Recap: Grant Milestones, Metrics, & Misconceptions

By Jenny Bowen
Vice President, Grants & Research, and Senior Consultant

Photo of Matilda Andrews, Carol Buckhout, Jenny Bowen.
Matilda Andrews, Carol Buckhout, Jenny Bowen.

Grant writing and administration might seem pretty simple, but until you’ve been in the trenches, it’s difficult to grasp the full extent of what’s required to successfully receive a grant as well as ensure it makes an impact for your organization and funder.

Our free coffee chat on Tuesday, November 14, lent some insight into common grant myths, how to measure success, and what it means to be “grant ready.” It was great to collaborate with two of my team members, Carol Buckhout and Matilda Andrews, in sharing our best tips and practices.

If you weren’t able to attend, I’ve compiled some notes from our presentation for your reference. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have – reach out to me anytime. – Jenny

Photo of Jenny Bowen, Carol Buckhout, Matilda Andrews.
Jenny Bowen, Carol Buckhout, Matilda Andrews.

Becoming “grant ready:”

  • Consider what you need to compete for, receive, and deliver on grants.
  • Establish goals to be measured and be specific; for example, what percent of participants complete services, etc.
  • Measures of success should be evaluated at least annually.
  • Documentation is key! Download our free grant readiness checklist for an idea of what funders might ask for.
  • Don’t forget to measure your impact, i.e. how many people are served, demographics, locations, etc.

Managing expectations and myth-busting about grants:

  • Grants are not quick money; it can take up to six months to receive a grant.
  • Consider staff capacity to prepare for and implement grants.
  • Involve your board of directors! They can be valuable resources.
  • Grants are not easy money, either. Funders expect the organization to implement the grant as outlined in the proposal and complete impact reports.
  • Thank funders whether you receive the grant or not. Ask for feedback on your proposal and why it wasn’t funded.
  • Vetting grant prospects is an important step that can save you from pouring time and effort into an application that is not a good fit for your organization.
  • Build relationships with potential and existing funders through regular communication.
  • If your project narrative, budget, and supporting materials are not aligned, it is a major red flag for funders. Always double check that everything adds up.
  • Creating a living spreadsheet can help you keep track of multiple grants and meet deadlines.
  • A real person will eventually review your application; keep your audience in mind.
  • If it’s been a while since you updated your website, social media channels, and/or GuideStar/Candid profile, review them and purge outdated information. You don’t want a calendar that features events from two years ago as the latest thing.
  • Cultivate your success stories and use them in proposals.
Photo of grants coffee chat on November 14, 2023.