Find the Right Grants and Learn How to Standout with Funders w/ Meredith Noble

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June 26, 2022

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May 26, 2022

In this 1 hour special workshop hosted by Instrumentl, you’ll learn how to utilize several different decision-making tools to help determine which prospects to pursue and create a replicable system that will help you win the right funders in the future.

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

  • ​How to use the Grant Prospecting Funnel to filter 100+ grants to the top pursuits
  • ​How to focus on the grants with the highest likelihood of success and ROI
  • ​How to put together a Power Prospectus for accelerating funder conversations
  • ​How to get more tips on how to stand out to funders

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Meredith Noble is the Co-Founder & CEO of Learn Grant Writing and she is on a mission to inspire other women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. She secured over $45 million in grants, before pivoting her consulting practice to teach others to write grants. Her expertise has been featured in Fast Company, and 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 Valdez, Alaska and building a remote, yet connected, company. Meredith has a degree in Marketing from Gonzaga University.

Instrumentl Partner Webinars are collaborations between Instrumentl and its community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem grant professionals often have to solve, while also sharing different ways Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants. Click here to save a seat in our next workshop.

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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Understanding the Grant Prospecting Funnel

In Meredith Noble's workshop, she introduced the Grant Prospecting Funnel, a critical tool for streamlining the grant selection process. This funnel helps narrow down a vast pool of grants to those with the highest likelihood of success.

Stage 1: Setting the Search

Initially, you should aim to identify over 100 potential grants using tools like Instrumentl, ensuring a broad scope of opportunities.

Stage 2: Narrowing Down to Top Prospects

From the initial list, narrow down to 20-30 grants that merit closer examination. This step involves deeper research into the specifics of each grant.

Stage 3: Final Selection of Grants

Ultimately, select the grants that align best with your organization's goals and have the highest chances of success. This stage requires careful consideration of each grant's details.

Strategic Thinking in Grant Application

Meredith emphasizes the importance of strategic planning in grant applications. She compares the process to arranging dominoes - the grants should be in the right order to create a cascading flow of wins, indicating the importance of timing and sequence in applications.

Key elements of this approach include:

  • Identifying the Right Sequence of Grants: Start with grants that have higher chances of approval or require a smaller scope, gradually moving to more ambitious ones. This builds a track record that can bolster your credibility for larger, more competitive grants.
  • Understanding Timing and Project Alignment: Assess the timing of each grant in relation to your project's lifecycle and organizational goals. Noble emphasizes the importance of aligning grant applications with project phases, ensuring that each grant supports a specific stage of your project.
  • Strategic Use of Early Wins: Use early grant successes to leverage more significant opportunities. Initial wins not only provide funding but also validate your project and organization, making future applications more compelling.
  • Leveraging Relationships and Feedback: Noble suggests using the insights gained from early grant applications to refine and improve future applications. Building relationships with funders during this process is also crucial, as it can provide valuable feedback and open up new opportunities.

The Multi-Stage Process of Grant Research

Grant research is a multi-faceted process involving several critical stages:

Initial Research

This involves setting up a broad search to identify a large pool of potential grants.

Evaluating and Shortlisting

Narrowing down the list to grants that align closely with your organization's objectives and have a realistic chance of success.

Finalizing Grant Selection

Choosing the grants to apply for, based on a detailed evaluation of each grant's requirements and potential ROI.

How to Evaluate and Select the Right Grants

Evaluating grants and selecting the right ones for you is a nuanced process:

Assessing Giving Priorities

Understand the funder's priorities and ensure they align with your organization's mission.

Determining Project Eligibility

Ensure that your project meets the eligibility criteria set by the grantor.

Reviewing Funding History

Look at the grantor's past giving behavior as an indication of their future actions.

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Tips for Assessing How Competitive You'll be With A Grant

Assessing your competitiveness for a grant involves a careful analysis of several factors:

  • Calculate the Funding Success Rate: Determine the ratio of awarded grants to the total number of applicants. This gives a basic idea of your chances of success.
  • Examine Past Giving Behavior: Review the funder’s history to understand their typical grant size and preferred project types.
  • Geographical and Sector Preferences: Some funders have specific geographical areas or sectors they prefer. Ensure your project aligns with these preferences.
  • Understand the Funder’s Priorities: Make sure your project resonates with the funder’s priorities and mission.
  • Contact Past Applicants: Reaching out to past applicants can provide insights into the funder’s process and their receptiveness to projects like yours.
  • Draft Inquiry Communications: Consider sending inquiry emails to funders to gauge their interest in your project and get a sense of competitiveness. Use polite and concise language to seek information about application success rates and preferences.

Creating a Powerful Prospectus and Transformation Sentence

Finally, Meredith discusses the importance of a 'Power Prospectus' and a 'Tangible Transformation Sentence'.

  • Power Prospectus: This is a concise, one-page document that encapsulates your organization's mission, the specific problem you address, your unique approach, the cost of implementation, and the anticipated impact. It should be clear, concise, and compelling, providing a snapshot of your organization and project to potential funders.
  • Tangible Transformation Sentence: This is a succinct sentence that clearly defines who you serve, what you do, and the specific problem you solve. It should be punchy and straightforward, immediately conveying the essence of your work. For instance, “Our program helps low-income families gain access to affordable housing, enabling them to live in safety and dignity.” This sentence should be specific, avoiding generic language, and directly address the core of your mission.

TRANSCRIPT: Find the Right Grants and Learn How to Standout with Funders

Will: Hello, everyone. And welcome to Find the Right Grants and Learn How to Stand Out with Funders with Meredith Noble. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards so please keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email in case you wanna review anything from today.

In case it's your first time here, this free grant workshop is an Instrumentl partner workshop. These are collaborations between Instrumentl and community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle something that you guys often have to solve for while sharing different ways that you can use Instrumentl's platform to help you win more grants.

Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform if you're looking to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management to one place. We can help you do that. And you can set up your own personalized grant recommendations using the link on the screen Now with that housekeeping out of the way, I'm very excited to welcome back Meredith from Learn Grant Writing.

Meredith is the CEO and co-founder of Learn Grant Writer and she's on a mission to inspire other women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams as well as other folks that are looking to level up in becoming grant writers. She's secured over $45 million in grants before pivoting her consulting practice to teach others how to write grants.

And her expertise has been featured in Fast Company while her book "How to Write a Grant: Become a Grant-Writing Unicorn" is the number one best seller for non-profit fundraising and grants on Amazon. Meredith, go ahead and take it away.

Meredith: Sweet. Well, thank you for doing that because I always find introductions, introducing myself so awkward. So it's nice that you just did it for me. Thank you. All right, everybody, let's get this party started. We're going to be covering how do you find the right grants using a grant research funnel and how do we learn how to stand out with funders? So I am only one half of this operation. The other half is Alex. She's not able to be here, but our special sauce is helping people become grant writing unicorns so you feel aligned in the work that you're doing and the life that you're living.

Okay. So who uses Instrumentl already? Just real quickly, say one, two, or three in the chat box. I just need to kind of get a feel for where we're at in terms of -- okay. Lots of ones, ones, twos, not yet. Cool. This is sweet. I'm scanning quickly. Not too many threes. Used using a trial. Okay, we're kind of right down the middle.

Probably should've used the chat or the survey feature to really see the numbers, but okay. That's helpful. Thank you. And then what situation best describes you? So again, one, two, three or four. So grant writer in-house, development and fundraising, executive director, grant writing consultant. One and four, yeah. Okay. Holy mac-a-rollie. Next time, we're using the survey function. Trying to be a four. Yeah. Thanks. Heck, we're really split. One, two, three, and four. Yeah, Russell or Nisha. That's awesome.

Okay. Fill in what is other. So this is what we're going to do. We got to get this -- get going. We've got a lot to cover then. All righty. So grant prospecting funnel, it's how I've made sense of using Instrumentl in any grant research process. The tangible transformation sentence, which we'll workshop together, and what the heck is a power prospectus.

A lot of people that are on the call are actually in the collective, our grant writing program right now. And so, they all know what it is, but it'll be fun to go work on this because, actually, everyone, we just updated the template a little bit. Our Instagram name is @learngrantwriting.

Thank you, Will. Thank you, Instrumentl. They actually have five copies, still, of my book, so we'll be able to give away those at the end and describe how. And then we'll be giving away a free seat into Grant Writing: From Start to Funded. So we'll talk about that at the end.

Okay. Let's talk about the funding funnel. So it's a simple system to find the right grants. So you're not spinning your wheels. And how it came to be was I was thrown into basically figure out this grant writing sink or swim without actually any experience. And I was thrown onto this $5 million project to build a new clinic for the native village of Eklutna, which is just outside of Anchorage, Alaska.

And so, I'm piecing together what grants should we go after, et cetera. And there's one grant program called the Mat-Su Health Foundation. They have two programs. One's for 15,000, one's for 150,000 and over. So obviously we're dealing with the big capital project here. I want to go after the full 150K.

But when I actually contacted them and said, "Okay, this is what we'd like to do. This is when we'd like to apply. What do you think?" They said, "Whoa, we don't actually have a track record with the native village of Eklutna. We need you to start with a smaller project. We need you to start with something under 15K. What do you need that's less than that? You need a printer?" And literally that's what we ended up buying. And what was fascinating about that is that it kind of threw off this whole concept of timing. And that's when I realized grants are actually a lot like dominoes. So we need grants to be in the right order and close enough together so that they create a cascading flow of wins.

And the problem is it isn't if we space them out too far, you knock over a domino and it has no effect on the next one. So that was when I realized, wow, the strategic thinking and timing that has to go into figuring out what grants go when is actually really, really critical. And so, that's what we're basically getting into now is how do you arrive at figuring out what are the dominoes that should be up in the first place and in what order so that they're helping knock over the next one.

Does that make sense? Grant research funnel. There's three stages -- actually, technically four, but this is how I like to think about it. So stage one is setting the search. We're setting the search. We want to find a hundred plus grants in Instrumentl. What do we have? We want to set a nice search. Stage two is going from a hundred grants to about that top 20 or so, 30 that are really worth looking at more closely. And then stage three is okay, how do we get those down to the absolute these are the go pursuits? We're definitely going after these.

And what I really should call stage four is the funding strategy. So the funding strategy is a roadmap where you are deciding which grants should you pursue and when? It gets everyone on the same page and if there's one thing I've noticed, a lot of times there is some project planning element that's not really quite funding ready.

And this is a good place to bring that up and address it before you start implementing that funding strategy so that when you implement it, you know you can have those dominoes close to each other. So we use Instrumentl for the grant database that we teach how to use. And I have to say that how this all came to be is a really funny story.

I was filming my very first online course that doesn't look anything like it does today, but I was showing them how to do manual grant research. And that's when I stumbled upon a blog post that Instrumentl had done ages and ages ago led me to their website and I realized, whoa, stop recording. This changes everything.

Like everything I knew about grant research up to that point was changing. And I realized this is so much more effective and efficient. And so that's where -- and I realized like basically just changed everything. Contacted them when they were really a new small company at that point.

It was a pretty fun journey to be able to literally give ideas and see it put into the product like within a week. It was cool. Okay. So I always like to zoom out to that 30,000 foot view of why does this matter? So it's really important to bring a systems type approach to finding grants or else what happens you have one million browsers open. Who has had that in your past? Like, honestly, it happens to me nearly by the end of every day. So there's something, too. We've got to bring a very systematic approach to this so we can minimize overwhelm. The next thing -- yeah. People already have a million tabs open.

I know and the day's just getting started. Well, at least here in Alaska. Okay. And then it gets us all pulling in the same direction because how many of you have been in this situation where you're basically brought a grant, it's due in a week, and they said, do it. Like, drop everything, make this happen, go for it.

And you don't even know if it's a good use of time, right? Like, so the problem is sometimes organizations are pulling in different directions and then you're not nearly as effective. I think about this cartoon, my grandma has on her fridge where it's like two donkeys and their tails are tied and they're both trying to reach the hay pile on both sides and then it doesn't work because their tails are tied and they can't reach the hay. So finally they're like, okay, we got to pull in the same direction and eat this hay pile and then we can eat this hay pile. And I'm like, that is literally how it works in the funding research world. And it breaks the habit of chasing grants haphazardly.

Okay. So here's the example with Jane. Hey, Jane. And Jane's on the line, too. So Jane, make sure I get my facts straight. Hey! Okay, literally, this is so cool. She's on the line. So literally Jane went from having, well, I guess it'd been 36, 36 unsuccessful grants because one was a success, right? So that was for only 5k before she learned this funding research methodology.

Then she won in this last year 18 grants totalling 400,000 for her small -- is it Grant County, right? Grant County fire district in Soap Lake, Washington. And then, get this, she literally went and got another 1.1 million for all of the other fire districts in the county, which they don't even know that her grant was so good it brought in the ARPA funding that went to all the counties. So they all owe her a seriously big thank you and I don't know a lifetime of cupcakes. So like that is the effect of turning around how you approach things. Like, first of all, she -- yeah, Shane. Whoo! So she pursued literally like half the grants, half of the grants that she did the year before, and look at the success rate through the roof.

So like that is the power of learning how to bring a systems-based approach to grant research. Right. Okay, yeah, I know. Give her some serious credit. Thank you for telling her great job, Jane, because I seriously was so fiercely impressed as well. So yeah, let's give her some love in the chat box.

Okay, so stage one, let's learn this method so you can bring it home as well. So the objective here is setting the search and as you've probably learned, how you set the search really impacts the results you get and I'm not gonna go do an Instrumentl tour because half of you already use Instrumentl. So it wouldn't be a good use of time. But for those of you that don't yet, it's very useful to think about how do I set this to get the best results. And one of the things that I always like to think about is how do we strategically partner with different types of organizations?

So someone asked earlier -- I'm so excited. I'm not even breathing. I have to remember to like get some air and okay. And I know I talk fast so that is why you're going to definitely just have to catch the recording. So someone asked what about for profit businesses? Like how is this relevant for them? Well, you could be thinking about who can we partner with?

Can I partner with a nonprofit? Can I partner with a school? And there's then ways that you could be bringing that grant funding into your organization by thinking creatively about different ways you could partner. So that's one tip is just think beyond your entity type alone.

And if you're not a nonprofit, think about how can we form strategic and win-win nonprofit partnerships between the two entities. That's the quick version of stage one because we can spend more time on that later, but I want to get into some of the meatier parts. Stage two is now where your critical thinking hat's going on.

So from a hundred plus grants to about 20 or 30 worth evaluating. So in this stage, you're identifying which ones do we actually wanna spend more time going into the rabbit hole? There's three things I need you to write down and remember related to this stage. What are the giving priorities of the organization? What projects are eligible? And what is the funding history? So when you think about the funding agency's priorities, the simplest thing to do is we're not leaving the website yet. We're just looking at – what does the overview section say? And the biggest thing I want to emphasize is don't try to force it.

I think a lot of times we try to contort ourselves into very weird shapes thinking like, well, if I just changed actually everything that we do in our mission, we could totally go after this grant funding. That's not alignment. We don't wanna start there. So don't force that. At quick glance, we also need to determine if we're eligible.

So if for instance, you're a faith-based organization and that the nonprofit says it does not fund faith-based organizations, we can swipe that from the list. But it's also important to look at is what you want to get funded eligible? So if you're trying to get a capital project funded and they do not fund capital projects, swipe from the list, right?

So those are kind of quick glances of eligibility. We're not actually confirming that yet with the funder, but it's something that you are using to say, are you in or are you out? So I grew up on a cattle ranch and a lot of times during -- when we're vaccinating or you getting ready to ship or whatever, you're in the crowds and I would always have the job where it's in or out with is the calf coming into this corral or going by? And that's how I like to think about grant funding. It's like, are you in or are you out? Are we keeping this and looking at it or are we just going to let it go? We're not thinking about it too much because the calf is running down the alleyway and you've gotta make a choice quickly.

Then this is the most fun part of the whole stage two. What are the funders' past giving behavior? And I think this is actually the very best feature in Instrumentl, which is how they've taken complex, miserable 990 tax filing documents and made them very aesthetically useful. So you can figure out – like this example. Well, they've really only funded Alaska organizations. So if you are in Maine, you probably would not wanna apply for this funding source. Right? These features have been supercharged in the last, what, six months or year? So that's cool. Thanks, Will, I just dropped in a link, but there's a lot more you can do here than what we're gonna be getting into, but these are the three questions I want you to look for.

Is the average grant amount worth your time? If you know that you don't wanna be pursuing anything under 15 grand and it's a $500 average grant, move on. What did they fund? Past giving behavior is the best indication of future giving behavior. And then, where are they geographically giving funding? Because again, past behavior is indicative of future behavior.

So that is what I'd recommend there. So let's see. Let's recap on round two so everyone has this in your noggin. We're confirming alignment with the funders' giving priorities. We're determining if the project that you want to get funded is eligible and we're trying to understand, have they funded similar type projects or types of organizations in the past?

Vicky, I don't think I can get to your question quite yet, but I know Will's grabbing those and we'll hit them at the end. So thank you for throwing them in. Stage three then, is choosing the top pursuits. And I will answer Virginia's question because I think it ties right into here. So when do you suggest starting the process? Is it ongoing? So I recommend doing this process right at the beginning, right off the bat right away. And then you do some maintenance on it because Instrumentl will show you new grant matches. So you can periodically go through those and determine if you want to add them in, but on the whole, we're going to do it right in one fell swoop.

So we have a roadmap for the next 12 to 18 months. Then we're choosing our top pursuits. And these are the ones that we're actually putting our hard-earned resources into, your time and money of the organization to go into. So there's a couple different filters that we're going to go through at this stage.

Competitiveness, the funding guidelines, contacting past applicants, and feedback from the funder. Okay, this one's big. And so, I want everyone to tune to this. Determining competitiveness. What percent of applicants are funded and successful? And the way you calculate this is you go divide the number of awards made by the total number of applicants.

And that gives you your base competitiveness, chance of success. There is a question that should be going through your mind right now. Feel free to post that in the chat box. What piece of information do you feel like is going to be actually -- you're like, wait, where do I get that? So, yep.

Where do I get this information? How many people have applied? Exactly. That's not published on the website. It's not like you're going to just get that information by cruising through Google. We have to actually contact the funder to find out, right? And so, that's where we'll get into in a hot second. The general rule of thumb I use is seeking grants with a 20% or greater likelihood of success because you can put together a world class proposal, but if only 2% of grants are being funded, those are just odds that are really hard to overcome because everyone else is also going to have perfect proposals.

So here is the strategy tip. We'll get into this, I guess, basically, if you don't have a specific project in mind, you can also actually reverse engineer this, where you go and find grants that you find that you know do fit your organization, but then you focus on the ones with a high likelihood of success, and then, you can develop your programs into those.

So that is an approach you can take as well. But here's the sample email that you can use when we have to go get this information. So a quick question on program imaginary foundation. “Hey, Barbara, we are interested in your grant program. We are gauging competitiveness. How many applicants applied last year? What percent of those were successful? Thanks so much.”

Now I don't know exactly what percent of the people in our collective that do this sometimes get back emails that say we don't divulge that information, but it does happen. And what I have found is the easiest way to disarm a defensiveness is just saying, look, I don't need the exact figures. If you can just give me a ballpark, I just wanna make sure we're not approaching you if your program is extraordinarily competitive, we just wanna make sure this is a good use of everyone's time. Like usually if I can explain what I'm actually trying to get out of it and disarm it with gentle language, people will then respond.

But on the whole, people will tell you what it is. And they'll give you that ballpark of like what percent we're successful. And that is critical because if it's a two or 3, 4, 5, 6%, whatever, anything less than really 18, I'm just going to swipe it off the list. And I want to do this first before I proceed to any of the other steps because there's no sense in spending all this time falling in love with the grant program that you're never gonna apply for because the odds are so low, right? So this is really, really useful.

Then we have to read the funding guidelines. So this is where you do actually leave Instrumentl and we go and get into the website and we get really, really nerdy and into those guidelines when they're available. We have to confirm it still feels right, what needs to be placed to be competitive, how much work is this application gonna be? So that's what we're diving into there. We also then have the opportunity, if you'd like, to contact past applicants and ask for a copy of their grant application. And so one thing that's kind of strange is I find the west coast is really willing to share applications and the east coast is a little less likely, like, I don't know, it just must be our personalities, but you have nothing to lose to ask.

And you can see who past applicants were because it's in the 990 information. So ask them, too, what was it like to work with this funder? Did you enjoy it? What were the grant reporting requirements like, et cetera. And so you can also see, well, how else did they fund their project besides this one grant program and it can give you some interesting ideas. Then comes the part where we're going to contact the funder. So it's passed through the filter. You're still interested. Now we actually need to go and build that relationship if you haven't already and confirm is this a good fit for each other? Okay. So this is where we're gonna shift gears a little bit, hence the bicyclist, where I'm going to talk about the power prospectus, what it is, we're gonna workshop the tangible transformation sentence, and then talk about the top 10 questions you can approach a funder to ask. So we'll loop back into this.

So I wanna know one, two, three, or four, how do you feel about contacting funders? Nervous every time, old pro do it regularly, don't have much experience, or four, other. Boom, boom, boom. Don't have much experience looks like the most. Seeing a lot of threes. A lot of nervous. I'm not seeing a lot of like twos, so, yep. This is a normal experience. One threes. Mm-hmm. Yep. Okay. Cool. That's fine. Don't worry about it. That's what we're here for. We're gonna learn how to do this without any nerves. Okay. So the power prospectus. What is it? It is a one-page overview of your organization that succinctly describes the problem, how you uniquely solve it, what it is gonna cost for you to do this, what you need, and the impact.

So why do we wanna have a simple one-page flyer, essentially. It is perfect marketing collateral. You can use it when you're about to speak with the funder because you can set it ahead of time and then, set up your conversation where they're already oriented to where you are and you don't have to blow the meeting talking about all this stuff that you already know who you are.

That's not the point. We're trying to learn from them, right? It also makes you stand out and be really quite professional because most people don't do this. They don't take the time to really use their excellent project management and communication skills when doing funder outreach and just send an email, just ask for a meeting. So give them something more. This is the template. I'm gonna give you a copy of it in a moment, but first, we're gonna work on our tangible transformation sentence.

Okay. So it is not your mission statement. I was reading a book a couple weeks ago and it was about four different mission statements. And they said, okay, match the mission statement to the organization. And these were like the lumber industry, the medical industry, like, completely different businesses. And you couldn't figure out what mission statement belonged to what organization. And that's a problem because that's so generic. It means nothing. Right? So instead, the tangible transformation sentence is what you can use to describe in one sentence who do you serve? What do you do that helps them? And what problem are you solving? So it's a very punchy sentence that gets the attention and hooks your reader or your listener.

So here's the template. We help – very specific identity. You're gonna wanna write this down, get the change that they want so that they can avoid the number one pain or achieve a number one deep desire. Okay. So this is the template. Here are some examples. Love Packs helps K through 12 students depending on free or reduced lunch, that's the identity, have nutritious and reliable meals over the weekend and breaks, tangible transformation, without having to fend for themselves until school begins again. Pain avoided. We help those returning from the Indiana Department of Corrections, identity, secure the stability they need, transformation, to avoid recidivism.

We serve citizens in rural Wisconsin with nonpartisan investigative journalism to fill the information gap left by declining local news sources. TriCounty Headstart helps children zero to 5 years old, identity, get ready for kindergarten, transformation, so they aren't left behind before they even get started.

Okay one more. Pinky Swear Foundation helps the families of kids battling cancer receive financial support for everyday expenses so they can stay focused on what matters most -- the health of their child. Like these are punchy, short, simple sentences. In one sentence, you know what these organizations do, right? And a lot of times we fumble around describing what we do when it should be able to be said in a single sentence. So here are the tips I wanna offer you before we all start riffing on this together. I need you to be uncomfortably specific with the identity of who you serve. And I know many of you serve maybe different segments, but I want you to think about the project you're actually trying to get funded and who is that identity.

So be very, very specific, please. The transformation also needs to be very concrete. So not fluffy language. I don't like seeing the word empower because it's fluffy. So we wanna be aware of that. And then the other thing is please focus on it's more punchy, it's more impactful to focus on the pain avoided.

So think about that. And then this is the most common mistake I see when people riff on these is adding a laundry list of services that you provide, but that's not the tangible transformation. So it's not X, Y, and Z. It's one pain avoided. You have to pick the one most intense one. Okay. All right.

We are going to do this together. I have a timer here. It's starting. Boom, everybody, hit this with yourself, write this for your organization, and then throw it in the chat box. We help identity get the tangible transformation they want so they can avoid the number one pain. All right, I'm gonna shush up and just let the music soothe you into writing.

These are really awesome, everyone. Nice work and no, it's not okay to have an and so you have to pick one.

All right. Cool. I think we're gonna go with this because this is a lot. So sorry if I'm cutting you all off on your creative writing flow, but let's go ahead and pause this and go ahead and workshop some of these together. What do you say? Okay. Popping into here and let's go hit these. Okay. So we advocate for -- let's zoom in. Can y'all see this?

Okay. So we advocate for low-wage workers to get paid a living wage so they can live in dignity with all basics covered and not have to rely on assistance and have a healthy work-life balance. So here's where this tangible transformation sentence has one fatal flaw is having this and here, because it's choosing -- you're talking about a pain and a desire in one, and it's a run-on. We need to keep it so simple it's something you would say conversationally. So I'm gonna workshop this below. So we advocate -- maybe what we could do here is we help low-wage. I like – advocate it's a strong word. Advocate for low-wage workers to receive a living wage so that they don't have to rely on public assistance to care for their, perhaps, families, to care for themselves and their families? Does that work?

So we're focusing on that one piece. So what's the one most important thing? Basic needs is just too broad because basic needs is broad. So I like it's saying not relying on public assistance so they can -- that they can care for themselves and their families. So like this would be an example of how you could kind of simplify that.

Okay. So we help residents of Alaska's Copper River Basin provide nutritious and healthy foods for their families so no one goes hungry. So this is literally a perfect PTS. So congratulations, fellow Alaskan. Good work on this. So we help residents of Alaska Copper River Basin, identity, provide nutritious and healthy foods, tangible transformation, so no one goes hungry, simple pain avoid. Really, really nice. So we help people -- who had this one? So we help people from marginalized communities gain the services and skills needed to launch careers. So this is too broad. Would we be able to really tie this back to your organization?

Because if we lined up a bunch of organizations, we might think this is -- it could be any number of organizations. So is there a region that you're serving or specific geography? Is that actually -- Michelle, is this yours with kind of a new version? So just curious if it is or if that's a completely different one.

So what we need is figuring out a more specific identity. Are we talking to specific regions? Who is? Gretchen, this is yours. Puget Sound. Okay. So we help, we serve the marginalized neighborhoods of Puget Sound. And then what's that tangible transformation? Like if you were to ask the people you serve, what's the most valuable service we deliver? What's the most valuable thing we do? What would you think they'd say?

Leaving poverty. That's helpful. So we'll get to that, actually. That's gonna be your next piece. What would be the middle piece? So the tangible transformation, like what's that thing that your organization does, the service and the skills, but what would be a more tangible way of describing that?

Employment training. Perfect. So we serve the marginalized neighborhood of Puget Sound with employment training. So kind of goofing this up because it's saying identity twice. So our community members can leave poverty once and for all. Perhaps the problem is I'm saying community because it's sort of saying the identity twice. So that's a little bit of a -- makes it a little bit weak with employment training.

Maybe, so they can leave poverty once and for all. So you get the idea. We're gonna have to keep working on this one, but it allows you to think about getting more specific with your tangible transformation. What percent of people are placed with employment training so that 89% of the people that go through our program are placed in a job that allows them to be in a completely different income bracket.

Okay. Nice work. Let's see. So Ocean CDR Tech helps indigenous help farmers, identity, nice job, gain first mover advantage using our scalable technologies, tangible transformation. Nice. So they can maximize local ownership in the emergent mariculture industry. Excellent work. This is awesome. Good job. Really dig this. That's an excellent one.

Okay. We build ramps for wheelchair-bound adults and children to allow them to return to a productive life. Maybe this could be a little punchier where it's so we -- is it so they can be comfortable and in their home? Are most of these so they can stay in their home in the first place? I'm trying to think of other ways we can talk about that, too, because that's a bigger pain, you know, it's more than being productive. It's being able to stay where you love, where you feel comfortable. So no, it's just too broad. So we help -- we build -- let's see, ramps. It is accessibility.

So is it accessibility to their home or is it accessibility to different commercial businesses, too? That would be helpful. Wheelchair-bound adults and children.

Do we have the answer to this? Is it just for homes or is it for...

So they can -- let's see, so they can...

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Can you hear me?

Meredith: Yeah, go ahead.

Man: All right. It's basically, so that they're -- most of the people that we deal with are isolated and they're going joining society whether it's going to school [inaudible].

Meredith: Okay. And that's including -- it's a little hard to hear you so speak loudly. So is that for just their homes or is that also for like community structures in the building?

Man: Just their homes.

Meredith: Okay. That's helpful. So that is tangible transformation. So that they -- we build ramps for the homes of wheelchair-bound adults and children so that they are no longer isolated in their homes, I guess we can say it there. So they're no longer isolated in their homes, essentially. That's actually -- that could be it.

Man: Yes.

Meredith: And it's just a little bit more specific, the more tangible it's like, okay, we got it. So cool. Nice work. Sweet. We help those who are homeless in Monroe County, identity, receive shelter and services so they can avoid living on the street. Excellent. It's a really, really strong one. Okay.

North Lawndale College Prep helps high school students from the west side of Chicago get to and through college and increase their economic earning power and keep them out of gang life. Three benefits. But we also didn't talk about the actual tangible transformation sentence here.

So this is your identity. So that's good. And your tangible transformation actually is to get into and stay in college or should we just say graduate? Will that be stronger? Get into and graduate from college. And then we need to pick the most important pain avoided so they...

...can escape...

...the path otherwise leading to gang life? It's too long. Go ahead.

Woman: I think it would be poverty because increasing the economic earning power in gang life, those are all related to poverty.

Meredith: So I think the thing, though is it's like, those are all multiple points and poverty is so multi-faceted that it's almost -- it is broad. I actually do like that you're trying to pick one and being more specific because that is more tangible and sticky. So I actually like the direction you were going with it. I think we just have to figure out the exact wording of it, but get into and stay in actually like the way -- let's see.

So the west side of Chicago. We could even simplify and say graduate from college so they can avoid the traps of, I don't know the -- what's the word I'm looking for? Starts with a P. So they can avoid the...

Woman: Pitfalls.

Meredith: Yeah, sure. Yeah. Something like that. So, I mean, your identity is super duper long. And so one thing that'll be interesting is you'll be able to, depending on who you're applying for, like, if it's a regional grant, you'd be able to just say North Lawndale College Prep, probably. But if you're applying anywhere outside where they wouldn't know what school it is. I do like that you've included the west side of Chicago, so we're oriented.

Yeah, I guess temptation, I kind of like that word Judah suggested. So they can avoid the temptations of gang life. I don't know. Like, work on this. It's not done. I think that thinking about the -- even speaking to some of these high school kids, or figuring out what is that word that they would use is gonna be important.

What are they trying to avoid by going to college? And interview 10 or 15 of them and see the words they use. And then that's what I would put in here. You know what I mean? It's good, though. It's totally good. Sweet. Just have to pick that one thing and we're focusing on the TTS. Okay. I think we gotta wrap.

We can't keep going because we have so much still to cover, but I hope that was helpful. Put in the chat box if you found that useful in terms of thinking about how you can talk about a tangible transformation sentence. Loved it. Cool. Sweet. Well, this is good. I love it when we get to do these. Okay. So we're gonna just go ahead and skip this.

You've riffed on it and done a great job. Now let's talk about how this TTS fits into your power prospectus template. So here is your template. So I'll go ahead and throw it in the chat box, but you're gonna get it at the end of this. Oops. Hold on. Let's see. So there you go. Okay. Let's look over this real quick.

This is where you can build out the content for your prospectus. So who we are. This is the tangible transformation sentence. Like this is what you're gonna open with. Then we talk about whoa, someone have edit access? What is that? Is that you Will? Shoot. Do we have -- hopefully that wasn't like...

Should just be view. Don't delete it, please. That would be a problem. Yep. I gave everyone edit access. Oops.

That was dangerous. Whoo!

You can be on the page, but don't delete the thing. There you have it. Okay. Everyone can view it now, I think. Right? Close call. Gosh, I don't think I've ever done that before. So then the problem we solve and here's an exact template that you can use to go through that. Who we serve, you don't necessarily have to have, that would be clear in your tangible transformation sentence. What needs funding? Be very clear here.

So $45,000 is needed for the remaining salary expenses of a campus facilitator by August 1st to launch a new social and emotional learning program by the time school starts in September. Establishes urgency, right? Then why it matters. So this is the same thing. This is where I want you to think about -- so this is an Alaska example.

We've got bush planes, right? They fly at like 2,000 feet. Then we have regional planes that get us to the smaller communities like I used to live in Valdez so it'd be like a 15-person plane. And then we have the jumbo jets that get us down to the lower 48. The problem you're solving is that the bush plane are reaching a level.

And then the why it matters is the jumbo jet, right? 'Cause that's the bigger picture of the work you're doing and why it matters. So there's an example there. Who do we collaborate with? How do we measure success? And how is our community being involved? This is essentially a mini grant application.

This is essentially the content you'd even put into a letter of inquiry, but if you can get it into here, you then have your copy to create an example. So let's go and show you that. I think I'm going to skip through this 'cause I'm burning through our time. So let's go ahead and show you some samples because I know I always like to see these.

Okay. So here's an example from the child daycare center, Door County Children of Hope. So you can see the way it's nicely -- I like two columns. It's a little bit easier to read. You keep it simple with subheading for those. And we like to often do it in questions. What do we need funding for? Who will we collaborate with? How has the community been involved? What problem are we solving? Literally this is all of the content that just came from that template put into this prospectus. Here's another one. This is something a unicorn, Sarah Mueller, did. I love it.

So this is that example of the non-partisan nonprofit investigative journalism. So she may put it on journal paper. It looked great. And if you're wondering how to make these things look so cool, who here uses Canva? It's like the greatest software that ever came to be as far as I'm concerned. This is how you can make these beautiful graphics. And I love how she included a quote. Yeah, everyone else loves it, too. Here's another one. So I will say that this is a little bit dense in terms of it's better to say less and have more breathability in your document.

So like bigger margins would've been helpful, but she does pack in a lot of great information. And I do like when you can include a photo of your organization. Okay, here's another one. And I love how the Para Rowing Foundation literally put their TTS right up here in the header. We help athletes with disabilities become para rowers without the financial barriers related to training and equipment. Athletes with disabilities, identity, become para rowers, transformation, without financial barrier. Pain avoid. So you can see how this was all broken out as well. Really, really nice.

Here's a couple others, again, I think that this could have used less text, frankly, because it's kind of a lot in here, but one nice way to help yourself out is to use some color, use some bold to make things pop a little bit. And the use of graphics is also really helpful. Like using these circles, what needs funding in the different phases is a great way. And you know what this layout is? This is literally a resume. This is a resume layout.

So here's another one. This is a food or an animal rescue. They're serving, I think, neutering cats and dogs. So same thing just packing in some photos, making it look great. It's a great way to --and you have all these examples. We'll give it to you at the end. Is this helpful, like, the idea of seeing how you take something from the template format and then you can go and put it into the single page?

Yeah. Okay. Thought you might find it helpful. I'm also very much a visual learner. Now we've created this thing. What do we do with it? So when you send a one-page overview ahead of time, you can actually then spend the time on your meeting to ask questions and listen instead of talking about your project and learning nothing. When we are talking, we're learning nothing.

I have 10 questions in here. I feel like we're running out of time. So I probably should just let you read them. But these questions are in the document that we're giving you. So they're all right here and you can go look through them. But essentially these questions are a way for you to draw out when you're having a conversation with the funder.

Should I actually really be pursuing this? Are we a good fit? And I'll start with the first two questions because they're actually pretty important. So I like to always say, "Hey, so we sent over that funding prospectus on what we're trying to do. Did you have a chance to review it?" So give them a chance if they're really crazy busy and they didn't actually look at it so that you can make sure you're on the same page and then you would just hit your TTS, the problem you're solving, and what you need funding for. Like three sections.

Then say, okay, this is the really important part. You got to really use your language to get the effect you want. "I need you to be super straight with me. Based on that information, do you think we're a good fit for your program? Please don't feel like you have to worry about hurting my feelings or whatever. We are here because we think there's alignment, but I need you to tell me what you think." When you create this space for them to be honest, people can be honest and you can actually have a meaningful conversation. Humans are wired to not want to hurt other humans on the whole. And so, we don't want to be rude.

So if you are so passionate and crazy excited about your project, how are they going to shut you down on that? They're just not. Instead, just going to let you apply and like, well, whatever. It's so much better to create that honest bubble that then they can be real with you about is this a good fit?

I'm going to let you all look at that in your handout because we don't have time to cover all of these questions. But there you have it. So is there anything else you want us to know and think about? Boom, you'll get those all in a moment. So don't worry. You'll get it when we email it out. And here's the biggest thing I wanted to really emphasize because many of you said nervous every time or haven't really developed the experience contacting funders.

This is mandatory. As one funder said when I was writing my book, nothing was worse than getting an application out of nowhere, even if it was perfectly prepared. Like bam. Did not see that one coming when I was told that from a funder and we've done funder panels where they've literally said the same thing.

So it's really, really important. And when you have a prospectus and you have your questions, prepped, you're prepared, and preparation is how we all succeed. So now we're gonna shift gears again. So we're on our bicycle. We're going now down the hill. How can you continue to receive support? And then I want to make sure we have time to hit all these questions.

80% of grant writing from my perspective is following the same recipe. It's in the 20% of sticky situations that can leave you feeling like I wish I had someone to ask about this. What can you do about that? And I do know that it's frustrating. Like it is in the details. Like who here has had a sticky situation just this month alone? I have an example from Rose who helped me put together a workshop we did last week and she pasted in, prepped beautifully, pasted in the narrative and then found out the character limit included spaces. And so at the last minute, she's trying to hack away at her narrative again, and that's stressful. So this would be examples of sticky situations and we all face them as grant writers.

The other thing that many of you might face is what has anyone heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect? And if you've seen my new book, you've seen this visual in it. What I find very powerful about the Dunning-Kruger Effect is that it's basically this. Right when you start something new, you're really confident, but you're not actually competent at all. And then boom, when you realize how much you don't know, often we then decline into what we call the valley of despair and it takes really climbing ourselves out of that to actually then get back to that place of high confidence, but also high competence.

So I want you to know that if you do feel any of those feelings, especially those of you that are being thrown into this cold turkey, it is normal. Yeah, we got some mini corns in here. Raise your horns. Katie, you're amazing. So if you feel like you're supposed to have all of the answers, I do know what that feeling was like when I was a grant writer for the organization I was in. I didn't have anyone else to ask and it made it feel like I was supposed to have all of the answers.

So if you are looking for additional training beyond the amazing tools that Instrumentl has, we have a program called the Global Grant Writer Collective. It's an annual membership, so you can build your career in grant writing course, community, coaching calls. Literally what we talked about today, I pulled that from different sections of the course content.

Oh, and I love that y'all are using unicorn emojis. That's literally my favorite emoji. So how does it work? So it's a different method where you basically learn the systems of, all about systems, to learning how to write grants, staying, keeping minimum overwhelm, getting certified as a grant writer, learning project management because frankly, that's really what grant writing is.

And then some advanced strategies. So they're prerecorded online instructional videos. There's two tests and then a coach will review your funding strategy. So that's that bottom piece of the funding research process where you're actually putting together your game plan for how to fund your organization for the next 12 to 18 months. And we'll actually have a coach look over your work.

Okay. Speaking of coaching, there's literally Mike. There's a picture. He's here on the call. There you have it. So coaching calls happen three times per month. We have an advanced grant writer call and then two all-experience calls. If you can't make it, you can still submit your question. We'll answer it. And then you can go get the replay.

So, I mean, literally everything under the sun you wanna bring. Anything you wanna talk about, we'll talk about it. The coaching calls are really a powerful place and there's a lot of really cool action in the DMs and people supporting each other. The community is sweet. So every question's answered within 36 hours. We're off of Facebook. Hallelujah. We're in this group called Circle and we have six coaches that are providing advice, myself included. So very specific channels depending on where you're at. And yes, that does totally includes government grants, by the way, which is something Virginia was just asking. That's the bulk of my experience. And so it doesn't really matter if you're the person that's like I'm going freelancing. I'm scaling my business. I'm an in-house grant writer. I just want to get into this. Like it all fits under this purview.

And I love that people are actually meeting up. These three unicorns are down in Georgia, I think. And people are regularly now starting to meet up because they're getting that density, which is super cool. Okay. So trainings, actually just added a bonus training from Will. Thank you. Will will gave us a custom Instrumentl training we just put in here, but we're always adding something quarterly based on demand.

Whatever is coming up that I don't think I can teach you, I will go find a subject matter expert. Right now, we have building a training with a woman that is amazing on grant management in administration. Just getting started. We have a book club. I think actually Jess Stack is on the call if she didn't drop already, but she actually leads this book club. It's super fun, really kind of an intimate group where we talk about the books and we work on growing our mindset in ourselves. For those of you that are grant writers, we can list you once you've hit a certain milestone. We're actually ranking number one on Google for hire a grant writer. I don't even know how we're like out doing Upwork, but we are.

So we can help match you if you're looking for a grant writer or you yourself are looking for more work. So the membership to the collective is 250 a month. I'm not going to go into all of this. We're out of time, but you can go and go to our website and learn more about it. But that's like the quick overview, if you are looking for support as a grant writer. And yeah, Jess is still here.

Friends, we take care of our friends. Actually, I still have to go make it, but there is going to be a discount code Instrumentl, and you can have 10% off your collective membership forever. That'll expire at the end of the month. So what am I missing? A useful starting point for those of you that are my newbies in the house is you can go take our free grant writing class.

For those of you that are advanced, I'd say go to the grant resources page and all of that will be linked. Sweet prizes we've got for, I guess I'll let you talk about that, Will, and then we can get into questions, but thank you. This was a very quick going, very fast hour. I definitely tried to pack in maybe too much, but it was very fun. Thank you so much.

Will: Yeah, absolutely. So just to tell everybody about some of the freebies, I just put in the feedback form in the chat. If you can go ahead and click that link, give us some feedback, we'd love to hear from you, what you appreciate about this workshop, what we could have done better.

And also, if you submit that before the end of day tomorrow, we will be raffling away five copies of Meredith's book. Be shipping that to you guys from there. Be sure to also keep your eyes peeled for the workshop replay and resources that will send later today. And yeah, we've got some questions we'll tackle as well.

Last thing I'll say for announcements is if you enjoyed this one we're back next week, next Wednesday, we're gonna be talking through grant targets and prospect research as well. And so with that, I'm gonna start digging into some questions. Meredith the first question.

Meredith: That was awesome, Will, thank you I just really appreciate the chat box love and it's super helpful to know. I haven't actually ever taught this combination of material before, so super stoked y'all enjoyed it. That's really helpful feedback. Cool. And these people reading the book, can you please leave a review? That's my only ask. We gotta take down the old Titans. Okay. Sweet. Hit me with questions.

Will: All right. First question from Vicky. What happens if you are not a 501c3 yet, but have a fiscal sponsor and the eligibility requirements say show proof of status as a registered 501c3 charitable organization?

Meredith: So fiscal sponsorship is one of my favorite tools of leverage. You would be showing their documentation because they are ultimately the applicant. So whoever is your fiscal sponsor, you would be using their 501c3 documentation. Great question. And that's something I have in the course, actually, like a detailed fiscal sponsorship play by play.

Will: Virginia asked if this strategy works for local, small grassroots nonprofits as well.

Meredith: Yeah, absolutely. One of the challenges is getting your capacity built. So I don't know what your annual budget is. If you have paid staff yet, or if it's still all volunteer, but like the biggest thing we work on with you would be let's start scaling that organization so you have systems in place and a budget that's growing so that you can start going after some of those larger grants.

Will: Robin asked, what if your organization's doing more so research, testing, innovative approaches and not necessarily delivering services in the community?

Meredith: That's no problem. I mean, delivering, so pilot projects is one of the easiest things to get grant funded because it's innovation, it's new. It's how are you solving a problem that needs to be resolved? So research, no problem.

Will: Kelly asked this question on behalf of several animal-based organizations, curious when working with domestic animal welfare organization, if the identity is the animals being served or the human community that they exist in?

Meredith: It's so funny because I had that exact same question when I did this workshop a week ago. So it is the community. It's the community that it's solving that for. So it's not, yeah, you're not actually writing it for the identity of the cats and dogs. It's for the community.

Will: Save All Children Zoom account asked what if an organization helps children with a number of different services? What's the best way to simplify without making a broad statement like improve the quality of life?

Meredith: Right. So what you can do is think about usually everyone's probably heard of Pareto's principle. What's the 20% of the work you're doing, that's getting you 80% of the results? So really look at what you're doing and highlight something that is the most important. And if you also, the other way to check that is go ask your beneficiaries. What do you most value that we do? And I guarantee it's going to start grouping thematically into probably one bucket being bigger than others. Talk about that one.

Will: Julie asked, do you prep a funding prospectus on your org in general or for each project that you're requesting funding for?

Meredith: Depends on the complexity of your projects in your organization. So if you're a gargantuous organization and you know you're focusing on something more narrow, then definitely just focus on that. But typically, it's a bit of a hybrid where you can be focusing on the organization broadly, but the specifics of what you're trying to get funded is project-based. So it can be one document. Yeah.

Will: Awesome. And then there was another question that was related to, I think it was from Krista that was asking if it's common for you to write several TSS for different purposes.

Meredith: No, I try to get it to where you have one that you -- you have to test them. It takes a while to get it to the point you're really happy and it flows off your tongue naturally. And more importantly, all staff use it. It's in all material. So it takes a little bit of iterating to get it to where you're like, I love the wording of our TTS. It's memorized. But on the whole it's really, you're writing one.

Will: Awesome. With that, we're at the top of the hour folks. Thanks so much.

Meredith: That felt like a game of Jeopardy or something like, whoo! Oh, my God. Talk about using my brain, you all. Thank you. That was like a high demand question and answering session. Thanks, Will.

Will: Awesome. With that, everybody, this concludes this session. We will be sending replays later on and resources and be sure to learn more about the collective and more and the resource to come after today's workshop. All right, take it easy, guys.

Meredith: That was awesome. Bye. Thank you

Instrumentl team

Instrumentl team

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