Will: Hello everyone, and welcome to Stop Chasing the Money: Creating Winning Grant Strategies with Amanda Day and Kimberly Hays de Muga. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards. So, please keep your eyes peeled for a follow up email later today in case you want to review anything we go over.
In case it's your first time here, this free workshop is an Instrumentl partner webinar. These are collaborations between Instrumentl and community leaders to provide free educational opportunities for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem that grant professionals often have to solve for while sharing different ways that Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants. Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you want to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management into one place, we can help you do that and you can set up your own personalized grant recommendations using the link on the screen here.
Lastly, be sure to stick around for today’s entire presentation. At the end, Amanda and Kimberly have some great resources for you all as well as from the Instrumentl end, some more details to come at the end of the presentation.
With that housekeeping out of the way, I'm very excited to pass things over to Amanda and Kimberly, since they're great at introducing themselves. And we ask that if you have any questions, feel free to add three hashtags in front of them just so it's easier for me to moderate. And then I will acknowledge you when I see that there’s three hashtags and then we'll tackle that in the Q&A section. And with that, feel free to take it over, you all.
Amanda: Awesome, Will, thanks. And thanks for joining us, everybody. And we'll just get started here.
So, we are talking about stopping chasing the money and trying to come up with some winning grant strategies to make that happen. If you watch here in the chat, some of you've already been in there. But let us know specifically what we're trying to find out is how long ago did you apply for a grant that you felt was not the right fit, but you did so because maybe your boss or your board, or somebody told you that they really wanted you to apply anyway? So, was it last week? Last month, last year? Have you never done it? Literally today, I feel you.
Kimberly: Common, chat. Look at you all.
Amanda: Last year, today, last week.
Kimberly: Last week, two weeks ago, recently. I get it. I get it. Right. Keep it a little --
Amanda: I have done it before. I feel you.
Kimberly: And for the people who say, “Never good for you,” and maybe there's some -- as we move into the presentation and get into the Q&A, maybe there are some tips that you might share in the chat that we don't cover. So, let's all learn together.
Amanda: Absolutely. So, one came through, is it December? And we've already found out we didn't get it. Yeah. And that basically sums up why we're talking about this because, typically, when you're chasing that money, you're not going to be as successful.
So, okay. A quick bit about Kimberly and I, we are the co-owners of HayDay Services, which is a speaking, coaching, and training company. We're also the co-creators of Fundraising HayDay. If you've not heard of our podcast, all kinds of -- we have over a hundred free episodes. You can find this on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and our website, Haydayservices.com. We'll share some of those links at the end.
Kimberly and I have over 50 years of grant and fundraising experience combined. I've also taught over 20,000 individuals about the art and science of grant writing and management. We're both GPCs. Meaning, we have that lovely credential in the grant profession and have served in various leadership roles. So, I'll just say we've been around the block a time or two.
Kimberly: Oh, wait a minute. I don't know how I feel about that. But, okay. I get what you --
Amanda: Yeah. Okay, just once. We've been around the block ones.
Kimberly: Really, it's like, what is it? A pre-certified used car? What is it? It’s really good deal.
Amanda: We’ll go with that. We'll go with that. Like Will said, definitely use the chat with questions. Since there's two of us, one of us will be keeping an eye on it. And so, things that come across that pertain to what we're talking about, we're happy to jump in and answer those. But we'll leave some time at the end to cover that. And definitely, make yourselves comfortable. And as Will said, there will be a copy of this made available after the fact. So --
Kimberly: Here we are. So, a quick definition and a lovely peaceful photo of people drifting together. It's just lovely in their kayak drifting together. But what chasing money can mean for grant seeking, as you'll see here, we've got a list up. But since we're talking about drifting, I want to hop down and say a quick word about mission creep and drift or total abandonment, as the case may be.
One of the things that chasing money, which as we define it is going after grants either or on your own or under the directive of someone and not being able to make a convincing argument for not going after a particular grant. It can just waste a lot of time. It can waste a lot of your energy and resources.
But even more importantly, even in a broader picture, it can stop an organization from really finding the good matched grants, the good fits, making those matches and getting the funding that will allow them to better serve the communities where they're operating, where they're serving.
A couple of key terms, and we'll come back to this again and again. And if you listen to our podcast, Fundraising HayDay, I'm usually the one that's preaching about that. That is kind of my -- one of my areas here.
Eligibility versus competitiveness. So, we're going to go into detail later. But the idea around chasing the money is that sometimes for many different reasons, which we'll talk about very soon, organizations go after grant opportunities, whether it's private, corporate, state, federal, that they're, for which they are eligible to apply because maybe they’re 501(c)(3). But maybe they're not competitive. And that's just a really -- it's not even a fine line, but it seems to be sometimes difficult to explain to people who don't have the kind of experience that I'm sure most of you have in the grants field.
Another thing that can sort of spin those administrative wheels and keep organizations from getting that is that they either don't have or are unable to prove in a meaningful, documented way that there is a need for the programs. And we know that this is a webinar about stop chasing the money. But it's also a, let's get clear on what the needs of the organization really will be in the community. And let's also be clear that when we're talking about grants and talking about needs, specifically, like needs statements or program descriptions, it focuses really always on how does it affects the communities you serve.
And so, just the tiniest little sidebar about making sure that you are able to advocate for that position in your organization, it's going to make your grants more competitive in the field versus saying, “If we don't have an office manager, I can see the portal of hell opening up over here, and we're just going to get sucked into it because there’s too much going on. And we need computers that work.” Yes, I am not diminishing that need. But I'm saying in the world of grants, it is what will happen to the people, or communities, or animals, or groups, or rivers that you keep, or whatever it is that you're doing if you don't have those things.
So it's more services, less monitoring, people can't find work, whatever it may be, pushing that focus outward. And sometimes, helping drive those priorities from behind because you may not be in the C-suite, or you may not be the executive director. But driving those -- that leading from behind as a grant writer or grant professional, you can sort of help drive that conversation. And that having that focus on that kind of need, that is the community need to be able to document it, can also help stop that chasing the money by sort of applying for all sorts of grants out of a kind of a desperation mode.
And the final thing I'll say about this is, as we all know this, I know I'm preaching to the choir. But as we know, unless it's like a big federal or state emergency relief program related to perhaps a pandemic or a natural disaster, it's not something -- grants aren't usually there for quick fix emergencies we're going to go under unless we get this grant. As you know, they're usually to augment, to expand, to buy or build, or in some cases, to hire, or train, or those kinds of things. But not a whole lot of. And I know Instrumentl can be super helpful in helping you find general operating grants. But that's still not the norm. So, just laying that out there and sort of layering it up so we can go into a deeper discussion with the next slide about why we chase money.
Amanda: And I will tell you that eligibility versus competitive -- let me say that again, competitiveness. There we go. Phrases can be very helpful. I have a good friend who is not a grant professional. She is a budget person by trade. She works for a local police department. And so, because she's pretty good at writing and she knows her numbers, they keep throwing these grants at her. And she's like, “I don't mind writing them if I feel like we can be successful.” But she's like, “They keep going. We're eligible. Apply.” And she's like, “I'm looking at all the requirements.” And she's like, “We're not ticking the boxes.” And I was like, “Learn this phrase, while we are eligible, we are not competitive.” There are other entities that are going to get these grants because they do check those boxes.
And that phrase, like she says that to our chief, and he's like, “Oh, I get that.” And he backs off. So knowing that “Yes, we're eligible, but we're not competitive” can be very helpful in getting people to calm down a little bit about some of these grants that you might be chasing.
Kimberly: Right. Am I eligible to maybe audition to be a New York Rockette? Maybe. Am I competitive? Nah. So, just sort of --
Amanda: I don’t know. I have never seen your high kick, Kimberly.
Kimberly: You know hammy was a little tight, probably not a great fit. I'm not five. You have to be 5’7 or 5’8 or probably some statuesque thing.
But anyway, just keeping that in mind, the important things. So, we've talked about some of these things about why do we chase money. And it's sometimes because someone told us to. And that's not a feel good moment. And I was delighted to see in the comments that there were several people saying, “I never do that. We never do -- I suggest the grants. We don't” -- that is great. That is what you should keep on doing.
And I know that that's something that everyone aspires to. When I first started writing grants, it was because I thought I was a good writer and I wanted to do something good with my good writing ability. Right? That's a lot of rights. That's why I did that.
But as I got into it, all of these things trickled down. And it was like, “Oh, it's not just about, can you write something and explain something really well?” It's like, it's a thing you're explaining really well, actually, a great fit with the grant. And a lot of this is driven, and I totally get it. I hate to even use the word competitiveness, although it is probably the word because it does foster this butting heads mentality where nonprofits are duking it out for the money. But what can help you be more successful in the long term is making sure that you're going after the matches and finding the grants that are really ideal for you.
A lot of times, there's a lot of pressure from board members who may be very high-achieving people in their fields, are very well respected, well educated, or have significant lived experience in the communities you're trying to serve. And you see dollar signs. I know in the past, I would get lots of pressure from boards sometimes. Like, “Oh, oh, this is like a million dollars. Oh, this is $100,000. Oh, this is $10 million. We can go for it.” But again, that close fit was not there, which leads me to the next point that sometimes I may be the one someone's talking about FOMO. Yeah, it's cute when you're thinking about, “Where's my next bubble tea coming from and what flavor it is?” But when you're writing grants, not really the efficiency strategy.
But the other feeling that I think sometimes drives agencies to just go after a grant where they may not have that really competitive edge at all, is that they think that they're the exception. And well, it doesn't matter because our work is so awesome. And they will see that, the reviewers will see that, and they'll see that we are actually the right people to do this. And we have a couple of examples later on of how this has worked for us in real life with our clients and how we helped him through that.
The next one is sort of a sneak attack, like maybe you're at an online or in person event. Grant Professionals Association, regional conference, meet the funders panel, and you're shooting your shot in a very respectful way and you all are having a conversation maybe after the presentation. And I'm just like, “Oh, yeah, you should totally apply.” Or you have a corporate representative on your board, and they have a big national grant cycle that's kind of also tied to maybe how many people like and follow you and can talk about this. And it kind of becomes more of a contest. And your board member says, “Oh, yes, this agency should totally apply.” I would say let's -- something that I've learned over the years is say, “Thanks” and “That sounds exciting,” and then just go do your homework.
And also, understand that there's a difference between someone sort of saying, “Oh, that's, yeah, yeah, our cycle is open now. You should apply. And let me look at this and see if it's a really good fit.” Unless you've developed cultivated a working relationship with this representative of a foundation or corporation, just be really clear because sometimes too, for certain kinds of grants, not every grant, the more people who submit grants, the better it is for the funder because it shows there's a lot of interest, and particularly for national level competitions. And I don't necessarily want to name names. But there are many banks and large retailers that do these kinds of things. And I'm not saying it's a bad thing. But I'm saying, look at it, try to be clear eyed and help other people be clear eyed about this. Because just because someone said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, you should apply,” doesn't mean you're a shoe in.
And is there anything else that I missed around why do we chase money? Because someone told me to, because the money is too good to pass up, because we are a special organization that doesn't need to really fit all the criteria. Or, I saw this person at a fundraising event and they said, “Yeah, yeah, you should totally -- yeah, it's open now. Don't forget to apply.”
You think I missed that? Amanda, anything in the chat? I've seen a pop up. You all are being all active and whatnot.
Amanda: I know. I love it.
Kimberly: I’m excited about that. Fear of not having enough income that year. That, Maggie, does tie back to the idea that if you're coming up short and you're looking for grants to be the be-all-end-all of your entire revenue stream, it may be time to expand and maybe look at fundraising from individuals, or individuals who give through donor advised funds or family foundations to help fill that gap rather than looking for a grant. Because most brands, not all, but most are restricted to certain things. So, and it can be a long process. Sometimes I just feel like you can either write a grant and get the award letter, or you could have a baby because it takes about the same amount of time. Although maybe there's more documentation with grants than a baby. I don't know, Amanda. But I'm just saying, it takes a long time. So if you're in a financial emergency, unless there's an emergency relief funding related to a disaster situation that puts you in there, grants may not be the thing to pull you out of that end of the year slump.
So, we've talked about why it happens, what it can mean, and what we want to talk about next are the three things that as grant writers, as grant managers, as development directors, as executive directors, as financial members, financial team members, what are some things that we can do to kind of put the brakes on that stop chasing money while still making sure that we're open to new, good match opportunities that can come up.
So basically, we're going to go through these three areas about strategizing, researching, and scheduling. And I am excited that we're doing this for so many different reasons. But also, because I wish someone had told me that 25 years ago, it's like, “That's nice that you're a good writer. But unless you can kind of get these other things together, that may hold you back from helping this children's hospital or this food bank get everything that they can do.”
And I mean, I learned and I learned by example and I learned from talking to people who had been doing this longer than I had at the time. But so much of it is about -- and I'm always talking about this. But grant writing is like 80% not writing. And that's what I learned. And so, this is the 80% of not actually writing and keying in things. This goes into that 80% of getting a successful grant out the door, strategizing research and scheduling.
Amanda: So, let's talk about the first one. We're talking about building your strategy. And so, the best way to do that is if you've got some sort of strategic plan, whether it's -- you can call it whatever you want, but some sort of document, some sort of list, some sort of moment where the powers that be within your organization came together and we're figuring out, hopefully with input, from those that you're serving that these are the high priority items. These are the things that need to get done in the next one, three, five years. And so if you've got that direction where your organization is trying to head, then that is a direct link to the grant work that you should be doing because you know what the priorities of your organization are.
Now, if you don't have any sort of document or any sort of planning centered around the next couple of years, you can always use your grant application as that planning tool often within the application. The funder is going to ask for a lot of detailed information about you know what the program is, how much things are going to cost, how are you going to keep that program going, and what's your sustainability plan. And so, you can use that as a driving force to explain to everybody within your organization that, hey, we need to do more than just chase after this money. We really need to think about the priorities, how we're going to maintain levels of service, how we're going to continue to exist, whether or not this grant is here or not, and kind of use that as a driving force to get everybody to decide, “Okay, we do need to start thinking strategically. We do need to start thinking long term.” And so, you may be able to use it.
Kimberly and I often employ the blame the funder strategy, when like -- especially if it's something you've been telling your boss, you’re telling your board, “Hey, we need to do this. We need to do this.” And they're like, “Yes, yes, we'll get to it.” But it's not important to them for whatever reason. So, sometimes I can come to them and go, “Hey, this is a perfect grant. So, this will help fund X, Y, and Z. It's a great opportunity. But the funder insists that we have some sort of sustainability plan in place.” So, the funder insists that we have this five-year-plan in place.
And so, we either need to create it or we don't go for this funding. And usually, people don't want to miss out on the funding. So, they're like, “Okay, then what do we need to do?” And you may then be able to use that as the guide for that.
But when you have the time and you can sit down and figure out where you're headed, what your needs are, what your priorities are, that really helps drive your grant research. Because instead of going for everything, you're knowing, “No, this year, we really need to make sure we fund X, Y, and Z.” And I am only going after grants that are going to help me do that, rather than run off on all these wild goose chases.
And so, having that strategic plan helps cut out some of that other craziness and things that you may see that you want to chase those wild rabbit holes when it's like, “Here's a great grant opportunity,” right? I'll never forget one time I had someone from parks and rec come to me with a grant that we could build a pool with it. And he was like, “It's a grant for a pool!” And I'm like, “Great! Do we need a pool? Don't we already have a huge community pool?” “Well, yeah, but it's -- if they'll pay for it, why don't -- don't we need this?” “Okay. But I've got to be able to prove that we need it. And we don't have anything saying we do. And we already have one. And there's other agencies that don't have one at all.” And so, you start spinning your wheels and spending time trying to build and create something that doesn't exist to begin with just to maybe possibly have this chance at a pool. We finally decided not to go for the pool. But we want to stick with our strategy.
So, next up, we want to talk about research. Okay? So once you have that strategy, and you know these are the priorities for us for the next however many years you decide to strategize out, then you really want to focus your prospect research to finding funders and finding those opportunities that align with those priorities. Hello, Instrumentl. They can help you do this.
When you're looking at different grant funders, the things you're wanting to make sure that they align is that the missions match. Okay? So if you're someone who -- maybe you work at an animal shelter and you're trying to feed some hungry animals, great. You might find a foundation that their mission is to feed the hungry. But if you start reading the focus in the fine print, you may realize they're talking about humans. And you're not going to be able to go, “But we're still feeding. We're still feeding. It's just we're feeding something different.” Probably still not the best match, right?
So, you want to make sure that everything is aligning like it should. Again, you want to make sure that you're eligible to apply. So if you're a 501(c)(3) and that's who they fund, great. But also, are you checking all those boxes? Do they have funding priorities? Do they have minimum requirements that you have to meet? Because if you're not meeting those, then you're not going to be competitive. And if you're not competitive, there may be other grants where you are. That's where you need to be focusing your time.
You also want to make sure that the amounts that they're offering matches your program's budget and scope. Right? I've done a lot of research related to building trail systems. There's a lot of communities here in Atlanta, that trails are the things they want. Great. Trails are expensive. And so, we're talking like, especially in some of the areas in Atlanta, if you want to design -- buy that right away and design and build a trail, it's costing like a million dollars a mile.
Well, I found many of trail grants that are for $10,000. We were eligible. We were competitive. But really, $10,000? That's going to build about that much of a trail that I need billed. So, not a good match either. So those are things you're looking at too.
And you're also looking at deadline feasibility, right? You may find a grant that's due in three days. But if it's a big federal grant, I'd advise you, you've missed that deadline at that point. Right? Or even if it's a simple grant, but it requires a signature of your board of directors and they're currently on vacation, that may make it difficult too. Right? So, you've got to think about all of these things as you're looking. And some of these things, if you're like, “Oh, it didn't fit right now,” then you may be able to hang on to that notion for the next time it comes out, whether it's next quarter, next year, or whatever.
One thing I've learned, I just figured this out. I don't know why I didn't figure it out earlier in my career. But as you're doing your research, when you come across these funders that you think are fits and then you later rule them out, keep that list. Have it on there or why you've rolled it out. Because chances are, somebody's going to come back to you at some point going, “Why haven't we applied for the such and such grant?” Or, “Hey, I know Oprah has a foundation and she has all this money. And we should be getting it. So, why don't we get it?”
So if I've got my list to show, actually, I looked at that. And the reason I ruled it out is this. So I keep in my notes, why is this not a fit for us? And sometimes the reason maybe this year we don't meet the priorities, but there may be, check out to see next year if the priority has changed. And so, that's something you may look at from year to year. But at least if you know you're not wasting your time going, “I think I looked at that. But I can't remember,” and then you're having to go back and do that research all over again.
So as you're doing your research, as you're weeding out ones that are not good fits, put those in your notes why. I often create kind of -- when I do a spreadsheet or whatever system I'm using to track things, I usually have a “These are perfect. We are going for these definitely this year,” then I’ll have the, “Mmm. These aren't the best. But I think we could possibly make them work if I have time.” So, I'm going for the sure things, as sure things as a grant can be. But I'm going for these. Then if I have time to do these, and then I'll have my list of not applying. And here's the reason why.
Kimberly: So, while we have all sorts of cool things that you can get from Instrumentl, up here on the slide for your reading, pleasure and enjoyment, I will say one of the things that I want to just hit on that was so helpful for me when doing some research using Instrumentl was doing the very thing that Amanda talked about, but doing it in a very condensed way. And that is, I like to be proactive and go ahead and pull it. It's not always MacKenzie Scott and -- who is doing wonderful things, do not get me wrong. But it's like everyone says, “Oh, MacKenzie Scott will come and find us and give us money.” Maybe. But there's no -- because they're choosing to be proactive and not putting the burden on to nonprofits, it means that there's -- that's actually changing. But for a long time, there were no open grant cycles.
But what can help me -- and we were having a little discussion in the chat here about, “Hey, what do you do when you can't really get through to the foundation? And they're not responding to my calls and they're not responding to emails?” And I was like, “Sometimes it could be -- are they on social media? Is that a way to interact? But another way is to find out who those connections are. And an easy way to find that is relatively easy, depending on how recently they filed, is looking at the 990 reports, the most current reports that are available.
Instrumentl has this cool little thing where it'll pull it up so you don't have -- a lot of the searching is taken out of the way you can kind of click through to the things that you really want to see. And one of those things I'm always looking for is, who's on that board? Is there any connection? Or did they have a different phone number, or email, or address, somewhere on there that I haven't been given?
Now, the caveat here is to look and see how long ago the 990 was filed. And this is not an Instrumentl thing. This is an agency thing. And this is also an IRS thing because if nobody's writing heard or when people turn in their applications, then -- and their 990s, then you don't get the most active information.
And so, Will has offered to maybe give folks a look at the 990 and how you can research it to find those other names that you could use as contacts. And maybe we could do that toward the end. We've got a few more slides, and then that could be something that could come up for people who are like, “Yes, I need to see that.” The other caveat I want to say here. And I think there was someone else asking about, “Well, how can we find people with a lot of money?”
Since we're focusing on grants in this webinar, I would say that there could be individuals of heightened net worth who are choosing to open foundations, which would be searchable and in application and a platform like Instrumentl, or other devices. However, there are also a lot of higher net worth individuals that are not choosing traditional foundation routes and are choosing instead donor advised funds where an institution, such as community foundation or a bank, or a larger financial institution manages that money. And that's a little more opaque in trying to figure it out.
But just a good fit, whether you're looking for foundations or individuals, if you're serving a geographically-based community versus organization that's maybe centered on a particular disease, or something like that, and you're seeking funding, look around and see who's making the gifts, where, and sort of let that drive you into your search for that.
Amanda, I -- oh, my little chat box went away. Am I missing something? I need to address this before we move on.
Amanda: No. Just two things I would say is, there is a -- and I will plug them because they do something totally different than Instrumentl. There is a solution called Relationship Science. Their website is relsci, I think,.com. I believe. But it's a paid platform. But it will help you make connections.
So if you're like, “My board is fairly new. They don't have a lot of connections.” Well, what you can do is you can put in the names of your board members. And you can put in the names of the foundation. And it'll help -- it uses LinkedIn and a bunch of other things. And it helps find connection. So, your board member may not know this foundation board member. But your board member may know Amanda Day who happens to know this board member. And so, it's kind of a -- it's like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to help you connect with that. And so, I've used that before to help build some of those relationship connections.
So that's, again, spending money to pay for it. But that certainly is an option. And we're deep into the 80% of things about grant writing that have nothing to do with --
Amanda: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Will offered to kind of show around. So, I think once we get through our slides, if we've got some time at the end, Will could log on to Instrumentl and kind of show some of these things we've been talking about to make those connections.
We want to keep moseying along.
Kimberly: You sure do.
Kimberly: So again, these are things we’re -- we're putting their links in the chat about specific things. But we're going to keep on rocking. How to find -- oh, we need the backup one.
Amanda: Oh, sorry.
Kimberly: So, it's how to find those good fit funders. I think decision matrix is a really fancy name for the way that I addressed this. And it's -- but we both have been doing this for a while. And it's like finding the good fit funders, it's a calculus of deadline, grant award amount, competitive fit, mission, size of the grant award amount versus size of the budget for the program project or organization for which I'm seeking funding.
And using things like Instrumentl and other tools can help you get there. But the first step is to understand what are the true funding priorities in your organization and what are those true funding needs? So, that's where I can make a really good argument and have made it for years about having grant professionals at least represented, if not, included in the budgeting process.
That can be a little more hierarchical in larger organizations. But it's also a great way to use the blame the funder tool that we talked about earlier, as in if we don't know what it is specifically that we can talk about in terms of program needs, documented needs and expenses, either service shortfalls that could push the need to add more people or equipment or services. If we can't do that as an organization, if you can’t explain it to me as your grant professional, then the funder is not going to understand it either.
The other thing to also look at when you're -- so there's that calculus of, when is the deadline? Is it even feasible? How much money? How much of a good fit is this really? That word competitiveness again. But seriously, how competitive would we be? I've worked with a client for several years now that does great, great work. And after school and reaching out to isolated seniors, they've opened up a free community store. They have the largest community library. And it's an extremely systematically underserved area in the southern city. It's not Atlanta.
But they have very concentrated services. They're a trusted community partner. But they don't have the geographic reach that a lot of the programs in their state funding agencies are looking for. They're serving three historic neighborhoods that have also been systematically over funded due to all kinds of things. But they aren't necessarily -- they're eligible, but they're not necessarily competitive for programs that serve children and older adults in a much larger geographic scope.
So, that's where competitiveness can come into play. There's another way to look at that. It's not that they're doing bad work. They're doing incredible work. But if the grant, as you read it, is clearly like, “We're looking for regional solutions, or collaboration across the counties,” or something like that. And you're serving well, doing a great job serving two neighborhoods. You may be eligible, but that's not a good fit.
Another way to do this is to connect with past applicants as you build. Many of you probably already have really robust networks of people who do the kind of work that you do. That's a great way to reach out. If they've already gotten the funding and you're thinking about applying for the funding, that's a really easy way to start a conversation about that. I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to the ABC Foundation and what are they really like.
Another thing that could be super useful is going on -- Amanda, could you put this in the chat? I'm just going to do a brief --
Kimberly: …talk about Grantadvisor.org, which is free. And what they're doing, they're doing reviews. It's like a really well run and not controversial Yelp for funding agencies. So, that could be another -- that could be another way. And then Instrumentl can come on and help you find that good fit, too. So, we'll just rock on to the next slide.
Also, if you go on Grantadvisor.org, you can leave reviews anonymously, or you can set up an account with them. But I think it's really great if you're going to go on and read about other funders. And they don't have every funder. But what will help them have every funder is if you yourself go on and leave these reviews.
Amanda: Yeah. And somebody asked about people's willingness to share grant applications. I'll be honest, I've never had anybody tell me no. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but most grant professionals are very much like, “I've been where you are. Here, let me help you out.” So, don't be afraid. I've called a firefighter in Las Vegas that I've never met before, never talked to since, and he was like, “Happy to send it your way, Ma'am. Where can I send it?” So, don't be afraid to ask.
Kimberly: And also, yeah, I've never had people say, “No, no, no, I won't share.” But if they do, then you can ask someone else. I mean, you can't control whether or not people are going to feel competitive. But you can control how active you are and how willing you are to share those things.
And the final thing I will add is if it is a federal or state grant, that's public information that should be freely shared or their channels to get it. So, it just kind of depends.
Amanda, would you like for me to talk about scheduling or is that --
Amanda: This is you. Go for it.
Kimberly: Okay. So, another thing you can do to sort of help stop the money chase for yourself so you can kind of get in a position to be helpful and not always reactive. That was the word I was searching for. Because sometimes, when I work for a pediatric hospital, there's so many needs, right? There are so many children who need so many things, and their kids, and everyone wants to help. And then their doctors that have their -- you’re cardiologist, or you're an orthopedic surgeon, or you're a research scientist, all of these competing priorities. And it would be really easy to fall into the trap where Dr. So And So stops by or sends you this or is on Slack saying, “I need this piece of equipment.” And maybe that doctor knows somebody at this foundation and maybe they're going to go to them for this $300,000 piece of equipment. But you, the Grant Pro was actually -- you're actually planning this larger scale request for $3 million, that could include that piece of equipment.
All I'm getting to here is if you have calendared out where you're going to go, to whom, for what, based on your good fit analysis, you're going to be way ahead of the pack to sort of head off some of these things. In an ideal world, you would have some structures in place and some overall funding priorities in place with your organization. So, that kind of like a pet project, do this do that, we need the swimming pool. That cracked me up. I'm like, “Dude, maybe a swimming pool is not the most important thing from Amanda's example before. Or maybe it is.” But having those things in place and lining up those deadlines of things you already know are good fits, because you've done your homework and research, then you're in a much better position to feel those sort of unexpected, either opportunities, or someone who just has to tell you that MacKenzie Scott has a lot of money, and so does Bill Gates, and so does Oprah. And so does Tyler Perry, because based in Atlanta, we could get a lot of that.
That's not to say that these are generous people who are doing wonderful things. But if you already have this set up, or someone comes to you and says, “Oh, but this is a really great grant.” And it's -- I saw this on Facebook and I'm sending it to you. And it's for $5,000. And what you really need to raise is $5 million. It's going to be easier if you have it all laid out to go, “That is interesting. But I see that it's due the same day as this big opportunity from the Blank Foundation for $3 million.”
So, let's talk about what needs to go. Is there someone else who can come in and write a grant for the lower amount? Can we spread work around? It just helps you negotiate from a little more of a position of strength, because then somebody's always going to come in and, “Well, you can just do it all,” and then they'll laugh and then they'll leave. So, maybe you can't do a lot about that person. But having the idea of, “Well, we're already slated to do these things. Where can that fit in?” It can help -- it's also going to help you from burning out because it's really easy to burn out and just want to do grind those grants. And I did that for about eight or nine years. And I don't recommend it as a lifestyle choice.
But again, the more you can present a logical format of what's going on and then ask how's this going to be worked in, then it can help everyone. And ultimately, it's going to help you bring in more grant funding because you're going to put out more quality products when you do that. It can also help you space out your workload.
I say this as someone who is so externally driven by deadlines that -- Amanda and I were talking earlier about our podcast. And she's like, “Oh, well, we'll just put it in a sauna and not put a date.” I'm like, you know your girl, you know you're going to have to put a date on it.” Or I'll be like, “Oh, yeah, I'll get to that later. Oh, yeah, I'll get to that later,” and it won't get done.
So, just know that. I resisted for many years like, “Oh, I don't want to be that person that's so incredibly calendared and scheduled.” But if I do have a framework around my grants, it actually frees up and it's less stressful, and it's easier to explain and negotiate with employers or clients about what needs to happen where. So, I just want to put that out there.
Sometimes, I have even used red light, yellow light, green light, color coded Excel spreadsheets. I'm not proud of this. But I'm just telling you, you can find the thing that works for you. I'm looking over here at a Kanban board that I recycled from my husband's school cork board here that's divided by two Christmas ribbons, and it has press on sticky notes as labels. I'm just saying. Find the thing that's right for you and work that schedule.
Amanda: Yeah. Someone in the chat asked about, how can you create a calendar when so many grants are suddenly popping up and they're doing 30 days, and that sort of thing?
Kimberly: I got to say that's kind of the whole point of creating a calendar.
Amanda: Yeah. So, you figure it out the ones you do know and you're plugging them in. So you know when one new one does pop up and it's like, “Okay, that's due in 30 days. Let me look at my calendar and see what I already have stacked on deck.” And if it's a light month, then you may have an easy answer, “Yep, we're going for this because I have the time.” Or if it's a crazy month, then it's a question of, “Okay, this new thing that popped up, how does it fit within our priorities? Or can I shuffle some things around? Can I bring in an assistant?” It's like, “Hey, all of these are important.” Okay? Well, I've told my boss plenty of times when I used to work for a local government. I'd be like, “I can't do all of these this month.” So, sometimes they'd lend me an admin assistant who was good at writing, sometimes we would decide, “Okay then, this is the priority and you at least need to get these three done. And if you happen to get to this fourth one, great. If not, it's not the end of the world. You could bring in a consultant. There's options there.”
But you will -- even the ones that you're like, “I didn't know about this one,” most grants are pretty cyclical. And so now that you've got that one on your radar, chances are it's probably going to be due about the same time the following year. So just the more you do it, the more you're going to get better at realizing the timeline of some of the key grants that you tend to go for on a regular basis too.
Kimberly: Oh, you know what? If I forgot to mention this earlier, I'm sorry, but let me say it again, or say it for the first time now. I tie my calendar development to the start of the fiscal year of the, either my client or the agency that employs me. And I want to get in on it. I want to have a voice in a way that makes sense for that organization in their budget planning process to drive the priorities and then get that research done ahead and then calendar it in.
And as Amanda said, there may be family foundations or corporate foundations that support your organization year after year after year. And maybe they haven't announced their 2024 deadlines yet. But you know it's probably going to be in April. So go ahead and put that in the calendar so that you're not always in this, “Here comes another grant. Here comes another grant.” You at least know. And there's nothing to preclude getting ahead on some of those grants. If you know something is due in six months, but you’re having a light quarter for some reason because maybe MacKenzie Scott just gave your organization $20 million and you all are figuring some stuff out, that's a good time to go out and get ahead of some things, gather the documentation, put those things in place.
And I'm embarrassed to say that it took me a few years when I first got started to realize that I could actually get stuff done. And out ahead of the deadline that I didn't have to always roll it up to the last point. That working ahead actually made it easier on me because as more grants with tighter deadlines stacked up, I wasn't completely snowed under. So, I'm just saying that. You may be like, “Wow, Captain Obvious.” But I'm just saying, it took me a minute to learn it. So, I'm just sharing.
Amanda: Yeah. Well, and this next slide kind of covers what we were talking about is that there are going to be those ROW grant opportunities. And sometimes they are a perfect fit, right? So, you're going to first -- when one gets thrown on your lap, you're going to look at that feasibility, the deadline, the fit, the competitiveness, all of that good stuff. And if it is a perfect fit, again, you may have to reset those priorities and ask for help when needed.
But the good news is, if you've already got, you've created your plan, of these are our priorities, this is our focus for this year, if you've got one that comes in that doesn't meet up with any of your funding needs, you've already got an easy answer to going, “Hey, I feel you’re on this grant, but this is what we’ve -- we, as an organization decided these are our priorities. This does not fit anywhere in there. And so for me to do this means we won't hit some of our targets for these things.” And that usually gets people to understand like, “Oh, okay, so this is why we're not going for that.” Not always. I mean, there are plenty of times when the boss is like, “I don't care. You're applying for this, anyway.”
Okay. But then I always try to have a conversation of, “That's fine. But that means now if I'm doing this, I cannot do this. And are you okay with that? So, I want everybody to be on the same page that we're not just adding extra work to Amanda. We are figuring out, well, if I'm picking this up, something else is going to slide away.”
Kimberly: There are also some options there with you, if you are a consultant or you work with consultants. Here’s a super quick example, Amanda. I'm just going to mention --
Kimberly: I'm working on -- a colleague of mine has -- it's her client, they have this federal opportunity that could be truly transformative and they are a good fit and they will be competitive, but the deadline was 30 days. And that's just kind of nuts. It's not the client’s fault. It’s the way it all went down.
So my colleague was like, “Hey, I could use an assist here. Can you come in and write some things around this and work with the client?” So, sometimes that can open the door for, “Sure, we'll crank out this ginormous federal” -- I'm not going to name the agency grant, “in 30 days. But can I bring in -- I need to bring in somebody, and it's going to be this amount. And it's to do these things.”
As Amanda said, “Sometimes their internal resources.” And sometimes that can drive the, “Hey, let me bring somebody in to help out.” So knowing if you have things set up in advance, it just makes that powerful argument. For those huge ride opportunities, it may be worth it to bring people in on that. That's not something that I do a lot. Though I really trust the person I'm working with because it can be kind of kooky to come in in the middle of something. But it can happen, and there are people who do that a lot.
Amanda: Okay. Next thing up is our stories. I can go real first, because this -- I've been doing this for 20 something years, and this is still happening to us. Last year I had a client that provided health care primary care for individuals who do not have access to health care and live below a certain poverty level in an area here in the metro Atlanta area. And the executive director sent me a grant application through -- I think it was Bank of America maybe, or it was some bank, or Wells Fargo. Somebody that they were trying to help -- they were serving the same citizens that we are serving, right? And trying to help them with their wealth building, basically. And so, she's like, “Hey, this is a grant. I think we should look at it.” Well, as I read everything, nonprofits can apply. So, we're eligible. But at work, they were looking for financial literacy classes. They were looking at financial training, all kinds of things like that.
So when I looked at it, I'm like, “Yeah, we provide healthcare. We're not a fit.” And she came back and she's like, “Well, the board, the president of our board really wants us to apply.” And I was like, “Well, tell him this is not a good fit and here's why.” Well, the next thing I know, he's emailing me and he -- but in his reasoning, very sound. If people are not -- one of the biggest reasons people have struggled with being behind on payments and stuff is because of healthcare issues, right? You've got these medical bills that you have to pay, which then means you can't pay other bills that you need to pay as well.
And so it's like, if we can take that burden off of people, that frees up money for them to be able to do things like pay their mortgage and pay their bills, and all that kind of stuff. Very sound logic. But again, when you read all the requirements of the funder, they were wanting you to do financial training. We didn't provide that. That was not our mission. That was not anything we'd ever talked about doing. That was not a priority of our free clinic. Right? And so, we had to go back and forth quite a bit for me. And I'm like, I don't disagree. He's like, “But I'm right.” And I'm like, “Yeah, you are right. But that's not what the funder is trying to do.” And so sometimes you just kind of have to keep going back to, “Yes, I don't disagree with you at all. But this is the funder’s purpose and their mission and their point. And we don't check all those boxes.”
So, thankfully, he was like, “Okay, I get it.” And I told him, “Look, I got another grant I'm working on for you. And these are the ones that at least half of them are probably going to fund us. If not, more.” So, let me focus on these. But this one there, I mean, they may look at us and think, “Well, you all are doing good work, but they're not going to fund us.” And thankfully, he was like, “Okay, fine with that.”
And as a consultant, too, I'm like, “Dude, I could write it for you and I could -- you could pay me for it. But listen to me, I'm turning down work for the purpose of saving your money because it's not a good fit.” And I think that -- he was like, “Oh, okay, that makes sense.”
Kimberly: That's a very powerful argument to make this.
Amanda: It is.
Kimberly: And I've made it a lot. And so, my story is related to working with a client. So, we had done the calendaring thing. I’m feeling good. We have worked together for about a year and a half. I'm taking some time off in the summer because it's summer. And it was about a week and I'm up there. I think maybe I was at a lake, hanging out, we're family time. And I got this email. And it's -- shame on me for checking my emails like that. But I get this email, “Oh, we did it again. When you get back, we found this really great grant opportunity. And I’m like, “We’re already judged by that.” And so, they sent it to me. And they're so enthusiastic and great.
I just -- I always -- I told Amanda. I was like, “I feel like I'm the cold wind of doom, just blowing through their sunny happy plans.” But when I looked at it, the grant was -- it was a state grant and it was all about community clubs. And this agency does function as a community hub and its area of the city.
But the whole thing, kind of like what Amanda was talking about, this was a grant from -- I want to say it was the state pass through -- maybe it was a small business administration. So, an SBA grant can do great things. But if you just read through, you’re like, “How they define a community FOB is actually a place where it's either their micro loans, or as Amanda said, there's also -- there's educational programs, there's things to help people get out of payday loans, all sorts of things.
The community hub was really centered around financial products and services, and not the general definition of being a trusted community hub. And you may be like, “Didn't they see that? And I'm going to say no, because they were just excited to think that there could be another way they could serve their community.” And while I am sitting up there looking at an RFP under an umbrella, they're running their program and working with hundreds of children and doing those kinds of things. So, understanding and explaining.
And I used that. I'm like, “I can write this for you, but you're not eligible. And let me show you why.” And so, actually, as we get to the end of that, something that came out of that experience and some others led Amanda and I to develop a tool to kind of help walk people through the process so that you as the grant professional are not spinning your wheels either on in a phone conversation or somebody stopping in your office, or you're on Slack trying to explain that.
Oh. So, are you ready to go to the next slide? I feel like we're just -- there we go.
Amanda: Yes, we can go -- I didn't mean to move forward, which is what happened. But we've got five minutes left. So, let's move along.
Kimberly: So, a lot of the things that we're talking about here are about putting yourself as a grant pro in a position to sometimes explain these things to people who may in the organization hierarchy outrank you, or you may report to that person. Or as a consultant, you may feel like if I don't do this thing, they're not going to want to work with me.
I think the best way to go about this is logically walking through explaining all the things we talked about how you can be eligible but not competitive, how it may not be a great fit financially because the need is too great, or the need is too small for the funding amount. They may be near in their geographical emphasis, but they're not in the place that you're in. They're in the same state, but it's very clear that this company does not have any operations in your area. And that's a priority for them.
Having those kinds of conversations -- and we're joking about blaming the funder. But just consider yourself a subject matter expert on that grant. And the best way to approach that is to say this here. Let me pull out the wording that explains to you why this is a great fit or not a great fit. And also reminding them whether you're an employee or you're a consultant, that if we go for this and we're not competitive, that that's going to be some money that we may not be able to recoup in term -- and also, some energy and employee time.
I'm also -- and we could probably just go ahead and go on to the next slide, I think, because we've just -- I know, in the interest of time, I'm really delighted to see everyone connecting in the chat. That's what we want. We want you all to build communities and reach out to each other. And just the idea -- Amanda, is this something that you would like to talk about? The no more chasing money?
Kimberly: Just a quick summary of the part we mentioned.
Amanda: Yeah, you just need to do your research. And hopefully, you're working for a client or organization that's learned to trust you as the grant pro that when we say, “Hey, we're passing,” it's not, “Hey, we don't want to write this grant. It's the right fit.” And I know that doesn't always work out.
There's a city I used to work for. I've now come back as a consultant. They don't question me at all things they used to question me as a staff member. And I'm like, “You're the same person.”
Kimberly: It’s magic.
Amanda: I'm telling you -- so I found sometimes too being able to say, “Hey, I went to this conference,” or, “I was on this webinar,” or, “I heard from this. I heard from a consultant with 25 years experience say X, Y, Z.” And suddenly my boss will be like, “Well, that sounds like a good idea.” And I'm like, “I told you that yesterday. But, okay. Great.” Now, so use us as a stepping point for --
Kimberly: Oh, yeah!
Amanda: This is why we're doing this. This is what we’ve --
Kimberly: Blame the trainer. Blame the trainer.
Amanda: Yeah, blame the trainer.
Kimberly: Blame the trainer.
Kimberly: Tell them this.
And if you've got somebody who's really arguing, maybe go with like, “Give me a year. Give me a year to work the system the way I'm recommending. And let's see how much money we bring in.” Because chances are, if you are finely tuned, cultivated grants that really fit, you've used Instrumentl, you've done all your research, you found all the things and they're meeting the needs of your organization, chances are, you're going to be really successful. And so, if an organization is willing to give you a year to give your system a try, you're probably going to be successful. And then hopefully, they'll let you continue to do that. Right?
So, you want to create that plan. As much as possible, stick to it and know that, yes, sometimes unexpected opportunities do arise. And if it's a good fit, then go for it. But if not, hopefully, you can stand your ground. Don't go off script for things that don't meet your mission and purpose.
And as much as possible, refer and collaborate with other organizations. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Or say, “Hey, we found this great opportunity that makes sense for the two of us to go in together. So then you're cutting your work in half. There's lots of ways you can work with other organizations.” We can do a whole session on collaboration, but just know that those resources are there.
Kimberly: Here we are. And I know we're right at 2:15. This is how you can find us. We've got a discount code for Instrumentl there. It will help you check it out. And please do a -- well, Stephanie, I think that maybe that's something for Will to think about. “Please do a session on collaboration.” So, we'll let you know. We'll let you know how that collaboration works out.
Yeah, it is a hard thing to do. But it's great. So many grantors want that. But we can help you walk through the ways to do it the right way.
Kimberly: Because we've done it the wrong way. And here are the freebies. Is this a -- who is explaining this fine slide?
Will: I can explain it. And I've got a question from you or two from the audience that I want to make sure we tackle as well. But, yeah, if you go ahead and complete that freebie page there, we've got a go, no-go grant decision guide that the HayDay team has put together. And we've also got a couple other resources for you when you go to that page there.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this grant workshop. We're going to tackle one or two questions. And then I'll also show just a couple things from what you guys talked about in terms of the grants calendar view, and then we'll wrap up in the next few minutes.
So, the question that I wanted to make sure I covered is, this person totally understands about not chasing the money. However, their higher ups really think that the more you apply for, the more money that you'll get and not worrying -- and they don't really worry about competitiveness. So, this person has asked me if you have any suggestions for how to convince them that this is not the way to go about things.
Kimberly: I would say, the way to do that is to talk about the difference between going for grants that are highly specialized and often usually restricted versus asking for individual donations where you can ask a lot of people. It sounds like there may be conflating -- well, we'll just ask everyone for money and then we'll get all the money. And that could be an interesting -- if not, always super productive strategy for individual giving. But it's a poor strategy for grants because each grant, they all ask for the same kind of information, right? It needs goals and objectives, program description, evaluation, sustainability, budget, and a bunch of documents.
But they asked for it in different ways. And they have different focus areas. So, you can't create a one-size-fits all. And if you're just -- you're burning through time and energy, trying to do that, it would be kind of like looking for your perfect job by applying to every single job opening on Indeed, regardless of the fit. Maybe you will get a job. But that's a whole lot of time and money to waste on something when a more targeted approach and building relationships could get you multiyear funding, or building collaborations could get larger funding.
Amanda, do you have anything to add to that?
Amanda: No, I think that's --
Kimberly: I know you can't just say, “This and knuckleheads.” But there's a part of me, it's like, “You all, that's not how it works.”
Amanda: Well, and especially if you can make the list and go through. And no grant professional has a crystal ball. Right? But if you can kind of go through and point out things like, “Here's 20 that, off the bat, I bet we're not going to get because we don't match mission, or we don't match priorities.” And if you can estimate, which is if you knew that that's hard to do. But if you can be like, “Hey, these proposals are probably going to take me 400 hours,” and the chances are slim to none versus me spending more time on the ones that are actually a better fit. And putting together quality solid proposals, you may have to kind of break some things down that way too.
Kimberly: And also suggest that's 400 hours on proposals that are probably not going to get funding because we're not competitive. Or if you have a development department or in an annual giving person, or they could send out -- we could get a challenge grant from one of you all that's popping off about how this is so easy. You can put a challenge grant together and we can do an individual giving campaign. And maybe raise that money over here while I'm over here doing the specialty work to get in these grants.
I think it's just real, real fast. If they're not understanding that at all, go to Giving USA. They've been doing this for years with the Indiana School of Philanthropy. And they, every year in June, they have the -- here's what giving looks like in the United States. And it's non-government -- I mean, it's not government, is what I'm trying to say. And I've used those pie charts. You can download their factsheet for free. It's givingusaa. -- something. And that can be an educational tool because, sometimes, like whether you use the go, no-go decision making little tool thing, a little page thing, sometimes seeing it in writing -- and if you're like me, if you're introverted, sometimes the words, you want to have time to process and you don't want to have to have this in depth discussion about why they do not know what they're doing about this thing that you know, then you can be like, “Hey, let me send you this. I analysed that. Let me send you this and we can talk about it.” Or, “Hey, for the next board meeting, let's put this little pie chart in here that talks about most giving in the United States to chair. The most charitable giving comes from individuals, although grants are a mighty, mighty thing.
Some way to take the burden off of you and use data to back up your argument so that it doesn't feel so personal.
Will: Awesome. And, yeah, we also have another class for you guys in the audience, or feel free to check out in terms of self-pacing. It's How to Find New Good Funders in Under 60 minutes. We dig into literally the same search steps in terms of mission matching. And that's something that, as we wrap up here today, in case you haven't checked out Amanda and Kimberly's link on Instrumentl, you all might find it useful. Because when you set up your account on Instrumentl, that's largely what we're filtering you for, in which you're able to tell us what sort of fields of work you really want, where's the location of your project.
And if you joined us in our spring release, right, before this event, we released a lot of new functionality in terms of advanced filters that make it even easier for you to really start getting into the mission matching side of things, both in terms of the keywords as well as locations of projects and past giving trends of foundations.
And then the other thing that was mentioned was the grants calendar. In case you didn't know, Instrumentl also has a grants calendar now. Pretty much it's all built into your tracker.
Will: And so, everything gets built into the same place and it's all included as well with any standard planner above. So, definitely check those out. Because when you start saving those things, again, everything gets filtered in one place. If you're working on a multiperson team, you can literally just filter out for just your view versus your teammates’ view, and stuff like that.
So, lots of great lessons from today. We're definitely going to send the slides and replays for folks. Thanks, everybody, for joining in today. Thank you to Amanda and Kimberly. We can definitely follow up in terms of having a collaboration workshop. So, we'll be in touch.
Amanda: We're here for you.
Kimberly: We’re here.
Will: And be sure to check out their podcast as well. There's over a hundred episodes of free content there. So, be sure to check that up.
All right. Thanks, you all. Have a great rest of your weeks. Bye now.