One of the questions I ask frequently when teaching a CharityHowTo webinar or an in-person workshop is “How many of you have a grant team, either formal or informal?” Typically far less than half of the hands go up. Then I ask “How many of you feel like a grant team of one?” and the rest of the hands, way more than half of the group, go up.
Let’s be honest, grant professionals can secure grant awards without a grant team in place. However, grant professionals cannot be successful in the long term if they have to work in a silo, a vacuum, as an island, or any other analogy you can think of. Grant professionals can only be successful and not overly stressed with the interaction and support of colleagues in our grant seeking organizations. However, many of us struggle to have our colleagues identify with their informal role as a grant team member, or find it challenging to establish a formal grant team as colleagues don’t necessarily want to be on *another* team/committee/task force. Sometimes the challenges are due to a lack of understanding in a grant seeking organization about what a grant team is and does.
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.
A group of colleagues, either informally or formally aligned, that may meet in person or via web/email on a regular basis during the year to discuss upcoming deadlines and plans for applications.
A group of colleagues, either formally or informally aligned, that gather to discuss a specific grant opportunity that an organization plans to apply for and support the efforts of the lead grant professional/writer.
Who should be on a grant team?
Each successful grant team that I have been a part of or facilitated over the past fifteen years has looked different. The composition and titles around the table or one the phone has been specific to the organization culture. Some of the successful teams that I reflect back on were informal and others were formally structured. The titles are not the important part of the grant team composition. I prefer to focus instead on what roles and skill sets are represented within a grant team.
The team should have representation of the following roles within an organization:
- Grant Professional
Ideally, the team is facilitated, either on an ongoing basis, or during the specific grant opportunity the group has gathered to focus on, by the lead grant professional/writer.
What does a grant team *do*?
What the team actually does in each organization also varies depending on organization culture. Some of the common roles and activities include:
Engaging in the process to create and implement a grant calendar.
Engaging in dialogue with the lead grant professional/writer to go through the pre-planning process when considering a large application, often for government grants, in advance of a formal application opening.
Assist the lead grant professional/writer gather information related to program design, evaluation and budget (to name just a few!) during the application design phase.
Review and edit the application components to ensure that what has been written is aligned with what the organization can implement if funding is awarded.
What are your experiences with grant teams? Successful? Challenging? Please share your experiences and lessons learned via the comments box below, via email or on social media.
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