In fall of 2017, l I worked with 70+ participants who attended Grantwriting Readiness Workshops in Bemidji, Crookston, and Detroit Lakes. One of the most significant “take aways” the vast majority of participants commented on was the Internal Grant Review Panel. We reviewed a state funder’s scoring criteria as well as a grant review template I provided. This template can be used internally with a group of staff, volunteers, and community partners to help review, edit, and score grants prior to submission. There are paid services you can hire to do this, including Rebecca Schueller Training & Consulting. But, the truth is that for most grants you don’t need to pay for an outside review. Save your money for paid outside reviews for those major state or federal grants that are highly competitive for which you know you can’t afford to lose points. The internal agency grant review panel represents an opportunity to develop staff and volunteer capacity in your organization. Public and private agencies and tribal organizations have tremendous untapped staff capacity for grantwriting support. Often grantwriting expertise and responsibilities are concentrated in the hands of a few, most commonly an Executive Director and/or a Resource Development Director. In larger agencies, program directors often take on this role. There are many roles besides the actual writing that go into effective grants, including needs assessment data, internal outcome results and client demographics, partner support letters, gathering current copies of required electronic attachments, and more. Staff are much more invested in helping when they understand the tremendous work that goes into proposals.
We also need to remember that staff and volunteers become good grantwriters in part through the process of reviewing grants and seeing grants reviewed through the eyes of peers and colleagues. It is a tremendously useful process when it is done well…meaning the process is organized and has a good facilitator (who is not the grantwriter!). It is also an opportunity to expand the knowledge and understanding of your staff and volunteers regarding the amount of work and complex content that goes into grants. One of the most rewarding comments I read from workshop participants was a young staff member who said, “Now I understand what my supervisor needs when she asks me for help with grants.” This is why I love this work.
Do you have a question you’d like to ask but are feeling squeamish about using your limited funds for paid advice? Contact me at Becky@bemidjiconsulting.com with your question, and I’ll consider blogging about it if I think I can make a meaningful contribution. Or, if it’s a really super question, and other nonprofit and tribal colleagues can also benefit, I may develop a training to address it! Feel free to contact me, it’s free.