Spring into Grant Connections
This is our second blog in an exciting partnership blog link group “Linky Party” with esteemed grant writers from across the country, including Jana Jane Hexter, Diane Leonard, Heather Stombaugh, and Mark Whitacre. Click on the links throughout this article to read their fascinating and educational perspectives on Grants in springtime. Look for more Linky Party articles in the future!
In the Upper Midwest, for nearly 6 months, we rarely see our neighbors. During our sub-zero winters, when we do venture outside for a walk in the neighborhood we are unrecognizable anonymous bundles of down coats, fluffy hats, clunky boots and scarves.
After nearly half of a year surviving the harsh winter weather – ‘snow shoveling’ is the most likely time I will see my neighbors (Hmm – can I really be sure that snowblowing bundle is my neighbor Dale?) – Spring is the time for me to reconnect to my community, rekindle those relationships and meet new neighbors face-to-face. The first warm weekend day in the Upper Midwest should officially be call “How- do-you-do Day” (cue Louis Armstrong “What a Wonderful World” ).
You may be asking, “Jo, how does this relate to grants?”
Spring, We Have Contact!
After months of closing out grants, year-end reports, new annual budgets, grants planning, etc. it is time to reconnect with those that make grants possible – funders, community partners and staff.
Grants are about relationships. Grants are about community.
Each Spring I have found it helpful to make it a point to ‘get out and connect’.
- Contact your funders and set up some face-to-face time. You can invite them to an event, to visit your programs or to grab a cup of coffee. Find out if they will be attending conferences or other events and connect there – especially if they are not local. Find opportunities to get to know program officers and funders on a deeper level – what are their interests and priorities. As Diane Leonard shares in her post, “Checking on the Grant Funding “Seeds” Planted Last Fall”, planting these seeds are sprouting points in cultivating your assets.
Remember, when you ‘talk-shop’ in person, do it with storytelling. Want a Spring tune-up for your content, your stories and your grants? Check out what Heather Stombaugh has to say in her “Spring Renewal: Add Power & Precision to your Proposals” for great tips and resources.
- Contact your partners and potential partners to catch up on progress and plans. Many grant projects require partners. Federal and local government grants encourage government agencies, NPOs, CBOs and the private sector partner for greater efficiencies and leveraged resources. Are you identifying and nurturing these relationships?
Don’t forget your in-house partners! Take your financial person out to lunch or write a thank you note to show how much you appreciate all of their support during grant budgets and reporting. Visit with the program staff and ask about their challenges, their success, and their inspiration – they can be an amazing source storytelling. Your in-house partners are essential to your success pre-award and post-award.
Who makes your grants development process better or who makes your grant implementation a success? What could you do build a better relationship or to show them how much you appreciate their dedication? Get their input on your grants ‘spring tune-up’. Mark Whitacre gives us a 3 step Spring tune-up in his post 1) Refocus Locally, 2) Consider Innovative Aspects, and 3) Broaden the Search
Remind and Renew
As you make reminders to take care of your organization, your funders, the program staff, meeting deadlines, your reports and budgets, etc. please remember to take care of you. In “Renewing Your Vows”, Jana Jane Hexter points out, ‘We grant writers have a problem. We are nice.’ Being ‘nice’ can lead to over committing. She invites us to be kind instead of nice to help us remain authentic and focused. I found this to be essential in my practice and use ‘My 3 Words’ to guide me and to help me remain authentic and focused.
Of course, Spring isn’t the only time to make these connections and nurture these relationships. Spring is a great time to remind ourselves and to renew our efforts to show people that we value them and we value their work.
Do you have any Spring practices or suggestion that could help other grant professionals? What are your thoughts on best practices for Spring Renewal in Grants?