Since it's that time of the year, it's also time to start getting things in order for the proposal submission process. A few housekeeping items need to be checked before deciding whether or not to submit grant applications. The following is a brief checklist, some things to consider with reasoning (from a grant reviewers perspective of course):
- Check collaboration agreements and memorandums. Agreements should be updated annually. The Reason: Agreements need to reflect any changes in services or in the relationship in general. Furthermore, agreements need to be specific to each and every funding opportunity announcement so that the funders can determine which agency is responsible for what. Leaders leave. Staff change. Services cease. Agreements need to reflect all of the above.
- Update resumes. The Reason: Resumes need to reflect any new professional development trainings, certifications, and degree attainment. This makes a difference when reviewers need to assess background and the expertise of staff and leadership. Also, have staff write their own bios. No one can express how skilled they are, how many years of expertise they have in an area or subject than the individual staffer. Having some one else summarize qualifications may cause key details to be omitted, items relevant to the funding opportunity. If your organization has multiple programs, I always recommend having multiple resumes. Make the relevant information easy to find and readily available.
- Update your budgets. The Reason: Budgets need to reflect any changes throughout the year, and should be reasonable and feasible. Many times budgets are prepared, and not updated to calculate changes in salaries, costs increases, and decreases, etc. Most importantly, numbers just come out of the sky with not apparent research done on actual costs. Do your homework on wages, supplies, etc. to make your budgets realistic.
- Update local/target population data sources. The Reason: Each year, community surveillance, American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau,U.S.Kids Count, local and national law enforcement data is updated and made available to the public. Take the time to research the most recent data and statistics available for your target area(s) and target population(s) you service. Don't forget to cite the sources, and indicate if the most recent available is all that was available. Reviewers can't assess whether your organization has a need if you do not provide data as evidence to support your claims. They also need to know you weren't simply lazy and pulled some old data from an old application, and that you actually looked for information and you couldn't find any more recent than what was submitted.
- Be certain your charity is good standing. The Reason: Unpaid state fees could place your charity in a "bad standing" status, making the organization ineligible for public and private grant funding. All funders do their due diligence to make sure charities they support are in good standing and are eligible to their charters for the grant awards. Be sure 990's are filed on time, file any state reports, and pay any state fees that are necessary for the organization to operate.
Take the time to ensure all of your I's are dotted, and T's are crossed. Doing so makes grant proposal preparation much easier, decreases stress levels, and ensures there are no last minute, heart-breaking moments. A little preparation now can can pay off big in the end. Happy spring cleaning!!!