Eyes on the Prize: The Secrets to Finding Your Best Fit-Grants


April 30, 2024

Last Updated:

May 1, 2024

Looking at the daunting pile of 100+ grant opportunities and trying to decide your top pursuits?

​Join Meredith Noble from Learn Grant Writing and Loretta Skiff from Planet Grants as they share the secrets to calculating the competitiveness of each grant, understanding the grant prospecting funnel, finding the best ROIs for your time, and more.

What You’ll Learn:

  • 🤓 Calculate competitiveness of each grant program
  • ​📚 Know the three stages of the grant prospecting funnel
  • ​⏳ Find the highest likelihood of success and return on investment for your time when it comes to your grant strategy
  • ​🔍 Understand how Instrumentl can help you identify the right opportunities for your programs

This is a great grant writing 101 workshop for those new and experienced in grant prospecting.

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About our speakers

Meredith Noble, Co-Founder & CEO of Learn Grant Writing

​Meredith is on a mission to inspire other women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. She secured over $45 million in grants before beginning to teach others how to build a flexible career in grant writing. Her book, How to Write a Grant: Become a Grant Writing Unicorn, is a #1 bestseller for nonprofit fundraising and grants on Amazon. Meredith is a fifth generation black angus cattle rancher from Wyoming, now living in the mountains of Alaska. As an Alaskan adventuress, she can be found biking, skiing, or hiking. When not on an Alaskan adventure, she can be found curled around a cup of green-tea with a good book. Learn more at www.learngrantwriting.org.

Loretta Skiff, Founder/Grant Manager of Planet Grants

​Bringing a passion for catalyzing positive change, Loretta is a seasoned professional with expertise in grant management across diverse sectors. Her specialties include educational funding, sustainable technology, environmental conservation, and operations support. To date, Planet Grants has helped raise over 10 million in grants and social media campaigns. Loretta successfully navigates the intricate landscape of grant funding to drive impactful initiatives. She has developed a $2 million workforce development program from scratch and remotely managed large projects ($375 million). Armed with a keen understanding of program needs, commitment to sustainable practices, and dedication to environmental preservation, she has played a pivotal role in securing and efficiently managing grants that fuel transformative projects. Beyond grant administration, her business consulting provides strategic insights for operational improvement.

Create your Instrumentl account using the link above. Save $50 off your first month should you decide to upgrade when your trial expires with the code LGW; MeredithNoble.

What is Instrumentl?

​Instrumentl is the most-loved grants platform. In 2023, Instrumentl helped over 3,000 organizations win over $1 billion by bringing grant discovery, research, and tracking to one place. Our customers are on the front lines educating kids, saving endangered species, and restoring watersheds. Learn more at instrumentl.com.

Can I try Instrumentl?

​Sure thing! Sign up for a free 14-day trial and check out the platform. No credit card is required.

PLEASE NOTE: This webinar is geared towards US-based 501c3’s with a minimum of a $200K operating budget, or consultants working with such organizations. If you are based internationally, you should have a US-affiliated chapter and 501c3 status.

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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Eyes on the Prize: The Secrets to Finding Your Best Fit-Grants - Grant Training Transcription

Rachel: I could probably listen to that song on repeat all day. But for now, we'll pause and get started with what we have planned, which I'm very excited about. I'm so glad you're here for this moment. Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us. I'm going to end our poll. Thanks for sharing a little bit about who you are. And I'll share those results so folks can see.

We've got a kind of wide spread of folks. But a lot of our intermediate grant writers in the room, some novice, some experts, some who are still figuring it out. I'm so glad you're with us.

Let's get our event started here. So, we are here together today to run this event, Eyes on the Prize: The Secrets to Finding Your Best Fit Grants. And I appreciate seeing some familiar faces and names in the Zoom room. Thanks so much for being here.

For any of our first timers, this free grant workshop is one of our Instrumentl educational webinars in our partner series. So, our goal is to focus on challenges that grant makers might be looking to solve and bring in our partners to help support some of those wins and successes and learn from each other along the way.

For those of you who are new to Instrumentl, we're the most loved all-in-one grants platform for grant prospecting, tracking and management. And we currently help more than 3,000 nonprofits. I think it's now 3,500 nonprofits and grant consultants save time in finding and applying for more grants.

For those of you who don't already know me, my name is Rachel. I'm one of the newest team members at Instrumentl. And my job is to help develop helpful and educational events like this one to share with our Instrumentl community. I have a decade plus of experience in the informal education field, specifically in museums. And I'm based in Los Angeles, California.

Hi, friends. Hi, Bob. Hi, Angelica. Thanks everyone for being here and for sharing a little bit about yourselves in the chat.

So, just a reminder about what we've got going on today. We're going to be together for about an hour. I'll be done with this intro in the next five minutes or so.

And we've got our very special guests who are going to run us through a really exciting program today. This presentation will be a partner webinar with live Q&A. This workshop is being recorded right now, and the slides will be shared afterwards. So, keep your eyes peeled on your inbox to get all the info after the program.

Make sure you're honoring your personal needs during this event today. I've got my hydration right next to me and I'm hoping everyone's brought a snack or something to keep themselves going. And we've all got busy schedules, so thanks for taking time to join us. But please make sure you're back in your seats at around quarter till.

That's when we're going to transition into the kind of live Q&A, if we haven't answered any questions during the program, and share more about how you can get our freebies today and enter our raffle.

Last thing here is I've turned on close captions. So if you want to follow along with what we are sharing today, if you want to read as well as listen, you can toggle those closed captions on in your Zoom settings.

Okay. If you need any extra incentives to stick it out with us today and stay until the end. If you submit your feedback form at the end of this program, you're going to receive an awesome free handout of the grant research funnel, which includes a worksheet and some reflection prompts about when you're talking to funders that was generously created and shared by the Learn Grant Writing team. Plus, you could win a spot in Learn Grant Writing's From Pen to Polish course, which is a $750 value. So, we're raffling off a spot for that. Very exciting. Plus, you could be a lucky winner of a copy of Meredith's number one best-selling book, How to Write a Grant: Become a Grant Writing Unicorn.

So, we've got some really great freebies and raffle prizes. Thank you so much to our partners for offering those today. I'm excited to have those for folks who submit their feedback form.

Lastly, just as a reminder of how you can participate today, make sure you're jotting down and any those kind of nuggets of wisdom, things that are really speaking to you. This is your time to learn and grow. And so, let's try and be as present as possible with one another.

We've got some great partners that are taking their time to be with us today. And I want to make sure we can dedicate our minds and time to them as they share with us. You can type any questions you have in the chat. If you add three hashtags to the front, that'll just help me organize questions for our presenters. Make sure they can catch those as the presentation is going along.

And as a kind reminder, we're going to stay on mute, unless we're called on to speak, just to make sure we're creating the best environment for learning. Thanks for helping to create that space for us.

Okay. One last thing before I enter our special guests. I've made a special event resources webpage that will have everything we talked about today. So if you're like, "Oh my gosh, the chat box is crazy. I cannot keep up with all this. There's so many links. I want to come back to it." No worries.

This is going to be a place where I'm going to copy in all those little, like, lovely links that we're dropping in the chat. Maybe some peers are sharing some really great kind of words of wisdom that you want to remember. So, you can bookmark this page. I'll drop it in the chat in just a second here. This will also go in our follow-up email. This is a kind of repository for everything we are talking about today.

With that, I'm really excited to introduce our two very special guests, Meredith Noble and Loretta Skiff. They actually have a great intro set up for you. So, I'm going to pass it on over to them and have them start sharing their slides so we can get rolling.

Hi, Meredith and Loretta.

Meredith: Greetings. Hey, everybody.

Yeah, it's a good thing that you're catching all the links because I have a lot of unicorns here and I need to be able to share. Can I get the screen share? Right. And we blow up the chat. That's how we roll. Right? Am I right? I'm a unicorn.

Loretta: Hi, everyone.

Meredith: Yeah. So, Rach. Hey, can I share the results from the survey? Because I see it's still here. Did we share those?

Rachel: Oh, I think I shared. You can actually close that.

Meredith: Oh, okay.

Rachel: Thank you for checking though.

Meredith: All righty. Awesome. Now I need to get you all up in grid mode so I can see you because I really like seeing your faces. So, it doesn't feel like we're not live. Okay.

So, let's get this party started. I'm almost ready. I just had to locate the chat. Where's the chat go? Okay. All right. So, I think most of you know who I am. But what we are known for over at Learn Grant Writing is launching careers in grant writing. So, we hire co-founders at the Global Grant Writers Collective. That's my co-founder Alex. I've personally won 42 million in grants, and our members have won 627 million, which we update annually. So, I can't wait to see what that new figure is going to be soon. And I, in fact, it's probably going to be nearly doubled if Loretta has her way with a huge grant that she just wrote.

So, Loretta, do you want to introduce yourself real quick?

Loretta: Hi, everyone. So I'm a member of the LGW Collective, also known as the Unicorn Crew internally. So, shout out to my unicorns. And, yeah, what Meredith said, I literally wrote the biggest grant of my career last two weeks ago, I would say. 371 million for Department of Energy Grant with Nanotech Energy. So, hopefully, we win that in August. I double the Grant Writer Collective wins and they get to build their battery gigafactory. So, we'll see.

Meredith: Such a boss. So cool. So great to have Loretta here.

Just a couple updates because I think you know the general things about us. But just in case you're a listener to the book I did, we did just get the Audible version released. So if you want to listen to the book, it is now in Audible, which was a huge undertaking. Then we developed a co-pilot, AI co-pilot. We're calling her Celeste. Haven't completely nailed the name because everybody's calling anything AI co-pilot right now. But that is a software for grant writing workflows. Internal only right now. I don't know if we'll ever bring it outside. But just wanted to share that because it is dreamy.

And we're hosting a mastermind for grant consultants in Bend. Technically, we're full. You have to have made at least 50k in revenue. But I know I can get some extra spots opened up because the venue it's kind of offseason at the venue. So if you are interested in that at all, please shoot me a DM in LinkedIn or by email, or whatever, so we can send you the information about that because it's going to be dreamy and it's late April.

Okay. And then the other thing that's very important to know is that National Unicorn Day is April 9th, which coincidentally Instrumentl is also having their spring launch that day. So, like, clearly good energy. But if you want to join us, we're going to be doing a Vision Casting Workshop. So, you can learn a lot of that science behind goal achievement. We'll be building your vision board in Canva. So, it can be your desktop background or you can use it as your phone background, et cetera. It's really, really powerful.

I was obviously been preparing and I've been looking at my vision board. And I'm like, "God, dang, like, it's all either done or in motion." So, it really does work. It's wild. So, I just want to make sure you knew about that. And we'll drop -- maybe, like, Loretta, if you can drop the link in for that just so people can can see it.

Loretta: It's dropped.

Meredith: Dropped. Sick.

Okay. And then was this a question that we were able to ask? Is this in a poll who uses Instrumentl already? Just so we --

Rachel: I do have that let me launch that for you all so that we can capture that.

Meredith: Yeah, it'll help. Loretta is going to do a live demo portion. So, it's going to help her know if she gets to go nuclear on details or if we stay a little bit more high level. But I -- my vote -- yep, all the time or not yet. Okay.

Used/using trial. Okay. So fascinating. Okay. Well, 50/50 split. So, I guess you get to somehow you get to talk about some general stuff. But also, like, don't hide yourself from going into some of the details. I'm going to end the poll so we can look at that. But just so everyone else can see it.

Sweet. Did that work?

Rachel: It did.

Meredith: All right. This is not so user friendly. I think we already talked about this. So, I feel like we're good. I don't need to ask this.

Okay, game plan. We're going to talk about the grant prospecting funnel, how you focus on the right grants with the highest ROI, and then the Instrumentl nuances from Loretta, which I'm really excited to share with you. And then again, we already talked about the gifts so you know what's coming.

Okay, funding funnel. So, what I have discovered is that it's really important to find systems repeatable patterns when you're doing things to help you work through the logic and not getting overwhelmed because if you set up a search for the first time in Instrumentl and you get 300 grants back, you're going to be overwhelmed. So, there's a very -- there's a process to doing this efficiently. And how this came to be for me was I was thrown into age 22, go figure out how to fund this clinic. Okay? And they had -- it had been 10 years, lots of smart people working on it. They'd even gotten a grant and had to give it back because they didn't own the land. Like, it was a mess. And here, they wanted some 22-year-old that writes grants to solve this problem, right?

And when I got into that project, I realized, one grant wasn't going to do it all. I needed multiple grants. And the first grant I went after was the Indian Community Development Block Grant with HUD. And I needed to be able to show, "Well, what are the other grants we're pursuing that that one grant would unlock?" And that was really the birthplace of this concept of a funding strategy we teach, which is this idea which I think I have it here, which is that we need grants to line up in the right order so that when we win one, we knock over winning another one. Whereas if we win a grant here and we don't have a strategy behind it and we go and spend all that money, it has no influence on subsequent grants. Right?

We want to be creating a lot of momentum behind the grants we're pursuing and winning. And this does require strategic thinking. So if anyone told you why are you getting a liberal arts degree, you can tell them this is why. Because this is where all that thinking gets put into good use. Okay.

So, let's get into a high level of the funnel. And I want you to take notes for this because there's specific questions per section and we're going to break it down. So stage one is setting the search. Stage two is then filtering those from about a 100 or so or more down to about the 20 or so that are really worth looking at more closely. Stage three is then getting it down to the top pursuits. Right? The ones we're actually going after, we're putting our resources behind this. So, think about your funnel as a three-funnel phase or three phases. Okay?

So what is a funding strategy? It is a game plan. It's a road map to decide what grants are we going to pursue. It gets everybody on the same page. And it essentially lists like, "Here are the issues that we need to work out before we're maybe grant ready or things that we need to do to be strong applicants. These are the grants we're going to pursue and here is the schedule.

Loretta: And that's just the basic funding strategy.

With my clients, I include tax credits. I include are they doing fundraising, donor stewardship sometimes? So, really, you can change your funding strategy based on your needs.

Meredith: That's exactly right. 100%.

And when you're doing a really -- like a really complex project, which I'll give an example of it in a second, a lot of times I actually keep that. You know, I don't list -- we don't have it down to three to five grants. So, we're keeping that in more of the spreadsheet matrix type format that Instrumentl has so you can be viewing a lot more data in one spot.

Okay. So obviously, we love Instrumentl. I go so far back. So this is a kind of an amazing story. I was filming my original course. That, by the way, epically failed. I had one person buy it. Okay. But I was filming it showing how to do funding research and I stumbled upon a blog that led me to Instrumentl's website, and everything changed. I literally stopped filming. I was like, "This is a game changer." How we find grants is, like, no longer trying to use Google to get it done, which was a miserable and time-consuming process. So, this has just been -- and that was I guess when I started was six year -- 2018.

So this was 2018 was when I first stumbled upon Instrumentl, which I don't think was too far after when they started. So, really cool to see the way they've progressed.

Okay. And again why this matters because I think it does -- we need to anchor into that, bringing a systematic approach to to finding grants stops the process, which I know many of you in-house grant writers can nod to, which is the wanting to chase grants hophazardly. It's put on your desk and it's said, "Hey, it's due in two weeks. Can you drop everything and do this?" Like, who has had that happen, right? Like, in the chat box, tell me if you've been in this situation. Right? Like, it's it's a brutal habit sometimes to break when that's just, yeah, bad habits. And maybe you're even the one that's contributing to this problem, right?

So, we want to exactly -- I thought that might be the action in the chat. I was like, "We've all run into this." So, what we need to do is kind of pull back, gain some control, and get everyone going in the same direction. Right?

And that's what a funding strategy does. Yeah. And actually, I think about what's that Taylor Swift song. It's me. I'm the problem. And I think about it, like, just sing that song, okay, if that's you and you're having a problem just like play the Taylor Swift song, and then we're going to move past this. Okay?

Okay. Stage 1. Finding 100 plus grants. So, here's your filter. We're going to use Instrumentl the research grants to find the top opportunities. When you set up your search, which we're not going to go into because a lot of you know how to do that. And then the other half, you can go work with Instrumentl to get it. But these are the -- a couple tips I need you to know. I want you to think more creatively than the applicant type that you are, because you can always partner with a different type of organization. Okay? So for example, this 501(c)3 can partner with a tribal government.

And those two entities could go after very different grants that could still support one project. Or maybe you have a researcher, right, that can partner with the university. And that unlocks more funding that would be -- then would be necessarily available to the researcher only. And to give you an example, I'm literally doing this right now. I'm going to show you where the -- so I'm -- this is like my passion project.

If you want to go follow along on YouTube, I'm just going to start releasing videos about this. This is my vision board for it. So essentially, I'm working on a project out in a rural part of Alaska. And it's to develop tiny houses and a lodge for creative writing and projects. And there's literally only diesel generators out there for electricity and heat. And I want to use more innovative energy. And so, I've partnered -- I'm partnering, like it's actively a negotiation, with a startup accelerator that is a nonprofit that supports energy and climate companies do deployments. So, they need to deploy their technology to prove it works. And they're looking for places that are willing to be early adopters. And I'm happy to be that early adopter.

So, what I did was with -- I hired one of the unicorns in our program. So, I don't even know if she's here. But she researched a bunch of grant opportunities that could help fund the vision. So, we found, like, 40 grants. And then I brought that list of grant opportunities to this nonprofit and said, "Hey, can we be partners so that some of this money could go to you and it could help your startups pay for some of those tech deployments on this site. Does that make sense?

So, like, that's some of the creative thinking. Whereas if I came into this as a for profit business, mind you I still don't know how I'm going to make money with this project. But, like, it is technically set up as a for-profit business. If I only looked for grants for me as a for-profit business, I would not have found that many opportunities. So, that's the power of thinking in different directions.

So, yeah, definitely go watch -- follow YouTube for when I start releasing projects. I'm going to be living in an RV this summer out there, clearing land and figuring out what we're doing.

Okay. So, Stage 2 is where things progressively get harder. Now, we're going from, okay, we've set the search. Now, we're going to get it down to those top pursuits that we actually want actually want to look in more closely.

And so, the three filters that we run through are giving priorities, what projects are eligible, and the funding history. So, let me break those down. So, we always want to ask ourselves, what are the funding agency's priorities? And in this phase, we don't need to drill down and go into their websites and triple check. We can use the information that Instrumentl already pulls. So, you can look at their cards and get a pretty good handle on, is there some alignment here? And so, just look for that general vibe. The biggest thing I want to suggest is like don't force it. And this is so tempting. Sometimes, like, I see nonprofits want to, like, contort themselves to fit into a funding opportunity. But if you're already doing that soon in the game, it's not going to be a good fit. So, just release it, no force. We're flowing with ease. We're just looking for where is there some general alignment. Okay? So, that's question number one. Write that down. What are the funding agency's priorities?

Two is are you eligible? Now, I do say at a quick glance because eligibility is actually a beast. And if you would like to know some scars that I have personally gotten on my body from not having eligibility correct, go read my book. Because it's actually one of those things that's really nuanced, sometimes to make sure that the eligibility -- you are in fact eligible as an entity applying, but also what you're trying to get funded. But you can still get a high-level bit of information looking at these grant programs. Like if they say we absolutely do not fund maybe religious institutions and you're a church, then you know, like, "Okay. That's a quick one. I'm just going to toss it out." Or they don't fund capital projects. Well, okay. And I want to build a new building. Okay. That's a quick out, right? So, we're looking for a high-level eligibility does this pass muster. Okay?

Third one is my favorite question. What are the funder -- what is the funder's past giving behavior? Because -- write this down. Past giving behavior is the best indication of future giving behavior. Right? So, what you can do -- and I love it -- Instrumentl is the first people that made Instrumentl or 990 tax data actually viewable, so you don't have to be going through really complex tax documents to get this information. So if I'm, for instance, a nonprofit in the State of Maine and I find this grant program, I'm going to look at this map and it's going to tell me everything I need to know. Right?

That there's no way I'm going to get a grant when almost all the money is going to the State of Alaska. Right? I need to just back out of that and go find something else. So, that's one piece of information that's helpful. And then it's also nice to look at the average amount that is being awarded because a lot of times it's misleading when you just look at the card. Sometimes they say they make bigger awards than they actually do. So, let's just go look at the real hard numbers to see what they're funding, what are they funding, and where are they making those awards.

So, this is something you can literally do pretty much in a glance. And it's going to help you know, "Hey, there's some alignment here or there isn't?" So, are we good with that? Our three questions on the phase two? We're going to recap. Have we confirmed alignment with the funder's giving priorities? Is the project something that you're eligible to get funded? And you as an entity? And then three, has the funder made award similar to your project? Okay. So, we're all good on that?

Moving right along to the hardest phase. Every phase gets harder. So stage three is about choosing those top grant pursuits. And this is when you're going deeper. We're going to spend more time actually contacting a funder getting into the funding guidelines, et cetera. So the -- there's four filters. I'm holding up my three fingers. There's four.

Okay. Competitiveness, funding guidelines, contacting past applicants and feedback from the funder. So this is a really, really important tip I want you to take away. We want to determine competitiveness. So to determine that, we need to go, "Okay, what percent of the applicants" -- so of the number that applied, how many are successful?

So to do that, we divide the number of awards made by the total applicants. So I want some someone to ask in the chat -- there's a question here that you should be, like, "But wait, wait, wait. There's a piece of information that you have to find." What is it? Yeah. Exactly, Jenna. Nailed it. How do you find out how many people applied? It's not like that's public. Yeah, exactly, Amanda.

We can figure out how many were awarded. But we don't know how many applied, right? Exactly, Bridget. So, how we do that is we actually need to contact the funder, which I'll explain in a second how you can do that strategically. But I want you to target a 20% chance, or greater, of getting funded. And the reason I tell you this, and these are all lessons learned the hard way that we're trying shortcut you on. So, I did a last-minute project. A, broke funding strategy policy and then pursued this grant.

In my hurriedness, I actually typed the wrong email. So, like, that's why I wasn't finding out if it was awarded or not. So, got that figured out. And then and then when I got basically found out, like, it wasn't awarded, it turns out 1.2% of applicants were refunded. Like, if I had done just a little bit more work, I never would have even touched that grant. And, yes, it was a small grant and it only took me a day.

But by the time you factor in, like, all the ringling I had to do after the fact, I wasted a lot of time that I can't get back, right? So here's like a simple question you can ask, like, "Hey, funder, we are interested in your grant program. We're gauging competitiveness. How many applicants applied last year? What percent of those were successful?"

Now, one of the things that my unicorns have been running into -- in the program is sometimes they get a little standoffish to this question. So, you can also -- if they write back and, like, "Why do you need to know?"

One of the things you can do is just lighten it up and be like, "I don't need to know an exact figure. I just need to know a ballpark to make sure that we're using precious resources wisely to pursue, you know, grants that are a good fit.

So if they can even just give you a ballpark percentage that's all you need. So if you get some push back on this, just recognize that you can kind of lighten it up a little bit. Oh, Mora is, like, "What the heck is a unicorn? Why you all talking about that?" Our logo is actually a grant writing unicorn. And it's a -- it came in to be -- accidentally, I'm actually wearing a scarf with the unicorn. So, I'll show you it.

Okay. There you go. Can you see it? That's the unicorn. Grant writing unicorn.

Okay. So, we're ready to roll. Let's do this now. Now we go to reading a funding guidelines. Okay. So, this is where we're actually getting the funding announcement, or we're going to the funder’s website, like, we're going deep. And we're confirming that it is in fact still a good fit.

And we need to know, "Okay, what do we need to have in place to be competitive? How much work is this application actually going to be? Right? For the amount of work that the grant is worth. Someone in our community group just posted a question yesterday about, like, "Hey, it appears that to pursue this USDA Grant, the amount of work involved in going after a 20 to $30,000 grant is the same. Pretty much. There's, like, one more form involved to go after $100, $150,000 grant. So, like, "How do you handle that?" I'm like, you know, it just tells you everything, like, I -- what you would prefer if you're able to go after the bigger one? Because it's the same amount of work, right? Or just to give you like another nuanced example. I was working on a park project in Massachusetts, Sandwich Massachusetts. And we found a really cool state grant program to build a skate park. And -- but in the funding guidelines buried in there was this information of you had to have an updated park and recreation plan with the State of Massachusetts. And theirs had expired.

So because I was preparing a funding strategy, we discovered this in January, grant wasn't due until July. And they were able to actually, like, get to work and get that funding -- or get that park and rec plan up to date with the State so they became eligible, because we had looked ahead. Otherwise, if we'd waited until the grant was due and then start working on it

30 days in advance or whatever, we would have completely missed the boat and not been eligible. Or worse, done all the work to then find out that we had missed that one little bit of information. So, that is why this makes a big difference.

Oh, how cool, someone actually grew up in Sandwich. Crazy. Yeah, I wish I've been able to go. It was a really -- yeah, it was a really fun project. It was one of my favorites.

Okay. I've worked on projects all over the place. I feel like I'm very interesting at a dinner table because I'm like, "Oh yeah, I did a water infrastructure there and skate park there and broadband infrastructures there. Like, that's what makes grant writers fun. You're just like, you know, you're dangerously knowledgeable about a lot of different topics.

Okay. So, contacting past applicants. This is an interesting approach. So we -- right now, we're doing a a really special kind of secretive research project. And we are going to be utilizing the Freedom of Information Act to get a copies of -- and Loretta is actually leading that, getting copies of successful past proposals. But you actually -- that can actually really anger and annoy the people you're trying to get the application from. I mean, Loretta has been on the other side of this having had to respond to a foyer request. So, we always recommend too that you just talk to past applicants, reach out. "Hey, is there any way I could see a copy of your grant application," or even just to give you some advice on the program.

All of that gives you additional information that's useful. And then we want to find -- you know, the other thing that's helpful is that that's a source of research, like, how did you get your project funded? Because they probably had other funding sources contributing as well. So if you want to do anything that you're trying to get funded, there's a good chance it's been done somewhere else. So, go and try to find those people. Have a curious conversation with them, an informational interview as we call it, and do some learning.

And then that moves us into contacting the funder directly. So if we've passed all those tests and it still feels good, let's go to the funder directly. Now, we're going to confirm that you're a good fit for each other and build a meaningful relationship.

And that part really is key because -- and I have like additional slides. But I wanted to cut those so we could get Loretta to do a tour. And -- but basically, like, I worked with a funder. When I was writing my book, this is a quote in there where she basically said, like, "The worst thing you can do is submit an application. If I have no idea who you are, I really won't even look at it.” Like, they want to know who you are. And so, you know, and then you get a sound that are like, "We don't care. Just please apply." So obviously, you're navigating that situation. But the more that we can build a relationship with a funder, the better, especially because they can become a referral for another funder.

So if you've got another funder, let's say, that has, like, you have to submit a letter of inquiry or you need to get invited to apply, well, we can ask your current funders to make an introduction because they probably already know each other. Right? So, those are -- that's why those that relationship building is really important and not just right before the grant is due.

Okay. So, Loretta, I'm going to stop sharing so you can drive. And then I'll get -

Loretta: All right. All right.

Meredith: Yeah, anything in the chat I missed that you all need to look on that. What if you're doing the - -

Loretta: Okay. I'm going to get out of the chat and let Meredith drive.

Meredith: Yeah, I'll drive that part. But what's -- what do you mean because I missed the context Barbara's question, what was -- go -- take me back to where we were on that.

Rachel: I think that was related to maybe, like, contacting the funder. That was my guess.

Meredith: Oh, yeah. All the more important. Yeah, definitely. And if you can't get through to the federal government and have a point of contact, that's a real red flag. And just a quick story about that, I got drawn into a project last minute. I could not get a -- I was not confirmed we were actually eligible. I wasn't confident in that. And so, I kept trying to get in contact with anyone in that funding. No one for guidelines to talk to someone in DC. No one got back to me.

Finally got an email from an assistant saying, like, "Yes, you're eligible." But it was kind of cryptic. And then to come and find out we weren't and we'd wasted all that time and money and energy. And so, I really prefer the federal programs often have state-based representatives. And those are your sweet spot because then you can build a relationship with them and they can get to know you. So, yeah, all the more.

Anyway. So, that's a good story. Let's go for it, Loretta. Yayha.

Loretta: All right. This is a real project for a real client of mine. Shout out to Love to Read. They are a literacy tutoring nonprofit out of Florida. And they help dyslexics. We are moving into actually helping people with dyscalculia, and we help anybody with learning challenges learn to read. We mostly work with clients that are anywhere between six to 18 years of age. But we have taught adults. So, this is their project. This is what I'm going to show you, guys. And we'll do a little bit of a general overview on how to do grant research.

And I'll try and get into some nitty-gritty, because a lot of you are grant consultants. So, I'm glad you're here. So, what you're seeing -- this is the consultant view of Instrumentl. This is what I see because I signed up for the consultant subscription. If you were a nonprofit, it might look a little different for you. So, all you got to care about is a project name. Have a project name. And to do a test claim, it doesn't really matter. Just put something in, and don't worry about the other stuff. You're always going to want to do matches and tracking, unless you're just an organization who already has their grant portfolio set up and you just want tracking.

But for the most part, do matches and tracking. Hit your next button.

Meredith: Hey, Loretta, you're a little garbly. I'm wondering if there -- your mic can come closer to your face, or something like that. I'm wondering if we could do that because everyone -- it's a little garbly.

Loretta: Let me turn up the volume. Is that better?

Meredith: Can the mic come closer to your mouth? Would that help?

Loretta: I'm trying. Is that -- can you hear me now?

Meredith: Yeah, we can hear you. It's just a little garbly. We'll, see.

Rachel: It's a little crackly.

Loretta: Okay.

Rachel: Yeah. If needed, maybe you could try and just use the computer mic. But maybe we move forward a little bit.

Loretta: Yeah, let me try that.

Rachel: Yeah.

Loretta: Hold on.

Rachel: I don't know if that's easy for you to switch over. That might be -- might make it easier to hear.

Meredith: Oh, tech. Don't we love it?

Rachel: That's a lot better, Loretta.

Meredith: Is it? I haven't heard her talk yet.

Rachel: Oh, wait.

Meredith: That was me.

Rachel: Oh, no. It was you. Oh, no. Loretta, now we can't hear you at all. Maybe the mic was better when it was a little garbled.

Meredith: Well, I'm going to answer questions while she gets that sorted out. Melanie --

Rachel: Okay.

Meredith: What's your question about content management? What do you mean by that? You mean, like, for managing the grant applications and all the content related to those proposals? Yeah. Well, it's actually awesome. You can now keep that in Instrument. So -- oh, boilerplate content. Yeah. I mean, I was

Loretta: Okay.

Meredith: You're ready.

Loretta: All right. Now I can hear you, ladies. Are we good?

Meredith: Yeah, way better. Yay.

Loretta: Okay. All right. Sorry for that difficulty, everybody. I'm going to resume my share now. All right. Gotta love it when it's live.

Meredith: Oh, yeah.

Loretta: So, we'll wait for that to drop off my screen. There we go.

So, you can do for-profit business searches on Instrumentl. The caveat is you have to click nonprofit if you are searching for for-profit. So, just be aware. Yes, you can use it for for-profit. It's only set up for nonprofits. You have to click both.

And then if your for-profit does not want to work with a nonprofit as a fiscal sponsor or to help put on the project, then you can easily take out nonprofit only grants.

My client is an education client. So, we work with elementary, secondary school and school districts. A lot of our volunteers are teachers, and we do public. As you can see, there's lots of different types, even for zoos on here. So, I'll let you play around with your free subscription and find out what you can do with Instrumentl.

So for us, we are teachers and we we want professional training. So, I have research scientists and teachers marked for our funding strategy because we want to be able to train our teachers into more advanced, like, education literacy. We're getting into Sims. There's the Orton Gillingham's method. A lot of different things for them to get professional development with. And again, if you are a student or a master researcher or looking to fund PhD work for your clients, you can do that with Instrumentl.

If you are not a faith-based organization, if your organization is not forward-facing, whether that's Christian or Muslim, Hindu, whatever it is, there's even Buddhism on here that you can search, just say no.

You can search for clients outside of the United States. If you are looking for international and global nonprofit work or grants, you can do clients outside of the United States. But I highly, highly recommend they either have a fiscal sponsor in the United States or they have a branch in the United States that's licensed here. Otherwise, the eligibility for grants will be severely restricted.

So, my client is in Florida. And one thing about Instrumentl is it mostly searches at the county level. So, you might still need to do some outside work for city grants. They don't always show up in here. But for the most part, Instrumentl does a great job at gathering data and putting in grant opportunities. So, we're statewide. We do everywhere in Florida. And then we are branching out.

We've actually grown to about four counties in Florida. So we're in Broward. We're in Palm Beach. We're in St. Lucy. So, I marked all those.

And if yours is national in scope, of course, you're just going to click this little button here, right? So, this is the most important part of your search right here is the fields of work. They usually recommend two to five. I put in the kitchen sink. So, I will show you how to reduce the kitchen sink, if you're like me and, like, I want to see it all at once. Right?

So, we have all these different ones marked, special needs, education, middle school, children with disabilities, especially literacy, and then tutoring. So, we're going to go in here and select our fields of work. And I would suggest just going through here and browsing and finding out all the different options. All you got to do is start typing in a word.

So, I'm going to go tutoring and see what comes up. And there it is, tutoring and mentoring. So, we're going to click that as part of my funding strategy. If you try to type in something and nothing comes up, then you're going to want to browse through all of the different categories to try and find something that fits for you, guys. So, it's right here. Just browse through it all. So you got art and culture, community and human services. We'll go into other because this is a really interesting field. I feel that some of the other needs to be down in the science and technology. But it's up here.

So you've even got cartography, chemical engineering, gender studies, law. There's some military stuff. If you're not sure what something is, you just click this little I button, and it'll tell you. And if you're still not sure, you can add it to your funding strategy and take it out later if you find it's really not fitting your client with the eligibility details. So once you fit your fields of work, you're going to want to look at the size of grants. When I'm working with a client I ask them two big questions. What's your dream budget?

If their dream budget is $100,000, I love working with those clients. And I set this to either $100 or $250, depending on what type of grants they're looking for. If you're a client that needs five million or more, you're going to want to say no maximum. There are large grants that come on here, upwards in the 50 million and 300 million for federal opportunities.

Now, you also want to figure out, what is the bare minimum amount that you need to do something? My client needs at least $20,000 to work with a couple kids. So, we set that at the bare minimum for her. There are different types of grants. So, you've got your education and outrage grants. If your client is not willing to do public education and outreach and disseminate information to the public, you do not want to click this.

Mostly, you're going to want project your program grants. Everybody wants general operating expense grants. It allows for administrative and overhead costs. We do not do capital projects. But if you are looking for land development, if you're looking to build a community garden, if you're looking to possibly create an office downtown, there are capital project grants in here that might be for you. And then training and capacity building is mostly for, like, professional development grants. You can hire people on, like administrative, or project leads that kind of thing.

So, capacity and training are great grants to grow your organizational capacity. And then if you are an academic researcher, they've got all different kinds of grants here for you. I will say that conference grants, I did do a funding strategy, specifically for a conference. And it's hard.

If you are not disseminating new research to the public, you're not going to be able to get your conference funded. So, what type of funders? If your client is mostly federal, you're going to click your federal government and your state local. If you don't care, realize that in the corporate grants, you're going to get grants, like, from Panera and from Dollar General. And, you know, there might be restrictions, like you have to be within 50 miles of a program. Or a, like, the Dollar General. There's also restrictions. There's, like, prize grants, and those kind of things. So if you don't want to see those, just unclick that button. And then we hit on our save and exit, and then magic happens. Your grants come up.

So, every work niche that you just picked will bring up a certain number of opportunities that Instrumentl has put into their database. And I will show you how to toggle in between them all here so that you guys can do your searches very quick and focus on one niche at a time. if you put in the kitchen sink like what I did. So, I have been working with this funder this client since 2022.

As you can see, we've worked through over 600 some grants. We've got 91 in our tracker. And right now, we've got about 80 to sort through in our matches. So when you do your first funding strategy, you're not going to have anything in your tracker. It's all going to be your matches, and this is how I sort through it. First thing I look at is what's the amount? Is this is my funding range? Second thing I look at, how many niches are here. The more of these fields of work, the more competitive that program is going to be because you're competing against different funds. And I will show you how to look at that and decide whether you still want to go for it here in a minute. Next thing I look at is their total giving. This one is a little strange because they have zero total giving. So, we're just going to leave this funder because there's no data for us to look through.

And then one thing to note, if you are doing a nonprofit, you're going to have this 990 report for the funder if they're funding. If they're a federal opportunity, they will not have this 990 report and you need to do some deeper digging on the eligibility and other details. Like, here's a US Education. As you can see, they do not have that little 990 button and they will not necessarily have information about how they funded. So, let's find a good one.

So, predicted deadline. That does not mean it's going to come again. You got to go into the website and make sure that the funder is saying, "Hey, we're going to open our applications at this time in 2024." This one only has one tag. So, it's definitely focused on academic success, which is great for us, which is what we do. They only have about 300,000 total giving. But if you're a Washington DC client, you can still go after that amount if that $7,000 is going to work for you and your client.

Now, we're going to dig into their 990 report. And I love that Instrumentl has these visual details of the 990 because before you'd have to download it and read through the 16 pages of tax information, they'd get your stuff. So as you can see, they've got four million in the bank. They've given about 300,000 and their average grant is about 7,500. They've given for the past couple of years. If you want to reach out to them, their information is right here. And then one thing I look at is their total giving. Over the last couple years they seem about the same on average of what they give.

This is their median range. Now, they have given this much. But it's probably to repeat asks and not just to new grantees. As Meredith was showing you in the slides, you can click on the different states. And if you're not in Florida, you do not want to go after this opportunity without reaching out to the funder to confirm fit and make sure that you are part of their giving priorities this year because they do change.

The Instrumentl might not necessarily change, but the giving priorities internally have changed because they're reacting to whatever's going on. Like, post-COVID, we saw a lot of funders change to medical giving instead of, like, environmental.

So, just be aware there are some trends in giving. And then as we showed you down here in the bottom, you can see who they've given to before and how much and what for. So, that's a really good tool to figure out how much you want to ask for if you want to try and dare to ask more than what you're -- what it's showing.

So this one, they gave usually about 63% to new grantees. So, that's a really good option for new for new applications. If it's less than 50%, you want to do outreach to the funder to make sure that they know who you are and you're getting that eligibility fit. And then down here, it shows you they actually give more to new grantees, instead of repeat grantees.

So, this one is a definitely interesting funder to look at. And that is the overview of how you look at funders, how you choose what you want to apply for. And then down here, these NTEE codes, shows you what they give to. So if you are not an education client with this funder, I wouldn't even bother. Like, if you're a healthcare nonprofit looking for funds, find a different grant. There are millions of funders out there that just give to healthcare. This would not be the best one for you.

Again, unless you are in Washington DC and can develop that relationship with the funder to get those funds. And that is the nitty-gritty of how to search on Instrumentl.

Meredith: Yay! Thank you. Always nice to go from theory to practice. Big fan of that.

Yay, everyone give some love to Loretta in the chat, please.

Amazing. Love co-presenting.

Okay. So, we're going to wrap this party up with a couple of things. One thing that you might feel for those of you that are -- the 50% of you that were new to Instrumentl and haven't used it, you might have felt like some valley of despair thoughts of like, "Oh my gosh, there's so much I don't know. This looks intimidating."

And if you haven't heard of the Dunning Kruger effect on unicorns, this is in my book, this is a real thing. So when you're learning how to write grants or you're learning how to do something new, you feel confident right away. But you're actually not that competent. Then we can dip into the valley of despair because we realize how much we don't know.

But by coming to things like this, educating yourself, et cetera, you can climb out of that with experience and support. And then all of a sudden you're like, "Loretta, we literally had never touched a grant, what, like, two years ago?"

Loretta: Yeah, I started April of 2021. It was when I joined the collective and I had never written a grant before.

Meredith: And now she's literally writing the most complex of all the federal grants that are out there, like the ones I don't even want to touch. It's so insane.

So, just recognize that that's a real feeling if you're navigating it. So, I just wanted to give a really quick overview on the Global Grant Writing Collective. And if you're in the collective already, you can just add commentary if you want. But basically, this is an alternative to more college more debt, et cetera.

You can launch or scale your career as a grant writer. We do that through curriculum, coaching community, and a certificate program. So, we tend to attract people that are looking for a more flexible career that want to freelance. We get -- so we get a lot of moms or those that are nearing retirement, those that are looking to land a new job, want to do something meaningful, pivot, a lot of folks coming out of healthcare, or teaching.

Sadly, I feel bad, like, taking teachers out of the system. But they've been failed. Or, if you're looking for support within your grant writing role. So when you join, you take a survey that routes you through the only kind of content you need. So, you kind of get a -- remember those books growing up that you would like, "Go to page 30," and then you get to the bottom. And it would tell you like, "Go to 62 or go to 42 for this." Do you remember those?

That's kind of what it's like. We'll route you to what you need. Here would be another real quick example of Elaine. She's going to be in the Bend Mastermind. She was a Hospital Executive Admin. Very frustrated and burnt out. Started grant writing consulting. Grew that to 100,000 a year, but then hit her lid. Was working a ton of hours, but could not work anymore or -- and make anymore. So, that was in 2022 of October. We helped her grow to 420,000 last year.

And this year, she's tracking to a million. So, we're going to -- we've been strategizing meeting on how to close that gap so that she's hitting a million this year. And she's only working on grants in Oregon. So, she's having a huge impact in that state. That is what's possible for you. So the method is, showing you a step-by-step system to write grants. Certifying you as a grant writer and then learning some project management strategies, which are vital. Really, a grant writer is a project manager. It's just a different hat.

Coaching is a big piece. So, we do coaching calls twice a month. If you can't make the call, you can still submit it. And then you can go watch the replay. And then also get connected with coaches in the community group. So every question is answered within 36 hours. Now even faster with this little character called Sparkles. So we have this tool that -- if you know about ChatGPT, you know that it guesses the next answer. Right? It guesses what it should tell you.

But our little Sparkles will go and search all the community questions, all the coaching calls, all the course content. So if you ask -- someone asked, how do I build a budget, it's going to go pull all that information and give it to you in an answer with references so you can go dig deeper. So, that's super valuable if you want to get a question answered even faster.

And then we use a platform called Circle, which we adore. And it allows you to go into very specific channels to ask what you want.

Okay. Last thing you must know about is, of course, National Unicorn Day. So, get registered. If you don't, I guess we can drop a link in the -- do we have the --

Loretta: I'm on it.

Meredith: You're on it? Cool. I want to make sure that if anyone wants to come to that, you do. It's next week. And then we also celebrate on Wednesday and Thursday with the -- how we take that dream and put it into action.

All right. So, yes, this is the crew. We'd love to have you. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me in LinkedIn, or literally anywhere you can find me. Happy to have a conversation. We do have that one free seat for Pen to Polish. So, Rachel will leave that to you to figure out who that goes to and we'll get it awarded. Rose here, actually who's in this picture, in the middle here, she actually built that course. And she's a professional writer. She's done, like, 80 writing courses throughout the world. It's amazing.

All right. So if you have any questions, email Rose. She'll answer you, info@senworks.org. Find me on LinkedIn or Instagram, wherever you want to have a conversation. And we can go from there. All right. So I think that's that, and back to you, Rachel.

Rachel: Wow. Awesome. I can't believe how much information we got through in the last 50 minutes.

Meredith: That's how we like it.

Rachel: Okay. I'm going to switch over. I'm just wrapping us up and reminding us how we can give some of those freebies today. So, let me start my final screen share and close this out.

Okay. Cool. That looks like it's up.

Great. Okay. So, yeah, if you want to take it for a test run, I encourage you to check out the platform. It's no commitment 14-day free trial. You're welcome to also schedule a call. It's like a quick strategy call with one of the folks that I work with at Instrumentl. And it's a really great way to just get a sense of what's on the platform. There are so much to explore.

And you probably saw a little bit from kind of what Loretta was sharing. But there's a lot out there. So if you feel overwhelmed or need help, you can always reach out to me. I'm just rachelcannella@instrumentl.com. And I'll put that in the chat in case you need to connect with me.

I think we're going through a lot of questions here. I feel like we got through most of them. Meredith, are there any that you feel are, like, extremely pressing that you want to answer before we kind of close out today?

Meredith: I'm trying to get caught up. I know Renee asked, are there any job openings for grant writers? And I just want to emphasize, like, that's our whole thing. Like, Loretta came in with no grant writing experience, whatsoever. And now, she's literally hiring unicorns actively and scaling a business. So you -- I will show you how you can build your portfolio, get some experience and then use that to go land a job that you would be otherwise kind of underqualified for.

So just recognize that if you're -- we can show you how to open that door. Because otherwise, it's a little bit of a chicken and egg. Like, no one wants to give an opportunity if you haven't written a grant before, right? So, we show you how to overcome that.

I don't know what other questions --

Loretta: I'm going to pop in here with a couple. Julie just asked, if I anticipate any political trends changing the landscape, be aware, the political trends will change the landscape. The Biden Administration, I am purple. I'm not red or blue. But the Biden Administration has done amazing about dropping funds for environmental stuff. In fact, the Department of Energy grant that I just wrote was part of the BIL draft for funding. They -- with the DEI, the Diversity Equity and Inclusion funds that -- the Supreme Court came in and said, "Oh. Well, that's affirmative action is gone.” There is still DEI funds. There's still DEI grants. There's still Justice40 Initiatives for funding. And then I see a lot of people asking about autism.

There is lots of different ways to uptake information in LGW. We have one-on-one coaching calls. You can drop information in any one of the chat channels and get answers within 2 to 24 hours, usually. You can attend the coaching calls. There is transcripts of every video that is on there for learning how to grant write. So, there are tons and tons of different ways for neurodivergent people for auditory people.

Meredith, can you talk a little bit about deaf in heart of hearing, what they can do to learn this information?

Meredith: Yeah, I forget the exact features that we have. But we made sure that Circle a lot, like plays well with that technology so that it will -- so that it will work with the technology that people have when they have hearing loss. So, all good on that front.

Rachel: Awesome. Thanks, you all.

Meredith: Yeah. Very cool. Yay! So fun. Great.

Rachel: I'll try and follow up on some of the lingering questions. I know there were some that may not have been answered. But I'll make sure to add those into our event resources page so we can kind of get some additional questions followed up on so that you all can be eligible for some of the things that we were sharing about today. Please share your feedback. I read every response. And I really value what you all have to say about our programming.

And then let's see here.

As a reminder, if you're submitting your feedback, you're getting access to this free handout that Meredith and team have so graciously provided, as well as an entry into our raffle. One seat in her course and a copy eventually, a copy of her book. So, love to see that feedback.

And we just like to incentivize folks to share that. So, please spend time and filling it out. It should only take about three minutes or so. Last thing here. We do have some really cool upcoming events. I'm really bummed that I don't get to attend any of the National Unicorn Day programing because we have our spring summer -- I'm so bummed. I was like, "Oh my gosh, I would have totally been there."

But if you're not attending that or if you want to jump in on day two, I know you've got a whole week of programming. We do have our spring summit. This is a virtual summit that's happening next Tuesday and Wednesday. And it is CFRE certified. So, you can earn six credits for that program.

And then the following week, I'll be doing a little bit of deep dive on grant strategy. We'll do some kind of thought leadership exercises. I've got some expert council members from Instrumentl who will be chatting a little bit about how they're developing their 2024 grant strategy now that we're in Q2. So, it should be fun. I encourage you to register. I'll drop that again in the chat box to fill out the survey. Oops, let me go back and drop that link again.

Okay. And I have one more request from everybody. This is something that I'm -- is new that I'm trying. I kind of want to start taking a class photo when we finish a workshop. And try and get everyone on screen and smiling real quick so we can kind of like say, "Hey, we were here. This is so fun."

Everyone wouldn't mind just turn their cameras on for a quick sec. I'm going to try and get all the pages. Are we ready?

Meredith: Yeah. I'm so jealous.

Rachel: I've never done this before. Right? Okay, everyone, wave. We got do the spirit finger. Okay, I'm doing all the pages. Yay.

Oh, thanks everybody for waving. It's so fun. There's so many people here. Thank you so much. I have so loved being with you. And stay tuned for future programming.

Meredith: Yeah.

Rachel: I'll stick around. Yep, thank you.

Meredith: Thank you, everybody.

Rachel: If you need to hop off, feel free to do so. I'll play some music while we kind of hop out of the room. And if anyone has any super burning questions, either related to Instrumentl or anything that Loretta or Meredith has shared, you can use the raise hand feature and Loretta and I will be sticking around.

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