How To Effectively Manage Your Grants Department With A Lean Team w/ Sheleia Phillips
Want to know how to effectively manage your grants department with a lean team?
In this 1 hour special workshop hosted by Instrumentl, you’ll be able to leverage automation and cloud systems, facilitate cross-departmental collaboration, and create basic workflows and plug-and-play grant templates.
By the end of this one-hour workshop with Sheleia Phillips, you’ll learn:
- How to leverage automation and cloud systems to support their day-to-day grant operations (e.g. prospecting, management, etc.).
- How to facilitate cross-departmental collaboration for grant writing success.
- How to create basic workflows and plug-and-play grant templates to make the grant writing process more efficient.
Create your Instrumentl account using the link above. By using that link, you’ll save $50 off your first month should you decide to upgrade when your trial expires.
Sheleia Phillips is the Founder and Principal Consultant of SMP Nonprofit Consulting. A servant leader, She has dedicated herself to the growth and development of nonprofits for the past six years. A graduate from Saint Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice, she is equipped with advanced training in public health, program design, and public policy regarding maternal and child health. She has an affinity for research thus making her an advocate for implementing evidence-based approaches. She has secured and co-authored over $3 million dollars in grant awards for youth development, education, and health programs. She is also a grant reviewer for federal agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
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Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.
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How To Effectively Manage Your Grants Department With A Lean Team - Grant Training Transcription
Celia: Okay. Alright. So welcome, everyone. And welcome to "How to Effectively Manage Your Grants Department with a Lean Team" with Sheleia Phillips. This workshop is being recorded, and slides will be shared afterward. So don't feel like you have to write everything down. You'll be able to refer back after the fact, but keep your eyes peeled out in the next couple of hours for a follow-up email. Just in case you do want to review anything. Before I do introductions, though, I do have a poll that I wanna pose to you all, which I'm gonna do right now. There we go. We just wanna see a couple of things, hear a little bit about you, in terms of sort of, your background.
So go ahead and fill those out as I do introductions here. We'd love to hear from you. So. You are here at "How to Effectively Manage Your Grants Department with a Lean Team. Sheleia Phillips is going to be chatting about it. I am Celia, in case you haven't met me before, or haven't seen me, or this is your first time here. This is a free grant workshop, and it's an Instrumentl partner webinar.
So these are collaborations between Instrumentl and our community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals and non-profits. And our goal really is to tackle a problem that grant professionals and nonprofits have and share some different ways that we can kind of think about and solve those problems.
Along the way, we will tell you a little bit about Instrumentl on how we can help you tackle those problems. Sheleia's gonna talk about that some, and we're gonna show you different ways that grant writers kind of use it to bring prospecting, tracking, and management all in one place. So when we get to that place, feel free to follow along using the link that I'll drop in the chat at that time, which will sort of allow you to make your own account.
We also do have time for Q&A, so as you sort of come up with questions, make sure you drop those in a chat. Just make sure you add three hashtags before your questions. That'll just make them really easy for me to find when we kind of come back through. Alright, so I'm gonna kind of finish up this poll here.
We got 76% of participants answering. And in terms of what type of funders folks prefer writing grant applications for, the vast majority here are private. So 60% is private foundations. Which do you win often? Makes sense; also private, right? So that all tracks. So thank you to everyone who submitted your thoughts on that.
I really appreciate it. Alright. So with all of that housekeeping out of the way, I am very excited today to introduce Sheleia Phillips. She's the founder and the principal consultant of SMP Nonprofit Consulting. Sheleia has dedicated herself to the growth and development of non-profits for the past six years.
She's a graduate from St. Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice, and she's equipped with advanced training in public health program design and public policy. Specifically regarding maternal and child health. So I think there's some of you in the audience who are gonna resonate with that as well, I saw from the chat earlier. Sheleia has an affinity for research, and that makes her an advocate for implementing evidence-based approaches. She's secured and co-authored over $3 million in grant awards for youth development, education, and health programs. And she's also a grant reviewer for federal agencies, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. So Sheleia has a lot to share with us today. I'm so excited to have you on, Sheleia. I'm going to pass this over to you, and you can take it away.
Sheleia: Awesome. Good afternoon, everyone. Again, my name is Sheleia Phillips, and I am also known as the Grant Writing Coach. So for those of you who know me from my Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook community, I'm so glad to see you here.
And for those of you who may not know me, I wanted to start with a few fun facts so that we can get to know one another before we start with the business. Okay? So first off, I think you all should know that I love my job. As Celia mentioned, I'm the founder and principal of SNP Nonprofit Consulting. and I get the privilege to help non-profits, just like you, raise more money through grants and sustainable fundraising strategies.
I could be a little bit biased, y'all, but it's literally one of the best jobs in the world, and I wouldn't trade it in for anything. Up next, I am a self-taught intern turned seven-figure grant writer. I'm absolutely positive that I'm not alone, that we got into this field baptism by fire.
I started out as an intern at a local Boys and Girls Club, and literally, grants weren't even in my job description. I was just supposed to come up with some health curriculum and call it a day. But my boss had other plans. Since my early days, as mentioned earlier, we've secured over about 3 million in funding for youth development, early childhood, recidivism prevention, and community development programs.
So it all worked out. Even though it didn't go as planned. And I'm a huge Marvel nerd. As the summer is wrapping up, before my niece goes back to school, we're gonna watch the movies just to reset and get out of the grant writer brain. So y'all wish us luck because we got probably 15 hours to go.
But super excited to be here today and to get to know you all more. And some of those pain points that you're experiencing with having a lean team. So Celia, if you could take us away to the next slide, we can get down to business. Awesome. So let's talk about why you're here, and it's obvious. You all wanna win more grants with less stress.
But with that reality, you also probably feel overwhelmed with coordinating all of the logistics of the grant-seeking and writing process. I saw a few folks in the chat mention that. You're probably stressed about how complicated and time-consuming it can be to just coordinate all your different staff members and complete grant applications on time.
And you're really wrestling with this reality that your non-profit may, unfortunately, operate in a silo. And that impacts your grant writing process because folks are just worrying about themselves and not really engaging in a collaborative team effort, and the list goes on and on. And what I wanted to say before we dive into these specific strategies is just to come home.
And let you know that today is your day for change. Over the next 45 minutes, I'm going to personally coach you on strategies that I use in my day-to-day business. And even when I was in the nine to five on how to manage your grants department with a lean team. So I'm super excited. Let's start with the definition so you can know what I mean by "lean team."
Next slide. Awesome. So what is a lean team? For the sake of our chat today, a lean team is a group of one to three non-profit professionals who are responsible for finding, crafting, submitting, and managing grant proposals. You'll often see this term used in the for-profit business world, but I believe it fits beautifully for what we do in the nonprofit world as well.
You'll see that this structure will fit you if you're a non-profit that doesn't have a lot of human or financial capital to staff a large grants team or if you're a newer organization and you're working on what I call smaller margins and utilizing a lot of volunteers. And if you're just overall trying to manage a lot of, I call micro departments, within one department who may be responsible for certain types of grants over others, the Lean Team may be a perfect fit for you.
Next slide, please.
So I wanna start off with a quick poll, just to get to know you all a little bit more. When the poll pops up, let us know how many staff members do you have on your lean team? Is it just you, it's just the solo deal, or do you work with a team of two or three people? Or do you have a large team of four or more people? We'll give you all about 60 seconds to let us know your answers, and based on what you share, we'll be able to point out some specific strategies just for you. So we'll give you all about 60 seconds.
Celia: Yeah, it's looking good. I think we've got 78% of people participating in the poll. Awesome. I know I saw some discussion in the chat, but folks are like, "Team? It's just me."
Sheleia: What's that?
Celia: Team? I've never heard of it. That's great.
Sheleia: That's hilarious.
Celia: So we'll give you guys just another couple of seconds. We're at 85%. I wonder if we can get to 90. That would be great. So if you haven't answered yet, go ahead and answer. We're close. We're very close here. Alright. Army of one.
No, I in team, Jane. That's great. Love it. Alright. I think we're gonna end the poll there, and I will share the results so we can see them all together.
Sheleia: [crosstalk]. So coming in hot at number one, most of you work with a team of two or three people. Right behind it, you all let me know; it's just me.
Sheleia, I'm an army of one, and we have a mighty 5% with a large team. Of four or more. So from what you all have shared with me, this presentation is gonna be extremely relevant. Even if you work for yourself, if you're a consultant, or if you're just the number one grants pro in your organization, these strategies today will help you just reduce that stress.
And if you don't have the manpower, you'll learn how to use technology to be on your side. So super excited. Thank you to all of you who participated in the poll. And I'm super excited to get into the chat. Let's go with strategy number one, next slide, Celia. Awesome. So the number one strategy for managing your grants department with the lean team is, first, you need to create a streamlined process. Now, this may seem simple and often bears repeating. But I can only speak to myself that when I was caught up in the day-to-day of the done-for-you grant writing world, I did not take the necessary time to document what I was doing. So when things happened, like I got sick or went on vacation, all of that institutional knowledge on how to get things done stuck with me.
And as you can imagine, When I was in the nine-to-five setting, that caused a lot of pause and just stress on my team or folks who were helping me out in my absence. And even now, as a business owner, it's necessary for me to make sure to get it all out of my head. So the streamlined process, and you can call this a standard operating procedure, will help you out in figuring out and documenting your day-to-day grants operations.
It's gonna include three key elements. Number one, it's clearly outlined because my motto is clear is kind, and reduces confusion. Number two, it's defined. So that means you're outlining all of the necessary steps to complete a task. And it gives you what I call "the definition of done." Y'all share that in the chat for your neighbor, make sure it's defined so you can have a definition of done. And last, but certainly not least, it gives you this vision of your end-to-end workflow so that you can include all of the essential steps and touch points for each phase of the grant's life cycle. Next slide. So this is a graphic that we're all familiar with, right? It's the grant's life cycle. So when you're creating this streamlined process, I want you to base it off of this chart, or some variation of it.
Okay? So ask yourself, what is my organization's definition of done when it comes to each phase of the grant's life cycle? What this will help you do is one, promote better upfront planning because we know 80% of the grant-winning process comes in preparation and planning. It will help you determine if there's any cost
associated with your grant-seeking process. So, for example, if you have to purchase any licenses or sometimes, especially in the state of Missouri, we have to present some type of certification that goes in with the grant. It helps you determine what those steps are ahead of time, so you don't have to worry about it close to the deadline.
And if there are any opportunities to save money. And it just helps you improve your overall grant management skills, especially since you're a small but mighty team. I wanna make a quick note here that while we are sharing this in a linear fashion, every organization here has its own makeup. So what my grandmother says, chew the meat and spit out the bones, and use what's helpful for you so that you can make sure to tailor your process for your own unique setup and needs.
Okay? Awesome. Let's get started with strategy number two, and this is one of my personal favorites cuz I'm a people person, y'all, and that is to facilitate cross-departmental collaboration and participation. I want you to write this down and if you're gonna watch the recording, put it on the sticky note somewhere, just because you have a lean team does not mean you can't involve others in your grants process.
In this remote working, physically distanced and just, alright, I call it kind of crazy, y'all, environment that we're working in, we cannot afford to operate in silos. So when you facilitate this cross-departmental participation, just collaboration, you're engaging your key staff from other departments into the grants process in order to really move forward with the team effort. Next slide.
And to help you out with this, because this may be a new concept, or if you were like me, when I first started, kind of shy with asking for help, every attendee today, if you stick around to the end, will get a lean team freebie for non-profit professionals. What you will find in this e-resource is a few common tasks that you can delegate to other departments so that it helps you collaborate with one another and it gets all of that burden off of your shoulders.
So again, stick around to the end today and use this as an everyday resource for your grant-related task. Next slide. Cool. Strategy number three is my favorite, y'all. And that is, let technology do some of the work for you. As a type one enneagram, I don't know if we have any other ones in the room, and as a millennial, I have to admit that I love systems and simplicity. With this streamlined process and your identified team members in place, what technology will allow you to do is delegate, automate and outsource some tasks to save time and mental energy. So what I wanna do is just share with you all my favorite tech tools that I use in our day-to-day operations that you can use in your business or grants department.
Awesome. So here are four tools for grant pros. Of course, first and foremost for the folks who brought us here today, my friends at Instrumentl, Instrumentl is the, and I mean, the, institutional fundraising platform built specifically for your grant prospecting, tracking, and management all in one place.
So we all know there are other grant tools out there that can do maybe one or two of these things, but Instrumentl is the one place where I only have to log in once, do a couple of clicks, and get all of that information on one screen, one tab and get everything that we need, not only to inform our client's brand strategy but to also arm them with the significant insights that they need to make the best decisions for their organization.
Up next is Google Suites. You guys may know this as Google Drive, so that your Gmail, Google Sheets, Google Forms all in one place. Personally, I like using Google Suites to draft grant proposals, cuz it just has the best collaborative layer to it. And for those of us who value, what I call, our sacred editing space, if you don't want everybody in the document at one time, you can even turn on track changes or put it into you only.
So outsiders won't have permission and maybe can only comment until you're done. In a business sense and in terms of client delivery, we house all of our important documents, attachments, and notes, all in one space. And for prospecting specifically, we have a cloud-based system for their annual grants calendar in connection with Instrumentl, and we're gonna show you all an example of that in just a few. Third, Asana is our project management software of choice. And we use this in conjunction with Instrumentl in our grants calendar to set up automatic updates, any reminders across teams. We love creative, visual timelines and project plans and the overall dashboard of grant status updates that we feel that we need to know as an internal team to be able to communicate with clients.
So for those of you who have a team of two or three and say someone goes on vacation, Asana can help you just keep track of all of that history, even if you weren't present for meetings and things like that. And last but certainly not least, the magic wand that brings everything together is Zapier.
And Zapier is our automation platform that integrates all of the tools definitely mentioned here, and then even others that we don't have the opportunity to use just yet for a seamless flow. And what Zapier can do is serve as your external, let's call it your external ticker to manage your CRM flows, automatically back up any important files, to document any notes from your emails or, I think they even have like a transcriber you can add in Zoom and also automating some repetitive tasks, specifically for us in the room today, that's involved in the grant writing process. So I wanna take a pause here and do a temperature check in the room. While I mention these four tools, I wanna know what tech tools you use to make grants less stressful, whether you're in a consultancy or in a non-profit agency, I would love for you all to let me know in the chat.
Celia: Yeah, I'm curious too. I saw already in the chat, people are using Asana, plenty of Instrumentl users.
Celia: Oh, Ooh. My goodness. So much coming in here. This is great.
Sheleia: Google Sheets. You know, Celia, it's always good to know that you're in good company when you suggest tools.
Celia: Sure is. And just to plug one little thing. On Friday, we are doing a fireside chat with a couple of non-profit professionals on choosing technology for your organization.
So yeah, if you're interested, I'm just gonna drop the link to that right there. So sign up for that. But yeah, I think, I think you're, you're on Sheleia. Everyone's sort of in agreement with you.
Sheleia: Yeah. Yeah. This is good. This is good stuff, y'all. Super excited. So for folks who drop down similar tools in the chat. And thank you to everyone who participated. Y'all are giving me some tools that I need to write down. Are we recording the chat too? Cause I need to check some.
Celia: We'll pass that on to you, don't you worry.
Sheleia: Yeah. I've seen monday.com a few times, and I wanna definitely check that out. So you all are giving me some suggestions as well.
But before we move forward into the remaining strategies, I want to show you all my particular workflow and how I use all of this in our business. So when it comes to grant-prospecting and any type of, let's say, projects that have a repetitive nature to them. This is where your technology and your people are going to be your best assets.
So here you see SNP's prospecting workflow. This is a 95% automated process for us, and I'm gonna walk you through how we did that using those tech tools from the last. So first, we have our clients fill out what we call a grant research form, and it loads through our website. I believe my host is Wix, so they have different communication forms and workflows that you could use.
But we use this form to gather all relevant information to find the best-fit funders for our clients. So we ask for things like what's the description of the project, what types of grants are they looking for? What types of grantmakers are they looking to partner with, and even how much they want and need to raise in grant dollars.
So for the consultants in the room, typically, we do this during an onboarding call, right? And sometimes, when we don't get all that we need within that 60-minute container, we have to constantly schedule more calls or go back and forth in email. And that can be... it could just add some additional labor
that we don't always have the people or the time to expend. So this grant research form captures all of that. And it's a good thing for us because we can still, you know, work on other projects while we're keeping things moving, but it gives our clients this sense of, I guess, participation and just engagement into the process.
So once the client submits this form, I mean, as soon as they hit submit, we use Zapier to auto-populate their responses into Asana, and what Asana does for us, it creates a task, and once this task is created, it gets assigned to a lead person, and a timeline and the really nifty thing that I love about this task being created is that in the description, all of those responses that they gave us in the grant research form gets added in the description.
So let's just say I'm on vacation. I assigned to my team - Hey, ABC foundation needs their grants calendar, but I'll be traveling. It gives them the opportunity to see all of this information in one place without having to email or call me because we've automatically uploaded that into our project management software.
So after this, either myself or one of my teammates will create a project in Instrumentl. So for those of you who took the liberty to sign up beforehand, you'll be able to create different projects. And if you didn't, no worries, we'll take care of you before we leave today, where you use all of these responses that the client gave us.
To set the parameters for your search. I love Instrumentl in how it approaches grant research cuz I'm a biology nerd, and we always love setting the parameters. Like, where's the geographic reach? How much do they need to raise? What type of non-profit are they? And just all of their relevant information, which, again, you could either get an email or via a zoom call, is already in one place. So Instrumentl does its magic. And what we like to do is give the system about two weeks to pull best-fit funders. For those of you who use Instrumentl currently, you know, every... for us, I think it's like Monday or Tuesday, Instrumentl will automatically send out an archive of new grant opportunities without us having to touch the system again.
So with other platforms, I know if I wanna look for new grants, I have to reset it even if it's saved just to populate new opportunities, but Instrumentl automatically does that for us. So after a few weeks of letting the system do its magic, we download the report, and again, Instrumentl automatically does that for us, and we share that draft with the client.
From there, we send them an email to schedule a follow-up meeting via Acuity. So if you have an automated scheduling software, I saw a few folks in the chat mention that they use Calendly. This is going to be your saving grace so that you don't have to do the back and forth of finding a good time,
you just send them your calendar and see what works. And what we do in this meeting is just give them a chance to review the opportunities that we've found through Instrumentl. At a very high level, we don't go through it piece by piece, but we give them a high-level understanding of what's included and what grants may have been our favorite so that they can see what best fits them.
So one of the mottos that we share with clients during this meeting is that we find, you decide. And the reason that we take this approach is because no one knows your non-profit or your particular capacity more than you. So while we can find best-fit grant opportunities, once you read through the specifics of what we've included and Instrumentl makes it so, so, so easy to have those pertinent insights, then they're able to talk with their team about, is it feasible for us to get this across the finish line by the deadline?
So feel free to steal that. We find the best fit opportunities using the best technology like Instrumentl. And you decide based on those insights. So once they let us know maybe their top five favorites that are coming up, we like giving them a 30-day window, we also share the funder profile so they can see who are the lead folks.
And all of this comes from the system and things like that. And from there, when we send them the final version through Google, it's Gmail, but also Google Drive, the final version includes a satisfaction survey that uploads into Google Forms. So as you can see, we've been able to, not fully automate the process, because the nature of work that we do just requires that human touch.
And sometimes you can't, you know, go away from that, but we've automated so much of the work in onboarding, getting relevant information, whatever we need for particular artifact reviews, so that we can deliver something to the client, deliver, you know, the particular project to the client in a way that does not overwhelm them or our small consultant team.
So what I wanted to show you all with this workflow is that, let your imagination run wild. When you make your streamline process, when you have your folks on board, and when you've chosen your technology tools of choice, you will be able to see what are those repetitive steps, what can we delegate, and what can we automate to bring your idea into manifestation?
So I hope that's helpful for you all. Next slide. Alright. Strategy number four, y'all. So once we have everything in place, we love creating a grants databank. And with the grants databank, you can leverage your time, productivity, and resources by keeping an updated library of standard grants language and what we call frequently requested attachments.
So this may be a new concept for some folks. So I've included... next slide, Celia, a list of things that should be in your grants data bank. So think of it as y'all's vault, right? When you think about what's typically asked for in the grant proposal, we already know we have to have some boilerplate language, and this is language that typically doesn't change from grant to grant.
So your organizational history, mission vision statements, you know, what's your sustainability statement for the year? Things that do not change from grant to grant you wanna have in your grants data bank. Are there any org or program budgets? Are there any signatures that, you know… I remember in my old job, our ED used to always be on vacation.
So we housed some copies, electronic copies of his signature, of course, with his permission, like, be sure to obtain permission from folks, y'all, and document this in your grants procedure so that, one, you're covered legally, and in the event that they're out of office, you don't have to go through the stress.
Cause trust me, I've had some horror stories of trying to secure signatures when a grant is due. And, of course, any relevant attachments, so annual reports, maybe logic models, project plans, or things of that nature need to be included and your data. So, you need assessment data, impact data, and anything that your marketing team can produce in terms of collateral to really highlight your organization and the wonderful work that you do.
So again, you all, your grants data bank is just your vault of information that you can find in one place. And in the event you're running tight on time, you already know where to go. And what I really love about this is that you can put all of this in Instrumentl. So next slide so I can show y'all what that looks like.
So another reason I love Instrumentl is that for folks who don't like using Google Drive, or they want to use Instrumentl as just their primary platform of choice, because again, it's just management all in one place, you're able to house your data bank into the software. So as you can see on the screen, you can save opportunities by the specific funder.
So if there's an RFP and they already, you know, outline, this is what we're going to need in addition to the application, you can house it there, so stress-free. But I also love the fact that when you go into the platform, what you'll see on the, I believe it's the left side, is that you can have an organizational document library to find things.
Even if you don't have a particular RFP that you're going to pursue. So Instrumentl is the best tool, y'all, for a lot of different functions in our day-to-day roles. Next slide. Alright. Strategy number five, last but not least. Before I get to your question, super excited to see what you all put in the chat today, is that I want you to utilize video to train and onboard new team members.
So we all know that training a new team member can take up time and really kind of impacts your process and your timeline. for submitting grant proposals. So if your organization experiences things like high turnover among grant staff, so maybe you work with vistas, student volunteers, or student interns or volunteers, what you can do,
and what I find really useful, is recording your standard processes and procedures, using a system like Loom to make things easier for you. And what this library of training videos will do for you is to share step-by-step how to find grants using Instrumentl, how to utilize your particular grants calendar, how to create reports,
and that's just to name a few. Now, this, again, won't eliminate all of your one-on-one time, but it will help you maintain productivity during transitions without sacrificing the time you need to meet grant deadlines. So. What video will do for you is just replicate you and make you a technology twin to help train your new team members.
Awesome. Next slide. So here's a summary of what we learned today. We've gone through five of my key strategies and a bonus workflow on how to leverage automations and cloud systems to make your grants process less stressful. You've also learned how to engage other departments within your grant writing process.
Make sure y'all stick around for the freebie and how to create and use your imagination for basic workflows and templates for your own unique organization's process. So I wanna turn it over to Celia to take us home with some Q&A and a little bit of a demo. And we'll go from there.
Celia: Awesome. Okay. I'm just going to… I'm just collecting a couple of these questions, and just so that you all sort of know where we're going here, I'm just gonna show you a couple of things in Instrumentl that Sheleia talks about. So you can see what it looks like there. And then we will hop into Q&A, and we're gonna have plenty of time for Q&A, which is fantastic.
So if you have more questions, make sure that you are dropping them into the chat. And we will definitely get those. Okay. So, as Sheleia talked about, Instrumentl's really built for efficiency. So what we're trying to do, and I think kind of what Sheleia's talking about today, is moving from being an organization where everything is manual to really thinking about what is our process, what is our technology and creating that, and I think we've talked about it, if you've been on other webinars, you might be familiar, that kind of three-legged stool, right? Where we have technology, process, and people all working in harmony together in order to really push us forward. So that's what we're trying to do, right? So Instrumentl, basically what we're doing is we're bringing prospecting, tracking, and management in one place.
We've got... within there, you will find active public and private grant opportunities. So no more finding an opportunity just to find out that it's actually not active and you spent all this time on it, and it's not a good opportunity for you, or worse, having to do tons of extra research just to figure out that answer.
It's all right there for you. We are also pulling in 990's, so you have all that data right at your fingertips. That means we are visualizing, and I'll show you this. We're gonna visualize multi-year trends so we can get a really good picture of what that organization is working on.
And you're not having to do math and sort of dig through public records, right? And then ultimately, or, or not ultimately, but one of the other things that Instrumentl does is this is almost like a personal assistant in your pocket, right? So once you set up your project, it's gonna be running in the background every week.
You're gonna get an email saying here's, you know, X number of new opportunities for you that you can go through, which is really going to cut down on that time. And, and what that sort of results in, here, is folks saving three hours a week on their grant prospecting or their grant process and still increasing grant applications.
So imagine if you could do less and still win more opportunities. And I think that's what we're talking about today is putting those processes in place, whether it's Instrumentl or another piece of technology, or just sort of organizing a process within your organization that allows you to do less and win more.
Right? So that's where we're going. With that said, I'm just going to walk us really quickly through, if I can get this to work through what this kind of looks like within Instrumentl so that you can visualize some of this. Remember, by the way, if you're dropping questions in, use those three hashtags so that I can find them really easily.
Because I am unable to read and talk at the same time. So anyway, this is a project that I have set up. This is based on an organization that I work with now. And essentially, this organization is working on entrepreneurship training, right? So we work with primarily immigrant communities to kind of get them both funding and sort of resources around building their own businesses to kind of boost their economic mobility.
So this is kind of what we're doing. I've created a project. When I created this project, I told the algorithm a little bit about my organization, right? So I told them, you know, where I was working, I'm based in Denver, Colorado. So I told them where I'm working. And I also told them generally sort of what are the areas of work that I work in, what size grants am I looking for? I like to set a sort of a floor so that I'm not looking at $500 grants that maybe aren't really worth the time that it takes to do that, and then what am I using those funds for? And once I've created that project, I get to this matches page, and essentially, what this is, is an email inbox of good fit matches for your organization.
And really quickly, I can sort of zoom through here. I can look and see, you know, what are the fields of work that this funder is focused on? What is the overview, right? What are some of the eligibility requirements potentially within this organization? I can also, if I go to the second tab, I can also...
Sorry, just making sure. Okay. I can also take a look at 990 data, and this is all gonna be laid out for me in a way that keeps me from having to do a bunch of math and do a bunch of extra research. So really quickly, I can see sort of this high-level overview, who are the people? What is the contact information?
I personally love this key people section. I can send this to my board. I can send this to folks that are sort of supportive of my organization and say who do you know? You know, we can do a LinkedIn search, we can set up those warm introductions. But once we get down here into sort of key financial stats, this is where it really, you know, is beneficial in terms of the prospecting side, right? I can see, what is this organization doing? What are their sort of median grant amounts? I can also see their geography, right? Are they focused on Colorado? Are they focused on the whole country? Has that changed over the years? So I can sort of float through here and see, you know, what, pretty consistently they've been focused on Colorado.
That's great. And beyond that, I can see, what organizations are they giving to? Are these organizations like me within this NTE code section? I can actually see, how do I kind of stack up here, right? So I'm focused on education primarily. And so in here, I can see whether or not they're kind of working on the type of entrepreneurial, sort of, adult education that I am focused on, right? So this is just the prospecting side. Once I decided that I love this opportunity, and this is where what Sheleia was talking about is so important. All of a sudden, I can put this into my tracker. If I go over to my tracker here, I have a list of all of the opportunities I've clicked on all the opportunities that I've saved and really quickly, I can go in here.
So from here, I have, and this is where this is great. I know some of you use Asana, and I think that's a fantastic tool, but what I really like about this and where we get a lot of feedback is that all this information is in one place. Right? So now, if a deadline is updated, if a requirement is updated, if one of the boards changes, right, that's gonna be reflected right here where I also.
All of my tasks, where I'm assigning this project to specific people on my team, they're gonna get an email that's gonna tell them, Hey, Celia wants you to choose a cycle, right? In terms of what deadlines we're trying to meet or do a final review of the proposal, I can also add all these documents in here, right?
So this is a living library, this continues so that next year, maybe we will apply for this and it went really well, and next year we wanna come back to it. This information is all right here, so I don't have to go digging through if I have turnover, if I have new team members, maybe you went from being that solo grant writer, right? The one-person army to having a bigger team, and you wanna be able to just kind of pass this off. This is all right here for you. The other thing that I saw that some people asked about was, can this integrate with what you already have? So I just wanna point this one thing out, and then I promise, I'll be quiet, and we can answer your questions.
But if you go to this add new section, I can actually hit upload many, I can choose a file. So if I have a Google Sheet or a sort of different type of document that I'm already collecting all my opportunities and tracking kind of my progress within those different opportunities, I can go ahead and upload that.
And the Instrumentl team is gonna pull all that in for you. So you're not having to do that manual work. And then the last thing is these downloadable reports, and honestly, boards love these things. So I can tell them that I wanna report for this project, a curriculum development project that I'm working on.
And sort of all the... or maybe just 2022. And I can create this report. And I'll show you sort of a sample of what this looks like, but essentially it's going to have all of this information. This is fantastic to send out before a meeting. This is a great agenda. Hey guys, this is what we're talking about today.
Here's what we're working on. This is the kind of thing that when your boss says to you, how's it going? You can point to these specific, measurable things and say, we are making progress. We were here last week. We're here this week. And do that like that, right? So alright, so that is Instrumentl.
I'm gonna head back into our presentation here. Roderick asked if this video will be available, it will, we will send that to you. So, no worries. I talked a little bit, I didn't show you guys the calendar integration, but that's in here too. If you're like me, if you don't see dates listed, that probably doesn't make much sense to you.
But this is nice because you can actually see it all laid out, which is great. We also did a new Salesforce integration. So some of you were asking about integrations. We do integrate with Salesforce. So now you're not having to re-key data, no exportation of CSV files, and we have more integrations in the roadmap.
So keep an eye on that. If you have a different system that you're using you know, stay in touch with us because we are sort of regularly rolling out those integrations as times go by. We also have application cycles so that you don't miss a deadline, whether that's an LOI or a proposal, that stuff is pulled apart, but then still kept together so that you can sort of accurately kind of stay on top of that.
And then finally, if anybody out there is a consultant and is working with multiple, which is, I think how Sheleia uses the platform, working with multiple different projects is a really nice way to look at that as well. So. Before we get to questions, really quickly. If you all learned something new today, please come to another webinar.
We love having you. You all are so great in the chat. So involved, answering each other's questions, helping each other out. I know somebody in here was saying they couldn't find Asana on their Android, and our community is already sort of telling them where to look. And I just love that. So come to more of these webinars, we have quite a few coming up in the next few weeks.
I know that I mentioned it in the chat already, but on Friday, we're talking more about technology. So we're gonna touch on things like, what do we think about, what kind of capabilities does technology need to have for my non-profit? How do I think about the ROI of a piece of technology and sort of justify that price maybe to my boss or to our ed or our director of operations,
right? So we're gonna be talking about all that. So please do sign up. Awesome. Cool. And then let's see what else. We talked about freebies really quickly. So we do have some freebies. There's a couple things that you all can do. I'm gonna drop a link in the chat so that you can get your freebies.
Those freebies, it's really easy. You answer a form and tell us what you thought about our workshop so we can improve. And then we will send you both of these things. So the first thing is Sheleia's "The Lean Team Guide." So this is going to be your Bible for being that solo grant writer
who's doing all of this by themselves, or even if you're a team of two to three people, right? And the other thing that you'll get in there is our 10 best lessons. This is 10 lessons that we've pulled from some of the, you know, expert grant writers out there, best sellers, speakers, that kind of thing too.
So, you'll get both of those. As freebies today, if you go ahead and sign up, or not even sign up, just fill out our form. It's really very easy. If you wanna follow up with Sheleia this is the way to do so. Here's her email address, find her on LinkedIn. She's everywhere. You can't miss her.
And make sure you jot down that code in case you do decide that you want to sign up with Instrumentl. I'm just dropping that sign-up link again, in case you do want to sign up with Instrumentl there. Okay. We are now asking questions. So I'm gonna turn off our share, and we're just gonna focus on some questions here.
Alright, Sheleia, we're gonna need you to unmute.
Sheleia: I'm here.
Celia: Alright. So we do have a question about somebody asked about Zapier, and I know that you're a huge fan of Zapier. So maybe you can help answer this question, but this person says, "I keep hearing about Zapier, but I'm not entirely sure how it works.
Do you have any good resources for ways to use Zapier for nonprofits? I'm looking actually for the process of using it." So maybe you could speak a little bit about your experience with Zapier.
Sheleia: Okay. So I think of Zapier as a translator. So when you have two different tech tools, for example, we use Wix and Google Sheets,
they don't naturally speak to one another or speak the same language. They have totally different functions. But what Zapier does is, I don't know, y'all, like how the inner works and workings actually move forward, but they do their magic in making sure that they speak the same language to get you an effective result.
So an example of outside of grant prospecting that you could even use in your non-profit is if you use Zooms and record, there is what we call a zap or a trigger that will capture the recording immediately after the meeting and automatically upload it into a folder in Google Drive. And if you're like me, I have a laptop full of recordings, and it slows my laptop down. I've switched to the cloud-based perspective because one, I won't forget, and two. It will give all of my team access to a meeting without me having to upload it and share it. So think of Zapier or our zaps as a way to connect and translate all of these different tech tools so that you can meet one resolve. I hope that's a good analogy.
Celia: I think that's great. Thank you.
Sheleia: You're welcome.
Celia: We have another question from Madeline. She asks: Would love to hear about strategies for streamlining data collection from various program teams. Do other grant folks have program staff to find new goals each year and send them to you? Schedule conversations on strategy, data on regular intervals, send out forms for program staff to fill out, like, what do you think about getting that data collection across programs?
Sheleia: Absolutely. So, as I mentioned in the presentation, I am a type one enneagram and a millennial. What that means is I love a process. I love simplicity and I love maintaining my energy.
So I think in our work, we find ourselves asking whether clients or folks in our internal organization, like repetitive questions and what I started doing maybe last year, especially in like our Zoom working environment, was paying attention to what are the questions that I'm asking in every meeting and what types of information do we need at regular intervals.
And we came up with what I call the measuring success tool. I saw someone in the chat asking, did I have any templates and things like that, make sure to sign up for that freebie and visit my website. Because we do training for you to create particular tools to meet your organization's needs, but specifically for measuring success.
This is beneficial for your grant reports because, at a quarterly meeting, we'll revisit what those outcomes that we put in the grant proposal with our clients, and then we walk through what are the measurement tools that you use to measure success? What goals did you meet? Who was responsible for it?
And then we even have a note section that says, if you didn't meet this goal, what do you estimate happened, or if you overachieve, you went over that, you know, what were some things that really helped push forward your success? And while it's in a tool format, when grant reporting season comes, you are able to turn those bullet points into what we call grants language
and paragraphs. So making sure that you're just paying attention to the things that you all are constantly, you know, revisiting in meetings and drawing that out into a tool that works for you is really gonna help you with automation and templates. I think we do it all of the, like all of the time, but more in like a, you know, email back and forth.
So you may wanna look at some of your email chains to see, what are you asking multiple folks to pull out some tool kits. And if you have an internal grants team meeting, like maybe once a week, ask your team what are like, what are the standard information points that we ask other departments so that we can save time with each other and not have to wait until something is due to capture that information.
A good timing interval again is quarterly, or if you wanna meet once a month just to be more on top of everything, that could work too.
Celia: Awesome. That's a great answer here. Alright, let's see. What else do we have here? Yeah. Okay. So here we have a question on, "Our organization already gets grants from the matches..."
I think they mean Instrumentl, but maybe through another course that shows up, so how would you weed out those in your sort of calendar prepared for us? I think it was Cecilia who asked this question, if you want to clarify, please do. But I think what I'm hearing is, you know, how are you deciding kind of what you are gonna put into the calendar in terms of what you're not gonna
put into the calendar?
Sheleia: It's 1255. I wanna go into this so bad. So I love looking at grant research and grant qualification from a funnel perspective. So for folks who love business, we've seen the sales funnels, right? And it's that graphic where it starts out wide at the top, but by the time you get to the bottom is very narrow.
And what they're communicating through that graphic is that while you have plenty of leads and in this case, while you have plenty of grant matches, by the time you get through some of those what we call qualifying points, you may only have a few grants that you would actually present to your organization or clients.
So a real life example of that is that we had a client last, I think it was last year, who consulted us for grant research. And initially what Instrumentl pulled for us, it was like a list of 168 grants. And automatically, our brain has that reward system. You're like, great. You know, we have so many to present to them, but once we went through factors like organizational capacity, the openness to new grantees, multi-year funding opportunities, and even if there was real mission and vision alignment, we walked away with, I believe, somewhere between like 40 and 50 opportunities. So if you take this funnel approach and what you include in that funnel to kind of get through all of the noise is what will help you best align those funders. And you don't have to do that alone, and you don't have to score through a lot of information because Instrumentl does an awesome job at one, identifying leads, and then giving you that pertinent information helping you make that transition between, is a funder an actual lead, or can they be an aligned partner?
So when you look at grants, just, you know, initially look at them as RFPs, but really take some time and consideration to see what are the factors to make someone a potential aligned partner for you to pursue.
Celia: That's a great answer. We've got three minutes. Really quickly, there were just a couple of really small questions on how to use Instrumentl. So I just wanna show you that. So we had a question about the calendar view when we're in the tracker, we just hit this calendar view, and there's your calendar view. So we also had a question about, looking at funders that maybe don't have active opportunities, if you're like getting really proactive and you wanna start building those relationships, that can be found here in this funder matches tab.
So this is gonna be either no website or no active open opportunities, or maybe it's invite-only. So you can find those in there. With our last two minutes, we had a great question that I know may be hard to tackle. Can you provide a couple examples, Sheleia, of how to improve or create that cross-department collaboration?
I know we talked a little bit about cadence, but are there any quick tips that you could do in our last two minutes here?
Sheleia: Absolutely. I'll give you a little bit of a story/ example. When I started out at the Boys and Girls Club, and this was years ago, y'all, I started looking at certain portions of the grant proposal that I could not answer cuz I didn't have the institutional knowledge to do so.
So things like creating the budgets or what are the, you know, FTEs or what's the strategic planning focus for the year. And you know, like funders have gotten to this space where they're asking for a lot of specific information that are, that's outside of that boilerplate perspective. So what I noticed is for the areas where I don't have the knowledge or I'm significantly straining to try and get it on my own, I need to start reaching out to the folks who do know the answers. So I was always in finance's office with every grant proposal, like, "Hey, is this budget right?" And holding that as a template and putting it in my library. I met with programming on a fairly regular basis, almost every week, to make sure to see if there were any changes or is there something that we need to notify funders of before reporting comes around. And for marketing, I would sit in their quarterly meetings to see, you know, what are some ways that we can work together to really highlight our organization and our great work.
I'm not sure who asked that question, but be sure to get that Lean Team resource, because there are about 20 tasks in there just to inspire you for some delegation of tasks to help you with that. But my best piece of advice is, even if your organization currently works in silos as the grants pro, you have the privilege and really the unique gift to coordinate with other people to get the information that you need, even if you're not a people person.
So just working with other folks, sitting in their meetings, and it could just be a simple, "Hey, can I sit in?" And start learning what they do and what their particular functions are, can be instrumental for drafting and submitting solid grant proposals.
Celia: Awesome. Okay. Well, we are at time. Remember everyone, if you want free 14 days to sort of try out Instrumentl and see if it works for your little team,
go ahead and sign up in that link that I just dropped in the chat. And the freebie link is also in there. So make sure you get Sheleia's Lean Team Guide. It sounds like it's got a lot of really great stuff in there. So Sheleia, thank you so much for joining us. We'll have to do this again soon. And thank you everyone for being on and for being engaged and being this awesome community that is so great.
Sheleia: Yes. I had a great time. Thank you, everyone.
Celia: See all of you soon. Thank you. Yes, you'll get a copy of the slides, Joey, keep an eye out for the email. Alright. Bye, everyone.