5 Key Strategies to Improve Your Projects for Grant Success w/ Jami Yazdani

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June 9, 2023

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Welcome to the "5 Key Strategies to Improve Your Projects for Grant Success" webinar! In this session, we will explore the crucial elements of successful grant proposals and grant-funded initiatives. You will learn how to apply project management best practices, understand the importance of scope, schedule, and deliverables, employ effective communication strategies with stakeholders and team members, and discover the benefits of using Instrumentl to streamline the grant management process.

Takeaways by the end of this Instrumentl Partner Webinar:

  • Learn how to identify the broad applicability of project management best practices to a variety of projects, including grant proposals and grant-funded initiatives
  • ​Understand how to use scope, schedule and deliverables to improve project outcomes
  • ​Learn how to employ methods for improving communication with stakeholders and project team members
  • ​Discover how Instrumentl saves you time and money in finding, tracking and managing your grants all in one place

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​​Jami Yazdani is the Founder and Chief Consultant at Yazdani Consulting and Facilitation LLC. Jami is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with more than 16 years of experience managing a portfolio of innovative projects and planning initiatives. She has a proven track record of leading diverse and collaborative teams and excels at facilitating consensus and keeping (even reluctant) teams on track. Jami also has extensive experience designing and delivering engaging face-to-face and online training sessions and facilitating meetings and programs.

​Over a diverse career spanning roles in business, libraries, and public higher education, including over a decade in leadership (Director) and management positions, Jami effectively led teams, championed change, and empowered staff. Jami has also actively served on the boards of several nonprofits and professional associations, working in leadership (Chair and Vice-Chair), marketing, programming, and mentoring functions.

​Jami brings practical experience, management expertise, a love of spreadsheets, and a sense of humor to project management, planning, and training.

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

Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.

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5 Steps to Building Out Your Ideal Grant Team with Interns w/ Marie Gress - Grant Training Transcription

Dionna: Alrighty. Hello, everyone, and welcome to 5 Key Strategies to Improve your Projects for Grant Success with Jami Yazdani. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Dionna Arimes and I'm the Partnerships Marketing Manager at Instrumentl, and I will be your host for today.

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

In case you don't know, Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you want to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management to one place, then we can help you do that. This spotlight is being recorded, and slides will be shared afterwards. So, keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email later in case you want to review anything from today.

If you have questions throughout today's presentation, we ask that you put three pound signs in front of your question when popping it in the chat to ensure that it stands out and that we don't miss it. If your question isn't answered during the presentation, do not worry. We're going to be keeping track of questions asked throughout and we'll try our best to address them during the Q&A at the end.

Lastly, be sure to stick around for today's entire presentation because at the end, we're going to be sharing with you some really fun resources and freebies. More details to come after Jamie's presentation.

Now, with all of that housekeeping out of the way, I'm very excited today to introduce Jami Yazdani. Jami Yazdani is the Founder and Chief Consultant at Yazdani Consulting and Facilitation LLC. Jami is a certified Project Management Professional with more than 16 years of experience managing a portfolio of innovative projects and planning initiatives. She has a proven track record of leading diverse and collaborative teams and excels at facilitating consensus and keeping even reluctant teams on track.

Jami also has extensive experience designing and delivering engaging face-to-face and online training sessions and facilitating meetings and programs. Thank you so much for joining us today, Jami. And with that, Jami, you can take it away.

Jami: Wonderful. Thank you. I'm excited to be here. And thanks to everybody who has already shared where they are and their name in the chat. If you haven't done that, feel free to put in your name if you want to say where you are in your organization. But I'd also love to understand a little bit about what your biggest challenge in managing your grant workflow is. And so, if you're willing to share that in the chat, I'd love to hear about it.

So, I'm going to give you a little bit of time to start typing your biggest challenge. While you do that, I'm going to go ahead. And Dionna just gave a lovely introduction. And so, I'm not going to spend any time on this. I will say that I spent about 15 years in libraries in public higher education. And so, some of that work did involve some grant management. And so, I'm really excited to kind of share my project management experience with you today. And so, I see folks are already sharing their challenges. Budgets are a big challenge. I'm seeing no grant writing experience, getting funding, the time to write grants, building relationships with funders, finding grants and being awarded the grant, being able to concentrate on grant writing.

And so these are, I don't want to say they're great challenges, but I appreciate you sharing them. And so, hopefully, some of your challenges will be addressed today and you'll get some techniques for helping you address them. And so, what we're going to be talking about today, I'm going to start with a few project management basics just to kind of get us on the same page about what project management is. And then I'm going to introduce five key elements that I believe are really important to managing projects well, particularly in the non-profit mission driven sector, and also things that I think will be really useful for you in terms of supporting grant success. And then we'll have time at the end to talk about your questions.

And so, great. Let's get started. And I see many of you are sharing very similar challenges, managing deadlines, picking the right opportunities, finding a grant writer, all of these things. And so, at least you know you're not alone. And so, I appreciate folks sharing.

So, let's dive into these project management basics. And so, you might be surprised to learn that the definition of a project that comes from the Project Management Institute, which is the International Association for project managers, is actually a really broad definition. And so, because it is so broad, it absolutely applies to grant projects, which in my mind means that it also -- we can apply project management strategies to our grant workflows. And so, a project is defined as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product service or result.

And there's really two important pieces to this definition. One, that it's temporary. And so, that's really what separates it from our ongoing operations. But temporary could mean a week. It could mean a grant cycle. It could mean several years. We're also creating something unique.

Again, this is what separates it from our ongoing activities. But unique could be unique to the world. Or it could be more likely unique to your organization, your team. And so, project management then is just applying strategies. So knowledge, skills, tools, techniques to the activities of your project to achieve project success. And so, we're just kind of throwing a bunch of strategies that we know work at our project activities to make sure we get the outcomes that we want.

Because the definition is so broad, that means that project management really is broadly applicable. And this is something that I found in my own career. Project management is really useful anytime you're working with other people toward a common goal. But I've also found it useful. A few of you mentioned being kind of the only person perhaps working on grants, I often say that I met project managers myself as well. And so, anytime I'm working toward a goal of some sort, I find that these techniques are useful.

Project management is also really useful outside of a hierarchy. It's really built for times when the project manager is not in a supervisory role. That's very, very common in most projects. And so, often, you are working with a variety of people from board members, to funders, to colleagues, to vendors, that you just can't tell what to do. And so, the tools of project management really are designed for these situations.

And so, because of that, we absolutely, of course, can apply the tools to projects. But we can also apply them to programs, grants, meetings, and a lot more. And so, we'll focus really on projects and grants today. But I think you'll see that a lot of these tools might help you in terms of other types of collaborations.

And so, let's talk a little bit about what we do when we manage a project. And so, when we're thinking about managing a project, we often are thinking about doing activities in these five areas. Now, these are the activities involved in managing a project not necessarily in the work of the project itself. And so, we initiate a project first. Right? And so, that just means that we have the concept, the idea. But often, there are some parameters. So budget, deadlines, criteria, then we plan the project. So, this is often where the project manager really shines. But we just figure out how we're going to accomplish project goals.

There's also an execution phase. And this is really where we're working on the project. We spend most of our time in this phase. This is all of the activities and tasks and things that you're doing to get to some kind of outcome. As a project manager, typically, you're monitoring and controlling the project. This just means that you're making sure you're following the plan, often you're doing some reporting or quality control, and you're just monitoring what's going on in that execution phase. And then ideally, we have a closing phase where some kind of outcome is delivered, maybe we generate some final reports, we thank our team, and we move on.

Now, these appear pretty sequential. But in reality, they often have significant overlap. And so, a kind of common traditional project life cycle moves through these phases in this way. And so, we'll do some initiating that leads to planning. Often, we're still doing a little bit of planning as we start executing on the project. We're monitoring and controlling the whole time we're executing and leading us into closing. And so, this is a project lifecycle.

And so, a project lifecycle is just the phases of the activities of the project itself. And so, this really can differ by project and project type. So, you might not follow that exact lifecycle. But regardless, you are moving through these five phases when you are managing a project. And so, if we think about these five phases in terms of a grant application workflow, we might think about that initiation phase as really being about suitability. So, maybe we have a grant that we want to go after. We determine whether it's something that is right for our organization, then maybe we plan for how we're going to approach the application.

Our execution is just really creating the application and submitting it. We're monitoring and controlling, often by just making sure all of the pieces are there. Maybe we're trying to meet some quality standards, looking at grammar, looking at whether we've included everything. We may be making some revisions. And then we close the workflow after we've submitted, right? And so, maybe we get the award or we lose it.

And so, this might be a way that you're moving through these five phases, if you're just thinking about a grant application workflow. Now, once you get the funding, then it often becomes a program. And so, I know there was a question a little bit earlier about your project being your only program. And so, I'll get into more detail about that later. But if we think about getting the award, that's really the initiation. Right? And often, it's sometime between when we've submitted an application and get the award. So, we kind of have to go back and remember what we said we were going to do. See what's changed. And then we plan for implementing whatever that program is. And then, of course, throughout the life of the grant, whether it's one year, three years, or something longer, we're implementing that program, whatever it is that we got the funding for. And, of course, we are monitoring and controlling during that time.

And so, we may be reporting back to the funder. We're making sure that things are going well. And then at some point, the award ends or perhaps the award changes, and you might say that another project starts. And so, this is a way of thinking about applying some of the project management workflows and project management processes to your grant applications and programs.

And so, I'd love to hear a little bit from you on a poll here. Would you say that you have a consistent grant process or workflow? And so, this could be for your applications. This could be for the way that you are implementing grants or other funding when you get it? And so, would you say, “Yes, we have a workflow, a process that we follow, pretty much all the time”? Or would you say that sometimes we follow a process or a workflow, maybe you have a process or a workflow for many of the types of grants or funding you get and not for other types? Or would you say not really, you don't really have a consistent process?

And so, I'm just curious. No right or wrong answers here. But I'd love to kind of understand where folks are at. And so, yeah. And I see Tammy saying that they already use Instrumentl. And so, we have a pretty consistent workflow because of that. So, that's really wonderful to hear.

And so I'm going to go ahead and give folks a few more seconds there to respond to the poll. And then, Dionna, if you want to go ahead and show us the results. So, it's kind of mixed. It's almost a third, a third, a third. So, some of you do have a consistent workflow. Some of you don't. And some of you would say, “Not really.” And so, I do think project management might be an approach that can help you get to that type of workflow.

So, that's really what project management sort of is and how we can think about it in terms of our processes. But what do we actually do and plan for as a project manager that might help us in terms of our grants? And so, there's really kind of two ways to think about what we might plan for what we need to consider in a project. And the Project Management Institute used to talk about these in terms of project domains.

And so, they would say, “You need to know who your stakeholders are, who your project team is, what that lifecycle is, how you're going to move through those five phases, what planning needs to be done, what work you're going to have to do to deliver the project, how you're going to deliver on it, how you're going to measure it,” which often we kind of think about in terms of quality, how you're going to measure how the project is moving from a monitoring and controlling standpoint. But also, the quality of your outcomes. And then you also need to think about uncertainty. And so, project managers are encouraged to think about these eight areas and really tailor them for your project.

We also often talk about project management in terms of specific areas of planning. That number four there. And so, often, we want to plan for things like cost or budget. We want to plan for scope, which I'll talk more about. We want to plan a schedule, which is often what people think about when they think about project management. We want to plan for quality. We want to plan for the resources that we're going to need to use. We want to plan for how we're going to communicate with folks about the project. We want to think about any risks involved, either risks in doing or not doing the project. Or if there are risks inherent in the work that we're doing. We often want to think about procurement, which is a little different than resources, if you've ever had to work with outside vendors.

Getting things from the outside, procuring them is a little different and requires more planning than just using your own internal resources. And then we want to think about stakeholders. And if we think of planning for all of these areas, ideally, what we're doing is integrating the parts that really matter for our project, for our organization, and to sort of one plan that is going to be workable for the project.

And so, that's what the Project Management Institute says that we should do when thinking about our projects. And I see Darlene is asking about risk. And so, risk really depends on the project. And most folks approach it in a couple of different ways. Risk might be, is there a risk if the project is delayed? Perhaps we'll have to pay more money or we won't meet or maybe fund their deadlines. Is there a risk associated with the work we're doing? And so, maybe you're building a building. And so, you can imagine all of the safety risks that might come with that. Maybe there are some risks around liability, not communicating well with stakeholders. And so, risk really depends on the project, the types of risks that you might see. But it's often something we want to consider.

So, that's a lot. Right? So these nine areas of planning, these domains that I showed on the previous slide, that seems like a lot for us to do. And it is in many ways. But what I have found, and particularly with projects and mission driven organizations, is that if we focus on five key things, as we're planning our project, but also as you're really executing on it and monitoring and controlling it, we tend to have more successful projects. And if we start with these five, often, it becomes clear that we may need to consider something like risk or that we may need to spend more time on something like procurement.

And so, starting with these five elements, I think it’s really important. And so, I see these five elements making the most impact in our projects. And so, that's what we're going to be talking about for the rest of this session. These five elements; scope, stakeholders, communication, outcomes, which wasn't on that list from PMI, but I think it's something that we need to talk about and schedule. And we're going to talk about what these are, why they imagine matter for projects. But we're also going to talk about how to use them and what they mean for grant projects in particular.

And so, let's get started. So, scope. Scope is really probably the first most important element, I would say, of managing a project. And scope just answers these questions. What is the purpose of the project? What are we trying to do? Why are we working together? And it really helps us think about where we're going to focus our energy and attention.

Now, scope is all about what's relevant to the work we're doing. But also, what isn't relevant. And so, it's been my experience that a lack of understanding about scope derails projects. So, team members don't understand what they're being asked to do so they're not engaged. Stakeholders have a very different idea about what you're supposed to be doing. And so then, there's often conflict and disappointment.

And so, what I would suggest is to do a couple of things. You want to make sure you're clearly defining the scope. And I'm going to show you some ways to do that. You want to write it down, essentially. You want to make sure you're tying it to some sort of larger mission. This is really important in mission driven organizations. It may seem clear to you why we're doing this project. But you want to make sure everybody's stakeholders, board members, and funders really understand how it ties to your larger mission that will get them engaged.

You want to discuss the scope early and remind people of it again and again. And so, in terms of defining the scope, there's lots of ways to do this. In project management, people often write lengthy scope statements. And you may be asked to write scopes with some of your grant applications in part of your grant management. But a simple scope statement often works really well. And so, what I usually try to do with a very simple scope statement is say what it is that we're supporting. So in support of some larger goals, some larger mission, this project is going to do something. Are we going to build something? Are we going to create something? Are we going to design something? Are we going to implement something by a certain deadline?

You can see that scope statements are actually a little bigger than purpose, and often include things like an outcome or a deadline. But it's really meant to kind of encapsulate why we're doing this project. And so, if we think about this in terms of grant management, grant applications, grant processes, we could have a scope to say, in support of our strategic goal, maybe your organization supports some key demographic. This project is going to deliver this new program by the end of the year, December 31st.

If we think about our grant application process, we might say, “In support of our strategic goal to serve whoever our key demographic is, or maybe we have a specific strategic goal we want to highlight, we're going to pursue $100,000 in funding to support user programming by a certain date.” And so, these are examples of scopes that we might apply to grant projects. But of course, if you're doing other kinds of projects, you could tweak this as well.

And so, what we want to do with our scope, though, is discuss it. Make sure everybody's on the same page. Document it so it should be written down. And then we want to share it pretty broadly, particularly with our team, but also with other types of stakeholders. And it's really important that we discuss it, even if you think it should be understood, even if you feel like it was you telling people in an email why you weren't going to do the project or why they've been asked to participate. Even if you think it should be clear, we want to have those discussions with our team.

It's when folks don't understand the purpose that often we get stuck in endless conversations that delay our projects. And so, often, too, if we don't document our scope, you get what is called scope creep. And I think this can be very dangerous, and particularly grant funded projects where if you've stopped doing things that weren't part of the project, it can create issues with your funders. And so, scope creep is really just any addition to your project scope or the work of the project that is either going to keep you from being able to reach your goals perhaps on time, or is going to delay your ability to do it. And so, often, it's additional outcomes, additional features, additional elements. And so, those are things -- and so, I see here, there's a question about, “Oh, yeah, add this, putting together a project plan with grant clients.” And so, talking about scope, I think it’s something that you might want to do there. But I'd like to look at that question again, Angela, when we get to the end.

And so, yes, the dreaded scope creeps in. And so, when people start adding things to your project that really are going to take your focus away. So, there's a couple of things we can do to have conversations about those additions. So if you're in a collaborative environment, people are going to say, “Let's add this thing to the project.” Or, “You're already working on this program. We should do this additional related thing.”

And so, the first question I like to ask is, is it relevant? Often it is, or they wouldn't have suggested it. But it's useful to kind of point back to the scope and say, “Is this really relevant? Is it going to get us to $100,000 in funding? Is it going to get us to this program that we said we were going to do?” If it is relevant, is it achievable within existing project parameters? And so, is it something that you can do within the time, within the budget, with the people that you have?

And that's often where the answer is no. And so when the answer is no, you might want to ask, “Is this better served as a new project?” And so, often, people have something that they really care about, they see people working together, and so they want to tax their thing on. But having a conversation with them about the fact that this might be better served as something entirely new that gets its own focus can sometimes get them to pull back from that suggestion.

And so, we can ask these questions. Sometimes we decide, “You know what? This thing is something we want to do. It makes sense to add it to the project. We want to do it.” If that's the case, then you can communicate that and change your scope.

Now, I do think for grant projects in particular, I would revise these questions a little bit because I do think it's important that we do what we said we were going to do if we've gotten funding, right? And so the questions that I would ask, if you've gotten funding and you're implementing a grant program as a project, I would say, is this required by our funders? That would be the first question I would ask. I would also ask, was it part of our original application? Did we say we were going to do this? And then I would ask, will this detract or delay our promised outcome? So if we add this additional thing, is it going to detract us or delay us from delivering what we said we were going to do?

And so, writing down your scope, discussing it with folks. When people want additions, asking some of these questions and coming to a decision about whether you're going to change the scope or stick with your scope is really, really important. So, that's scope.

Let's talk about stakeholders. And so, stakeholders in a project are just anybody who's going to be impacted by the project or the project outcomes. And anybody who's going to be involved in either doing the work or the project, so often, your project team or anybody who's going to be involved in using whatever your project is creating. And so, that could be a lot of people, right? If you answer those questions, particularly with grant projects, but also with any other projects you may be doing in your organization, that's a lot of folks.

Often, we think about stakeholders as being kind to our decision makers. It could be our funders. They're often the folks who initiated whatever this project is. We also think about our project team, or if we have a team of folks that are creating, let's say, a proposal or an application. We're always thinking about our users, our community, whoever it is that we're serving and kind of intend to serve with the funding we're getting, but also staff who may also be users sometimes of what we're creating. But it could be partners, or vendors.

And so, these are folks who might be stakeholders in any particular project. And what I would encourage you to do is really think broadly and inclusively about who your stakeholders are.

Identify key stakeholders, which again, means write them down. And this could be individuals. So it could be Joe and Jane are a key stakeholder, or it could be groups of people. And so, it could be the HR team. It could be a funding organization. It could be a demographic of your users.

And then once you've identified them, you think about the roles that they are going to play. And so often, I get a little pushback on kind of identifying all of these stakeholders because it can be very tempting to say, “I'm only going to think about the few people who are going to help me get this project moving quickly, who are going to perhaps not suggest additions and want scope creep. But I really think that we need to think very inclusively for a lot of reasons about who our stakeholders are. And so, that could be a whole other training.

But what I would say is that, just because you think about who your stakeholders are broadly doesn't mean that everybody needs an equal say or equal input or an equal role in the project. And so, what we're really trying to do here is think about all of the people we need to consider, then we can think about the role that they're going to play. And sometimes the role is just that you're going to have one conversation with them to let them know the project is happening. You're going to get some feedback at a particular point in the project. But we do want to think about everyone who is impacted by our project.

And so, I often like to think of it in terms of how they will engage? And so once you know who your stakeholders are, what role are they going to play? How do you want them to engage with the project? Is there something they need to do or not? And so, a couple of common roles, you may have a project sponsor or someone who has initiated or has a particular funder.

Often, you have some project manager or team leader. You have different members who may be working on things, the folks who are really driving that execution phase. Sometimes, you also have sort of resources or subject matter experts, folks who are not on the project team and doing work throughout the whole project but may need to do one or two specific tasks. Then, of course, we typically have users, clients, patrons, whatever your community, whoever -- kind of however you turn those folks.

And often too, we have what I’d like to call an informed stakeholder. So, it could just be that other folks in your organization, other folks in your community who are aware that the project is happening. And so, if you're willing to share in the chat, I'd love to hear a little bit from you if you think about a project you've been involved in. Is there a stakeholder you wish you had included earlier? I always love to ask this question, because I think it really kind of gets at my point about thinking broadly and inclusively about who our stakeholders are. Perhaps there's someone who you realize needed to create a piece of a grant application or who was going to be more critical in implementing a grant funded program. But you hadn't included them during the application process.

And so if there's a stakeholder in a recent project that you wish you had included earlier, I'd love to hear that. And I see Tammy is saying, “The person who handles the budgets.” Yes. And I see folks who are saying, senior most leaders, procurement teams, grant managers. Yeah.

And I see a lot of things related to finances. And I think that's often been my experience. And so thinking about these different folks, that's why we create kind of a broad list. It doesn't mean that all those folks needed to necessarily be on the project team are needed to have a huge role. But often one or two conversations, getting some feedback could really have helped.

All right. So we think broadly and inclusively about who our stakeholders are, we've got our scope written. One of the other things that we really want to think about is communication. And communication is critical to our projects. A lot of folks who teach project management or talk about project management kind of leave communication as a last step. I believe it should be one of our first things that we think about, particularly, in mission driven organizations and particularly because often we need to collaborate with others to really get things done.

And so, what we want to do in terms of communication is plan for it. It shouldn't be an afterthought. And then we want to support collaborative communication. So, let's talk about how to plan for project communication. What we want to do is answer this question. Who needs to know what about our project? And when and how will they know it? So a relatively simple question, but often the answer is very, very complex. And so, the who and the what and the when and the how is typically how I approach communication planning.

Now, it should be relatively easy if you've already identified all of your stakeholders. And some of the folks -- yeah, and I see Sarah saying these answers are what paralyse me. They never seem to be the same. And what I would say is that when we're creating a stakeholder list, it often is useful to talk to some of those stakeholders and say, “Who am I missing?” And so you, as the project manager, don't necessarily have to know everybody who's not included to start having some of those conversations. And that can really help. And sometimes still, we forget folks. But as soon as we realize we've left someone off, we want to start having conversations with them.

So, who are our stakeholders? And usually, what they're going to need to know about our project is based on their role. And so, some folks are going to need some updates. Some folks are going to want more detailed progress reports. This could be a sponsor. This could be you as a project manager. It could be anybody who really wants to know the details. It's your team members as well.

Often, there are people who need to give feedback. Some of the folks that you all just mentioned as being left off are folks that we might have just needed to get a little bit of feedback from. They're typically people who need to take actions, make decisions. And often, we're creating things that people are implementing. Particularly, once we've gotten funding and we're managing a grant funded program, we're creating stuff that other folks are using. And so, we want to think about what information they would like to know.

So then the how and when really comes down to what's the best way to communicate with the folks we've identified based on their role. And so, I could list a whole bunch of formats here, kind of common ones. Or we communicate with people via email, particularly for communicating with our community. We may use our website, social media. If we're getting feedback from people, we may be doing surveys, having forums. We're always having meetings, right?

But often too, we might be creating documents or using dashboards. And we want to think about when. So, when are we going to send that email? When are we going to have our project team meetings? And often too, we want to think about the fact that things that we're creating during even a grant application process, we probably want to keep the stuff that we've created long after that application is due that project is over, because other people will be able to use it. So, we want to think about that as well.

Luckily, Instrumentl can help with some of that communication planning, especially for internal stakeholders and members of your project team. And so, I have an example here of where I, as the project manager, for a grant application project. I have myself and Instrumentl, but I could also add a team member.

And so, one of the ways that I might want to communicate is through a tool like Instrumentl or some other kind of project management tool. And so, what happens when you add folks to Instrumentl as a team member, they can see the kind of grants that we're tracking. I have kind of the status of a couple of grants we're looking at here. And if we had set a goal, perhaps, we were going with that scope of getting $100,000 in funding. We can sort of see where we are in that goal. Right now, we haven't been awarded anything. But we're still early in our process.

And so, this is one way to think about communicating with your teams. Instrumentl also allows you to put documents and other resources in there. And so, it could be a communication tool that you could use as part of your grant application or administration process. And so, we can also think about using tools like this beyond sort of email and some of the other ways that we typically communicate.

And so, I'd love to hear if you're willing to share in the chat, what tools do you typically use to communicate during projects, particularly with grant projects? Since that's really our focus today. Are there ways that you're communicating? I'd love to hear about that in the chat. And so, obviously, if everybody's working on a tool, like Instrumentl together, that's great. But often, we are also communicating in some other ways. And so, I see meetings, email, Microsoft Teams, email and Slack, email and newsletter, team meetings. And so, in lots of different ways. And so, this really depends on your organization but thinking about how you're communicating.

And so, I see a lot about emails. And so if that works for your organization, that's what you need to do.

All right. So, thank you. Yeah. And I see someone has used Instrumentl to print a terrific summary of your process. And so, that's really wonderful to hear. And, yeah, using WhatsApp.

All right. So, that's communication we want to plan for. So, let's talk about our outcomes. So, we've talked about scope. We've set a scope. We know what our purpose is. We know who should be involved. We've thought about how we want to communicate with them. But now, let's think about our outcomes.

And so, our outcomes or deliverables, whatever term you prefer, works best for your organization. But it's really just whatever it is that we are going to be building, where we are creating something, designing something, writing something, accomplishing something. And so, these are concrete or tangible deliverables. And so, sometimes folks get scope and deliverables kind of conflated because our scope statement may say what an outcome is. But scope is really about helping us maintain focus on our purpose, that bigger picture purpose, why we are doing it. It gets people bought in. It helps people understand why they should stay engaged with the project. But it's really our outcomes that are going to drive the work of the project.

And so you can see here that, let's say, we have this scope, where we're going to pursue $100,000 in funding. That's our scope. We could have a bunch of different outcomes from a scope like that. And so, we may have a grant search that we're going to do. We may then select grants that we are going to go after in this time period. We're going to have to create applications to do that. And we're going to have to submit those applications.

So, one scope might have a lot of different outcomes. And obviously, the same scope could have 10 different outcomes at 10 different organizations. And so, we want to make sure that we are clearly defining what our outcomes are. We use that scope to get buy-in, to kind of get everybody on the same page. But we want to then say because of this purpose, this is what we are going to create. And what we do is let the outcomes guide the work of the project, and also all of those other areas of planning.

Often, people kind of start with a scope and start writing down everything that they're going to do. We really want to work backwards from outcomes to figure out what we're going to do in a project. And so for each of the outcomes we create, we break it into smaller and smaller pieces until you have tasks that you can either assign to folks or that you want to track. And so, we go from outcomes to the execution of our project. And so, if we go back to the same kind of example and if we think about that we're going to create a couple of applications as part of this project scope to try to get $100,000.

If we take something like applications created, we could go and create a bunch of different tasks, right? We could break that into smaller and smaller pieces. And so for each application, we would want to figure out what were the required elements that we needed to include. Maybe we have to submit a letter of intent. Maybe then we have to create that first draft. We're going to review and revise it and then create a final draft. And so, obviously, this could be broken down into smaller and smaller pieces as well. But we take our outcomes to get to our task.

And so, something like submitting that letter of intent, you could break that into many smaller pieces. You might have to create a first draft. You would have to review and revise that. And so, you see here that you can get from outcomes to tasks. And so in Instrumentl, one of the things that I really like is this ability to sort of add and track tasks. And so, you can say that we have a task to submit a particular piece of an application or submit the application. And so, you can add those tasks. You can give them a label, a description and a deadline, and then assign them to people on your team.

And so, you can see here that I’ve created a letter of intent task. That's what this was meant to do. And that we drafted it and submitted it. And now, we're waiting for a response. And so not only can I see that this is sort of where we stand on this task, but our team can see it as well. And so, we want to get from outcomes to tasks. But outcomes also help us do a lot of that other planning. And so, folks that asked about risk before, some of you had mentioned procurement.

And so, once we know what our outcomes are, I find it is much easier to think about quality and resources in particular. You may have quality measures that you want to use already going into a project. But often, you can really get down to how you're going to measure each outcome. Once you know what it is, it's often easier to see the resources you need. And sometimes too that means it's easier to see the folks that you may have left off of your stakeholder list.

We may have a big budget. But hopefully, it won't be too big, right? But I mean a big picture number for a budget. But once you get down to outcomes and tasks, it's easier to see how much individual things are going to cost, whether we need to procure things often. It's at that point where you can see that there are some risks that you might need to plan for.

And sometimes too when we start planning for outcomes, then we go back and add a stakeholder. We realize that there's another way that we might want to communicate. And even sometimes, we realize that our scope needs to make changes. And so, it's really thinking about outcomes that gets us to all of those other areas of planning, but it's what drives the actions of our project.

So we've talked about scope, we talked about stakeholders, and communications and outcomes. Let's talk about schedule, which is often one of the hardest pieces, I think, of managing a project. And so, the schedule is really when -- yeah, and I do see there's a question about outcome measurement. And so, it really depends on the project. But if you're creating, let's say, a grant application, perhaps your organization has some branding things that you always like to include in an application. And so, that would be one kind of measure. Does it meet our branding guidelines?

If we think about a program, maybe you got funding and you're implementing a program and it is serving a particular population. Maybe your organization has some best practices around how we interact with a certain population. Maybe there are rules and regulations around whatever it is that you're building. So, for example, let's say you're building an app for your community to use. That app might want to meet certain security guidelines, things like that. And so, it really is about measuring the quality of your outcomes.

So the schedule is just about when we are going to complete tasks, how long are we going to be working together? Schedule is really about setting expectations. And it really is one of the primary ways that we measure our project success, right? And so, I'd love to hear a little bit from you with this poll. Is there a challenge that you face in scheduling? So, would you say it's delays and disruptions? So, things always kind of get delayed or you're not able to meet timelines or things disrupt your schedule? Would you say that you just don't have enough time? So you come up with a great schedule, but you don't have enough time to accomplish the things on the schedule? Is it an incompatible schedule?

I saw some comments about not being able to get people at the same table. And so, if it's something else, feel free to share that in the chat. But I'd love to hear a little bit about your scheduling challenges. And so, I'll give folks a few more seconds here to go ahead and respond to the poll because I'd love to know constant changes and adjustments. So, thank you for sharing that, Angela.

All right, let's see how folks responded. And so, delays and disruptions, not enough time and incompatible schedules. And a couple of you said to others and, hopefully, have shared in the chat. And so, all of these are common. And so, I'm not surprised that it was almost a kind of equal voting. But let's talk about some of the ways that we can handle schedules in our projects.

So the first thing that we want to do is kind of think about our project lifecycle. And so, when I showed those five stages of our project, kind of how you're going to move through those phases is useful to think about. But I really think these last three are important. We want to set clear deadlines. We want to use milestones, and I'll talk about what those are in a minute. And we want to plan for delays. And so, let's talk about these three. And I see that there's a comment about time zones being a certain issue. And so, yes, thinking about -- that actually is a great point for this, because we want to be really clear about what our deadlines are. And so, often we’ll say things like, “Oh, get that to me by the end of the week. Get that to me by the end of the day.” People working in other time zones, the end of the day is vastly different on the East Coast than on the West Coast.

And so, we want to stop being deadline beggars. We want to give a concrete deadline. Concrete deadlines set concrete expectations. And so, we want to set very clear deadlines. That's the first recommendation. If you do nothing else from this presentation, this would be the thing that I would suggest doing.

The other thing is you want to understand the dates that are inflexible. So, there are often dates that cannot be moved. It might be when you have to spend a certain amount of funding when resources are due. And so, we want to think about dates that are inflexible. And you really want to understand tasks that are dependent on other tasks. I cannot submit an application until I drafted it right.

And so, in Instrumentl, you can add deadlines. And the nice thing is that you get an email notification when people are added to a task. But folks can see that they have a particular concrete deadline. So, this task was due May 2nd.

The other thing that we can do is use milestones. These could be kind of key points in the project, key points in building an outcome, key points in larger tasks. We can use milestones to monitor progress. Are we halfway through getting this draft on? Where do we stand in writing this letter of intent? We can also use it to celebrate progress. And so, particularly if you're working on longer term projects, we want to make sure that we're marking kind of time in our project to say, “Wow, we're 30% through or we're 50% through.” And actually, Instrumentl allows you to add milestones. And so, you could add a milestone at certain points. And as a project manager, this could be a point where it reminds me that I want to check in and see where people are with that first draft or that final submittal.

Instrumentl also has a calendar so that you can see all of these tasks together, which I think is really, really useful. And so for our schedules, we want to make sure we have a deadline for our project. We put in at least one or two milestones. For each of our outcomes we're creating, we want to have a deadline. I recommend having a milestone or two in there. You want to understand your dependencies. For each of your tasks, you want that concrete due date. And particularly for longer tasks, put some kind of check in point in there even if it's just for yourself. It is better to know that something's going to be late two weeks ahead of time and then once the due date has passed.

So, that was a super quick introduction to five elements that I think are most important in managing projects. And that I think can be very, very useful to you when you're thinking about managing your grant projects as well. And so, the way that I like to put this together, make sure that scope is defined first. And if you're talking about grant applications, that might be a pretty simple scope.

But with our programs, often, the scope really needs to be defined more clearly. I figure out who my stakeholders are and the roles they're going to play. I plan for communication so I can start communicating with them right away. I figure out what my outcomes are going to be. I use that to plan my tasks. That also helps me think about all those other areas of planning around quality and costs and resources. And then I put together a schedule that has deadlines and milestones. And I can kind of see those dependencies between tasks.

And so, hopefully, this has given you some idea about kind of project success and some ideas about the ways that you might be able to apply this to your grant projects to be more successful with your grant projects and programs. And so, I'm going to turn it over to Dionna for this slide.

Dionna: Yes, thank you so much, Jami. And, Melinda, great question. It's a great segue into this next slide here before we wrap up and jump into the Q&A. So, bear with me. But Jami gave such great points and examples on how to use Instrumentl to add tasks to specific grant opportunities, create concrete deadlines. There are so many different ways that folks use Instrumentl.

But just for sake of time today, I would love to just share seven reasons why Instrumentl is the easiest to use. And I won't go through all these bullet points again for the sake of time. But I want to highlight a couple of them. The first one being, we were built specifically to bring grant prospecting tracking and management to one place. So, that's why we're the institutional fundraising platform. We really have it all in our central place of truth for those writing grants and managing grants.

We also include only active public and private funding sources for nonprofits. So, you don't have to worry about finding the perfect grant and then realizing it's not an active opportunity. Or the funding deadline has passed, so we're only including those active opportunities. You can also access the most up to date 990 reports and foundation reports with just a click of a button. So, that gives you a lot of really awesome information that you can use to inform your decision if you want to go forward and apply for a grant. And then we also update deadlines automatically.

So in the event that they're changed by a funder, that will show up automatically in your account. And, really, all this results in folks who use Instrumentl saving on average three hours a week, and increasing their grant application by 78% after just a year. So ultimately, if you have not tried Instrumentl yet and you would like to try, I'm going to pop a link in the chat so you can set up a free trial that is non-binding. And if you have used Instrumentl, please also let us know in the chat. We'd love to hear from folks if you've been using Instrumentl.

So with that, Jami, if you want to move to the next slide for me?

As promised, we have a couple of freebies today in case you're interested in participating. We're giving away our 10 best lessons from 10 Grant Writing Experts Guide and Jami's 5 Key Elements of Impactful Project Management Worksheet. So if you want to access these freebies, I'm going to pop another link in the chat. All you have to do is fill this out and you will get access to those two freebies.

And with that, before we jump into questions, I just wanted to quickly share that If you enjoy today's grant workshop, you're going to love our next one on June 7th, which is Stop Leaving Money on the Table: How To Communicate Your Impact To Secure Grants with Sheri Chaney Jones. We have an events calendar that you can access. And you can sign up for that workshop as well as any other upcoming workshops that pique your interest.

So with that, let's open up to questions. If we want to move to the next slide, Jami? We pin you as well. And I would love to start by -- oh wait, first, if you want to go over how folks can follow up with you? And then we’ll jump in--

Jami: Yeah. And I'm happy to talk -- unfortunately, we don't have lots of time left for questions. And some of your questions, I'd love to really be able to answer. So, feel free to reach out to me. One of the best ways is to connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to answer your questions there. But you can also email me as well. So, let's see what questions we have a little bit of time for.

Dionna: Yeah, yeah. And we can also stay back a couple minutes and hop off if they have other things after this. But I'm also going to pop my email in the chat if folks have specific Instrumentl questions that they either did not get answered or have after this. So, feel free to email me as well. My inbox is open.

But I would love to first circle back to a question that we got. And I'm going to pop this in the chat for you, Jami, so you can see this. But it is, “Do you have suggestions or guidance for onboarding new clients? I would like to get more out of initial conversations instead of, “Oh, yeah, add this da-da-da all the time, and then putting together a project plan for grant clients.”

Jami: Yeah. And so, I think one of the things that I would suggest is kind of coming up with your own process that you typically follow, look back at projects that you've worked on before and think about some steps that you typically take, and then kind of lead your clients through what those steps might look like for them.

I also think writing down the scope, writing down a schedule once you've had some conversations and really getting kind of a project plan, at least a very minimal one to them early can be really useful. Because then, I think, you can more clearly say, “Well, we could add this. But this is going to take this much time.” So, I don't know if that answers your question. If it doesn't, I'm happy to talk offline about that as well.

So, yeah. And I see many of you saying thank you. Are there other questions that I can ask? Yeah.

Dionna: Yeah. I have another question from earlier in the presentation, “How to handle stakeholders/bosses who want updates all the time, but there are no updates to be given?”

Jami: Yeah. That's a tricky one. So sometimes, if there is something that you're using, let's say like Instrumentl where you are keeping track of deadlines, and even if it's just that you can say that you're marking something as being in progress versus being done, if that's something that you can share with them so that they can look at it whenever they want to, that might be an option.

But what I would probably do if that's not something they're amenable to is just create something simple like that, even if it's a document or a quick spreadsheet. And maybe every week send them something where I'm marking something as upcoming, in progress, or done. And that might be a way to give those reports to you.

And if nothing has changed since last week, nothing has changed since last week, but giving them something concrete to look at. I also might have a conversation about what they're really looking for when they're asking for those updates. Is there some concern they have about things not getting done on time? Is there something that they're kind of worried about? So if you're in a position to have that conversation, dig a little deeper. Maybe there's other information you can provide them that isn't necessarily a report.

Dionna: Awesome. And I know we're a little bit over time now. So, I'm going to go ahead and wrap things up. If your question didn't get answered, again, please feel free to reach out to Jami or myself after this. And we will be sure to follow up with you.

But before everyone hops off, I just want to say a huge thank you to Jami for sharing today. Also, thank you to everyone in the audience for tuning in and just being very engaged throughout Jami's presentation and asking really awesome questions. We hope you enjoyed today's partner webinar. Jami, do you have any last words before we sign off?

Jami: Nope. I really am happy to answer your questions afterwards. So, do reach out. I love talking to folks that have attended sessions like this. So, I hope you'll reach out.

Dionna: Amazing.

Well, thank you all so much and hope everyone has a great rest of your Wednesday. And hope to see you all soon. Bye.

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