Setting Grant Targets Through Your Prospect Research w/ Rachel Werner
In this 1 hour special workshop hosted by Instrumentl, you’ll be able to examine the criteria for weighing low, medium, and high-level priority prospects and how this can feed into dashboard data and your fundraising plan.
By the end of this one-hour workshop with Rachel Werner, you’ll learn:
- How to take a deeper dive into using prospect research to map results into actual grant projections
- How to examine and weigh low, medium, and high-level priority prospects
- How to improve dashboard data and your fundraising plans
By using that link, you'll save $50 off your first month should you decide to upgrade when your trial expires.
Rachel Werner is the owner and CEO of RBW Strategy, LLC. She has over 18 years of grants experience, and she and her team have collectively helped nonprofits garner over $160 million in grant awards and managed over $2 billion in grant funding. She is an active member of the Grant Professionals Association, Association of Grant Professionals, and is a Certified Grant Professional and Project Management Professional.
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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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Setting Grant Targets Through Your Prospect Research - Grant Training Transcription
Will: Hello, everybody. And welcome to Setting Grant Targets Through Your Prospect Research with Rachel Werner. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards. So please keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email later on in case you miss anything from today's workshop.
In case, this is your first time here, this free grant workshop is brought to you by Instrumentl. It is a partner workshop in which what we do is work with community partners to provide these free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem that you all often have to face. In order to tackle that, we will talk about how you can do it through different tooling, such as using Instrumentl's platform to help you win more grants as well.
Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you're looking to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management into one place, we can help you do that. You can set up your own personalized grant recommendations using the link on the screen here -- instrumentl.com/rbw.
Now with that housekeeping outta the way, I'm very excited to bring back Rachel Werner. Rachel is the owner and CEO of RBW Strategy. She has served as a nonprofit fundraiser, grant writer, grants manager at an education management organization, and management consultant overseeing federal grants and their contracts.
So since the beginning of her career, she and her firm have helped secure over 40 million in funding from government, foundation, and corporate sources. And she's managed over 2 billion in grant funding. She's an active member of the Grant Professionals Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and regularly conducts these sorts of trainings at national and local conferences.
Rachel, feel free to take it away from here.
Rachel: Thanks, Will. Hello, everybody. Nice to speak with you. I'm based in the D.C. area and we are getting the D.C. humidity already. So hopefully it's not so bad where you are. Just wanted to piggyback off of what Will said. Especially as many of our clients are planning for the next fiscal year, which you'll be coming up shortly July 1st, this is a very opportune time to really reinvigorate your prospect research and start to also add targets because what we've seen over time is just that lack of clarity of, okay, so we've done this great research. How do we then map it to these financial targets and how do we make sure that we're gonna be bringing in enough revenue to support our organization through grant funding?
And so, that's what we're really gonna discuss today. We're gonna have a demonstration. Will's gonna kind of show you through Instrumentl a bit and we'll learn a little bit more about what your needs are. So I'm gonna start to get into the presentation. And first I would love it if you could add in the chat, some of you've already done that, your name, your organization.
And one of the things that I'm curious about is how do you determine a high, medium, or low priority grant prospect? So if you could just start putting that in there and Will, you can call out what people share. If there's some things that we can add to the conversation, I'd love to kind of understand that because it helps me think about how you would prioritize and there is no wrong answer. Let's just put it that way.
Will: One person mentioned mission matching being one of the things that they do. Direct program alignment.
It looks like other folks have looked at past grant grantees or granters and program alignment, organizational department, specificity funding, similar organizations to them, historical funders.
Past funding's coming up quite a bit, conversations with funders, relational building, relationships that might exist, funding organizations in their region or state.
Rachel: So great. So just maybe one more and then we'll just start.
Will: Keyword connection is a new one that's come up as well.
Rachel: Oh, keyword connect. Oh, interesting. Well, these are all great. And I'm glad that you're all thinking about this because I think that this is something that everybody is trying to get a handle on especially with regard to the prospect research.
So I'm glad that you're all thinking about this. It sounds like you've come up with some really good solutions to kind of help think about how are you going to determine which are gonna be your high-priority prospects and which ones you might just kind of simmer down and put on the back burner.
So thank you for sharing. I'm not gonna go into my bio because Will already shared a lot about me. As I mentioned, I'm based in the D.C. area and we work with organizations of all shapes and sizes. So pretty much seen it all in a lot of different organizations. And so I can tell you that a lot of the challenges with smaller ones are the same as larger ones. It's just a different size and scope.
So what we're gonna focus on today, I'm gonna go more quickly through the more of the high-level strategy of why do we research grants? How do I prepare? Because I think that some of those you are probably already going to be familiar with and then we're really going to get to the meat of the presentation is turning the research prospects into fiscal projections and really making that direct connection. So that's what I wanna spend most of the time on.
And then also going through some review and reflections and we'll definitely leave time. I always try to leave 10 to 15 minutes for Q&A because I think it's important to make sure your questions are answered and Will is going to call out some questions that we can address as we go through.
Thank you. So why do we need to research grant opportunities? That's the first part. And I think that a lot of it, even though people might say, oh, well, I need you to just get money in the organization. And I think that that's the incorrect answer because the focus is how are you making an impact? And it's your impact what drives the fundraising needs. And especially now as we're dealing with all of these different issues across the country, across the world related to COVID and related to other diversity, equity, inclusion, and focus areas on that and all these different kinds of topics really trying to see how you're meeting the needs of the target populations.
Just to make sure that you're securing funds to help support their changing and needs and being flexible and nimble to see if your programs need to change. Also finding ways to create a more equitable and inclusive society. And also just building up stronger communities. That's really what the grants are used for.
And really just keeping an eye on that. That is your why. And so, in order to sustain impact, one of the vehicles that you use is grants and grants is the means to an end, but is not the end goal 'cause the end goal is really about serving the population and making sure that their needs are addressed.
So in terms of grants, some of the areas that we've seen focus on, especially with the specific areas within grant opportunities are meeting those revenue projections and making sure your grants calendar is complete. Also things like seed funding to make sure that if there's a concept that you have, that that can be brought to fruition.
And sometimes, if you want to do additional prospect research on new prospects or maybe reinvigorating some that have been dormant and that maybe they might be viable now because there's been some changes in their giving criteria or maybe also, they have some new giving patterns. So that's something else to consider.
So it's important, as I mentioned before, just to stay focused on the why because that really is the driver for how you're gonna focus your research efforts. I'm curious about what is the why for your organization and thinking about how that why could be best supported through grant funding because sometimes some things are not necessarily best suited for grants.
So I'm curious about what that why is for you and what you think would be a really great focus area for grants. And Will, you can share that as people start to chime in.
Will: Sounds good.
So why is it that you do what you do?
Will: So Jane says ours is all about public safety.
Will: Julia's talking about land use and conservation.
Will: Amanda's referencing how they provide life-saving PTSD services to veterans. Ooh, there's a massive string of folks coming in here. There should be a pause feature in this. [inaudible] mentioned general operating support to sustain programs to serve the community. Mirror Image Arts talked about the importance of disrupting the school to prison pipeline.
Samantha talked about there being a lack of all-girl youth development programming, getting people out of poverty from Cynthia. Behavioral health from Chris. Jeniah talked about human rights. Kaylin talked about preventing and responding to child abuse. Lacey talked about helping men, women, and children break free from homelessness. And then some natural and land conservation from Maria.
And Andrew talked about combating racism. And Virginia, talking about helping middle schoolers become the next generation of environmental stewards and a variety of others.
Rachel: Wow. Some amazing causes here. I mean, I always love doing these trainings 'cause I always learn more about the efforts that are happening across the country and what we're doing for our communities. So that makes me excited, especially some of the news can be so dire. So I love trying to see what people are doing to try to elevate. Thank you for sharing. These are all some great areas of focus and just wonderful work. Now we're gonna talk about sort of the internal work of how do I prepare for the research.
We're just gonna be focused on three key steps. One is strategic alignment. So I always think especially now if some of you have a fiscal year that begins July 1st or maybe some of you don't have one that begins until September 1st or January 1st, whatever it is, it's important to really think about what are the strategic priorities and how do those then translate into the concepts that could be funded through grants and through other fundraising vehicles?
And thinking about the needs assessment, not just for your target population and your clients that you serve, but also internally, what do you need to do to be able to invest in the organization to make sure that you can be elevated to support those important causes and thinking about that and thinking about not just what leadership, but also the frontline direct service staff who are actually doing the work 'cause there might be different sorts of assessments of that. And then also just thinking about the concepts or programs that you're gonna be focusing on.
And then, I think that it's really important 'cause sometimes we'll get a laundry list of requests like, oh, we want to fund these 10 different priorities and that's just not feasible. It's really important to prioritize as much as possible because depending if you have a huge department, then maybe you can have those 10 different programs or concepts.
But if you have a smaller department, it's really important to prioritize maybe three to five areas that you can convert into fundraising priorities and think about the specific areas where you can focus on related to grants in addition to the other fundraising campaigns.
And then, thinking about your fundraising plan, you might not have a fundraising plan. Perhaps you base it off of the budget that you had previously. But thinking about how much of the funding has been received through grants versus other fundraising areas, and that can help you set those financial targets. And then if you break that down even further, how much of those grants have been allocated to program one versus program two versus general operating support 'cause that can really help you set the targets.
And if you're looking to expand or perhaps you have some pledges or perhaps there might be an increase in work devoted to grants, you can perhaps increase the projection, but that's just something to consider as you're starting to put together those targets and really doing a deep dive 'cause the data will tell the story of where you can focus your efforts. And also just where you might want to think about expanding or contracting depending on year over year analysis. So that could be very helpful.
And I know that Instrumentl is a great way to track that. So if you were thinking about that, I'm sure that could be something that Will might be able to showcase. But just being able to have a fundraising plan, even if your fundraising plan is a table with just each revenue stream for the organization and the projected goal, that's a good starting point because you just wanna be able to work towards something and have a benchmark that you can assess on an ongoing basis.
And then of course, assigning responsibility. So who's gonna do the work and how are you gonna break it down because I'm very task driven. So I like to break everything down into a discrete task. Like even prospect research can be broken down into discrete tasks. And so, I think it's important to identify who might be doing what part of the process and just how you're gonna manage that.
Now you can do it through things like there's -- because everybody's working in a hybrid work situation, are you gonna do it through Google Drive, Teams? Do you have some kind of shared system or network or an online portal? So just having that kind of working plan to kind of manage the work and making sure you're on target. And Will, maybe this is a good -- hand it over to you to kind of talk through, this is an example of that kind of work plan in Instrumentl.
Will: Yeah, absolutely. So with every project in Instrumentl, if you've never checked us out, we essentially allow you to have a saved project. And within the project, you get a saved grant search as well as a tracker. So what you can see on this screen here is that this is a tracker for an air quality project where what we are doing is we're able to track our grants, set different ownership based off of who might be responsible for different grants, as well as organize things based off the deadlines and tasks that are coming up related to those grants.
So in the case where you are looking to bring in the same place, everything into the same place in terms of where you're researching and then where you're actually tracking towards the milestones of submission and everything past that point, you can bring that work into your tracker. And I think that's what some of the things that are then covered later on that we'll see as we start to bring into like a decision matrix and things like that is the importance of having an easy way for you to reference whatever the information about the funder is that some folks mention they look at right now with their tracking capabilities of their grants as they move it down the pipeline.
Rachel: Exactly. Thanks, Will. So now why are these steps important? Because research only works when you have identified why it's important to the organization. So the more information you have, the better the process will be in the long run. The more strategic you are in thinking about research instead of just going after, well, these 10 funders, board member gave it to us. Well, that's not very strategic. It's just thinking more about from the bottom up and thinking more about instead of a top down approach and thinking about the needs and thinking about the priorities 'cause then those kind of keyword, those kinds of additional information that you can use when you actually conduct the research will be extremely beneficial for you and also understanding the financial targets because some clients are happy.
We got this $10,000 grant. We're so thrilled and that is a huge boom to the organization. Others won't look at anything below $25,000. So I think it really depends on the size of the organization and what you're looking for, what your targets are for each of those different areas. And the more you can refine that, the better the research outcomes.
And that's why I say that prospect research and grant strategy are best friends because the better strategy you have, the better your prospect research. If you put good quality data, good thoughts, good strategy into it, you're gonna have better results. And so, you're gonna have a much more thoughtful process that you can then keep doing.
It's a cycle. So that you can keep reusing. You can keep refining your priorities. You can keep updating the project. And so, that's something that can really benefit you in the long run. So I'm gonna hand it off to Will to kind of talk through Instrumentl and do a little demonstration.
Will: Awesome. And I'll also cruise through this slide so that we can really dig into the actual side of the two examples that we're gonna cover later today. But for folks that are new to us, Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform if you're looking to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management into one place, we are the only platform that covers all three aspects of that. And so, what you'll find is a list of active opportunities that you can actually apply for as well as potentially invite-only funders or funders that might not even have websites that may be good fits for you. So our unique matching algorithm will match you to good fit opportunities for your projects.
And our deadlines will automatically update as well for you. So in the case where you haven't already created your account, you can do so with Rachel's link in the Zoom chat a little bit ago. But the key outcome that we drive is that integration of your prospect research with your grant strategy in which we are saving each person that's using us three hours a week on average and we're increasing the grant application output by 78% within a year of using us largely by just reducing the number of the administrative tasks that folks have to do. So instead of you having to manually update a ton of different information pieces around the different grants that you're pursuing, we track a lot of those sorts of data points for you.
So in terms of the demonstration, I think what would be useful is actually, Rachel, if you wanna go over some of the research criteria and things like that, we can then do the demonstration a little bit. I think that might be a good way to kind of showcase everything. But like I mentioned, feel free to use the link in the Zoom chat in the case where you haven't set up your free account before.
Rachel: Sure. Okay. Sounds good. So as Will said, I think it'll be good to kind of talk through the research criteria, so I'm gonna get to that right now. So part three is what we're really going to put the meat into this and understanding the research criteria and putting financial projections. So when you're thinking about your research criteria, we're gonna be focused on certain areas.
So we're gonna be thinking about areas of interest, as somebody mentioned before that mission fit. So when you're thinking about your low, medium, high prospects, how are you identifying which ones will fit into those different criteria? So we're also thinking about award amounts and thinking about what the average award is for recipients and also thinking about similar grantees.
So other pew organizations who might be receiving funding 'cause clearly, funders interested in the similar cause within the same geographic area. And also thinking about whether there's an organizational connection, is this a renewal funder? Is this a new prospect? Do you have a connection through a board member that maybe they are a new funder, but there is some kind of established connection. And also thinking about the process, is this an open process or is this going to be closed and only invitation only requests are accepted? So thinking also about the geography and also whether this is a renewal funder as I mentioned before.
So these are just some of the criteria that you can consider when we're thinking about how we're going to, once we have that research in front of us, how we're then going to determine how to, parse it and do some more analysis of it. And so, I also am curious if there's any criteria that you are interested in including or that's part of your review process.
So if there's anything that is beneficial that you think would be helpful to other people feel free to share in the chat.
And you can just call it out, Will.
Will: Absolutely. So one person mentioned giving amount.
Rachel: Mm-hmm. Giving amount. Mm-hmm.
Will: Timing of the award, Virginia mentioned.
Will: Kelly also mentioned making sure your organization's eligible if you're not a 501c3, for example. Shelly mentioned looking for collaborating organizations that are being funded. So partnership opportunities. Cynthia, reporting requirements. Catherine, segment by program.
Christa's referencing competitiveness, SOC talking, referenced, talking to other similar mission aligned organizations. Organizational capacity. So internal capacity. Yvonne has mentioned the type of funding. So capital versus general operating expenses and things like that. Trisha mentioned you have to wait a year to apply again after being funded. So a delay time period.
Cynthia, budget items. George, connection with the funder staffer board, Adrian, the location of past awards. Arnold ,support strategies and transaction types, Sandra, existing relationships with board members, ours or theirs. Those are a couple of them and some grantee interests as well have come up.
Rachel: Wow. So yeah, you've really put some thought into this. That's fantastic. And as you see that this is a fairly fluid process. So while there are some core criteria that you wanna consider, there probably might be others that arise that are specific to your organization, your region, or perhaps even a particular program that you might wanna include.
And so absolutely consider those 'cause they can change and they might be given more weight given this particular focus for your organization. So once you have sort of those criteria in mind, think about assigning a score to them. Now, assigning a score is basically allowing you to put a numerical value against those particular criteria.
So for instance, let's talk about geographic area. If you are an organization that's based in the New York region and the funder does not support organizations on the east coast, you would assign a score of zero because clearly, there's not a geographic fit. And if you see there's no past funders, probably not.
However, you could give it a five if perhaps that funder has supported organizations in the New York area, perhaps not your particular county, but maybe within the region. And so, that could be given some weight and it would be a 10 would be a good match if they have focused on funding within your county, within your particular region. So it's really thinking about, are you going to sign a zero, which is no fit, five is a partial fit, or 10 is a solid fit. And there's some -- and we're gonna get to this to the next slide, this sort of weighted criteria 'cause some criteria might be given a little bit more of a value than others.
And sometimes, I see that as more of a yes, no, for instance, if you have a renewal funder. So that could be a score of 20 because the fact that it's gonna be elevated and there's gonna be a greater chance for success. So there's some things that you might wanna elevate more than others. And so differentiating between weighted and unweighted criteria.
And that will allow you to kind of look at that a little bit more. And so when we talk about the weight considerations, here are some of the things that you might wanna consider. So renewal funder relationship, unsolicited application process. So again, that's a zero or 20. Geographic focus can kind of go in either direction as a yes or no, but if there are some -- ' cause sometimes there could be some wiggle room depending on the size of your geographic area.
So you can kind of look at that in two different ways. And also, if there's an organizational connection. So if you have a board member connection that could instantly get a weighted score of 20. So then if we wanna sort of score these criteria, we're gonna say -- and I'll show you the sample spreadsheet that when we go through the demonstration, but if let's say a total score of 120, four weighted, four unweighted criteria, you'll see the low priority prospect would receive a score of 40 or below.
And that a medium would be between 41 and 80 and a high score would be 81 above. And so, that's just kind of a quick and dirty weighted, unweighted criteria together, just to sort of see, what would the total score be. And so, those are just some examples of how you can think about mapping these criteria to specific scores. And we're gonna go through what that looks like.
I'm gonna give you a sample organization. And then Will's going to look up a couple of sample funders in Instrumentl and provide a little bit of an overview about them. So our sample organization is a nonprofit village. They're located in Montgomery County, Maryland.
And the nonprofit villages basically serve as a nonprofit incubator. So they really wanna increase the capacity in sustainability of nonprofits mostly through support, advocacy efforts, education, collaboration, operational support, and really just providing sort of the administrative support that's needed to help elevate these nonprofits to become self-sustaining.
And so, we're going to be looking at a specific scenario. So let's say the nonprofit village is seeking $100,000 to expand its capacity building efforts to support these smaller and emerging nonprofits in Washington, D.C. And what we've done is we've identified two specific D.C. area funders that could potentially fund the nonprofit village. And how would we kind of score these criteria? So I'm gonna hand it off to you, Will, to kind of show how we would put together.
Will: Yeah, absolutely. I'm gonna put in the two links in terms of Rachel's link, Instrumentl account as well as decision-making matrix template. I'll take over the screen share for a little bit here. But essentially I've gone ahead and created this non-profit village test project in Instrumentl. In the case for folks that never created your project before, what you're gonna wanna do is click that link. From here, you'll go through a similar flow, but essentially what I've done here is I've named this the nonprofit village selected nonprofit applicant type. And then, as I went into the project details, I selected the criteria that Rachel offered in the profile in which the areas of impact are Montgomery County, Maryland.
I selected a few different fields of work around things like community services, job creation around that work first development point, and some minority services and things like that. And then I went ahead and selected general operating expenses and capital projects being some of the respective funding sources.
And then once I've done that, what's gonna happen is it'll create this matches results section where it'll output for me some active grant opportunities that may be good fits for me. And one of the ones that Rachel just referenced was the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation Grant.
So you might come across a case where this grant comes up in your Funding Opportunity Matches. What this means is that if it's in this first tab, it is an open and active opportunity that you can do more due diligence on. So as you look on the right hand side and follow along with me, you'll see that there are some funding opportunity details.
And this is where we can start to ask ourselves some of these questions that are in that same table as well. So questions such as, earlier on some folks mentioned is there alignment in terms of what the funder is looking to fund and what we are in terms of our program? So you can see here that when there's an exact match to your fields of work, Instrumentl will tell you that there is an exact match in terms of community services. So in this particular case, you see that match, you can see how the grant amount also fits my criteria. I had a minimum in place of at least a grand or more.
And so, that's why it's showing me this opportunity. I match the applicant type in terms of nonprofit. I also match in terms of general operating expenses and I match in terms of location of project being based out of the U.S. So as you're starting to go through your Instrumentl results, you can always also dig deeply into the funder's website as well by just clicking this View Website button, it'll take you directly to the funder's respective website. That's where you can run through some of those mission matching questions that were brought up earlier in terms of things that they might be looking for. But what's nice is that even if you didn't open this up and [inaudible] gonna summarize a lot of this information, too, about the funder for you.
So in this snapshot, I'm seeing how they have funded the District of Columbia for D.C. area, as well as the Maryland area, too. I can see how in the past there's 18 grantees that are coming in from the Maryland area that ticks the box in terms of, hey, geographic area of focus in terms of this past funder.
And so as you work your way through, the first thing I always start with is the Funding Opportunity tab. If you scroll on down, you'll see information about this particular opportunity. You'll see what they're looking to fund. They're supporting these sorts of requests. They are supporting nonprofit organizations.
And they're aiming to support organizations with relatively small amounts of funding that might make a big difference. Okay. And so right off the bat, This is starting to look overall pretty interesting to me. And then what I can do is I can dig more deeply when possible by digging into the 990 report.
So what Instrumentl will do when it can parse the data for you is it'll essentially summarize some key stats about what the giving patterns have been. So here you can see the average grant amount has been about 8 grand, medium amount to 7.5k. Again, my threshold was a minimum of a grand or more so that starts to fit that criteria.
Maybe as I go through the key people, I realize that I actually have a connection on my board to Elizabeth Brown. So in that particular example, what I would wanna do is I would make a note to myself that maybe I have an existing relationship. And as I work my way through, I can essentially look at some of the key financial stats and see what the distribution of the grants have been to see whether or not it fits the sort of funding opportunities that I'm looking for.
And then, like I said before, you can filter by these states. And so if I wanted to go ahead and isolate for Maryland, I can look at the different opportunities or the past grantees that have received funding from the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation. So these are the sorts of questions I'm asking myself as I go through this is, are there similar organizations to ours?
Is it completely different? Is there some sort of alignment? What does the data actually tell me? If you were to look through these and you start to find some that might be interesting, you can also click into some of these. If you click into them, what will happen is you can actually look at the past funders of other recipients as well.
So that can be a good way for you to match up to some of the other organizations that are similar to yours. So as you keep scrolling through, you're gonna see some information about grantees also given by NTE code. In this case, you can see how there's a lot of focus around arts culture and humanities.
That makes sense, because going back to that original funder details, they were looking to prioritize those areas, but also they are funding a lot of human services related work, too. And if you ever have questions about what are the respective areas that they are really funding towards, you can scroll all the way down as well.
And in this NTE code section, you can also expand out the different types of organizations that they have funded, too. So in this case, you can see some human service organizations, homeless shelters, a bunch of different work here. And assuming that you have run this through your criteria, what you can do is if it is a good fit, you can go ahead and save that opportunity into your tracker.
So let's say for example, we plan to do this grant a little bit later, maybe we'll press five grand. We can save that. And that will take into your tracker of your project. So you would take the sort of approach as you're running through the different criteria that you may have come up with in the last section that Rachel just mentioned and you might also come up with a few other opportunities as well.
So another one that I think we wanted to talk about was the TD charitable foundation. So here you can see. There's a couple different active opportunities that we already have on Instrumentl for you to review. So you could open up each of these opportunities and potentially find a couple ones that could be interesting to you.
I'm gonna look at the one that is maybe the charitable foundation grants 'cause it's probably the most relevant to the ones that we're looking at here. But essentially what you'll see is you'll see the information about the funding opportunity here, the fields of work match, potential applicant types and things like that.
And then you'll be able to see information about the respective types of grants that they're looking to fund as well as information about the funder. So whenever you dig into that funder report, that's where you start to run through those same sorts of criteria that you would ask yourself as you're running through the different reports that you'll find Instrumentl.
So I've included a decision matrix template that we've done a more in-depth training on as well. I believe there's actually a recording of it that we can share to attendees afterwards. But essentially what you can do is in this decision matrix, you can take some of the logic that Rachel is outlining in terms of giving some weights and play around with this in which if you click that link, you'll make your own personal copy of this template.
And all you need to do is just change the variables in this row four to whatever is applicable to you. And you can also change the questions that you're asking yourself, too. So for example, if I wanted to make sure that this grants project requirements and mission aligned to my own goals and put that as a really high, heavy weight criteria, I can go ahead and put a 0.2 here, and I just need to make sure that everything will equal to one when I sum across these columns. So I might take this one down instead to 0.02 or something. And now I have the sum of one, but what you'll see is that as I kind of go through these things, I'm giving myself some sort of a score.
And as I change these numbers, the spreadsheet will also change with me and assign a general grade for those respective criteria. So that template, I'll repost it in case you missed it just a little bit ago. But what you can do is you can make a copy of this template. You can play around with the variables and as you work your way through, so for example, if I just wanna take an example here, I'm gonna start from scratch here. Maybe I'm gonna start with the -- actually, I'm gonna start here, Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation. What we can do is we can say, okay, does this grant's project requirements and mission align to my own goals? I think that's a pretty good alignment.
So I'll probably give it an eight right now. Does my organization meet this opportunity eligibility requirements? We saw that was a 10. It showed up in our active matches. So that's something where it's definitely something valuable to us. How open is this funder to new grantees? That might be something where we'd have to dig a little bit deeper.
I'll put a seven for now. And then you run through these sorts of criteria. Where is my organization's geographic location represented historically? We saw some representation in Maryland. So I'm gonna put that at nine. How closely does it align to my own organizations? We saw a lot of focus on human services and things like that.
And so that does seem to align pretty well. Gonna give it an eight. Have new grantees historically received as much as previous grantees? That's a little hazier for me. So I'd probably give it a five for now. In terms of the median giving amount being worth going after? Absolutely. It matched.
And then, in terms of historical giving trends, showing both positive trends. We saw that. And do we have bandwidth? This is one of the internal considerations that people were asking earlier to think about. I think that my team can do this. And then in terms of does my team have the bandwidth to tackle the reporting requirements?
Let's say we do. Now you can see that in this particular example, this final grade for this is weighted to a B. In that situation, probably something in which I would wanna pursue that opportunity. And that's why in this particular example, I've gone ahead and saved that into my tracker here with an Instrumentl.
So now I have all those tasks where I can start to organize things there. So feel free to make use of this. Feel free to change it to your own liking, too. What's going to happen is it will just update based off of whatever you're changing in these fields, but you could choose your own questions, too.
So this is just a flexible template that you can use in the case where you don't wanna make it yourself. And then you'll just change that and kind of plug in from there. And I'll pass it back to you, Rachel, in terms of some of the things here, and I know we had a couple questions on Instrumentl. We'll save that to the end, as we dig into the rest of the presentation.
Rachel: Sure. Okay, great. Thanks. All right. So I am going to jump back in to the presentation. So, I just need to get out of that view. Okay.
So I just wanna make clear that this decision matrix is one that Instrumentl had prepared and that I have sort of the sample 0, 5, 10, 20 is one that I have put together for myself.
Now, I think that the Instrumentl version is very easy to use. I was just trying to kind of give you a sense of how you could weight it. But there are two different versions of basically the same concept. So in terms of how I would do it within this particular example that I was describing above.
So we were talking about the areas of interest. There was definitely a strong alignment. So that would be a 10. The award amount’s definitely in line with what we were expecting. That's a 10. Similar grantees that was pretty high. So I'd say that would be a 10. Now the organizational connection, perhaps will assume that this is a renewal funder for the nonprofit village.
So we'll give that a 20. Unsolicited, yes. So that would give a weight 'cause it's weighted. It's going to be 20. Geographic focus, absolutely a 20. So this is gonna be getting a very high score because of the past connection because of the fit. And if it's a renewal funder, that's a 20, so this could receive a very high score.
So if we put these together, we'll see that, excuse me, I'm just gonna move that over. That would be a score of 110. So that's the total score here. I think one of the criteria got cut off. And so you can kind of look at that. Now we could also say that this didn't have any previous connections, so that would go down to zero and perhaps this is not a renewal funder, so that could go down to zero.
And so if we do that, that would change the score completely. So that would be 70 instead of 110. So you can see how those weighted criteria really impact your decision of whether or not to pursue funding. So that's just something to consider as you're just kind of thinking through how you want to move forward with a particular grant.
So now let's go to actually the financial projection. So I'm gonna put this back in the shared screen mode. And so now we're gonna talk about the two different models that you might wanna use to think about the tracking these to actual financial targets. So the reason why you might wanna consider two financial projections is to think about a more aggressive estimate, which might be something that is more aspirational versus more conservative projections.
And with the aggressive, we're kind of looking at three different percentages. 75% is a high likelihood of success. And that's like more of a high level prospect. Medium is 50% and low is 25%. Conservative projections, you kind of bring in all these different kind of percentages and that could give you a more conservative estimate.
So I'm gonna show you what that looks like in an actual chart. And it really just provides two different vantage points because you just wanna make sure to see how things are tracking and just trying to think about different things like medium high prospect versus low, medium prospects. So it's really just trying to think about broadening the ranking criteria so that you're not allocated to those three different areas, low, medium, and high, but you can actually think about it a bit broadly.
So here's an example of an organization A, an aggressive estimate. So you can see that I included BC and so basically what that is, is sort of aligning with the Instrumentl weighted criteria to see how that would translate into a financial target. So a BC target would be considered medium, a high target or A would be the top targets and then a low would be a D or an F.
And you can see if we put those percentages and we have the status of what the funder is. Is it a last? Is it renewal? Is it a new funder? And then the estimated award or the request that you're going to ask and that totals, and then the percent chance based on per your expectation of what you will receive in terms of dollars.
And so you can see we multiplied the estimated award by the percent chance to get the total. And then that gives you the target. So the total projected is 87,500 out of a total of $195,000 in submitted funding. So this is more of an aggressive estimate. So let's look at organization A more conservative estimate. So you can see that we have these prospect rankings as low medium. So the percent chances are really varied between 10 and 75%. And so they have more incremental value. So you can see a low, medium would be a D score on the Instrumentl scale. A high prospect would be an A and so forth. So you can see how those would be aligned with the different numerical projections.
So just sort of giving you another way of looking at it, whether you choose to use Instrumentl or another sort of weighted criteria spreadsheet. And so that can kind of give you a sense. And so it's the same thing. The estimated award is totaled up to 195,000, the percent chance. And then you can see the total estimate is less than the aggressive estimate, and it would actually be even lower depending on whether you have a lot more prospects and just trying to accumulate so you can see that there's a difference in the two different estimates, just in order to compensate for the different ranges in expectations of what you're likely to receive.
And of course this should be based on data based on an analysis of the previous grants, so that you can get a sense of how to set those targets. But this is just a quick and dirty approach, just to try to get a sense of how to put numerical values against those prospects that you've identified against the weighted criteria that you've put together, just to make sure that there is an alignment between all of those pieces and also just a general poll.
And would you be interested in a follow-up conversation sort of detailing how you would manage a prospect. Oh, sorry. I can't read it. Detailing how many prospect review sample organizations. So I think just thinking about whether you'd wanna participate in that.
Will: Yeah. This is just putting a feeler out there. And since obviously we recognize that we're a little time constrained with these hour workshops to cover a broader scope of things. And so, if you think it would be valuable to have a deep dive in the future, we can definitely follow up about a potential workshop for that for the folks that are responding yes in this one.
Rachel: Yep. That would probably be beneficial. And so, how can you share this data? So now you put together these projections, and now you're thinking about how to move forward with the analysis, thinking about using this as a dashboard for leadership to kind of showcase what the benchmark is and the aggressive and the conservative estimates and also reports that you might need to share with your team on a monthly or quarterly basis and just how you're sharing that information and just making sure if you updated it, Instrumentl whatever system of record that you're maintaining that so that you know exactly where you are at any given time with the number of grants that have been submitted, number of awards, explanations, all of those kinds of things, and just making sure that there's a back and forth with the grant's calendar against those projections to see where you actually stand. And if you need to make any deviations in your research. And so Will, did you wanna talk about the Instrumentl reporting?
Will: Yeah, the main thing I just wanted to mention is for folks that are already on Instrumentl, make sure you use the reporting function 'cause I hear a lot from folks that just save time by going to the top right corner of their project and then clicking reporting.
What's nice about Instrumentl's reporting features is that we can break it down based off of certain time periods. So if you want it to just be a certain number of days, months, years, et cetera, you can do that. You can do it based off project as well or combination of projects, and you can generate these PDF or CSB reports.
And so, it can get at some of the things that have been covered in terms of the prior slides of getting that report to whoever is the key stakeholder in the sort of process and save you the time of having to manually create these sorts of reports which I know can take some time for some folks.
Rachel: All right. Thanks. And so we're just gonna wrap it up now and just go into review and reflections. So in terms of ongoing maintenance and making sure that you're keeping track of the different grant opportunities and so forth, just making sure that you have regular times where you might be reviewing this either with your team, with leadership, and just to see how your projections are actually being tracked and what the actuals are, and just making sure that if there are any changes that need to be made, that they're continually part of the review process. And also are you tracking more with the aggressive approach or more conservative estimate and just seeing which one are you actually making headway on?
And which one actually makes the most sense? You know, in terms of how it's working for your organization, if the estimates are closer to one versus another and just thinking about do you need to revise the research and thinking about other targets that you might need to include if you're continuing to move forward with the grant opportunities and you might have more bandwidth to pursue different grant funders. And so, just remember in terms of these considerations that I want you to think about that these are targets. So they're not gonna be hard and fast. And so, just making sure that you're continuing to review and evaluate across your portfolio, and to see if there are changes that need to be made to the budget projection.
So just continuing to use that as a benchmark for you. And also this is just a general roadmap in terms of the next step. So understanding just kind of goes back to what we discussed at the beginning, understanding your organizational why and then thinking about it from a strategic orientation and concept refinement. And then setting your fundraising goals, doing the research, and then taking that research, converting them to targets based upon the criteria and also the financial projections and then just continuing to do quality improvement and maintenance just to make sure that you are tracking as it should.
And I think with that we are pretty much done. You know, these are just the three learning takeaways of just planning before the research and making sure that you're on the same page as a team regarding the weighted and unweighted criteria. And also just how you're going to prioritize those funders. And also just know that projections are moving target. And I think with that, we can answer questions.
Will: Awesome. So I'm gonna put in some links that might have been missed earlier today. And one of the questions that I got earlier was from Holly, which was does Instrumentl gives the percentage success rate of all applications for a foundation? We do not do that.
But we do do with a number of organizations is when we can parse the difference between a past grantee and new grantee. We will tell you the difference between what the new grantees are getting versus the repeat grantees as well as the percentage of openness to new grantees from a foundation.
And so, those are a couple of the data points that might be useful there. Yvonne asked if Instrumentl has a project management feature for pre-award research or post-award tracking. In terms of the project management feature, it's mostly gonna be done through that tracker. So when you click into your tracker and you click into the actual individual record, you have the ability to actually add tasks and assign those to different people as well as set different types of tasks.
So you can do that and repurpose that for milestone reporting as well as submission. And what'll happen is once a week, we'll roll up all of those tasks that are due for you into a single email for you. If you have other questions, please do put them into the chat. Let's see if we missed anything from earlier.
Rachel, there was a request if you have something in the future, potentially, a copy of the estimate document in terms of that table that you had in a couple of those slides. And George is asking, can Rachel describe the difference between weighted and non-weighted criteria for decision matrices?
Rachel: Sure. So in terms of that breakout it is included in the slide. So I think you might have to -- I would probably send it as a PDF. So you could definitely create something like that easily in an Excel spreadsheet using that same chart model. In terms of the weighted and unweighted, the weighted is really based on which criteria might have more significance in terms of the funding decisions. So just for instance, and I can share about this based on my own personal experience working with different clients is that we work with organizations and there might be a really strong fit in terms of mission.
And the organization goes after them and finds out, you know what, we're not getting funding from them. However, the moment there's a relationship with that funder, there's the instant connection and that there's a much, much, much greater likelihood of success. So that's why past relationship renewal and also geographic focus are definitely strong indicators and sometimes can be more heavily weighted than some other criteria that might not.
It doesn't mean that it is not important, but just given the relative importance related to the grant funding. And of course it's sort of an imperfect weight 'cause as Will said, you could change the weights in terms of the decision matrix because it can be based on your own data and then based on your own success as an organization.
So it's just sort of based on historical knowledge and sort of best practices, but that sometimes can be modified. But it just gives you a general sense of which areas you might wanna focus on more than others.
Will: Awesome. Julia asked me what the recommendation would be for a number of keywords when you're setting up your fields of work. I recommend three to seven is the sweet spot. It supports up to 10, but I've run hundreds of projects and I find the sort of Goldilock zone to be three to seven, mainly because if you select all 10, you might be overwhelmed by what you get. And if you select only one, you're not going to see it be specific enough.
So if you ever need a review, feel free to contact us in the bottom right support bubble as well. I'm also putting a link in the chat for a replay to our workshop on how to prioritize your prospect list. It actually deep dives into that template that we shared today in the case where you wanna pace yourself a little bit more slowly there in terms of how to change the variables and stuff like that.
And a couple other questions coming in. Let's see here. Virginia asked, how do I save a funder to the tracker when there isn't an opportunity? Let me showcase that. It'll be easier for me to share my screen here. So what's gonna happen is if, let's say for example, I just looked up the Clif Bar Family Foundation and maybe they didn't have this active opportunity. You can always just click the add new button. And from here, you can call it what you will and you can create your own instance of it and then tack it onto your project. So that would be how you save an opportunity that may not be in your existing tracker as well.
Another question earlier that I covered individually, but it might be helpful to have the visual support is in the case where you find an opportunity where you wanna hide it. Just go ahead in the bottom corner, you can either hide from this project or you can click the ellipses and hide it from all projects.
So in the case where you have several projects set up, if you never wanna see a grant again, just click hide from all projects. It will then be added to this list at the very bottom, which is gonna be called hidden from all. And that's where everything will live in terms of that. Jim, how frequently do you pursue funders that do not accept proposals, Rachel?
Rachel: Oh, that's a great question. I think that if they don't accept proposals, then that's all about relationships. Because if it's unsolicited, chances are that they've already identified the organizations they wanna fund. So it's just about figuring out how you can make a connection. Can you do a simple email outreach or try to connect with them via phone? Just introduce yourself to an organization. Again, it's just about trying to figure out if there's common ground and perhaps if there's an organization, if you look on their list of funders of recipients, rather, if there is a partner organization, can you connect with them to see how they might have been able to connect?
So it's very difficult to sometimes get in, but it takes sometimes that persistence. So I would say that there's no -- it's an art more than a science. And so, perhaps inviting them on a site visit or inviting them to an event that you're having is another way. I actually have a slide on the top 10 ways to connect with hard to reach funders.
And I mean, as we are doing events again, so that is one way to invite them to an event and something else you might wanna set up is some kind of Google alert. So if you know that the executive director or the board president is going to be speaking somewhere that's local, perhaps you might wanna attend that event.
So trying to see if you can find out if there's other methods and it looks like Will is sharing a link to a blog post.
Will: Yeah. There's a lot of different ways there. And in that blog post, there's a couple example templates you can use, too, from what I recall. The other thing is, in the second section of your Instrumentl account when you're in that funder matches section, you'll find breakdowns of funders who may not have websites or active opportunities and a percentage of how much they're giving a new grantees.
So our general guideline is if it's 30% or more going to new grantees, it generally is a more receptive funder than others to new relationships. So look at that statistic because sometimes it's gonna be really low and in those situations, it's kind of probably not a good use of your time as well. So it kind of relates back to Rachel's point on it's the quality of the data that you're starting out with and that if you can identify the sorts of trends earlier on, that would be really useful.
And George is asking you, Rachel, if the weighted criteria is always zero to 20 for your decision matrix criteria.
Rachel: I mean, just again, it's quick and dirty, but there's certainly always ways to refine it. You can make it 15. The point is to just elevate it so that's a little bit higher consideration perhaps than some of the other criteria.
Will: Awesome. With that, I think we've covered all the questions for today. So hopefully, you guys got a lot of value to this workshop. We'll be posting on YouTube later today. In the case where you did, we'll be back next week for How to Achieve 100% of Board Giving with Jenni Hargrove. And thanks so much for attending, everybody.
Rachel: Great. Thanks, everybody. Have a nice afternoon.