process. So when I'm vetting clients and I'm having those initial meetings, I make it very clear that this is non-negotiable. So, I require them to give me all of those in order for us to move forward. Because as a consultant, it puts me at an advantage to be able to say, “I have all of these documents from you. And so when it's time, I don't have to ask you in the middle of the writing, ‘Hey, can you please send me this document?’ So, I will make it non-negotiable.” It's a part of the onboarding process. And everyone knows upfront that this is something that they're going to have to do if they want to basically sign on as a client of mine. So, it's not an option. That's how it works out.

Celia:  That's smart. Just sort of set it up that way from the beginning. Expectations are very clear. 

Chermain:  Yeah.

Celia:  And folks kind of know what they're doing around the same time that they're signing off on how much they're going to discount. Right? 

Cool. So our next question is, what if you have taken on a new client that announced that they were ready. But when the documents were requested, they did not have the documents at all or were not grant ready. Tips on getting them ready quickly, when they are wanting new funding.

Chermain:  Gosh. So, that's kind of how this started. I did not do my due diligence. And I was kind of new. I think I started in 2019. And so I said, “Okay, I'll take you on.” And in the midst of me saying that I had a week to get this state grant done,” she didn't even have her 501(c)(3). So, there was a rush. And I’d say the longest, the longest opportunity ever and literally only worked together for a week. But there was so much that had to go into that. So, I would definitely advise to make sure that as a consultant, you try and do your due diligence beforehand so you're not in these types of situations. But basically, how I handle all of those things now. It's like, “Okay, this is up to you as a client. So if you want this opportunity, then you have to give me what I need in order for me to do my job.” 

You're the person that needs this funding. I don't necessarily need this funding. If you don't provide it to me, there's a great chance that you may lose the organization. You may -- just kind of reiterate some of the things that kind of happen as a result of not having what you need, having the resources that you need. And I even did that while I worked in the nonprofit space. I would bug a program person, “Hey, this is for your program. This isn't for me.” So if you want your program to have this funding, I need you to send me this information by this date at this time. Anything outside of that, I'm not liable for. 

So, it can kind of come off as a little bit abrasive. But in order to get the job done, you can't worry yourself about doing things that are above your control. I'm only the vessel. I can't do it for them. So I would just say, take kind of a strong, strong arm approach and move forward. Give me the information or we can’t move forward.

Celia:  Yeah, I really like your approach of sort of reiterating kind of what the stakes are. 

Chermain:  Yeah.

Celia:  And it’s like, “This isn't about me. You're not doing this for me. You're doing this for yourself,” right? 

Chermain:  Yeah.

Celia:  This is what you need to do to kind of get to where you have said you want to go. 

Chermain:  Absolutely.

Celia:  And sort of take yourself out of it. Right? Okay, let's see. There were a bunch of questions about Instrumentl in here, which I think I have answered in the chat. So, a follow-up to the question about the hospital. The hospital only wants to provide their most recent financial audit and not their entire hospital budget. Do you think that's acceptable?

Chermain:  Most of the time. So if you haven't -- I don't know if you've started the actual application process as of yet. You can input whatever it is that they're asking for. But I have yet to apply for any type of funding, whether that's a corporate foundation or a government that does not ask for a budget of sorts. So, it's not a matter of them not wanting to provide it to you or to anybody else, but a matter of if they're willing to not get the funding for not providing everything that is being asked. 

So if the audit is being asked and you have that, amazing. If the budget is being asked for and they're not going to supply that, then there's nothing that you can really do about that. That's up to them to decide if they want to move forward or not. So, it's not up to you. 

As a consultant, I think a lot of times we beat ourselves up about it. But it's not our organization. We can only do what we can do. And so, you have to take yourself out of the seat as an internal employee because those lines can get blurred sometimes. You're not an internal employee. You're doing a service for them. And you can only do a service if they allow you to do the service.

Celia:  Yeah. We have an interesting question. I don't know the answer. And I think this will be an interesting one. Someone asked, they have a project that is outside the US, they are wondering if there's any chance for them to get federal funding. They do have some 501(c)(3) like friends of.

Chermain:  So, you're wondering if you can get federal funding if you're outside of the US?

Celia:  Yeah, I think if the project is outside of the US.

Chermain:  And it's not US based at all? Like the dollars -- can you give a little bit more detail, because I'm not exactly sure if US federal dollars will be willing -- if they'll be willing to use those dollars for anything outside of the US. But if you look at the funding announcement or the RFP or NOFA, or whatever it's called, that you're looking at, it'll tell you who's eligible for the funding opportunity and what those funds are for. 

So if you find something that is of interest to you, just make sure that you read the eligibility requirements and any requirements that they put forth so you can know if you actually have a shot at obtaining those dollars.

Celia:  Cool. I'm going to ask one last question and then I think we'll wrap up here. There was a question about if you would ask -- if you would take a retainer to help an organization get grant ready, do you think that's fair?

Chermain:  Oh, yeah. I've had retainer clients before. I think the thing with being having a client on retainer is making sure that you have a scope of work that clearly identifies how many hours you're planning on providing them a month, and keeping track of those hours and add what dollar amount that looks like for you and then a clear idea of what it is that they're expecting from you. Right? So if you're going to have a retainer client, they need to know what services you'll be providing and how many hours they can expect you to be providing those services. 

There can sometimes be a blur of lines when people come on as retainers because they think they have this endless access to you, and can sometimes view you as an employee, which isn't the case. So for example, I've had a retainer for 20 to 25 hours a month, and whatever I can get done in that 20 to 25 hours a month, that's what I get done. If that means I happen to only do 15, I still get that amount of money that we agreed on monthly because the retainer just means you have access to me. It doesn't mean that I get to give you money back or you get to take money away if I don't use all 20 to 25 hours, if that makes sense. 

Celia:  Yeah, it does. It sounds like it's just setting expectations.

Chermain:  Yeah. Absolutely.

Celia:  Yeah.

Chermain:  Make sure you get a contract and make sure that you're very clear in the scope of work about exactly what each person is expecting both as the organization and as the consultant.

Celia:  Yeah, yeah. I think everyone always has a little bit of a hard time with that, like asking for money, right? Nobody ever feels great about that. We're going to do a session towards the end of October. It is up on Luma if you're interested. We're going to talk a little bit about our stuff around money and how to think about money, and maybe move past some old thoughts on money. So if you find yourself being a person who's like, ”Am I worth this? How do I ask for what I'm worth?” Definitely check that out, because that's going to be a really good session that we talked about. 

Yeah. Chelsea, we will send a link to -- Chelsea was asking if we could send a link for that. We'll send a link to the Luma page, which is where all the events are. So, you'll be able to kind of pull through there and then grab that out. And that's October 25th

Cool. All right. So, we are kind of wrapping up here. I just want to say thank you to everyone. This has been such an engaging group, and everyone's been really chatty and really participated. So, thank you so much for being with us. And thank you so much, Chermain, for joining us. That was really incredibly valuable. I know I got a lot out of it. I think other people got a lot out of it as well. So, we really appreciate your time and your expertise. 

Just a reminder, everyone, try 14 days free of Instrumentl if you want to. No pressure. And that link is in the chat. And then definitely enter to win that consulting time with Chermain. She's got so much in her head. So, it would probably be good to try to just pick her brain a little bit. 

All right. We will send out an email here shortly with the recording and with all this other information. If you didn't get it out of the chat, don't stress. And thank you again, Chermain. And thank you, everyone. And hopefully, we'll see you Friday or next week, or on any of these other events. So bye, everybody. 

Chermain:  Bye.

Celia:  Thanks.

Chermain:  Thank you.

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