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Talent Academy Fellowship Application is Open!

August 23, 2016

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We are excited to let you know that The Grants Collective – a new nonprofit “arm” of The Grant Plant, Inc. – is launching this fall! We have had numerous requests about opportunities in training and internships over the years, and we wanted to deliver on those requests with the work of The Grants Collective. Tara and Erin shared their story about how The Grants Collective came to fruition at Impact & Coffee earlier this month.

ICNM

Because of your past work or contact with The Grant Plant, we want to be sure that you are one of the first to know about the opportunity to apply to the inaugural cohort of the Talent Academy. The Talent Academy is a 6-month fellowship during which nonprofit professionals spend 15-20 hours per week engaged with The Grants Collective and The Grant Plant (TGP) offices, learning and applying TGP processes to projects that benefit their organizations, and sharing theirs with others.

“We know that the nonprofit community is filled with compassionate and resourceful leadership; people whose skills can be shared and built upon in order to better attract philanthropic resources to our state.”

The learning is project-based and relevant — meant to be directly and immediately impactful on participants’ grant seeking for their organizations. Development professionals will have the opportunity to experience working in a rigorous, high-expectations grant seeking environment, on projects for their own organizations, receiving technical assistance and expert advice, and sharing theirs with others. It is an exciting opportunity for Fellows to learn from experienced professionals, with access to the knowledge base that TGP has developed over its 13 years and staff and peer support through the Fellowship cohort. Fellows will also participate in weekly professional development seminars that follow monthly themes. By the end of the six months, the knowledge, systems, processes, and tools can be embedded into participants’ own organizations, making more effective, efficient, and successful grantseeking sustainable long-term. Fellows will receive follow-up assistance as well as access to an online and in-person cooperative network during their fellowship.

Please share this exciting opportunity widely with your networks. Our goal is to embed grant seeking capacity in New Mexico nonprofit organizations, increasing national and federal philanthropic investments in our state.

Interested organizations and individuals should apply before 5pm Friday, September 2, 2016 to be considered for the Talent Academy. Apply online!
Meet our Leadership! (we have a great board!)
About The Grant Plant (we have a great staff!)

Navigating the Ocean of Funders

June 12, 2016

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, less than five percent of the ocean has been explored and “much remains to be learned from exploring the mysteries of the deep.” The Grantmaking landscape is akin to an ocean – deep, shifting, elusive, and even unpredictable at times. Navigating this vast ocean of potential funders is a tricky process. It’s a time-sink for many nonprofits but also an endeavor that can yield vital financial support for organizations. The proper identification and assessment of funders is a key to successful grantseeking; it’s often the first step towards developing a grantseeking strategy, and helps delineate a roadmap and timeline that pinpoints funders to pursue. By devoting time, effort, and deliberation towards funding research over the years, The Grant Plant has compiled a treasure trove of funders that we know support New Mexico nonprofits.

That said, being in-tune with the funding landscape does not by itself make the grantseeking process quick and easy. Every nonprofit is unique, with a specific set of programs, focus areas, and funding needs. The same is true for funders. To ensure that a comprehensive research listing/product (that we term as the “Grant Profile) is compiled, we tailor funding research to the specific needs of each nonprofit with whom we work. We assess every foundation, corporate, and public funder within our research that may fall within the focus areas of the client, as well as conduct additional targeted research through online databases and other avenues to pull in any additional potential funders.

The benefits and importance of proper research is evident, but even we why funding research is so time consuming and cumbersome. In fact, there are a number of time-sink elements that contribute:

Funding-research databases take time to navigate: Comprehensive databases like Foundation Center or Grantstation are awesome tools that can yield beneficial results but they also create long lists of potential funder matches that take time to review thoroughly. These lists are often starting points – not end points – for research. Website checks should be conducted for each potential funder to ensure: 1) that the funder is indeed aligned with needs of the grantseeker; 2) that the funder is geographically compatible with the grantseeker (many times this is not the case despite geography being a search criteria); 3) that the funder entertains unsolicited requests; and 4) that the funder awards the specific type of support needed (e.g., operating, program, or capital support).

Funding needs change for nonprofits: It is not uncommon for a nonprofit to have a new funding need arise. For example, an organization may need capital support for a new building, start-up funding for a new program, or personnel support to improve capacity. Urgent funding needs may arise within a specific time frame (e.g., match requirements), making award turn-around time a consideration. With every new funding need, even the known/compatible funders must be re-assessed to determine those that will support the nonprofit’s new funding criteria.

Grantmakers change their focus areas: Many grantmakers stay abreast of today’s issues and refine their grantmaking focuses and processes to respond to pressing social needs. This may mean adjusting an existing program, abolishing an existing program, adding a new program, or changing geographic focus areas. It also means that grantseekers need to re-assess funders constantly to ensure that they are still a match, or re-assess those funders who were previously not a match.

Grantmakers change their grantmaking processes: Grantmaking methods change over time. Grantmakers sometimes alter their annual deadline dates, stop accepting unsolicited requests, or revert to releasing RFPs on an unpredictable timeline. Grantseekers must conduct monitoring of matching funders for deadlines annually.

Grantmakers are ambiguous or unclear when describing what they fund: One of the most frustrating areas for a researcher is when it is difficult to determine specifically what the grantmaker wants to fund. Sometimes the description of their focus areas is confusing, which adds to research time. Nonprofits should assess the history of grant awards and/or contact the funders, if needed, to better understand their funding priorities. 990s are a free resource that often provides a nice listing of past grant awards (accessible online through sources such as Guidestar or Foundation Center). The downside is that it takes time to review 990s and lengthens the research process.

Grantmakers don’t have a website: While this could be interpreted to mean that the grantmaker is not keen on receiving unsolicited requests, this is not always the case. 990s can also be reviewed to determine if applications are accepted and, sometimes, guidelines are even available.

It is easy to get lost in the sea of funders, especially with the ever-changing needs of grantseekers and the changing tides of funders. It is essential to conduct ongoing research to effectively identify optimal funding prospects. Once a nonprofit has a solid knowledge of compatible funders, grantseeking gets somewhat easier. A planned navigation is key; an organized listing of compatible funders and deadlines is a nice resource that can be monitored and updated, as needed, and used as a starting point as new funding needs arise for the grantseekers. Skillful sailing can lead to a prosperous voyage.

 

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

 

Cheeseburgers and Easter Eggs (Thith ith Hard!)

March 22, 2016

It could just be that we’re in the throes of our own version of March Madness, but it’s a particularly hilarious time at TGP. Thankfully, humor is one of our values and grace under pressure is one of our behaviors. This might just be a cathartic experience for me, but I thought maybe you all would enjoy hearing about (and empathizing with?) the daily lives of grant writers.

We love our funders.[1] We do! We love them. We love their obvious love for our clients. We love their ideas. We love their connections to others working in the same realm. We love their commitment to our community. We love their ability to fund critical projects in our community. We love them! We have great relationships with funders, especially our local foundation and corporate funders.

But if we were funders, we would do it just a little differently. Here are a few true-story pain points, some of them even illustrated.

There are some basic tenets that we’d avoid. If TGP were a funder, we would NOT:

  • Be closed on the day of the deadline.

Closed

  • Have no single representative in the office at any given time on the day of the deadline when responses must be hand-delivered and signed for.

Gone

  • Forget to tell people that the office is closed from 11-1 for lunch on the day of the deadline for hard copy responses that need to be time-stamped by 3PM.
  • Require 8 hard copies in binders with tabs. And we would not require separate binders for technical and cost proposals. This week we submitted 20 binders for one organization to respond to a single RFP. We had to use a hand truck to deliver the boxes. For reals! Binders
  • Issue RFPs that are longer than its own page limits for the applicant’s response.
  • Insist on the onerous process of subdividing program budgets when the grant period and fiscal years don’t align.
  • Require third-party organizations from the applicant to submit references directly to the funder for each RFP that funder issues (rather than utilizing the same references over the course of a year, for example).
  • Use technology for technology’s sake – “cool” IT means hidden questions and pop-up windows.
  • Along the lines of IT, we also wouldn’t use an IT system that our help desk doesn’t understand and have to escalate issues to the developer.

Developers

  • Require an MOU with the public school district in order to be approved for funding without talking to the district about the requirement, making the district scramble to provide letters of commitment (because of course they won’t sign an MOU for an un-funded project, especially one that needs to be routed through legal, which takes longer than the application period is open).

Here’s what we WOULD do:

  • We would have a clear and well-thought-out application that did not include redundant questions and had reasonable length limits.
  • Have an open format, not limiting the words within each area, but rather providing a page/word limit for the document overall. Essentially, one larger box instead of lots of little ones.
  • Be clear what areas you’re actually interested in, rather than wasting my time and yours. On a portfolio view, know what we are trying to do accomplish.
  • Stick to our own deadlines (we emailed a state office to ask about an RFP’s FAQs – they were supposed to come out 3/10 and were not yet posted as of 3/15… time’s a-wastin’) (Response: “We do our best to adhere to the time lines within the RFP, however, there are times when delays occur. We anticipate the Q & A response will be posted by 5:00pm today.” – This is from the same state agency that won’t accept a proposal 1 minute after the deadline and that will toss out an entire application if one form is missing, even though people’s lives are literally on the line because of the services that our clients provide.)
  • Provide scoring and review information.
  • Provide accurate preview forms.
  • Have the amount of work involved in the application make sense in terms of scale to the average grant award size.

Cheeseburgers

Cheeseburgers are what TGP calls answered questions that don’t actually answer the question at hand. It comes from a true story of asking important questions in order to craft a proposal, but then we get a response that doesn’t *quite answer the question, or the answer could go either way. Here’s some examples:

  • FAQ #5. I have a question regarding the Personnel Services Budget form. If we are not asking for funding for salaries and staff, may I write ‘not applicable’ on the form or do I need to complete it?
  • Response: Yes.

 

  • Nomination question: What is the timeframe to submit nominations? The breakfast is in December, but the website doesn’t say when nominations close.
  • Response: Go ahead, it’s open to submit now.

 

  • FAQ #18: Is the rate of $17.42/hour the same whether services are individual or group based?
  • Response: The rate of $17.42 per hour is for direct service to the identified clients.

 

  • FAQ #16: Does the travel/transportation line item on the budget include mileage?
  • Response: Travel will be billed in unit rates in 15 minute increments for travel related to the Scope of Work.

Cheeseburger

Note: Cheeseburgers are not limited to funders. We have clients who use them and even internally, we confess to using cheeseburgers ourselves on occasion.

  • Question: For supplies, do you have a listing of needs or can you let me know the types of tools and supplies?
  • Answer: The construction of the project has increased $15,000.

 

  • Question: Just checking in on this to be sure you have someone able to attend the conference tomorrow. Also, what did you think of the SAMHSA opportunity I sent a couple weeks ago?
  • Answer: Cheryl is attending tomorrow’s conference.

 

We have had so many Cheeseburger responses that we ordered shirts for our team that said, I Love Cheeseburgers (note that much of our team does not actually like cheeseburgers in their conventional form, and/or are vegan/vegetarian/flexitarian). Perhaps luckily, the shirts turned out to be remarkably small, even for non-cheeseburger-eaters. At least two of ours are now on our daughters. Here’s Erin’s incredibly cute daughters wearing the cheeseburger shirts.

LoveCheeseburgers

 

Easter Eggs

Here are my actual Easter eggs from last year. These are not what I’m talking about in TGP. Easter Eggs are hidden items (inside jokes on the part of the funder?), usually in online grant applications, that we don’t know are there until we are in the thick of applying.

EasterEggs

 

These are actual quotes from our rock stars. See if you can find the Easter eggs (a hunt!).

“That was a doozy since I didn’t test answers and the instructions said 200-word limit – it was actually 1,400 characters except for one answer, which was 200 characters. Crazy! It doesn’t count down characters or anything – it just surprises you after you input an answer to say you’re over the character limit.”

“Organization Mission Statement limit for this response is 75 words. I’d tested one and not gotten push back, and no limit indicated on field in online/template. Rework your magic as necessary for your assignment, ladies…. Their word-count counts hyphenated words as two words, not one like Word does. So if you are up against the word limit AND you are hyphenating words, you will have to carefully extract…”

“…I set up a TGP account and there are a couple Easter Eggs – a narrative response of 100 words compared to 250 indicated in RFP; as well as a shorter set of questions for Section 4.3. There are likely more…”

Fun TGP tidbit. We are professional grant-writers and had a message string of sixty-two (62!) clarifying messages on our system for our local United Way’s online application process. These messages are in addition to any client-specific questions. My favorite thing about this message string is that it starts with creating a template of the online application, which contains several Easter Eggs (the best one is the bonus one at the end asking the date of the board meeting in which this application was approved), FAQs that offer Cheeseburgers (including one message that ends with #Curlingintofetalposition) and concludes (sort of) with message 50 in which we start scheduling happy hour. Due to the presentations, the string just opened back up and will surely contain some more delight. Here’s our U-Dub happy hour pic.

HappyHour

Where does this leave us?

Frankly, with job security, as our clients hire us to navigate these processes. But that’s not the long-term solution. We are in the process of creating a nonprofit division called The Grants Collective, which will be focused on talent development among grant seekers as well as a cooperative network that creates efficiencies using some of the tricks we’ve learned to overcome Cheeseburgers and Easter Eggs.

We have also counseled a couple funders on their grant-making processes (our favorite case-in-point is a re-work of the Coalition for Literacy’s online application). Shout-out to other funders who have sought assistance with their grantmaking systems and procedures – unfortunately some of these are in the state procurement world, so the likelihood of change for the better is on the low side.

The good thing about Cheeseburgers and Easter Eggs is that they make for some great fodder when we need to find humor in the face of frustration. They also enable us to use one of our favorite phrases… Thith ith hard. Its origin dates back to one of the great sitcoms, Will & Grace, circa 2000. Here’s the gag reel.

 

 

Here’s a few Thiths from a search of our online project management system.

Thith Thith2 Thith3 Thith4.ong Thith5 Thith6 Thith7

When I searched our project management system for Cheeseburgers, Easter Eggs, and Thith ith hard while writing this article, I laughed out loud several times (and cringed). It can be tricky business to get all the details right to meet a grant deadline. Luckily, we have a team that isn’t afraid of hard work or of laughing it off. Thanks for letting TGP come along and join the fun!

Now, for some basketball.

 

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

 

 

[1] We don’t get funded by funders, but play a critical role in the funding process. We are an S-Corp (for profit) and are paid fee for service. A shout out to our fave funders that have a straightforward application process!

It’s that time of year again! United Way Community Fund Tips

February 10, 2016

For many nonprofit agencies in central New Mexico, it’s down to the final push on United Way this week! United Way is a critical source of funding for the four-county central New Mexico area, so stakes can be high. On top of that, there are a number of changes to the application this year. For example, Affinity Group funding (which includes the Young Leaders Society, Women in Philanthropy, and the Hispano Philanthropy Society) has been absorbed into the “regular” annual Community Fund process (they used to hold their own separate processes). In addition, United Way has launched new multi-year and collaborative application options this year. Each of these applications requires responding to a different set of questions in the United Way online application system.

At The Grant Plant, we have found, over years of experience and guiding the submission of countless dozens of United Way proposals, it’s the little things that tend to be most confusing and frustrating both to those who are new and to veterans of the United Way process. Below are some of our biggest tips and pointers based on our experience of successfully submitting these proposals:

  1. Never trust the manual or provided templates—It is great that United Way (and many other funders) provide a reference manual, but do not trust any templates provided to be 100% accurate. Go into the online application, dig around, and make sure you understand everything—before you start writing.
  2. Do not work directly in the online application—If you have already started doing this, copy everything into a document stat! After you explore the online system, build your own template in Word. This way, no matter what happens to the system, you still have a copy. This is useful in case the system crashes or you get locked out. It’s also easier for a team to review and make changes in Word than online. This advice is especially pertinent this year, since the United Way office will be closed on submission day. Make sure you have a copy of your work because no one will be available to rescue you if something happens and the system eats your work!
  3. Assign only one program—The initial setup for United Way can be a little confusing. Make sure that you assign only one program to your proposal. (If you do accidentally assign two, it’s not the end of the world, however! In the yellow bar delineating the program sections of the application, just uncheck the “Include?” box and it will remove the mistaken second program from your application.)
  4. Budget—This is for your program only. Reviewers already looked at your agency information in the new round one financial review process. The information required for “prior year,” “current year,” and the actual grant period can also be confusing as it is not something many funders ask for. Remember that “prior year” is your most recently completed fiscal year, regardless of where we are right now in the calendar year. Another difference this year is the need to click into each line item and provide further description. In previous years, this was only required for a few lines. Make sure you have sufficient information to describe each and every line item cost and revenue source for your program. As with the tip about having a copy in Word to more efficiently complete the application process, it’s a good idea to re-create United Way’s budget forms in Excel so you can easily edit and use auto-calculation features to check your math.
  5. Logic model—If you are submitting a multi-year request, you will need to complete the dreaded logic model. Many people hate creating these because they are unfamiliar with them, but logic models are a great way to think through your program and intended outcomes, and are therefore helpful. While logic models can take many different shapes and forms, generally they include some core pieces of information: a problem statement, inputs (what your organization is bringing to the program), outputs, short-term outcomes (generally within year 1) and long-term outcomes (usually longer than one year and may be outside of the grant period).
  6. Performance measurement –And because United Way has assigned a high point value to performance measurement – 30% – be sure you have thought through your intended outcomes, created SMART objectives, and outlined data collection strategies. The logic model is an excellent starting point for this (if you are doing the multi-year proposal, but you might even want to use the logic model as a tool for single year proposal planning well), and you can further flesh out details in your narrative (as long as you keep it brief, attending to those character limits!).
  7. MOUs/Letters of support –If you are proposing a collaborative application, you need to include an MOU or, in the case of APS, a letter acknowledging that the district knows that you are applying (detailed directions went out in a recent email from United Way). Be sure you don’t miss this important step!
  8. Program description—Beware that there are two program description sections! One is in the application and one is on the menu bar to the left. Making edits in one place does not auto-feed to the other place. Double check both program descriptions to make sure they match and contain accurate information (especially if your program has changed since the last time you applied.
  9. Spacing—United Way limits responses by character counts, which is something you can easily check in Word. However, Word does not double count carriage returns, while United Way’s system does. That means, if you are close to the character limit in your Word document, and you have a couple of paragraphs, you might be over the limit without even knowing it until you enter online.
  10. Validate each section—Make sure that each section is accurate and then mark it “Complete.” Don’t worry, if you want to change something, the system will let you—Complete is not a final state of being for your submission.
  11. Read everything one last time! Always, no matter how tired you are, read your submission one last time before submitting. This is how you catch something that did not copy correctly or if you transposed numbers. Also, this is your last chance to make sure that all sections agree. For instance, the budget and narrative align in terms of what you are asking for and what you say you will do. Also, make sure that your logic model aligns with the performance measures you discuss in the narrative.
  12. Check the attachments—If you are submitting attachments, make sure you open them once from the online system to make sure that they are the correct documents.
  13. Date approved at last board of directors meeting—This is the final surprise embedded in the United Way system. It will pop up just as you are ready to submit, so be prepared with that date!

And finally, do not forget about the presentations, which are the next step of the process. Once your proposal is successfully submitted, you will be invited to present your proposal to a community volunteer allocations panel. This is your chance to make your case directly to the reviewers who make the recommendations for funding. However, you do not get to pick your preferred date, so make sure you or appropriate agency representatives are available. Currently, the presentations are scheduled for March 28-April 9, so keep those days open on your calendar and don’t plan any trips during that time!

Good luck! We’re hoping that many of you get your submissions in early and can enjoy Valentine’s Day and President’s Day.

TGP is Hiring Rock Star Writers

January 22, 2016

Do you correct other people’s grammar in your head?

Do you have a competitive spirit?

Do you wish you could take mini crash courses in vastly different subjects?

Do you want to make a difference in our community?

Do you hear the word ‘deadline’ and get an adrenaline rush?

If you answered “yes” then maybe your dream job is a grant writer! Who knew??

TGP is hiring its next rock star on our North American tour 🙂  TGP hires great writers with a strong work ethic, big hearts, and a commitment to excellence. People successful in this position love the written word, don’t mind being “behind the scenes,” and count resourcefulness, ingenuity, a sense of humor, and a desire to win among their qualities. Interested? Take a look at our job description and get in touch!

To apply: Email a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample to mail@thegrantplantnm.com.

Resource Development Officer Job Description

 

 

 

Oh, New Mexico – With Fiery Hearts Aglow

December 10, 2015

Under a sky of azure, where balmy breezes blow, kissed by the golden sunshine, is Nuevo Mejico.
Land of the Montezuma, with fiery hearts aglow, land of the deeds historic, is Nuevo Mejico
. So reads the first stanza of our official state song. Here at TGP, we heart New Mexico! There are so many great reasons to live and work here; just a few include:[1]

#1 State to Retire Based on Weather

#1 Best Place to Own a Retirement Home

#4 for World’s Best Value Destinations

#8 Most Tax Friendly State

#10 Best Skiing Destination

To the list above, I’d add the engaging personalities of our people, the gorgeous sunsets, the amazing hot-air balloons, and the fact that you can get chile on your food at any restaurant in town. One might add that Holly Holm is from Albuquerque and we are all excited about that. I’m sure you have your own list about what is awesome in our state!

Unfortunately, New Mexico faces some serious challenges, which get our state on some of the lists of the “bottom 10.” Poor graduation rates, lagging workforce skills, pervasive poverty, inadequate child wellbeing; the list goes on.

We are privileged to work with nonprofits that combat these issues every day. It is a rare day that goes by when we don’t comment on the difference we are making, through helping nonprofits garner the financial resources necessary to fulfill their missions.

Now there are two new ideas and initiatives emerging that we can all get behind: The Grants Collective and Impact & Coffee. TGP is intimately involved in the first – it’s our brainchild! And we are on the steering team for Impact & Coffee. These great ventures are the types of things that make me excited to come to work every day!

Learn more:

The Grants Collective

Many of you may have heard Tara or me talk about The Grants Collective. It is our new nonprofit initiative that we are launching to fuel grant capability and capacity in New Mexico. We’ve written several past newsletter articles on the philanthropic divide New Mexico faces.[2] The Grants Collective will help bridge this divide by increasing national and federal investments in New Mexico nonprofits. We are building the internal structure now to deliver on three big ideas:

  1. Talent Academy: This is a six-month professional fellowship where nonprofit professionals will learn the TGP method of successful grant seeking through relevant projects and group professional development sessions.
  2. Cooperative Network: This is a peer membership network for sharing resources for high-performance grant seeking. Members will have access to cutting edge tools, templates, and technical assistance to make the grant seeking process more efficient.
  3. Impact Fund: The Impact Fund will house philanthropic funding for professional services to pursue high-stakes, cross-agency grants where collaboration is key. This includes professional services such as facilitation, management, strategic planning, evaluation, and yes, grant writing.

Through this effort, we don’t want you to just get your piece of the grants pie. We want to bake a bigger pie! With the right support, New Mexico nonprofits can be poised to compete for national and federal funding for the very programs that will help lift social burdens, boost education, and train a skilled 21st century workforce, bringing out-of-state dollars into New Mexico.

Want to learn more? We are kicking off our Facebook page and building a website. Are you interested in receiving an invitation to apply for the Talent Academy? Email and we’ll get you on the list. Stay tuned. Exciting things are well underway and we expect to make some big announcements in early 2016.

Impact & Coffee

Does New Mexico need a place for nonprofit professionals to network with each other, share big ideas, and develop community-informed solutions? You bet it does! TGP is proud to partner with SINC and the new Impact & Coffee steering team to provide just such a venue. Impact & Coffee is a mixer where nonprofit leaders, volunteers, board members, funders, and people who want to find their place in the social impact community come to have a cup of coffee, hear about new social profit ventures in a six-minute presentation format, and join in some great conversation to help each other make a positive impact in New Mexico. Based on the popular 1 Million Cups format, the focus of the event is on new, exciting developments in nonprofit programming, how the community can help solve any challenges that have arisen in planning or implementation, and to provide a forum for nonprofit professionals to make personal connections.

The first event is December 15th, 9am, at the Epicenter. Come check it out! Regularly scheduled events will follow in early 2016.

At TGP, we are optimistic that 2016 will be the year that New Mexico gets on the map for the right reasons. There is so much forward momentum in the nonprofit community, I think this is an excellent opportunity to show our stuff. Who better to do it than the inspired and passionate people who are integral parts of the nonprofit sector? Join us, contribute, learn, and grow.

 

Contact: Erin Hielkema

The Grant Plant Vice-President at erin@thegrantplantnm.com

The Grants Collective Co-Director at erin@thegrantscollective.org

 

[1] These great reasons were gathered from Lonely Planet, Kiplinger, Bankrate, and Sunset Magazine.

[2] See: A Closer Look at the Philanthropic Divide and its Impact on New Mexico; The Funding Landscape in New Mexico: A Post-Recession Assessment; and The Philanthropic Gap and Nonprofit Landscape in New Mexico.

Looking Back on 2014, By the Numbers

October 1, 2015

As we begin fall, the proposal outcome letters have all come in from 2014 (it’s the grant world, where things trickle in slowly). We’ve crunched the data and are happy to issue our 2014 Annual Report infographic. It was a great year, with funded proposals totaling more than $10.2 million for New Mexico nonprofits (that’s an increase of $7.1 million over 2013 award amounts!). There is a lot to look at in the graphic below, but I want to highlight and expand on a few items.

The first is the amount of funds we secured from out of state: $8,657,043 or 85% (a four-fold increase over out-of-state funds secured in 2013). As Wendy recently wrote about in her article on the “philanthropic divide,” the funding needs for New Mexico nonprofits eclipse the resources of our local foundations, government agencies, businesses, and individual donors. Put plainly, to make real gains in meeting New Mexico’s needs, we must increase out-of-state funds going to our nonprofits.

At The Grant Plant, we have increasingly focused on helping clients compete for those funds, whether they come from the federal government, corporations, or national/international foundations. Importantly, there are more opportunities for large awards and multi-year awards found beyond our state’s borders, which can provide a more diverse income base. Securing external funds increases the “size of the funding pie” for area nonprofits instead of just increasing competition over (sometimes declining) local resources. Every time we get word of an award, we cheer; when it’s a large award from an out-of-state funder, we break out the metaphorical (and sometimes actual) champagne.

Another notable number, is the Return on Investment (ROI), which we calculate as: (funds secured for awarded proposals – billing for successful and unsuccessful proposals) / billing for successful and unsuccessful proposals. For 2014, our work for all clients yielded a 4,065% ROI, which means clients gained a return of $40.65 for each dollar spent on TGP work preparing their proposals. While ROI for specific clients varies, of course, it is an important indicator of providing value to clients.

I’m always curious about the exceptions to the rules, so I’d also like to highlight a few of the “zebras” from 2014:

  • While the average award size was $120,123 and the median was $23,000, the largest was $2.9 million and the smallest was $1,400.
  • Not all grants were checks… the award that was least likely to fit in a mailing envelope was three passenger vans.
  • As shown in the client breakdown, we have a couple of funders in the client mix. We’ve historically worked with funders, doing things like serving on grant review committees, presenting trainings, and completing proposals for funder-sponsored agencies. We’ve been expanding on that work lately, tackling projects like application re-designs and researching possible grants available for foundation community priorities.
  • Our “Stakeholder Relations Materials” category included a wide range of products, including slideshows, program case statements, data systems, infographics, resumes and job application materials, handouts, surveys, articles, award nominations, website content, and a number of other projects that fall under the umbrella of “helping you to make your case.”

Our success in 2014 is a reflection of the wonderful work being done by organizations in New Mexico. The quality and effectiveness of our clients gives us a head-start on writing winning proposals. Crafting proposals is a team effort, and credit goes to our clients for sending countless files, noodling over budgets with us, letting us see their operations, reviewing drafts, and cajoling their boards into completing innumerable signature pages and conflict of interest forms.

We are grateful and privileged that it is our job to write about the amazing work of our clients and to help agencies sustain and expand that work.

TGP 2014 Annual Report

Contact: Aly Sanchez, Director of Projects. aly@thegrantplantnm.com

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