If you are planning or are expected to do the grant writing process alone, you are mistaken. The grant writing process takes a team of people who are dedicated to setting you, as the grant writer, up for success. The grant writing process involves coordination and collaboration across multiple departments. Everyone needs to participate and have buy-in to what you are presenting to current and potential funders.
Successful grant writing includes the coordination of several activities, including planning, researching, writing and packaging a proposal and presenting to a potential funder along with following up. In order to do your job well, you need to know how to work collaboratively with other departments – the real people behind the mission. Build relationships with your program, finance, and leadership. Be kind to your colleagues and get to know who they really are and the hard work that they are doing every day.
Who Should Be On Your Team?
Well, you certainly need some level of administrative support. It would be helpful if you had someone who was proficient in prospect research. Someone who could research all the details of a funder, so that you, as a grant writer, will be fully equipped with the information needed to write a successful grant.
But what I am talking about in this post is the buy-in from the rest of your organization. In order to write a grant, or fundraising in general, for that matter, you need to work with various departments within your organization that hold the key to the information you are looking for. Being stuck in silos just simply won’t work. Everyone in the organization needs to be involved in your efforts! Finance, program, HR, and leadership have to be engaged. Every single person needs to be involved in fundraising efforts! Do you get the point?
How to Bring Your Team Together
Have an organization-wide meeting. Make it mandatory for everyone to attend. Collaboration between departments is more than simply cooperating with other teams. It involves a shared vision, mutual respect, and an in-depth understanding of each other’s roles in fulfilling your mission and vision.
The purpose is to talk about the importance of the funder or donor to your organization. Be prepared to give results over the last few years of donor and/or grant revenue. Explain why donors and funders are an important part in helping you accomplish your mission.
The best thing you can do to make nice with these different departments is to give them advance time to get you what you need. Set up expectations at the very beginning. This will help break down the silos between departments.In order to do your job well, you need to know how to work collaboratively with other departments - the real people behind the mission. Click To Tweet
Before you start any program, you need to have leadership support and buy-in. A culture of philanthropy starts with leadership. Nothing can break down barriers between departments. A philanthropic-centered leader will understand that everyone needs to talk to each other.
Of course, you also need authorized signatures on all of your grant proposals. Your leadership should be aware of what you are applying for and should review your application. Be sure to allow time to acquire the appropriate signature.
To be able to craft an appealing ask you need to work with your program team. You need to be able to clearly and concisely communicate your programs. Get the program team involved in the meeting by allowing them to tell stories of lives that have been transformed. This brings everyone back to why you show up to work every day – to make the world a better place. Have meetings on a regular basis to get updates on programs and stories. Include your program staff on-site tours to share about the work your organization is doing or client stories as well as any challenges your organization might be facing.
The most important part is to help the program department understand why it is crucial that they are a part of the grant writing process. They hold the key to the stories of lives that have been changed. You want to hear from the ones who are actually carrying out your mission’s work on a day-to-day basis.
If awarded funding, you also have due diligence to report on outcomes to the funder. They want to know the impact that they have had on the people you are serving. Never write a grant proposal with outcomes that your program department cannot set out to accomplish. You don’t want to set any department up for your failure. That will just reflect badly on you. From the get-go, make sure they can do what you set out to ask and report on outcomes.
The finance department is the gatekeeper of all things finance. Make friends with this department! As you know, grant proposals often require copies of organizational budgets, audited financials and form 990s. Tell them how you group different programs offers for each grant proposal unless you are applying for general operating. Even then you need to know the numbers!
You should work with the finance department to determine your funding needs. Your budgets are windows into how projects will be implemented and managed. Show them why you need their help to come up with the real costs that include overhead. Well-planned budgets reflect carefully thought out programs.
For many proposals, community support is essential. You may have to look for partners and other funders who will support your proposal in writing. Letters of endorsement can help your project immensely because it highlights your organization’s successes and credibility.
More than that, funders also like to see that you are collaborating with other agencies to accomplish your mission. Funders like supporting opportunities where there are partnerships. From alliances to collaboratives to cost-sharing partnerships is a great way to lower costs and make an even bigger difference in the lives of those you serve.
Each department works together for the greater good of your organization. One department cannot successfully run without the other. It will take time to build relationships between departments. And you might fail…a lot! But keep at it, keep holding meetings with the respective heads of each department. It will benefit the organization immensely!
Have you successfully bridged the gap between departments? If so, I would love your input in the comments below.