How to Save Up to 15 Hours per Week with Smarter Grant Tracking

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February 22, 2024

Last Updated:

March 4, 2024

We asked about the toughest problems grant writers are looking to solve - and we listened.

​One of the biggest needs? A space where you can track a dynamic grants portfolio, neatly organize your grant applications, manage funder relationships and engagement, and keep an eye on those key deadlines and milestones (that’s not a messy spreadsheet).

​There’s no silver bullet, but we do have proven strategies to help grant writers manage their grants that you can immediately apply - and save you up to 15 hours per week.

​If you’re interested in learning more about how Instrumentl can help you master your funding portfolio, this event is for you!

Who should attend?

  • ​Grant writing professionals aiming to streamline their workflow and increase their success rate
  • Development/Advancement teams looking to integrate more efficient tools into their funding strategy

You should attend if you have questions like:

  • How should I monitor all my funding opportunity deadlines so I don’t miss key milestones?
  • ​What are some reporting tools that can streamline my workflows and highlight our successes for my board / leadership?
  • ​How can I efficiently track my relationship-building with our funders (both awarded & prospective)?

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More about our speaker

​Host: Rachel Fidler Cannella | Events & Community Manager, Instrumentl

​Rachel Fidler Cannella is one of the newest team members at Instrumentl! She is a skilled nonprofit professional with over a decade of experience in history, science, art, and children’s museums. Prior to joining Instrumentl, Rachel served as Senior Manager of School & Teacher Programs at the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County and directed creative arts programming for teens & elders at Holocaust Museum LA.

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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How to Save Up to 15 Hours per Week with Smarter Grant Tracking - Grant Training Transcription

All right. Good morning, everybody. If you haven't already, make sure to answer those poll questions. They should be right up in front of you on your Zoom screen. And if you haven't already started that Instrumentl account process, you can go ahead and start that. But I'm going to go ahead and get us started with our event today.

Thank you so much for being here. I just want to start off by welcoming you all to our event, How to Save Up to 15 Hours Per Week with Smarter Grant Tracking. I definitely see some familiar names on the guest list here. So, thank you so much for being here.

For any first timers, this free grant workshop is one of Instrumentl’s educational webinars in our new grant tech series. Our goal for these is to try and focus on challenges that grant writers are trying to solve while identifying tools and sharing resources to support grant seekers along the way.

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

To start us off, I'm going to quickly introduce the team that's putting on this event today. My name is Rachel, and I'm one of the newest team members at Instrumentl. My job is to help develop helpful and educational events, just 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 cultural centers, and I'm based in Los Angeles, California.

I am excited to be joined by my wonderful colleague, Ryan, who I'm sure many of you know. If you're on our newsletter list, you've probably seen an email from Ryan. And he really does read every reply that comes back there if you ever send him a note. Ryan will be supporting behind the scenes in the chat box. So, feel free to ask questions as we go through the presentation. He'll help out with responses and links as much as possible. Thanks, Ryan.

Here are some quick FYIs on what to expect today. Our event is going to be about an hour long. And my purpose of this event, my intention behind this event is to make it a discussion-based educational session, during which I'm going to incorporate a demo of Instrumentl and some live Q&A from you all. We are focusing this program on folks who have not used Instrumentl before. So those of you who have already seen the magic may feel like experts for our demos today. However, if you are a current customer and could benefit from a refresher on how to track Instrumentl or just want to see some of the tips that I'm sharing that are not Instrumentl specific today, feel free to stick around.

This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards. So, keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email if you want to review anything. I know we are all so busy and working hard. So, thank you so much for being here. I promise I'll make it worth your time.

Make sure you take care of yourself during this time on any of your personal needs. We don't get a ton of breathing room in our work days. So bring a snack, make sure to hydrate and take a bio break as needed during the program. But I please ask for everybody's back here at quarter till. That's when I'm going to transition to the live Q&A. And I'll share about how to get our freebies today and enter our raffle.

So speaking of, if you need an extra reason to stay to the end, we're sending a free template to everybody who sticks out with us. And even better, you might be a lucky winner of our raffle, which I'll share about more in just a sec. So today, anyone who submits their feedback form at the end of the event will get a copy of this awesome freebie How To Break Free From Grants Spreadsheets In Five Simple Steps, which includes real life examples from grant seekers who have saved time and improve their workflows without some of those messy Excel spreadsheets.

Lastly, if you stay till the end and submit that feedback form, you could be the lucky winner of a three-month subscription to Audible. I don't know if we have any audio book lovers out there. But I'm already three books into my Goodreads reading goal for 2024. And I've done them all through Audible. So in my follow up, I'll even send some listening records from the Instrumentl team. So, you can scope them out on your audio book platform of choice. We hope you'll stick around to the end of our time together to get that freebie and be eligible for this fun price. I'm glad there's some Audible fans in the room.

My last housekeeping item before we get into the good stuff. Here's what you can expect from your participation today. This is your time to learn. We don't get much dedicated time to be learners in our busy grown up lives. So please, jot down whatever nuggets of wisdom are speaking to you today. Or maybe take a screenshot of the slides that I'm sharing. You will get these at the end. Again, I'll follow up with all of this in the recording. But anything that's really spoken to you, I encourage you to jot it down.

And let's get inspired in this learning community by trying to be present with one another as much as possible. I promise those emails or sock messages can wait for just a few moments while we get through our event today. We will gather your questions for our closing Q&A. So, add questions in the chat with three hashtags at the front to help us organize in the chat. There might be some times during the discussion when I'll ask folks to share feedback with maybe your virtual raise hand feature or reactions in Zoom. So, familiarize yourself with those if you haven't already.

And lastly, we've been in Zoom a lot the past almost four years. So, I'm sure we know the drill. But as a kind reminder, please stay on mute unless you're called on to speak. We want to make sure we're creating the best environment for learning. And so, also please respect our staff and each other when chatting in the chat box.

Okay. With all of those details out of the way, I'm excited to hop on our grants tracking train and start our journey. I promise that'll be the end of my train puns. We're going to just talk a little bit about our existing grant tracking workflow. Grant tracking right is going to be overseeing a grant’s entire journey from the research and applications to funding milestones and final reporting.

So starting back in pre-award, we're doing the search for best fit funders and grants. We're cultivating some of those precious funder relationships, submitting applications to the ones we do find that fit our bill, right? And then following up on all those pending submissions, not pictured here, waiting with bated breath to see if we actually sealed the deal. Once we've scored those funds go us, we still have to track across the post-award lifecycle with financial monitoring on our spend down from the funds we were given, tracking all of those reporting deadlines and writing and submitting those reports, ensuring we comply with all of the grant terms and evaluating the impact these funds actually had on our projects.

So I want to get a sense from kind of folks in the room, what is our grant tracking workflow currently looking like? So, I want to see if any of these situations apply to any of you all. I'm going to go ahead and launch our poll and walk through some of these options here. Let's get that rolling. All right. You should see that poll pop up in just a second. Do any of these apply to you? You've got a deadline coming up. But you maybe can't find that elusive email with the updated submission date from the program officer. Different budgets or versions of budget spreadsheets or application drafts are being circulated or saved over, maybe causing frustration or delaying approvals from those key folks. You're constantly asking, “Who's responsible for the blank?” Be it reviewing 990s, editing applications or gathering metrics.

And our last one here, no matter how much you plan, it always seems to be a scramble pulling together that impact report or last minute funding update to leadership. So, I want to see. If you have a sense of if any of these are applying to you, if you feel like all of them are applying to you, I have that as an option. If you're like, “Nah, I've really got it under control. I don't really feel like I really intend to use it,” you can select that as well. I'll give folks just a couple moments to answer.

Awesome. I'm going to share those results. It looks like we've got kind of a smattering of a whole different bunch of options here. Some folks feel maybe leaning on that scramble point at the Impact Report. Maybe some folks are feeling like the versions of their documents are getting kind of replicated or saved over. And some folks are saying that they are experiencing all of these things.

One of our beloved customers was sharing that she used an Excel spreadsheet to track submission dates and amounts awarded. But it became very inconvenient and tedious to try and track five years of submissions on a spreadsheet. Can anyone relate to this challenge? I am sure I have seen many spreadsheets. Yeah, you can use the raise hand function or you can just say -- say it in the chat. Definitely have some relatability here.

So what can smarter grant tracking look like? I'm going to share what I think are the three signs of what we'd consider smart grant tracking, organized grant tracking. We've got these three steps here. First off, everyone is following a clear organizational system.

So, there's standardized workflows in place, all the way from that pre-award prospecting to the post award reports and management. Second, the sign here is that must do tasks and important dates are added ahead of deadlines, right? So, everybody always knows what's going on. For that transparency, accountability and ownership, who is on first? When are these things due? And all that happens before the deadlines are actually right at our doorstep.

And lastly, I think a good sign of organized grant tracking is that relationship building with funders is clearly documented. So, we want to always see the who, what, and why of each touchpoint with key people.

Now, the last time we did the survey with grant writers, we heard that 80% of you all would like to improve your grant seeking strategies. There's maybe some more intentionality behind how we're seeking our grants, right? So, we're going to work together to improve our workflow.

And because this is an Instrumentl event, I do want to highlight that you can do all of this with Instrumentl. You can find your relevant grants. You can hopefully secure more funding, manage those awards and scale your team's impact in Instrumentl.

So, a couple of reasons why I think Instrumentl is a great way to get to those three kinds of signs of organizational grant tracking is that you can use it to stay focused and save time. By just having your prospecting tracking and management all in place, you can let Instrumentl actually do the work for you. Our unique matching algorithm will find good fit funders for your project automatically. And you can access the best possible options for your funding. So our database has 15,000 active public and private funding sources, quite a huge chunk that are available for you all to review.

My goal for you today is to leave this workshop with the kind of things that are going to help you organize the best possible grant tracking system. So today, I'm going to have everybody hopefully leave with a tailor-made list of good fit funders. That'll be automatically sourced from those best fit foundations that we're going to set up for your funding needs. You're going to leave with a bespoke and organized grant tracker. And I'll even show you how you can upload existing spreadsheets to auto populate with all of your funding history, even if you haven't done any of this in Instrumentl.

And lastly, you'll be able to have automatic deadline reminders with customized tasks. So once your grants are saved, your deadlines are what we refer to as automagically updated. So, I'm going to take a moment and set everybody up in Instrumentl first.

In order to make every -- make sure everybody can leave here with those three things, we're going to take just a moment before we get into the content to make our accounts. If you already have one, great. You can go ahead and log right in. For those of you who are new to Instrumentl, you're going to use the link that Ryan is going to drop into the chat. I also have it here if it's not hyperlinking. And you're going to go ahead and get yourself set up.

So, you're going to go ahead and click that link that Ryan's dropped in the chat. I dropped it there as well. Fill out the information in the boxes on our homepage there, and then select try 14 days free. I'm going to show you what this looks like. You can just follow along with me as I fill out my form here. I'm entering my name. So, you should see this page. Filling out your email, your password, your phone number, and then you're going to indicate what type of organization you are. I've indicated that I'm a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. I'm inputting my organization name. Today, I made that Save The Turtles. I was feeling the environmental advocacy element today.

I've selected my organizational revenue. I have selected that I am a 501(c)(3). And I've selected the amount of grants that I was awarded in the past 12 months. Once you've done that, you should get to this screen. This is going to be scheduling your kickoff call. Today, we're going to go ahead and click the skip button on that. You see, I just did this in this playback. I'll show you here as well.

So once you get to this screen, you're going to go ahead and click skip. You can go back and schedule a call with one of our team members after the event. But for right now, we're going to go ahead and get into the content and get down to business so we can skip that.

Now, you should be at this page. I want us to pause here because I'm going to come back to how you can get this filled out in just a few slides. I want to talk about how we're currently tracking grants first before we get this set up. So, I want everyone to leave that tab open and come back into Zoom so we can chat throughout before we get to the details.

If you can indicate with a thumbs up or write down in the chat to let me know when a good chunk of folks are ready to move on, that would be great. I'll wait a few moments till everyone has paused at this screen and is back in Zoom. And I'll play a little music while we're waiting.

All right. I think we've got critical mass. Everyone is on this page. You should just pause here. We are going to get to actually setting up your grant checker in just a second. But first, I want to start by sharing with each other on some of the ways we're currently tracking funding opportunities. So, what are some of the tools or tactics that you're using right now to track? If you could share that in the chat, I'd love for us to share with each other. Maybe some of the ways that we've felt are really positive in tracking our grants. Or maybe you were feeling like, “This is our current system, but we have intentions to improve it.”

I see a lot of Excel, Airtable. Absolutely. Spreadsheets. Thanks, Michael. I like that drum solo too. Oh, I love that. Instrumentl and a dry erase board from Christie. Absolutely. I'm such a tangible person needing to draft that out. Monday? Yep. Salesforce? Awesome. GrantHub? Yep. Google Sheets? Awesome. SOHO? Judy, I hadn't heard of that before. VCalendar on three sides of me and my office. Katie, that’s awesome.

So, we've seen a couple of trends here. I did see a couple of Excel spreadsheets. Maybe some Google Docs or Google Sheets, right? Maybe some of you are using physical files. I'm a big fan of the tangible stuff, like I mentioned. But it can make grant tracking just a little bit complicated.

So, what I hope to emphasize here is that funding opportunity updates, project statuses and background context are living in maybe one person's inbox, one person's spreadsheet, one person's whiteboard, or maybe just your brain, right?

The idea also is that we have clear documentation procedures. These are standardized status updates, or maybe context notes to give us some background on why we're pursuing a funder to help create that seamless collaboration.

So, here are a couple of tips I have in order to help us get to this place where we feel like we have an organized collaboration strategy. My first tip here, organize your status updates by category. So, what I've done is I've broken out on each phase of the grant tracking process, the grant tracking journey. I have different status updates related to those, starting with pre awards, I may be working on researching or cultivating relationships, right, into the In Progress phase where we're working on submitting applications. Maybe we have an LOI submitted or we're doing some digging with the funder, maybe communicating them directly. Or maybe we've submitted an application, right? And then into that post-award phase, having status updates, like our active reports, our reports due or our grants that have already closed. So organizing those status updates by category will help streamline a little bit of the prioritization of tasks, right?

My next tip here is about standardizing your context note format. So, what kind of background information does everyone need to be aware of while they're tracking your grants, right, your funding? So when should someone be putting notes in? Should they indicate when they've talked to a funder? Maybe they've heard about a networking connection that they should follow up on. Or maybe they've even found a past grantee from a funder that you've been pursuing that aligns really well with your mission, and you'd like to follow up on that. What should people be putting in those Contact Notes? Right? So in my example, here, I've indicated my initials. I'd say maybe even putting a date for multi-person grant teams to just keep everybody on the same page.

Here, I indicated that I'm in a research status. And I wrote that it might not be a hundred percent fit. But it looks pretty solid from a glance at this opportunity. So just giving some context, right, and making sure people can kind of be inside your head. So that there's never this question of, why do we add this to our grant tracker?

My extra tip here? I would write up a brief, or if you're savvy with something, like a screen recorder, maybe Loom, some sort of service that will record your screen for you. Film a quick video or write up a quick brief outlining how you want funding opportunities to be documented and the types of conventions to use so that you're not constantly trying to re-update your notes to make sure you have everybody's information in one place. Right? Make sure everybody's aware of what conventions you think are the most useful.

In Instrumentl, you'll see that every status update and opportunity note is going to be in one place. So, you'll monitor all of your opportunities in your grant tracker and any awarded grants in the awards. And I'm guessing this is going to save you about an hour a day or up to about five hours per week. You can see my example of a grant tracker right here. And we're going to actually be able to see what it looks like with our own grants in it in just a second.

One of our lovely customers, Allison shared that it was so great that Instrumentl allowed them to have all of their grant information in one location, making it easy to use across a team, right? She said, the software feels user friendly, easy to navigate, and you're able to customize it, which allows them to invest their time in their mission. Rather than spending time tracking over those messy spreadsheets.

There are many great things that I can share about the tracker, but I'm going to point out the main benefits here. All your grants are going to be in one place. You're not going to have to squint your eyes at any more spreadsheets or miss any deadlines. There won't be any more confusion about who's doing what. And you'll get clarity on the status of each grant, which is built into the tracker.

If you feel like your spreadsheets are also giving you more flexibility because you have very specific fields that you're tracking, maybe you have a prioritization framework that you've set up with your leadership and you want to make sure that's in there, too, you can create custom fields. So, these can help design your tracking system in a way that makes the most sense for you. And so, we want to make sure you can organize everything neatly. So anyone that's on our Pro Plan, and when you do your trial, you’ll actually be able to see custom fields in action. They'll be able to add their own fields and customize their tracker however they want.

On the post award side, we also have the awards view, which will enable you to efficiently manage your awarded grants, right? So you can easily keep track of your grant disbursements and reimbursements or see all of your awarded grants in one place. You can also change the statuses here. Your awards overview will be updated anytime you change the statuses with this kind of snapshot view at the top. And I'll show you how to access that in just a moment.

So, let's see how user friendly this platform really is. We're going to go back to the screen that we left off on, and we're going to see how we can make that beautiful grant tracker, like the example I shared. So, I'm going to have everybody switch back over to this tab and input your own information as I show you how to do it. So head on back over to your browser, open up this tab, and you're going to follow along with me here. I'm going to go ahead and update our playback speed here a little bit so we can go a little faster.

So, you're going to start by selecting where your organization is located. I'm in Los Angeles. So, I went ahead and put that I'm in Los Angeles County. You're also going to indicate your fiscal year. Once you get here, make sure everybody has a chance to catch up. We're going to start adding information about our organization.

Some folks might just want to look at funding opportunities and not necessarily -- I'm sorry, they might want to look at both funding opportunities and tracking. Or you might just want to be only using Instrumentl for tracking. You can select that here. But then we're going to input our project name. This is the specific project you're looking for funding for. After that, you're going to go through your applicant type. I've selected nonprofit. I'm actually going to go back here. And I've shown that, you know, I might be partnering on this turtle -- Save The Turtles Project with a school district, maybe I'm doing an educational program. So, I want to make sure I select funding for school districts as well. Also, maybe I'll partner with something like a museum or a library or a zoo for programming. So, I also want to select that. The applicant type can be anyone that you are currently collaborating with as well. So, you'll see I've selected that. I've selected our museum library to zoo.

You can also add additional grant fields if you're applying for a grant as an individual. I'm not a faith-based organization. So, I've selected no here. And I've selected the areas that my project serves. So, we've got inside the United States is my specific scope here. One of the most important fields I'll say that I would spend a little bit of time thinking about is your fields of work.

Now for my Save The Turtles Project, I was doing a specific turtle education program. So, I was looking for fields of work related to environmental education, environmental stewardship. I looked around for education. It didn't really fit me. So, I actually changed it. I switched it over to animal welfare. And then I also did a little digging on marine science specifically because I had a marine science focus. So, I'm going to go ahead and select those fields of work.

These keywords are going to have a major impact on the quality of your grant matches. So by selecting more specific keywords that really hit the nail on the head for your program's mission, you're going to remove broader matches that might not be a good fit. I will just say here, you can always go back and edit these later. If you find that you were too specific with your keywords or maybe you weren't specific enough, this is just going to give you a good setup.

Lastly, I'm going to go down here and I'm going to select the size of grants I'm looking for. Your time is valuable. So, think about the minimum amount of spend that you might want to be working on here, I selected 1,000. And then I'm also going to select how I want to use those funds, right? I might use them for education. I might use them for a project or a training.

This last question here is asking about, what kind of funders you'd like to see grants from? I selected all of them because I'd like to see all of them. But maybe you're specifically looking for federal funding. In that case, you would specifically select federal government or state or local government. And I'm going to go ahead and click Save and Exit. The last step here is to add a few folks from your team. Your trial is going to give you access to 10 spots. So, I encourage you to add a few folks so that they can test out Instrumentl as well. They'll get an email that automatically adds them into your project as soon as you send this.

All right, then you click all done. So, you should have already seen this pretty awesome pop up for you that shares the exact amount of grants that you've just been found. So, I'm going to back up here. If folks have gotten to this point, can they just give me a little thumbs up or some indication in the chat that they've reached this point? Maybe write done. Awesome. I see a couple of questions here. So, I'll definitely make sure to answer those. I like the smiley face. That's great.

401 grants, that's pretty good. Now, what is going to take the next step, right, is making sure that I'm actually looking at grants that are valuable for me.

So right, now, you're going to look here and you're going to maybe go into your tracker. You see up in the top, I've selected tracker. It's going to be empty right now because we don't have any opportunities that are saved. So, you can go back over into your matches section. Right now I have 100 plus matches here at the top. And I can go ahead and look through and start saving the ones that are most applicable to me. You can also import some of those historical opportunities that you've already maybe had, your funding opportunities, into your tracker. And then you'll get automatically notified of any funder updates to your grants. You can also link historical opportunities to that funder 990 report and centralize all your work into one place.

This is something I recommend doing after the event. Our team provides a very easy template that will help set you up so you can import all of your historical data. Just to give you a quick sense of how you would do that. You're going to go over here. In your tracker, there's an option to Add New. And then it's going to give you a little drop down. You're going to select import your grants spreadsheet. I want to just pause and share a note that once you upload your grant spreadsheet, they're not going to be automatically inserted in Instrumentl. These are actually manually processed by our team to make sure that they are exactly what fits into the Instrumentl database so that you can get those automated deadlines set up.

But in the meantime, you can start learning about tracking and grant prospecting in Instrumentl and see which matches are coming in from the database that might not have been in your historical data.

Okay. Cool. So, let's hit that pause button again on our Instrumentl run through so we can chat about the next problem solving tip. Go ahead and leave your tracker where it's at, and come back into Zoom to dive in deadlines. When you're back here in the chat, you can do the thumbs up or you can say done. I'll give everyone just a few moments to get their selves set up before I move on.

All right. Thanks, everybody. Let's move on to our next point here. So, I want to open it up for discussion again. How do you keep your stakeholders up-to-date with deadlines? This includes folks like your leadership or board, maybe folks that are actually facilitating the programs that are being grant funded. How do you keep them up to speed? If you can share in the chat some of those ways that you're doing currently, that'd be great. Oh, weekly meeting email. Group chats, weekly -- yep. Maybe we've got folks using Slack or some sort of messaging, recurring meetings and emails, development news. Yep. A lot of maybe in person review of what's coming out. I saw someone write about Salesforce. Yes, absolutely. Ah, generate a weekly status report using the opportunities report function. I love to hear that. Google Docs, email. Awesome.

Folks are pretty organized with keeping everyone up to speed on their deadlines. I see a couple here, maybe some ideas that have come up calendar reminders, emails, I remember being chased down in the hall a couple times to get those deadlines met. Right? So the one issue that maybe comes up with keeping folks abreast of deadlines is that our tasks and deadlines are maybe not always super centralized, leading to some confusion or stress as some of those really important key milestones approach and can feel a little bit like we're scrambling to get stuff pulled together.

The ideal solution here to make sure that we've got a really organized grant tracker is have one place where tasks are articulated, prioritized, and then assignment deadlines. So, everyone is taking ownership of the grants’ lifecycle. I've got a couple of tips to specifically look into this. What I suggest is creating opportunity specific tasks for each milestone. So looking at your funding opportunities, what are those specific tasks that are related to that opportunity that everybody should be aware of? It might be finalizing a budget for application. That may need to go to your finance person, right, making sure they're aware of when that needs to happen. It might be inviting your funder for a site visit or a prospect of a vendor. It might be compiling an impact report for review by your education team. When do they need to see a draft of this so that you can submit it on time?

You also want to make sure you're identifying your key stakeholders. Who has that really important data that you need for an application? I know we have a lot of folks that have boots on the ground are actually working with our populations that we're trying to serve. Make sure you're giving them enough time to get you the data you need. When should the report be reviewed by? I find this often happens a little close to the actual submission date, right? So, giving folks that should have an opportunity to have eyes on that time to review it. And then assign them with those deadlines ahead of time.

My expert tip here, if you feel like you always need new impact statements or testimonials, which I think everyone probably is, always think fresh that you can resend to a funder. Set yourself a quarterly deadline to provide any of your programming teams, any of your teams that are working directly with your population served with new prompts. Maybe they have someone that they've worked with really closely that you haven't heard about in the past three months, right? Ask them regularly to give you those insights, to give you those impact statements so that you always feel like you have some fresh information, and those kind of punchy quotes that you can use for your applications.

With Instrumentl, you'll hopefully never lose track of another deadline. So, we want to help everybody boost their productivity with assigned tasks and those auto magical deadline reminders. And I estimate this will save everyone at least an hour a day, and up to five hours a week.

Cynthia shared that she loved the ability to track everything in Instrumentl. Those deadlines for reports and email reminders are really helpful and she doesn't ever have to wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “Oh my God, did I miss it?” Definitely had that feeling before.

So, I'm going to show you really briefly what that kind of looks like in Instrumentl. You can see here that we have a view of tasks and a view of calendars. So up on the top of your project here, your tasks are listed here and your calendar is listed here. These are standard plan features so you can go deeper into Tasks view. This is going to allow you to see all your upcoming assignments in one place, help you stay on top of everything and prioritize what you're going to do next. The calendar view is going to do the same, but within the current month. It's a little more visual.

So imagine starting your team meetings that you're having on a weekly basis by looking at the calendar and do a quick status report on all the opportunities you have coming up. It's the clarity that you can't really get with spreadsheets or maybe chasing those documents across emails and the meeting agenda will basically form itself. All you need is kind of a single glance at this calendar view to know what you need to do next.

Another great thing about the calendar view is that you can easily access your funding opportunity by clicking directly on the events. So, that means you don't have to go back into your tracker to look at those funding opportunities. You can just integrate it right into your calendar.

Regardless of your plan, even if you're on basic, everybody gets emails with deadline updates, like this example right here, right into your inbox. So, you'll never have to dig for an updated deadline again. You can see, here's all the matches, maybe that you haven't saved that have upcoming deadlines. And here are some that are in your tracker.

You can also share and integrate your calendar to see your deadlines on Outlook, Google Calendar and more. This is an integration available in pro. But you can also see that during your trial, or you can create custom calendar links to track only specific grant opportunities and deadlines that are relevant to certain folks, right? So, you can share those with external collaborators so they can kind of see your grant pipeline a little more clearly.

And understand your plan. You can also upload some of those impact statements. So, you've been doing such a great job diligently updating right into your documents library. So, this ensures that everybody has kind of one source of truth. There is always one place where you can go to those documents and review what's coming up and what you have saved.

All right. My last tip here as we move into kind of our streamlining our grant tracking process. I'm curious to hear from folks in the chat. Where does some of your most valuable information about potential funders live? Where do you keep that information about your funders? I'd love for folks to share in the chat. Give me some ideas. Oh, cool. Katie uses Notion. Cynthia's got Excel. Joshua says “In my failing memory.” I feel you. “In my head,” yep, Sandy. Same. Oh, Sara is using an organizational Wiki. I love that. Andy's got Salesforce or Raiser’s Edge. We've got some Excel users. Some folks are using ECRM. Yep. Awesome.

I love hearing these ideas because it also gives us a sense of what folks are using out there. Yeah. So, I had some ideas about what folks might drop in the chat. I thought maybe ECRM platform, right, something like Salesforce, where you're managing your customer relations? Maybe it's in some email threads like, “Oh, way back when I chatted with this person, or my board member told me that they knew this guy. I have that in an email somewhere. And maybe it's favorited in an inbox.” Or it's in your brain, which I saw some folks say, or your boss' brain, which is a mystery to all of us.

So, the problem with this is that relationship building with funders is so important. But these efforts can feel kind of fragmented and disorganized when there's no repository, no place for all of this is living. So my proposed solution, the way I think that a grant tracking management system should work is that every touchpoint with your funders, potential or existing should include the background research that you've done and potential networking connections through your board of leadership, all in one place.

So starting off, I think it's really important to document all the background research that you spend doing on a funder, including key information like, what are their given priorities and their history of giving? What's the average size of their grant? Who and where do they typically fund? What have giving trends from this funder looked like for the past three years? So, this is something that you often are already doing, right? That information is something that you generally are looking for maybe already? Where does that information live? How are you storing that information, keeping track of all that in one place?

I also recommend you create scheduled tasks to add your funder cultivation to the workflow, either for existing funders or for those that you're trying to prospect with, right? Are they on your mailing list? Great, you should be sending them your annual report. Add that as a scheduled task so that you're always sending them your annual report. You're putting that together, anyway. Why not send it to a prospective funder? Have you got a great program coming up that you've heard from your education team, and you'd love to showcase it to a prospective funder? Invite them for a site visit. Make sure you have awareness of the events that are happening on your calendar and add tasks related to that so that you can invite them and include them in these special moments.

My expert tip here? If you really want to go above and beyond, as you're reviewing all those key foundation contacts, you should be cross referencing your LinkedIn and checking for potential mutual connections with your board. You will be surprised at what a small world that really can be. And LinkedIn is a really great resource to see some of those prospective connections. So, use that time when you're looking for key funders or key people at funding sources to cross reference LinkedIn.

In Instrumentl, you hopefully will never lose track of your funder relationships and you'll be able to build new ones. I'll show you how you can keep some funder notes front and center attached to the funder insights that we have Instrumentl. And hopefully, this can just save you about an hour a day or hopefully up to five hours per week. Piper shared that she really loves the funder matches and grant matches and share that they have already found new funder relationships in Instrumentl, and it cuts down specifically on the time that she's spending researching grants, spending more time actually inviting them. We love to hear that.

You'll see an example here of one of our funder profiles. I'm going to show you actually what it looks like in the product really quickly. But just to give you a sense, here's an example of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. It looks like they are a funder, right? They also have been a recipient of funding. Here, you can see the information based on their most recent IRS 990s. This is from the tax season from 2022. We’ll have updated 2023 information after that tax season has closed. You can see their total assets, total giving, and their average and median grant amounts.

You'll also be able to see their contact information here and a list of key people. This is where I was talking about using that opportunity to cross reference those key people. They've got trustees listed here, chairs on the board, and you can even see more if you want to expand that. So if folks are going back into Instrumentl, I want to give you a sense of how you might be looking at funders.

So I'm back in my tracker -- I'm sorry, my matches. So if you're back on your screen here and you're going into your matches, I've been scrolling through and I'm looking at some of the opportunities that have come up. These are all our funding opportunities that are connected to the search that we set up. I'm going to scroll through and take a look and see, am I actually eligible for this opportunity? What information do I have that can give me some additional context? And I decided, “Actually, yeah, I'd like to pursue this grant a little more.” So, I'm writing an opportunity note down here saying that I need to maybe review it a little bit more, spend a little more time on it. But it could be a good fit.

Now I've saved it into my Turtle Education Program. I've set a status to researching. And that opportunity is now going to show up in my tracker. You can actually see that the tracker now has a little one X to it. I'm looking at another opportunity. Scrolling through, seeing if I'm eligible. That one I didn't really think so. So, I'm going to scroll through another one.

Essentially what I'm doing here is looking closely at the best fit matches that have come up for me, right? So, you want to be able to scan quickly through. Now I'm looking at funder insights over here. So, I've gone into that funder tab. I'm looking at their maybe median giving. Scrolling through. That one didn't really suit my needs. So, I'm scrolling through another one here.

This is giving me information on the funding opportunity. I'm switching over to the funder tab to take a closer look at the funder itself. You can see the names of the key people there. You can also see their giving trends, their past grantee report, even their openness to new grantees. And some of them have their giving by NTEE code. I've gone ahead and saved this one as well to the tracker. I thought it might be interesting. So now, my tracker is going to have two opportunities saved.

All right, folks, I know there are some questions. I am going to cover those in just a moment. Before we get there, can everyone give me a thumbs up if they feel like they've been able to save maybe one or two opportunities into their tracker? I'll pause for just a moment. Yeah, you can say yes or give a thumbs up, or a little okay sign. Thanks, Clarissa. And I'll give folks about one minute to just see if they can get at least one opportunity saved into their tracker.

Okay. That was maybe a little less than a minute. But I want to make sure we get to questions. Everyone feeling like ready to move on? Cool.

My last tip here, and I encourage you to literally screenshot this slide, is to just remind us of why we want to track something in the first place. The tracker is not supposed to become a black hole of every possible funding opportunity on the planet, right? If you actually want to save up to 15 hours of time a week, you need to be discerning on when you should actually track a grant opportunity or funding opportunity. So here, I have five simple questions to help keep you on track.

Before you track that grant, these are the questions you need to ask. What's the grant makers’ mission? Does it align with your initiatives? Yes or no. What are the specific goals of the grant RFP? Do you meet their eligibility requirements? You will be surprised at how many times, that is just a simple question that can quickly decide whether or not you're going to pursue that funding. What are the size of the grants being made? What is their average giving looking like? Does it align with what you actually want?

Oftentimes, the funder is not just going to somehow randomly give you significantly more if you're looking for a set minimum of funding in order to pursue a grant. And lastly, just making sure you're aware of what type of project the opportunity is actually for. That goes back into the eligibility element here. But you want to try and align as closely as possible. We're not shooting in the dark with our opportunities.

Okay. So as a reminder, we've covered a couple of different ways that I think you can help save, I think, up to 15 hours a week, using Instrumentl or just kind of streamlining your workflow processes for grant tracking. You've got maybe your customized grant tracker in place now. That should save you at least an hour a day, maybe up to five per week. Having automated tasks and deadlines in the segmented categories should save you that hour. We hope that funder relationship management is a little more streamlined, that should save you half an hour a day.

So with smarter grant tracking in Instrumentl, we hope that we're saving up to three hours per day and maybe 15 hours per week. And we've heard from folks directly that this is actually a tangible data point that folks have been able to pinpoint when they use Instrumentl.

So, I'm going to switch over into our Q&A. We've got about eight minutes or so to cover live questions, and then I'm going to switch over to our wrap up where we'll share how to enter our raffle and how to get that freebie for today. Okay. So, we've gotten through a lot of grant tracking today. I'm going to take a look and see what some of these questions are. Susan was asking, “How do I go back and change the filters for topic areas?” For grants, I want to take one off to see the results. So, you can edit the whole project or you can just use those filters in the grant matching window to see some of those narrowed results, right? So if you go back into the project, on the left hand side, you're going to see an area to edit your project. That's where you can go in and change those fields of work that we entered at the beginning.

You can also go into your tracker. And at the top, you should see an element where you can filter. That's going to be able to indicate maybe some more narrow searching that you want to do to see those results.

Tom was asking, “Is there a way to indicate certain contacts as restricted so that we don't have things like the data entry person actually calling or accidentally calling the CEO of foundation on their private cell?” So, you can hide grant opportunities if you do not want to see that grant. You can also leave a note in the opportunity to not call the CEO, right? So, you can add in that information and that background context. I'd recommend probably hiding it if it's something that maybe you don't want everybody to have access to. But, yeah, leaving that note there will also provide that background context for folks.

Susan was asking, “How can I filter out research grants?” Many of the matches for me are only for research. So in that matching window, back over on our top, we have our tracker, right, we have our calendar tasks awards. Over on the matches, you're going to go ahead and use filters, to filter out all of those research grants. You should be able to see that with kind of the filter symbol and be able to find better matches for you.

Arnold one was asking, “Can a key individual become your funder?” So, that depends. You can create a custom opportunity just for them if you'd like to track them. So, you're going to be able to add a new opportunity in your tracker. Just like how I showed you, you can upload that grant spreadsheet of historical data. That's the same place where you can add a new custom opportunity that you want to track.

Susan was asking, “Grants listed for things that have nothing to do with the filters I set.” Okay. So for example, I got this one, environmental conservation and sustainability as well as national and global emergency relief effort. And we have nothing to do with any of this. So, did anyone else experienced something similar or that maybe they got something that was really off from their search?

Yeah. So, this might suggest that you could have been maybe more specific when setting up your project. So, I recommend trying experimenting with some of those filters or editing the focus areas in your project setup. So going back to those fields of work, and maybe tweaking them slightly, maybe something you indicated with your environmental conservation also showed up with some of those emergency relief efforts. We don't want to unnecessarily see both of those, right? So when you go back into your fields of work, make sure you're only selecting the ones that actually would give you what you are looking for.

Susan asked, “Is this the same as the Candid database for funders? Nope. Candid’s database is great. But Instrumentl goes a little bit farther with our RFP matching and grant tracker. That'll make it really easy for you to track your grants. We also have grants that are added every single week. You should see our content ops team. They are a freaking powerhouse.

Right now, we have 15,000 grants, as I mentioned. But we have at least 100 added every single week. And if a customer messages us and says, “Hey, I have a board meeting today, and I need an opportunity to show up in my tracker, or I need an opportunity to be added into the Instrumentl database,” we immediately get on board with that. We have a whole Slack channel called Build a Grant. And that information is immediately uploaded. So the customer service on this type of stuff, I will say coming in as a newbie, really impressed me. And if there's something that we don't have, we work very, very hard to make sure we have that information as quickly as possible.

Mark asked, “If I close the search file I made today during the event, and I get it back when I get back online.” Yes, that's absolutely correct. You can log back into your profile after the event. If anyone is having trouble accessing their account, maybe they've done a demo or trial before and it's kicking them out. You can go ahead and send me a note. You can send me a direct message in chat, and I'm going to review those after the event. I can go back in and give you a few more days to check out Instrumentl and apply some of the things that I showed you today.

I'm going to go ahead and move us along. I know we had a lot of questions. And I did go through Instrumentl pretty quickly to make sure we could cover everything today. I encourage you to use a guide that I'm going to share with you in just a second to help reiterate some of the things that I showed you. So, so many good tidbits from our time together today. I know there were some questions I didn't have a chance to answer. Just so you know, I'm going to be tracking everything that was inputted into the chat box. So, I'll be using those to inform our live grant writing courses for the rest of this year. And if there's anything I need to follow up on, you'll see an email for me after the event.

I'm hoping everybody leaves today with at least a good start on their personalized grant tracker in Instrumentl. And as I mentioned, we've got 100 plus grants live on our platform added every week. So even if you see some things today, you might see some things next Wednesday that weren't there last week. I highly encourage you to use these next two weeks of your trial to really deep dive on the platform as much as possible and see how it can save you those precious hours of time.

Our Free Trial Guide, which is brand new, shiny, shiny new thing, is a great way to make sure you're seeing all of the features that Instrumentl has to offer over those 14 days of your trial. It's going to include a daily checklist to help keep you on track, a cheat sheet for evaluating funders, some of those questions that I shared with you about why you might want to pursue a funding opportunity, and even a scorecard to assess that if Instrumentl is even the right platform for you.

So, Ryan is going to help me out by dropping this link into the chat and you'll be able to access this checklist. It's really comprehensive. It does not take too much time each day. It’s just to give you one little snippet of something that might be really extra helpful for you in your exploration of Instrumentl.

Thank you so much for being here today. I know I covered a lot of information. So, what I'd really love to do is to hear your feedback. Ryan is going to drop a link into the chat with our feedback form. It's going to only take about three minutes to fill out. And submitting your feedback form is going to help you be eligible to get this free guide book, which I mentioned, How To Break Free From Grant Spreadsheets: 5 Simple Steps. And you'll also get the chance to win a three-month subscription to Audible.

We really appreciate your honest feedback and take everything that you share to heart. So, I really appreciate you taking the time to do that.

My last thing here before I let you go. I want to share what upcoming events we have scheduled for this new year. And I've been working on a whole new calendar for us. So, we're starting on our funding focus series, which is coming up this month and the beginning of next with two partner events. First up is focused on capacity building grants with Sheleia Phillips the founder of SMP Nonprofit Consulting. And then next we've got all eyes on federal and government grants with Patrice Davis from Grants Works Consulting and Rachel Werner from RBW Strategy. You are the first to hear about these programs. So, registration literally just opened right now.

Ryan is going to share the calendar link for those programs, and others so that you can register right now if you'd like. If you're free, I'd suggest putting your name on the list. I have a feeling these are going to fill up pretty fast. And as I mentioned, you're the first to hear about them.

That's all for now. Thanks again for showing up today. We really appreciate you and I love being with you for this morning. If anyone like to stick around and ask any questions, I'm happy to keep the same room open for a few moments. For everyone else heading out, see you next time. Thanks for being here.

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