There are a lot of things to keep up with if you’re responsible for grants. From finding grants that are a good fit for your organization to managing grants once you’re awarded – it can all be overwhelming! Fortunately, there are many ways you can streamline your grant process.
When you’re getting started with grants, it’s best to dedicate a good chunk of time to grant research. But after your initial search, you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of time researching. Instead, you can streamline your grant research process so that grant opportunities come to you.
In our experience, Instrumentl is the best grant search engine to use if you want to streamline your grant research process. In Instrumentl, you input details about your nonprofit and the projects or programs you need funding for. Then Instrumentl will continuously search for grants that fit your criteria and email you when new matches are found.
(Click the image below to get a free 2-week trial and $50 off your first month!)
Another great way to streamline your grant research is to sign up for grant alerts and newsletters. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Philanthropy News Digest
- Grant Siren
- Upstream Consulting (specific to health and social service grants)
It’s also helpful if you sign up for newsletters from your local United Way and community foundation, as well as any foundations that fund nonprofits like yours. Although these grant alerts and newsletters won’t be tailored to your specific needs, they’re a great way to help you easily find potential grant opportunities.
Writing responses to grant application questions can be difficult and frustrating, even for the best writers. But there are some ways to streamline your writing process to be quicker and much more efficient.
First, write a signature grant proposal before you start applying to grants. A signature grant proposal is simply a proposal that includes the most common sections of a grant application. These sections include:
- Organization description and history
- Needs statement
- Project/program descriptions and budgets
- Goals and objectives
Writing a signature proposal is easier than responding to grant application questions because you aren’t limited by a looming deadline or word or character limits. And once you have a signature proposal written, you’ll never have to start your grant application responses from scratch again.
Another way to streamline grant writing is to organize and maintain all your previous responses. Then, when you need to respond to a grant application question, you can review your previous responses and reuse the appropriate pieces. Just be sure to update anything outdated or doesn’t align with the question you’re responding to!
Finally, create an electronic folder for common grant application attachments (e.g., 990s, board of directors list). Having all your essential documents in one place will ensure you don’t waste time searching through multiple folders every time you need an attachment.
Every piece of the grant process has a handful of associated tasks. Some of these tasks include contacting a funder, submitting a letter of inquiry, following up on an application, and sending your funders updates and grant reports. These tasks can be small, but they’re critical to your grant success, so you don’t want to forget about them!
Instead of trying to remember all your grant-related tasks, use a calendar or task management system. There are many systems you can use, but the best system will be one that reminds you of deadlines in advance and works well for you and your team.
If you’re applying to more than a few grants each year, it will be worth your time to develop standard processes, templates, and documents to help you find, write, and manage grants more efficiently. Here are some to consider:
Processes to follow…
- When you write a grant (especially if multiple people are involved!)
- Before and after submitting each grant application
- After you receive a grant award or rejection notification
- To prepare for managing your grants, programmatically and financially
- Letters of inquiry and request
- Letters of support
- Thank you letters
- Press release
- Social media posts to announce a grant award
- Memoranda of Understanding/Agreement
- Grant calendar
- Standard document for working on grant application responses
Not only will streamlining your grant process help you work quicker and more efficiently, but it will also allow you to delegate grant tasks to others. Go through all your grant tasks and consider staff, volunteers, or board members who would be good at each task. Then ask them for help and train them on your process.
Do you have other tips for streamlining your grant process? Comment below!
- How to streamline your grant process - November 2, 2021
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- How to tell if a federal grant is a good fit - April 13, 2021