So, I've been extremely reflective lately and at first I couldn't figure out why, then I realized that the first half of the year is coming to a close. As I sat back and thought about the business interactions I've had over these last 6 months, so many after thoughts came rushing back, like one of those moments where you think of everything you wanted to say after an argument. When interacting with my clients, I try to be transparent as the project allows, hoping that we come together to produce something that is satisfactory. Is that always the case? No. But I'm realizing that this non-meeting of the minds is okay. When I start off a business relationship, there are so many things that I want to impart onto my client, but I also have to remember that information overload exists and just because I process things quickly, does not mean that they will. So far this year, I've had some pretty interesting, eye opening (and scary) things happen when it comes to business, grants, and just overall operational success. I'm learning from these experiences but it also seems like things are moving very slow. From this, I thought I'd share what I've learned along the way based on client interactions...
For start up non-profits eager to apply for grant funding:
1. While not all, many grants will seek to fund specific projects in line with the funder's mission, action points, pillars of change, etc. When submitting a project, make sure it is in line with your organization and with the grant expectations. Often times we want to reach for the moon, but end up biting off more than we can chew, especially with a small operating team.
2. Know your budget. You may think you can estimate the price of what's needed and fill in the gaps, but that is not a good idea. Start looking up what you'll need and price it out from the beginning. And make sure these supplies are relevant to the project. Do not try to fit in unnecessary items that may benefit the organization overall. Most grants funders will tell you what they do and do not fund before you even receive an application. Pay close attention to these guidelines.
3. Document. Document. Document. In my experience, grant funders usually don't tell you they're looking for evidence of your project by the time your final report is due, but hint, they are. And even if they aren't, visual proof will keep you on track when it's time to submit your report and talk about your progress. Also, keep track of your receipts. This should go without saying but you never know what could happen. Make copies, do whatever is necessary but make sure you know where they are.
There are many options available when it comes to knocking down grant funding, you have the diy option, as well as trained professionals out there willing to assist (for the right price). Don't be afraid to ask people in your network questions, review your idea, or just bounce around and brainstorm.
I wish you all the best on you business journey,