Attachments Are Not an Afterthought (Part 2 of 2)
Last week we highlighted the importance of addressing required attachments as the beginning of the grant writing process, not at the end. We explored work plans, resumes, cost estimates, and architectural and engineering plans. Here are some more attachments that you may encounter:
List of Services – Recently the team wrote a healthcare grant and the applicant was required to submit a list of services to be provided. Developing something like this early, with the work plan, provides a framework for the narrative, and ensures consistency with the narrative. It is a basic yet critical question for any healthcare program: what services will you provide?
Financial Analysis – A few months ago, the team wrote multiple NYS grants for healthcare system transformation projects intended to improve providers’ financial sustainability. One of the required attachments was an extensive spreadsheet requiring an analysis of costs and the financial impact to be created by the project. Something like this would be very important to complete early, not only because of the time and personnel required to complete it, but because it informs the narrative discussion of the project’s financial impact. You can’t write about the financial impact, and “sell” it to the funder, if you don’t know what it is or how it will happen.
Letters of Support or Commitment – Letters of support (“I like this project!”) and letters of commitment (“I will help fund, implement, or do something else for this project!”) are notoriously difficult to collect. The people who write these letters often serve at the executive level of their organizations and they are busy – they love your organization, but spending an hour writing a letter for a project they may not know much about is probably one of those tasks that gets moved on the calendar from one day to the next for several weeks (we all have those tasks). As soon as possible in your application process, make a list of who you want to collect letters from. Draft a template that includes the funder’s name and a project summary, and indicate where a few sentences could be added to make the letter their own, should they choose not to write one from scratch. The easier you can make this task for them, the better. Send this to everyone who you want a letter from, and give them a deadline at least 1-2 weeks of when you actually need it.
Photos – A photo is worth a thousand words. If you have the option to submit a few photos with your application, do it. Show the funder the poor conditions at the rundown animal shelter that you are going to renovate with their money, or show them the happy and engaged youth doing science experiments in your summer program.
Basic Organizational Documents – Most of the time you will be required to provide proof or your organization’s 501c3 status (your IRS letter), and often you will also be required to submit financial information such as your annual operating budget and several years worth of 990s and audited financial statements. These do not always take much time to get, as they are internal to your organization and you should already have them. However, if you do not have these documents – you are not a 501c3, you don’t have an annual operating budget, you have never filed a 990 or 990-EZ because your organization doesn’t have any revenues, or you have never had an audit, you may want to consider your organization’s competitiveness for that particular grant program (i.e. you are small and new, and have some organizational development tasks to address before you are grant ready).
How do you ensure that attachments aren’t an afterthought in your grant process?
We’d love to hear from you!
Revising your attachment completion strategy yet?
Join Diane for How to Knock Your Grantmaker’s Socks Off on CharityHowTo to learn more about the nuts and bolts of how reviewers are using the elements beyond your narrative and budget to judge your application.