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19 Aug 2018

Shark Week and Grantitude

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Shark Week’s thirtieth anniversary on the Discovery Channel was completed in 2018 from July 22-29. In 2016, I wrote about Shark Week and Serving on a Nonprofit Board. This year, I want to revisit Shark Week and show some grantitude for all my fellow grant professionals.

Sharks continue to fascinate me, and I think they are beautiful, magical creatures, although I wouldn’t swim with them as Diane Leonard (What I Learned by Swimming with Sharks) has bravely done in the past. My husband teased me a few weeks ago by asking if I was one of the people recently involved in stealing a baby shark from an aquarium in San Antonio, Texas. Well……possible, but no, it wasn’t me. I’d much rather support shark conservation efforts, learn as much as I can about these amazing animals, and share their importance on this earth with others. Let’s delve into some shark facts along with thanking grant professionals for making the world a better place.

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09 Aug 2018

What are its Chances of Being Funded?

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“What are its chances?”

 

“Do you think it has a chance?”

 

I was asked these questions recently at the end of an intense, compressed application process for a competitive state grant. Undoubtedly, these questions are ruminating in grant team members’ minds often; whether or not, or how, they express them. This particular application involved a request for $500,000 and required 70 hours of my time alone, not to mention the time and tireless dedication of everyone else on the grant team in responding to requests for information, documentation, and review (which shows one end of the of “How Much Time Does It Take to Write a Grant?” spectrum).

 

With so much time and resources going into the grant application or proposal preparation process, not to mention the worthy projects – sometimes, someone’s hopes and dreams – riding on an application’s success, these two questions are unavoidable as we seek to assure ourselves that we have done everything that we can to secure a grant award.

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30 Jul 2018

Grant Writing: The Basics

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Are you new to grant writing? Are you considering a career as a grant professional? Are you a board member interested in learning more about grants so that you can help your organization?

I wanted to put some of our key “basic” information about getting started and some definitions of industry jargon in one place for you. If you’re still looking for more, you can peruse and subscribe to our DH Leonard Consulting YouTube channel or search our blog.

 

What is a Grant?

A grant is such a broad umbrella term covering everything from foundation grants to federal grants. What exactly *is* a grant? Find out more in our YouTube video here.

 

What is a Grant Calendar

Grant calendars help provide a plan for both you as the grant writer and for your colleagues that will have to provide information and input as it relates to applications, renewals, and reports for grants (who are key members of your grant team whether you call it that or not).

Learn more about what a grant calendar is and how to use one by reading more here.

Our watching the YouTube video here.

 

What Is a Grant Team

A grant team is…

A group of colleagues that have a stake in creating competitive grant applications in order to ensure that they/their colleagues can successfully implement a funded project.

Read more here to learn the rest of the definition of a grant team, who should be a on a grant team, and what a grant team actually does.

 

What Tools to Use for Grant Research

There is no perfect or “right” combination of research tools that will be best for *all* grant professionals/grant writers. It depends on what organization(s) you work with and what grant seeking goals the organization has. Learn more about grant research tools in this YouTube video.

 

How Much Time Does It Take to Write a Grant?

Get the answer in this YouTube video.

What other basic questions about grant writing do you have? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to address it in an upcoming blog post or new YouTube video.

Grant Writer (#LifeasaGrantWriter) versus Grant Pro or Grant Professional (#LifeasaGrantPro)…what is the difference you might ask? Both are chronicling the daily office lives and downtime/self-care of grant writers and grant professionals.

It comes back to the big title debate in our field…Grant Writer or Grant Professional? One generalization about the choice between the titles is that those who identify their career as that of a grant professional recognize that grant writing is one of the many skill sets and tasks that they excel at as part of grant development and related work. Those that identify their career as a grant writer, may be younger in their career or may be an experienced individual who prefers the writing elements of pre-award grant development and finds the grant writer title to fit best.

Regardless of whether you as a professional use grant professional or grant writer, or some combination of both depending on what audience you are describing your work in, our team enjoys seeing what life as a grant writer and life as a grant professional actually *looks* like – be it in your office, when taking a break, when traveling, etc. It is especially fun and inspiring to see how grant professionals and grant writers are balancing summer deadlines with summer vacations!

I’ve written about #LifeasaGrantWriter before when the hashtag first was being used and since then Bethany Turner, GPC has written about and led Twitter chats using the hashtag and curated posts about #LifeasaGrantWriter. We’re also following and using the hashtags ourselves on Instagram and Twitter as an active part of the grant community and to engage other members of the Grant Professionals Association and field at large in sharing images of what their work looks like.

So…share with us…what does your #lifeasagrantwriter and/or #lifeasagrantpro look like this summer? Are you up to your eyeballs in New York State CFA grant applications? Taking a slower month to recharge for the upcoming client projects you have ahead? Pre-planning with your fellow employees for a big application due in October? We’d love to see! Share pictures and comments with us using the hashtags!

When you are out and about on life adventures or even day to day excursions, there are often relatable lessons to our professional work – in the case of zip lining with friends, I walked away with fun analogies about grant writing best practices.

I’ve had some thoughtful moments about grants when out digging for clams along the coast of Maine and some deep personal lessons when swimming with sharks along the reefs of Belize. If you’ve ever been to one of my conference presentations for the Grant Professionals Association or been on one of my webinars for CharityHowTo, my propensity to use analogies to help make grant writing best practices seem more relatable and memorable won’t surprise you.

Going zip lining sounds like an activity I would have signed up for as a result of my two daughters wanting to participate. However, it was a group of great friends, away for a weekend, who decided it would be fun for all of us to go zip through the trees in the hills outside of Nashville. They were 100% right – it was a blast! It isn’t that I had passed up the opportunity to zip line before, but I had never sought it out. Now, I can’t wait to have the opportunity to take my daughters zip lining and show them how “cool” I am to hop right in line and clip onto the line. But in the midst of this fun new adventure, as with any dedicated grant professional…my mind wandered toward grants, and the similarities between grants and zip lining were too good not to share.

Lessons Learned About Grants From Zip Lining

1. Know the rules.

Take time before you get started to know the rules (safety rules in the case of zip lining). What are the allowable expenses for the grantmaker, what attachments do they require, will they allow communication prior to applying, etc.

2. Start small.

Just as you start on the smaller zip lines and build to the tall and long zip lines, you need to start your grant seeking strategy or your work as a grant professional with smaller grants. Build your experience, your confidence, and ultimately your success. You shouldn’t jump right onto the largest zip line if it is your first time out. You shouldn’t jump right into a federal grant application if you have never written a grant before (unless you have a support team that has someone with federal grant experience).

3. Celebrate each success.

Each successful run on a zip line is worth celebrating in its own way. It isn’t only the largest of the zip line runs that should be celebrated and cheered about. Each grant application successfully submitted,  each meeting with collaborative partners about grant applications, and each grant award received should be celebrated by your organization.

4. Cheer on your team.

Yes, it is just you out on the zip line squealing with joy (well, at least that is what I do!), but it takes the full team – those helping with safety at the beginning and end of the line and your friends cheering you on from the ground, to make the experience as wonderful as possible. It takes your whole grant team – those colleagues with a stake in seeing your organization’s grant applications be successful – to make the grant seeking experience as successful (and wonderful) as possible.

 

And to show how much fun I had….here is a video from one of the zip lines we did. Yup, that’s me, with a goofy grin plastered on as I was having a blast!


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