Like any challenging endeavor, how you begin your grantseeking journey has a lot to do with how far you'll go. Taking time to ensure you're prepared for the journey, perhaps with help from an experience grant readiness coach, can not only save you a ton of time and resources, it can also help you achieve the most important outcome — winning more grants.
So, what do you do?
If a friendly stranger asked you about your organization while riding an elevator together, would you be able to answer before one of you arrived at your floor? If you think so, what if that person was a five-year-old? Being able to concisely share a comprehensive overview of your organization with clear language is critical when applying for grants because telling a complex story begins by telling a simple one. A brief overview of your organization should allow anyone, even a child, to understand what you do, how you do it and why. Ideally, you'll communicate in a way that creates a strong emotional connection with what you've shared. Developing strong core narrative assets, such as a your mission, vision, and values statements, can require anywhere from hours to weeks and the way you talk about your organization should continue evolve for years to come.
How much does that cost? How do you know?
Applying for grants not only requires you to tell a story with words, you must do so with numbers too. Having accurate accounting that conforms to best-practices will make it much easier for you show grantmakers how you can effectively make use of funding. Having clean and orderly books will also help your organization to understand its financial health at any given time, and to plan for the future. Some grant readiness coaches and can share spreadsheet templates or accounting platforms they like to use, or they may be able to help steer you toward other people and resources who can help you get your books in order.
And how do you measure your work?
Everyone invested in your work wants to know how you're doing, and this includes grantmakers. Tracking progress looks different for every organization and measuring progress effectively requires thoughtfulness, resources, and diligence. Grant readiness coaches have seen many different organizations measure many different key performance indicators (KPIs), and they can help you identify the most important and compelling outcomes to track. Knowing what to measure can give you an idea of how to measure it and what resources it will take.
Grant readiness coaches can help.
Going after grants can be a daunting prospect, especially if it's your first time. Even the most dedicated grantseekers can become demoralized by a string of rejections, which are often less a reflection of the quality of the grantseeker, and more a result of under-preparedness. Grant readiness coaches can help grantseekers to perform at their best by evaluating the organization in a way similar to a grantmaker, and they're in it to help make improvements before applying. Some coaches will grow along with you to help find and submit applications when you're ready, and others can help you connect with other experts.