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National Grant Trainer Hosting Workshop in Albuquerque

August 17, 2017

From our nonprofit arm, The Grants Collective…

Albuquerque, NM – A representative from Grants.gov, the Federal government’s online portal for grant making, will be in Albuquerque on August 23rd, 2017 to provide hands-on training to New Mexico nonprofits. While Grants.gov offers in-person training in Washington, D.C. and via its online tutorials, this is a first for New Mexico to have a national trainer come to the state to help nonprofit organizations find and apply for Federal grant funding.

Sponsored by The Grants Collective in partnership with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, the training will allow participants to learn the registration process, how to find funding opportunities, how to apply for those opportunities, and Grants.gov‘s new collaborative Workspace application format, which will replace the current downloadable “legacy” application package. Knowing how to navigate and successfully submit complex grant packages is critical for any nonprofit organization that hopes to secure a Federal grant. With the legacy application package being phased out by the end of the year, this training will help ensure that New Mexico users of Grants.gov know how to use Workspace.

Grants.gov user Cecily Peterson, Resource Development Officer at The Grant Plant, Inc., recently tried out the new Workspace portal. She states that it proved “helpful in simplifying application preparation among multiple contributors and reviewers. And importantly, it will make future applications more efficient.”  Federal grant application packages are usually large and complex, consisting of dozens of forms, required legal documents, budgets, narrative text, and more. Missing one piece can result in a non-compliant rejection. But because grants coming from out of state, including through the Federal government, are generally three times larger than those made within the state, it is critical that New Mexico nonprofits gain the skills and resources they need to compete at a national level. As they do, this means they are better resourced to carry out their missions, delivering on services designed to address our social ills or improve quality of life.

To register for the training, visit http://bit.ly/GrantsReg. The cost is $35 for the session, which will take place between 9 am and 12 pm August 23rd at the Center for Nonprofit Excellence in Albuquerque. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop, as the training will be hands-on and interactive.

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About the Trainer: Tricia Glass began working as a Program Advisor in the Grants.govProgram Management Office in November of 2012. Prior to that she spent four years working at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration as a Senior Grants Manager. Ms. Glass has over a decade experience in both grants and program management as well as information technology management.

About the Event Sponsor: The Grants Collective is helping New Mexico nonprofit organizations raise their ability and capacity to compete for major national and federal grants. The Grants Collective offers three primary ways to participate: (1) Cooperative Network: A subscription-based network of nonprofit professionals interested in developing skills, insight, and resources for high-performance grant seeking. (2) Talent Academy: A 6-month professional fellowship to develop skills for securing major grants. (3) Grow New Mexico: Technical assistance to help New Mexican communities and organizations put together grant/loan packages for infrastructure and other special projects. Grow New Mexico is an independent, fiscally sponsored project. Find out more at www.thegrantscollective.org.

About the Center for Nonprofit Excellence: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence at the United Way of Central New Mexico strengthens the capabilities and capacity of New Mexico nonprofits so they can more effectively meet their missions. It provides resources and services to help nonprofits have a positive impact on the communities they serve, strengthen their board engagement and governance, improve their financial sustainability, enhance their internal management and operations, and better evaluate and measure their impact. A full calendar of upcoming trainings can be found at https://www.centerfornonprofitexcellence.org/training-events.

Grantmaking Capacity of New Mexico Foundations in Comparison to Other Southwestern States

August 9, 2017

Every state has a unique philanthropic story that is intertwined with the different populations and resources it houses. These differences should be recognized when assessing philanthropic progress for each state. This article takes a closer look at New Mexico’s philanthropic story, specifically the grantmaking from our local foundations, and compares its progress with six other southwest states. In a recent report, “The 2016 Giving Study,” Philanthropy Southwest sheds light on philanthropic trends within a seven-state region, including New Mexico, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas over the course of a four-year period (2011-2014). The study looked at grantmaking by active foundations (independent, community, and healthcare conversion) headquartered within each state and gathered data on all of their grants and contributions above $1,000. Importantly, grants include those awarded within the state and outside its borders. Results show positive recent philanthropic growth for New Mexico and shows New Mexico with leading percent increases in giving when compared with the other seven states.

This study inspired us to dig deeper to uncover more specific details around New Mexico’s philanthropic story and to review New Mexico’s road to recovery since the 2007-2009 economic downturn that occurred in the U.S. (For more background, previous articles that The Grant Plant has published around this topic are listed in a note at the end of this article).

Before we wade into data, let’s first consider some basic differing characteristics that may impact the philanthropic landscape of the southwest states that are assessed. This does not include every state assessed but illustrates key dynamics in the philanthropic backdrop of a specific state.

  • New Mexico has the lowest population of the seven states (2,083,024 in 2014, as compared to Nevada, the second lowest at 2,833,013) and is the only state in the southwest listed on Foundation Center within the bottom 10 in the nation in terms of foundation giving.
  • Texas has the largest population of the seven states (26,944,751 in 2014, as compared to Arizona, the second closest, at 6,719,993) and is the only state in the southwest listed on Foundation Center within the top 10 in the nation in terms of foundation giving.

 

Broad statewide statistics

Philanthropy Southwest’s Giving Study reports that New Mexico had the highest percent increase in giving from 2011-2014 (37.2%) when compared to the other six southwest states. To further unpack this revelation, we looked at philanthropic trends using Foundation Center data, which includes 2007 data and includes information for all U.S. foundations (independent, corporate, community, and operating) that reported giving in their most recent fiscal years. Foundation Center gathers data through surveys of the nation’s largest foundations, foundation websites and other public reporting, and from IRS information returns. Calculations from this data confirmed a notable increase in total foundation giving for New Mexico during the 2011-2014 timeframe.

But how has New Mexico giving fared since its giving peak prior to the economic downturn? Would New Mexico still lead the seven states in foundation giving increases if that timeframe was accounted for?

To try and gauge philanthropic progress since the economic downturn that began impacting most foundations in 2008, we assessed the change in foundation giving from 2007-2014. This seven-year time period shows that annual foundation giving in New Mexico still increased, but at a much lower percentage: state giving in 2014 was only 2.2% higher than that of 2007—while the seven-state Giving Study region as a whole enjoyed an increase of 23.1%.

Those results indicate that New Mexico is just now passing its pre-economic downturn giving levels and show that New Mexico is the state with the lowest percent increase from 2007-2014 when compared to the other six southwest states. Tables 1 and 2 below show giving levels per state and the percent change in giving over the 2011-2014 and 2007-2014 timeframes.

Table 1. Total dollars granted by state, as reported by the Giving Study and Foundation Center.

Chart 1: Percent increase in Foundation Giving from 2011-2014 and 2007-2014.

 

Per Capita Giving Considerations

One way to further compare grantmaking levels and trends in states is to account for each state’s population by calculating giving per capita. Foundation Center data was used to calculate foundation giving per capita for the seven southwest study states. New Mexico lags its neighbors in per capita grants made by local foundations. As shown below, 2014 private foundation giving was $45.09 for every state resident in New Mexico versus much higher per capita grant funds for other states. Arkansas, which serves a relatively small population and is home to a relatively low number of Foundations, was at the other end of the spectrum, giving $235.61 for every state resident; but, worth noting, is that one of Arkansas’ foundations is Walmart Foundation, a notable national funder that likely impacts Arkansas statistics.

Chart 2. Private and Community Foundation Grant Spending per State Resident, 2014.

Looking at changes over time, foundation giving per capita in New Mexico decreased 3.4% over the 2007-2014 time period. This indicates that per capita giving was slightly higher in New Mexico before the economic downturn. When compared to the other six southwest states, New Mexico has the worst change in percent for grantmaking per capita from 2007-2014 (and is the only state to show a decrease in change in per capita giving over the 2007-2014 timeframe). Table 2 (below) shows giving levels per state and the percent change in per capita giving over both timeframes.

Note: Importantly, Foundation Center data only measures the total giving for foundations, regardless of whether funds were invested in state, out of state, or even out of the country. As such, per capita calculations should not be considered a reflection of local foundation investment within home states, but rather a reflection of general foundation grantmaking power in relation to state population. This could be a case-in-point for Arkansas; as mentioned, the Walmart Foundation is located there, and it largely invests outside its home state.

Table 2. Total dollars granted per capita in the seven southwest states (Foundation Center data).

Per Foundation Giving Considerations

A third way to examine philanthropic giving is to account for the number of foundations within each state and calculate the ratio of giving per foundation. Foundation Center data was used to determine this information for the seven southwest study states.

New Mexico and Arizona have the most modest giving with annual grant averages under $400,000 per foundation each year. Looking across time, New Mexico had one of the highest percentage increases in giving per foundation comparing 2011 and 2014 (increasing 38.1%), but that steep climb didn’t offset the prior recession decline, leaving New Mexico with the worst percent change for the longer period comparing 2007 to 2014 (decreasing 4.5%). New Mexico giving per foundation is still below the pre-recession levels. Table 3 below shows per foundation giving per state and the percent change in per foundation giving over both timeframes.

Table 3. Total dollars granted per foundation in the seven southwest states (Foundation Center Data).

A Closer Look at New Mexico Data

The data presented above shows that New Mexico experienced positive philanthropic progress between 2011-2014; however, total dollars granted, per capita giving, and per foundation giving remain depressed compared to pre-recession levels. New Mexico is just now beginning to recover. Consider the following, drawing from all of the charts:

  • From 2011-2014, New Mexico experienced a 38.1% increase in giving per foundation and a 41.7% increase in total foundation giving.
  • From 2007-2014, New Mexico experienced a 4.5% decrease in giving per foundation, a 3.4% decrease in dollars granted per capita, and only a 2.2% increase in total foundation giving.

This data suggests that there were some big decreases in New Mexico foundation giving that occurred between 2007-2011. To refine our understanding, we pulled Foundation Center data for each year from 2007-2014 along with foundation assets (which reveal the base upon which foundations release funds for grantmaking). We also calculated the ratio of grantmaking to assets to see how much foundations were giving in grants in relation to their holdings. Table 4 below shows giving data from 2007-2014, revealing that New Mexico foundation giving decreased from 2008-2010 (with a shocking drop of about $18,600,000 from 2009-2010), started to increase in 2011, but did not reach the pre-economic downturn giving level until 2014. Giving was at its lowest point in 2010. While New Mexico foundation assets decreased in 2008 and 2009, and started to increase in 2010, they did not reach the pre-economic downturn asset level until 2013.

Our local foundations dug deep during the worst years, tapping the highest proportion of assets to make grants during 2007-2009. Private foundations are federally required to meet or exceed an annual payout requirement (i.e., making grants) of 5% of the average market value of its net investment assets. But we see New Mexico’s grants-to-asset ratio climb to 7.2% in 2009, when foundation assets were at their lowest – truly an admirable investment from our area foundations to help the nonprofit sector during lean times.

Table 4. New Mexico foundation data from 2007-2014 (Foundation Center data).

Conclusions

Why do the 2011-2014 numbers show New Mexico in a positive light in comparison to other southwest states? The answer is relatively simple: New Mexico philanthropy grew significantly in 2012 as it began to come out of the recession. This growth (from 2011-2014) is better characterized as a recovery to pre-recession numbers, rather than New Mexico reaching a higher philanthropic capacity. New Mexico foundations are slowly climbing back from the impact of the economic downturn, re-building their foundation’s assets, and increasing giving levels to near those of pre-recession levels of investment in the Land of Enchantment. But New Mexico still lags behind its southwestern neighbors, experiencing the slowest philanthropic recovery (among the six other southwest states that were reviewed) since the economic downturn that began impacting foundations in 2008. Our state has the lowest per capita giving and per foundation giving among the seven southwest study states, which adds perspective to the struggles that our state encounters in meeting significant needs with philanthropic support.

The good news is that the philanthropic landscape in New Mexico is finally reaching a point of recovery and growth and we at The Grant Plant, in partnership with The Grants Collective, are ready to channel and boost this positive progress. We are passionate about helping nonprofit organizations connect with the resources they need to improve the social, economic, and education outlook in New Mexico. We will continue to help build nonprofit capacity through offering grantseeking services, professional development opportunities, shared resources, and other access to expertise.

 

Contact: Wendy McCoy, Resource Development Officer wendy@thegrantplantnm.com

Note: The Grant Plant has explored New Mexico’s philanthropic trends since the economic downturn in a series of articles that have been published in the past, including:

Talent Academy to Increase Funding into New Mexico Nonprofits

July 17, 2017

Albuquerque, NM: Bringing new, large-scale grants from national foundations and the federal government to New Mexico are the focus of The Grants Collective’s second Talent Academy cohort. The Talent Academy is a six-month professional development fellowship for nonprofit professionals who want to rapidly upgrade their grant seeking abilities, learn through a comprehensive and structured progression, and set up a robust grant program within their agency.

Apply now for the Talent Academy

The first cohort of the Talent Academy, which ran from October 2016-March 2017, represented six local organizations. These six fellows submitted 70 grant applications during the program. Of those, 32 notifications have been received: 22 were awarded and 10 were declined, resulting in a success rate of 69% for the fellows as a group. The total funding from these awards is approximately $488,800 and there are outstanding notifications for another $1,918,000 on pending proposals. Approximately $410,500 of the total awarded came from out of state funders. The fellows represented the African American Community Economic Transformation Study (AACETS), National Institute of Flamenco, New Mexico Boys & Girls Ranch, Steelbridge, Street Food Institute, and The Grant Plant.

Ideal candidates for the Talent Academy are nonprofit or public-sector professionals who already have experience pursuing small and medium sized grants. Typically, this includes development staff in medium or large organizations, executive staff of smaller organizations, and program managers responsible for raising funds.

The project is funded by the City of Albuquerque, McCune Foundation, and Nusenda Foundation. Significant in-kind support is provided by The Grant Plant, which lends professional expertise to weekly professional development sessions and provides expert feedback and consultation on grant proposals in development to Talent Academy fellows.

Up your grant-seeking game!

“The most helpful experience was the great feedback I received. My proposal went from an okay proposal, to a very, very competitive proposal,” says Sarah Gonzales, Grants Administrator at the National Institute of Flamenco. Being part of a team that is building each others’ efforts in high stakes grant seeking was beneficial for Tina Garcia Shams, Executive Director of the Streetfood Institute, who states, “This team has really gelled together. The most memorable experience was the site visits we did, to see the work environment and amazing things people are doing.”

New Mexico nonprofits are often under-resourced as public budgets are strained and corporate and foundation philanthropic dollars are low in comparison to other states. New Mexico is a “philanthropic divide” state, which means it is in the bottom 10 states in terms of foundation assets. This is an important indicator of financial health and giving capacity, given that foundations typically rely on endowed and invested funds to fuel philanthropy. And it’s an important indicator of whether nonprofit organizations have the financial support behind them to do their work – grants make up an important piece of the funding structure of many nonprofits. The Grants Collective views its efforts as bringing additional out-of-state funding to New Mexico as both an investment in economic development and the social capital of our state.

“We believe New Mexico is a state worth investing in,” says Tara Gohr and Erin Hielkema, who share leadership of The Grants Collective. “We have compassionate, resourceful people who make a difference every day in the lives of all New Mexicans, including the most vulnerable among us. The Grants Collective is here to incubate talent among nonprofit professionals so that our vital nonprofit organizations have the resources they need to pursue their missions.”

Interested individuals and organizations can find out more and apply at http://bit.ly/ApplyTA. The deadline to apply is August 1, 2017.

Learn more about The Grants Collective

About The Grants Collective:

The Grants Collective addresses the philanthropic divide that New Mexico faces by building nonprofit capacity for grant seeking through professional development, shared resources, and access to expertise. Programming includes: (1) Talent Academy, a 6-month intensive, project-based professional development experience to build the skills of grants professionals, specifically around seeking large scale grant opportunities; and (2) Cooperative Network, an online and in-person forum for grants professionals to find resources, ask questions and share advice, foster collaboration, and share efficiencies. The Collective also fiscally sponsors Grow New Mexico, a program developed to identify funding sources for transformative community projects. Board of Directors: Robin Brule, T.J. Cook, Eric Griego, Erin Hagenow, Debi Randall, Anna Sanchez, and Justin Zoladz.

Grants.gov Training Coming to Albuquerque!

July 14, 2017

From our nonprofit arm, The Grants Collective

Are you new to federal grants or could you use a refresher? Join Tricia Glass from Grants.gov to learn how to up your federal grant seeking game!

The Grants Collective is excited to partner with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence to bring in Tricia Glass, a national trainer from Grants.gov.

Grants.gov is the federal government’s centralized website where the 26 federal grant-making agencies post their grant funding opportunities and where the public goes to find and apply for those opportunities.

The presentation will cover the registration process, how to find funding opportunities, how to apply for those opportunities, and an overview of Grants.gov’s new Workspace application format. The session is sure to be informative for both novice and experienced grant seekers alike.

Register now for the Grants.gov training

Presenter

Tricia Glass began working as a Program Advisor in the Grants.gov Program Management Office in November of 2012. Prior to that she spent four years working at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration as a Senior Grants Manager. Ms. Glass has over a decade experience in both grants and program management as well as information technology management.

Register Here

 

About The Grants Collective

The Grants Collective is helping New Mexico nonprofit organizations boost their ability and capacity to compete for major national and federal grants. We offer three primary ways to participate:

Cooperative Network: A subscription-based network of nonprofit professionals interested in developing skills, insight, and resources for high-performance grant seeking.

Talent Academy: A 6-month professional fellowship to develop skills for securing major grants.

Grow New Mexico: Technical assistance to help New Mexican communities and organizations put together grant/loan packages for infrastructure and other special projects. Grow New Mexico is an independent, fiscally sponsored project.

Find out more at www.thegrantscollective.org

U.S. Census Brings Hands-On Training to Albuquerque

June 8, 2017

From our nonprofit arm, The Grants Collective

A representative from the United States Census will be in Albuquerque on June 13, 2017 to provide hands-on training on the benefits and uses of Census data to anyone interested in learning more. Sponsored by The Grants Collective, the training will allow participants to learn how, when and why data is collected, how to navigate data, and where to find it by survey type; understand geographic terms and how they differ; and explore the new data tools and economic data tools the Census has available.

Census data is used by a wide variety of agencies and individuals for such purposes as business development, government analyses, local planning, the media, and more. The Grants Collective is a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping New Mexico non-profits find and apply for grant funding in order to deliver on their missions. Understanding how to use Census data to build a case or understand need can be an asset for a range of organizations. For instance, using Census data is important in applying for grants, especially to out-of-state funders and the federal government. The training will be suited for a range of audiences and sectors. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop, as the training will be hands-on and interactive.

Two sessions are offered:

Census Basics 9:30 – 11:30am 

Learn how, when, and why data is collected, and where data can be found by surveys; understand the geography terms used by the Census Bureau and what you can find at the different levels; and learn how to use the American FactFinder.

Census Advanced Users 1:00 – 3:00 pm 

Learn new data tools the Census has available; explore the Census’ economic data tools, and learn what micro-data means to the Census Bureau.

We recommend you bring a laptop to fully participate in the training. 

For more information, contact Robert Nelson, Program Manager, at robert@thegrantscollective.org.

To register, visit http://bit.ly/CensusReg. The cost is $20 for one session or $35 for both. Both sessions will be held at The Grants Collective office at 901 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, Suite D-220, in Albuquerque.

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About the Trainer: Kimberly Davis represents the U.S. Census Bureau as a Data Dissemination Specialist. Kimberly joined the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008 to serve as a clerk for the Partnership and Data Services Program. During the 2010 Census, Kimberly worked in the Tribal and Government divisions of the Denver Regional Office Partnership Program assisting with outreach and marketing efforts. Currently, Kim lives in Denver, Colorado, and works in the Census’ Customer Liaison and Marketing Services Office, serving the states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

Writing Your Needs Statement: Why Care?

June 6, 2017

The typical grant proposal has several sections: Needs Statement, Project Description, Goals and Objectives, Organizational Capacity, and Evaluation. By and large, most proposals fit this general framework, whether they are 50 page federal proposals, or a 2 page-letter of inquiry to a foundation. The needs statement usually opens the proposal and sets the stage for the rest of the document.

Honestly, I love writing the needs statement. There is something about balancing the research necessary with the requirement to make a funder care about the issue area, geography, or demographic you are trying to serve. A solid needs statement answers the question: “Why care?” It demonstrates to the funder that there is a problem that is important, significant, and urgent.

Perhaps just as importantly, the needs statement should also set the stage for your organization to address that problem. It should demonstrate to the funder that you understand the community, and begin to make the case for your organization’s ability to address that need. It is an opportunity to build the funder’s trust in your organization.

What components comprise a well-written needs statement? Consider incorporating the following information:

  • What is the problem? Describe the issue that your community or clients see. Outline steps that are currently being taken to address this problem. There are a variety of ways you can document the problem: national, state, or local reports; news articles; quotations from community stakeholders, political leaders, government agencies, etc.; Census data or other sources.[1] Note: The Grant Plant has developed a resource list handout with helpful sites; e-mail me to receive a copy.
  • Where is the problem happening? Is it nationwide? Statewide? Or maybe this problem is more pronounced in a certain city, area, or neighborhood? Make sure to convey a sense of place to your reader. Focus on the area in which your organization will be working, but also balance that with the significance of the problem at a larger scale, if applicable. You can use comparative statistics to demonstrate the significance of the problem in your area versus other areas of the state or nation.
  • Who is the target population? Use demographics – numbers, gender, age, race/ethnicity, and other significant descriptors to paint a picture for the reader about the people who are impacted by the problem.
  • When is it a problem? When did the problem start? Did this problem become significantly worse recently? Is this a critical time for the population? If the problem is addressed now, will it alleviate future problems down the road? Addressing some of these questions will help you build a sense of urgency around the issue.
  • What does it cost to the larger community? Here you can expand on the future ramifications if the problem is not addressed. You also have the opportunity to discuss actual or projected costs. For example, if we intervene now by providing effective after school tutoring, we save on future costs of remediation programs. There are research sources out there that can help quantify costs. One such source that I’ve used frequently is the Washington Institute of Public Policy, which provides a cost benefit analysis of programs across several sectors (e.g. juvenile justice, early childhood education, mental health, and more).

In the needs statement, it is important to use data that backs up the overall picture. Recognize that data and statistics are the most objective way to back up what you are trying to convey. However, be sure your sources meet the following standards: they are timely, unbiased, and reliable. Timely data demonstrates that you are on top of your field, as a reader will often question a source that is several years out of date. Generally, you will want to use unbiased data and avoid sources of research that support a certain viewpoint or agenda. And using reliable, verifiable sources helps establish your own credibility. It doesn’t do you any good to cite sources that the funder will discredit upon reading. One good example of this is Wikipedia. I love Wikipedia as a source of background information as I’m learning about a subject, but you have to be careful to not use this as credible information. Since anyone can post to Wikipedia, it is subject to having misinformation. A simple trick is to check the original sources at the bottom of wiki entries, and review those sites or articles, as many of these do meet the criteria for being reliable.

Also think through how you present data and statistics in the needs statement. Remember that these should support your case, and not be the only piece of the needs statement. Someone is reading this on the other end, and too many statistics can make your reader zone out! Think through your wording so you can convey the most impact. This can be as simple as changing a percentage into a ratio; for example, saying one-in-five children live in poverty, rather than 20.2%. Also consider using whitespace, tables, charts, and graphs as formatting allows in order to make the information easy to understand for your reader.

Finally, a common stumbling block to writing a strong needs statement is making the need about your organization rather than the problem in the community. For example:

  • Our organization needs additional literacy coaches in order to fulfill our mission.
  • We need a new curriculum for financial capability for Spanish speaking immigrants.
  • We need an emergency grant in order to keep our doors open.

Don’t do this! Instead, go back a few steps until you get to a need or problem in the community, that your internal situation can affect. Why are additional literacy coaches needed? If you’re having trouble teasing these apart, use the grant as a learning opportunity. Research will help you identify what the need of the community is versus the gaps in your agency. For example, the needs statement framing the problem that a literacy organization is trying to solve would be better as: Illiteracy is a significant problem in our community affecting XXX number of adults. This rate has been on the rise due to x, y, and z factors.

In conclusion, all of this discussion about the needs statement boils down to engaging the reader – answering questions like “why care?” and “so what?” These two fairly generic questions can be powerful tools in refining your needs statement. I ask them when looking to strengthen language or to dig deeper into root causes, implications of problems, and the general importance of what I’m writing about. Make sure you hook your reader into continuing on with your proposal, setting your agency up to be the organization that the funder will trust to address the problem in your community.

The needs statement can be a time-intensive undertaking, but when done right, it will help the funder understand your community and problem, care about it, and perhaps make a grant to your organization to work on the solution!

 

Contact: Erin Hielkema, Vice President. erin@thegrantplantnm.com

 

[1] Our partners at The Grants Collective are hosting a training by the Census on June 13, 2017. Register on Eventbrite.

Workspace—Making Grants.gov Applications A Little Less Stressful

April 21, 2017

Government grants are to grant writing as Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction is to Central Avenue. Great opportunity lies ahead—if only we can make it through the stress-inducing, blood pressure-raising experience of getting there. As grant writers and managers, we do not take Federal grants lightly. They represent a significant investment in time, and a not insignificant amount of sleep loss—wading through long instructions (often linked to multiple guides that must be cross-checked and coordinated), numerous forms, custom attachments, and the collaboration of many people, including those responsible for various facets of the program, budget, assessment, and reporting. And then there’s the submission process. It can be the final, cathartic step, followed by a champagne toast and wonderful dreams awaiting the notice of millions of dollars in funding. Or… alternatively… a gateway to horrific nightmares fraught with 11th hour site crashes, previously undiagnosed errors, receipt of an attachment that is missing critical information, or a glitch that won’t allow the package to submit. Ah yes, government grants. They provide access to critically-needed funding for our state, but getting there is definitely a journey.

The recent Workspace option offered by Grants.gov helps to make the journey just a bit easier. Before using it, I anticipated yet another layer in the online Grants.gov process. But it did prove helpful in simplifying application preparation among multiple contributors and reviewers. And importantly, it will make future applications more efficient. Following are a few notes highlighting some of the differences of Workspace as compared to a traditional package download.

  • Workspace is designed for collaboration. Rather than downloading a single application package, each form is a separate entity. Each of these can be worked on separately but simultaneously by different people. One person can download and complete the narrative, while another completes the budget. Each form provides an error check at the end, and will be listed as “PASSED” once all fields are filled in, or “IN PROGRESS” once viewed, but not fully complete. While a form is being worked on, the section may be locked, so another collaborator will not inadvertently work on the same form. It is unlocked once you upload it back to Grants.gov.
  • Grant progress is visible and transparent within the Workspace, with forms shown as “PASSED” or “IN PROGRESS.” Forms are available for preview by any participant at any time.
  • With some funding agencies such as NIH, the entire package, including attachments, can be seen by selecting the Grantor Image—the view the grant reviewer will access. This is a great tool for conducting a final review of the submission; looking at it in one long, linear package helps to highlight inconsistencies in areas such as titles and budget numbers.
  • Forms are REUSABLE for future grants! This promises to be a time-saving feature. Once a Workspace is set up, forms that match in name and version number (think “SF 424”—a form used in almost every application) may be either loaded from an earlier submission, or uploaded directly from your computer. The Workspace will automatically update the form’s cover sheet to reflect the current funding opportunity, while other fields will remain intact (and Biosketches and other attachments will stay attached). You simply edit field by field as needed.

Things to keep in mind when you create a Workspace:

  • If multiple people will access the Workspace, be sure you are registered as an organization applicant. Others within the organization can then be added to the workspace with specific roles. If you don’t want too many people to have access to the Workspace, individual forms may also be downloaded and emailed out to consortium members to complete and return for upload.
  • There are a number of different Workspace user roles. They must be approved by the organization’s EBiz Point of Contact (POC), a role designated when registering with SAM.gov. There can only be one EBiz POC for each DUNS. Once roles are approved, they will be visible in the Applicant Center Welcome Box in the upper left corner. Roles include the following:
    • Participant is any person given access to a Workspace. This role is able to download, complete, and upload forms.
    • The Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) submits the application on behalf of the organization; this role must be assigned in order to submit. The AOR automatically has a Manage Workspace role, as well, and can access EBiz POC functionalities with a valid MPIN (provided through SAM registration). The EBiz POC has access to all Workspace within an organization.
    • The Manage Workspace role allows a participant to create a Workspace, and may notify the AOR that an application is ready for submission. The person who creates the Workspace automatically becomes the Workspace Owner (ownership may be reassigned to a different individual). The Workspace Owner may manage other users’ access.
  • To create a Workspace, visit Grants.gov and log into the system. Once logged in, the Applicant Actions area provides a link to “Manage my Workspace.” Steps include:
    • Select grant. Select “Manage My Workspace,” then indicate the grant you wish to access by entering the opportunity number, title, CDFA, Workspace ID, or other identifier in a criteria field.
    • Add participants and assign roles. The EBiz Point of Contact (POC)—a person named during registration with SAM, often the CFO—will need to approve roles.

For additional information, grants.gov provides an online Workspace Overview, with numerous links to specific questions on assigning roles, reusing forms, and more. As you tackle your next Federal grant, consider using Workspace to avoid some of the typical grant preparation potholes. We would love to hear about your experience with it. Or better yet, bring The Grant Plant along for the journey!

Contact: Cecily Peterson, Resource Development Officer

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