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The Grant Plant is Blossoming from 2020 into 2021

February 25, 2021

It is an honor and a pleasure to thank you for your support of our small business these some 18 years. I’d like to take a few minutes to share with you The Grant Plant’s work over the past year and some exciting developments for our company as we move forward.

Despite the tumultuous year that was 2020, I am proud of how our team rallied around each other, our clients, and the business. In fact, those are our three main aims – the team is healthy, the clients are happy, and the business is winning. As a team, we know how each other contributes toward achieving these results and we work together to maximize skill sets to make our whole better than the sum of our parts.

Our team is our biggest asset and the reason TGP is a successful business. Currently a team of 12 intrepid women—Aly, Amorena, Cecily, Erin, Jo-Ann, Laurel, Myshel, Paula, Rada, Tonia, Wendy, and me—our keyboards have been cooking over the past year as we transitioned to all-remote work, opened the NM COVID Funding Resource Center, and hammered out applications in response to the CARES Act. Many of those projects are still pending, and I look forward to sharing with you the result of these efforts closer to late-summer of 2021. 

Worth Noting! In 2019, our team completed 221 projects for 47 clients. Of these projects, 110 were grant proposals and 60% were awarded, amounting $26.5 million in funding. The median award size of these grants was $374,212 and the mean was $50,000. For every dollar our clients spent on grant seeking, they averaged $71.25 in awarded funds. 2020 awards are still pending, but we expect similar results!

The Team is Healthy

2020 brought a lot of changes to the professional and personal lives of everyone across the world. This was no different at The Grant Plant. We worked to continue serving our community and supporting our team, celebrating individual accomplishments, and facilitating an engaging remote work environment. 

Early in 2020, we were able to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Paula being with TGP as Business Manager. Paula’s role has grown significantly since she joined us, and we would be lost without her. 

Paula’s 10-year Anniversary with TGP

Ironically, our last day together before New Mexico went into lockdown was Friday, March 13, which also happened to be International Grant Professionals Day. We had ordered goodies and in-office chair massages for our team, but instead the day turned into one of moving to home offices. 

IGPD Cookies (that were sent to homes)

Shifting to all-remote work in 2020 wasn’t difficult for TGP because we’ve always been flexible on work times and locations. In fact, three of our team members are permanently remote and range from the West Coast to the Midwest to the East Coast. A surprising silver lining to all of us being remote is that it strengthened our connections with each other. We certainly missed seeing people in person, making eye contact, and laughter in the office, however, remote work spurred more communication patterns, sharpened virtual meeting and presentation skills, and connected the team better through opening an informal group chat room (with lots of pictures of pets and memes!).

The Kitchen Chalkboard in the Office in 2020

Even with extra efforts to keep the team connected, morale up, stress down, and workloads doable, the pandemic took a toll on our staff. With reduced space between meetings, more time spent on screens, and social isolation, we decided to let eligible staff opt into Flex Fridays, a nine-day schedule. This gives our employees one less day where they are compelled to be on camera, saving eye and mental fatigue, and able to move their bodies more. We also tweaked our policies and benefits, which included adding paid sabbatical, Super Bowl Monday and birthdays as holidays, and providing financial literacy tools.

We are hoping that the changes we made keep our people healthy, which in turn makes our clients happy. 

The Clients are Happy

Our 2020 client survey reflected overall satisfaction with TGP at 80%.  Our communication and accuracy were among the most highly-rated service qualities (95% and 94%, respectively) and our grant writing/proposal development and support in setting up grant delivery as the most highly-rated specific services (both 94%). All of us at TGP are continuing to work on cultural sensitivity (rated at 91%) as we grow in our individual and collective understanding of racial justice and the important role that a grant writer can play in community narratives and access to funding.

The open-ended comments from clients warmed our hearts, including:

  • I have been working with TGP in one way or another now for almost 20 years. They are ethical, extremely hard working, and produce favorable results. 
  • Awesome to see the growth of the work and also the maintenance of quality, and your team members are rock stars! 
  • Great response when we requested their help on short notice. 
  • I can’t say enough about the responsiveness and efficacy of the work they do! 

Thank you to everyone who received and took our survey. Please keep an eye out for it again in late summer. We value the input and use the data for improvement and decision-making when it comes to our services and the way we deliver them.

Our Clients, Our Partners

The Business Is Winning

With our team healthy and our clients happy, we can turn our focus to the business winning –that our client services give us a strong bottom line, that our net margin shows a positive trajectory, and that we are ideating on ways to add to our service and product lines.

We recently started moving to more of a shared leadership model that we will carry forward in the years ahead. Erin and I will continue to lead the company as we embark on ambitious growth plans that will deepen and broaden the services we offer. While we’ve always done everything together and will continue to do so, my focus is on external factors and relations, while Erin’s is on internal systems and operations. 

Our leadership team is comprised of talented individuals with differing and compatible strengths. As mentioned earlier, we are fortunate to have Paula Azua-Stofleth on our leadership team as Business Manager. Paula has played a critical role supporting us in daily operations and financial decision-making since 2010.

Our leadership team also includes Aly Sanchez as Director of Strategy & Organizational Development. Aly leads internal strategy across clients and projects, builds out quality improvement processes, and captures and articulates business, client, and project information. Aly has been with us since 2008, rising from Resource Development Officer to Director of Projects and into this position that she has held for the past two years. 

A second director position was added this year, with Cecily Peterson stepping into the role of Director of Resource Development. Cecily joined us in 2015 and has flourished from a Resource Development Officer to Senior Resource Development Officer. In her new role, Cecily will oversee the delivery of all our grant services (research, writing, reporting, and management), facilitating and guiding a new sector-based approach to resource development.

Building out our shared leadership model, Wendy McCoy will lead all of TGP’s research services as a Senior Resource Development Officer. In this role, Wendy will oversee a portfolio of client research projects while guiding other staff members in the prospect research process and deliverables. Wendy has been with us since 2008, starting as a Resource Development Officer and most recently as Resource Development Officer II.

We hope that you will be able to work with each of these amazing women in some way, and that they have the good fortune to work with you. We are excited for this next phase and look forward to working together to propel your work and help you to overcome any challenges that may arise in the year to come.

I speak on behalf of all TGP when I thank you for including us in your inspiring work. Wishing you all the best that 2021 has to offer, and then some.

Contact: Tara Gohr, President/CEO, tara@thegrantplantnm.com

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