You know the exact feeling I am talking about. You just got the email from a funder announcing the next round of grant applications, including an accompanying workshop. Even if it’s not mandatory, you feel obligated to attend. Even though you have written this grant every year for the past five years. Even though you get awarded every year. Even though the workshop has been the same presentation for the past five years. Even though it seems like a waste of your time. Even though you really don’t want to.
If the grant workshop is not mandatory, is it worth your time? Honestly, the answer depends on the funder. And they are not all created equal. In the latest Fundraising HayDay Podcast episode, my cohost Kimberly and I share advice on how NOT to lead a grant workshop. It’s full of helpful tips for funders and a chance for attendees to throw in an “amen” and “preach it, ladies”, so you don’t want to miss it: How NOT to Lead a Grant Workshop (podbean.com).
So, do you attend the workshop? My answer is a resounding yes. You just might learn something new. Funders have been known to share insights that will make your proposal shine brighter – these fund tidbits are seldom included in the Request for Proposals (RFP). And if that alone doesn’t spur your attendance, here are three reasons you never miss a workshop:
- There is almost always time for Q & A. How often do we get to pick our funder’s brains? Unless you have a close relationship with one, the answer is usually never. Use the workshop to get more clarification on the grant application, requirements, budget restrictions, and anything else unclear to you after reading the RFP.
- I hate that the grant process is a game we all play, but it is. And showing your face is part of the game. You can’t tell me funders don’t pay attention to who showed up and who did not. If the workshop is in person, there is always a sign-up sheet. If it is virtual, funders usually require you to register, and at the beginning of the workshop, they ask everyone to introduce themselves in the chat. Trust me, they are paying attention to who is in attendance. I always want to be in my funder’s good graces.
- Other grant professionals are attending the workshop too. And the ones who have received funding before are a wealth of information. I always try to figure out if there is a friend in the room I can reach out to later, or if possible, I make a new grant friend. For instance, a funder might tell you the grant application should only take 2 hours to complete, but the person who has actually written the application knows it really takes closer to 10 hours, especially if you are starting from scratch.
If I could design a funder-led workshop, they would use the time to point out the steps/requirements that tend to trip up applicants. They would share information about the amount of funding available, how many applications they expect to receive (based on previous years), and the typical award ratio. This way, we all know how competitive the process is and whether or not it is worth our time based on our eligibility and how many boxes our project checks. They would be respectful of everyone’s time, and they’d record all online workshops so we could review them at a later date.
Sadly, my dream world does not exist. More often than not, I leave a workshop wishing I could get the last hour (our three) of my life back. But then there are times it is beyond helpful, and I am grateful I attended. It is because of the well-run workshops that I attend them all. I never want to miss a grant because I missed a workshop. It sometimes gives you the extra edge you need to succeed. So yes, attend them all. And if it’s a bad one, maybe anonymously share our podcast episode with the funder. Who knows, maybe next year’s will be a little bit better!
DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 5 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on seasons 1 – 4 and stay up to date on the new season here.
Don’t let grants stress you out, check out the helpful grant writing services our team has to offer here.