(The following blog post was written by Dr. Bev Browning, Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis and the author of more than 40 grant-related publications.) “I just don’t have time to write this grant application!” How often have you heard yourself saying this to a co-worker or your supervisor? You likely have one job title but multiple job responsibilities. Suddenly having to assume grant writing duties means that your boss has activated the “and other duties as assigned” language in your job description. Does this sound familiar?
Here are some common scenarios/reasons that might prevent you from taking on grant writing duties:
- Your supervisor hands you the grant application on Friday morning. It requires research that is not readily available from your co-workers, and the application is due next week on Tuesday.
- You lack work experience in the grant funding topic area. You don’t know where or how to get started to bring yourself up to speed in a new program area.
- You know the solution, but the grant application calls for researching best practices and defending our own proposed best practice if you don’t adopt a federal agency’s approved best practices.
- The application guidelines call for creating an implementation timeline or work plan. You’ve never done this before and no colleagues can assist you.
- More grantmaking agencies are requesting logic model graphs in the body of the narrative or as a mandatory attachment. You’ve never taken logic model training and you can’t find any examples on the Internet that are relevant to your project area. There is no one to ask and you don’t want to go to your supervisor.
How to Strategize Your Next Step
Here are some strategies and steps for taking on the task:
- Be familiar with your department’s budget as well as the general fund budget for your organization or unit of municipal government. Look for reserve or leftover dollars at every department level and in every expense line item: Are there technology funds that did not get expended? Are there equipment or vehicle maintenance funds that have not been exhausted? Is there a line item for contracted services and does it still have a balance? If you can find discretionary funding, you can propose hiring a grant writing firm to write one or more grant applications on a one-time or annual basis.
- If your organization or unit of municipal government has a partnership with a corporate or foundation grantmaker, get permission to approach them for a small emergency grant to hire a grant writing firm. Remember, you can ask for the funding to use a grant writing firm one time or multiple times over the course of a year (the usual grant award time frame).
- If there are no discretionary funds for moving grant writing outside your organization or unit of municipal government, then consider applying for a grant from a local corporate grant maker or community foundation to bring a grant writing trainer into your community and train your department heads or other designated staff. You could even consider opening up the training event to your community partners (nonprofits, schools, and more). Getting everyone trained and enabling them to write independently or as a grant writing team is a great way to build organizational goodwill and community assets!
What Are Some Overlooked Resources for Funding Grant Writing or Training Programs?
Even in dire economic times, there’s always hidden money. You just have to learn how to look at what you see around you and within a 100-mile radius of your community. Here are some examples of types of organizations that will contribute dollars or award grants for your capacity building needs (grant writing assistance and staff/board member trainings are a form of organizational capacity building):
- Health care providers (grants are available through their corporate grantmaking foundations)
- Insurance companies (grants are available through their foundations)
- Banks (grants are available from their trusts and through corporate grantmaking foundations)
- Chambers of commerce (grant are available through their foundations, provided you also allow some of their members to attend training events)
How Can eCivis Help You?
Contact us to discuss how Grants Professional Services can assist you in your grant-related tasks. GPS can also provide your community with a grant writing training program to get everyone involved.
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