Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grants--How Did I Get Started

Yesterday I spoke at a job club about working for nonprofits. Many of the participants had questions about grant writing and how I got started. I explained to the group, and thought I should probably blog about how I got started in the field. Tomorrow I'll blog about some strategies for those interested in working in this field.

I started working on grants while finishing my BA at California State University San Bernadino. My faculty supervisor was working on several grant applications and asked me to assist her with some writing and editing. I wrote my first fully funded grant application for my own thesis research. While attending graduate school I worked the graveyard shift at a domestic violence shelter. I worked the front line answering crisis calls, and everything associated with front line work. Since it was the night shift I started to look for other things to do with my free time and started working on grants for the shelter.

Back then there were no BA's in nonprofit management, and very few grant writing classes. I don't know anyone who decided to pursue a career in grant writing, most fell into the field such as I did.

I moved to Los Angeles and started working as a Development Director for a nonprofit organization. The agency took a chance on me, and I put together my first federal grant for this agency, which was fully funded.

My career as a fundraiser/grant writer/nonprofit organizational specialist has not been strategically planned. However, after several years in this sector I have tips for those who want to work in this field. Check my blog tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Get Ready for Grant Season

In the last few days I have been approached to compile funding applications for several governmental and nonprofit organizations. The wave of funding applications is starting to crest over my desk, and I am starting my writing regime. Here are a couple of helpful tips for those preparing applications.

1. Get organized--pull all your information in one place, one file folder on your desk and one file folder on your computer. Scan any documents needed for electronic submittals.

2. Create a task spreadsheet--assign tasks, names and deadline dates.

3. Develop your outline from the RFP. Make sure you put everything you will be required to submit into the grant application in the outline. I typically work from this outline.

4. Check out submission information. If you need to register with in order to submit your application, make sure you do it right away.

5. Inventory printers, copiers and any other equipment you will need to produce the application. I recently completed a grant for a client, sent it to her for review, print out and submission. Her printer churned out a copy with yellow streaks down the page--not very appealing to a funder.

6. Get resolutions, and other signatures as soon as possible. Don't wait till the last minute for signatures.

7. If you need support, technical assistance or help make sure you ask well before the deadline. Grant writing firms are very busy this time of the year, and waiting till the last minute can impact the cost to prepare an application.

Roberts & Associates is here to help you compile your RFP's. Send us an email at and we will get right back to you!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Passion Matters!

This is day 3 of a 30 day blog challenge, and now the work really begins....and my fingers start cramping, along with my brain. What to say, what to say, is anything really relevant, and truly that important? I started reading other blog challenge participants blogs, for inspiration and motivation, and it has helped me immensely.

What is glaringly evident.....excited and passionate people have exciting and passionate blogs! Positive, enthusiastic and happy to be here are descriptors I would use to promote the blogs.

In a world filled with text competing for our attention, what draws us to certain people and their message? I think that people's passion, excitement and enthusiasm shines through and makes me want to follow, read and engage with them.

This adage is the same for donors and the world of philanthropy and fund-raising. Donors want to be engaged with organizations that are passionate about what they do, have excitement about their cause and use this energy to motivate not only those that they serve but also their donors and other stakeholders.

So often I hear people saying "I've got to raise money, or fundraise for my organization" in the same tone that they say "I've got to go to the dentist for a root canal" (apologies to any dentists reading this post!) Who wants to give money to anyone not excited about what they do? No one that I know. Passion, excitement and enthusiasm matter as much as the written words and content, and they do shine through your written work.

So all you overworked nonprofit directors, take a well needed energy break and re-find your passion for your work. I know it is in you somewhere...I promise it will make a difference.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Conversations with Experts, What Have I Learned?

I have conducted free training webinars each week for the past three months. During this time I have talked with many experts about different issues that impact nonprofits and governmental agencies. So what have I learned? First, I believe that there is a great need for basic information and infrastructure support in order to help people do their jobs better and achieve better outcomes. The webinars have also reconfirmed my belief in the goodness of humans, their capacity to share, give of themselves and care for their fellow citizens. I have interacted with folks from all parts of the country, all different sectors.

The folks I have worked with have been the most wonderful, grateful individuals. I am so thankful that I have spent many years in the nonprofit sector and have gained a lot of information during this time period.

What do I want from this experience… I want to create a dialogue, a conversation that promotes the abundance of resources instead of a mentality of scarcity. The economy has impacted all of us, especially nonprofits, who in most cases are now helping more people, with even less resources. I wish we could view the National Philanthropy Awards on television, honoring those who give, those who care, and those who make a difference. Most of these folks are hidden, doing their work on a day to day basis without acclaim or applause, or appropriate support and technical assistance.

My free Conversations with Experts webinars are a way of saying thank you. This is a sector that needs a collective hug right now….needs to be thanked , supported and embraced for the good work it does. Hopefully my blog can help say thank you with practical gifts.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Embracing My Limitations--30 Day Blog Challenge

I'm committed to furthering the field of philanthropy, embracing technology and social media to bring about a good result. There are many times when I feel hemmed in by my own technological weaknesses, lack of knowledge or time to learn about new programs and ways to do things. I've had this blog for several weeks now, and I've used it successfully to announce upcoming events for the Conversations with Experts webinars. Frankly, I haven't used it for much else, because I'm not sure exactly what that looks like. One of my twitter friends is starting a 30 day blog challenge today, and I have decided to participate. The goal is to blog challenge is to successfully blog for 30 days in a row.

I liken this blogging process to the cultivation of a garden....which I'm also doing right now. I'm digging up and tilling the soil, planting seeds and watering....the perfect metaphor for this blog challenge. I talk a lot about cultivation of relationships in order to do good fundraising, and raise a happy, successful nonprofit organization. So now I need to do more than just talk...I need to put my fingers to the laptop and type....we will see what happens.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How to Write an Award Winning Grant Tomorrow?

Many new funding opportunities are looming in the not so distant future. If you need help putting a grant together for an upcoming competition, contact us at Roberts & Associates. We are here to help you secure funds!

With over 20 years of award winning experience, Roberts & Associates will help obtain funding for your non-profit organization or government agency.
We are equipped to offer your organization a full suite of affordable grant writing and fund raising services.

Our staff has secured funding for various non-profit organizations, educational institutions and government entities throughout Southern California.

Our clients include
• The American Red Cross
• The Salvation Army
• The City of Los Angeles
• The County of Ventura

Skilled in prospect research, fund raising, organizational development and planning/evaluation, members of our firm have served as program officers at local Southern California foundations, and have taught many proposal writing courses at the Center for Non-profit Management, Cal State Dominguez Hills, the Ventura County Community Foundation, and Grant Writing Specialists San Diego.

We pride ourselves in providing technical assistance to non-profit organizations seeking strategic help regarding the process of grant writing and post award management and reporting. This is an important part of our history and our commitment to every client.

CONTACT: Carrie Roberts and Associates 805 816-6712 or toll free 888-835-3861

Upcoming Webinars & Training Opportunities

Managing Volunteers--Friday April 16th,10 am PDT
Website Design--Tuesday April 20th,10 am PDT
Executive Directors Panel--Tuesday April 27th,10 am PDT
Strategic Planning--Friday April 30th,10 am PDT
Government Grantwriting--Tuesday May 4th,10 am PDT
Social Entrepreneurship--Friday May 7th,10 am PDT
Nonprofit Law--Friday May 14th,10 am PDT
Human Resources for Nonprofits--Tuesday May 18th,10 am PDT

Registration links will be posted this week.

Writing A Compelling Grant—start to finish -- Thursday May 20th and Thursday May 27th 9-3 pm

This experiential hands-on training opportunity allows participants to write and submit a proposal template. Training mediums will include ustream; gotowebinar; gototraining and skype.

If you have participated in previous Conversation with Experts Webinars you will receive a discount for this training session.
Registration prior to 5/1/2010 $129
Registration after 5/1/2010 $149

Please email if you are interested in attending this session.

Upcoming Intensive Training Sessions include:
Public Relations June 17 & 24
Social Media August 26 & Sept. 2

Funding Opportunities

Grant Opportunity For Youth-based Organizations

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative
The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) has $75 million in grant money available under President Obama's Community Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative for FY 2010.
PURPOSE: To fund the replication of programs that have been proven effective through rigorous evaluation and to demonstration programs to develop and test additional models and innovative strategies.

ELIGIBILITY: public and private entities that have programs proven effective through rigorous evaluation to reduce teenage pregnancy, behavioral risks underlying teenage pregnancy, or other associated risk factors.
OVERVIEW: Applicants will undergo screening for completeness and responsiveness. Applications that pass this initial screening will then be evaluated through an objective review process. Successful applications will result in the award of an estimated 150 cooperative agreements.
CATEGORIES: Funding is available for two broad program types:
• curriculum-based programs that seek to educate young people about topics such as responsible behavior, relationships, and pregnancy prevention and
• youth development programs that seek to reduce teenage pregnancy and a variety of risky behaviors through a broad range of approaches.
GRANT DEADLINE May 17, 2010.
Award decisions for teenage pregnancy prevention replication grants are anticipated to be made in September 2010.:

Grant Opportunity For K-12 Schools
Investing in Innovation Fund (i3)
The U.S. Department of Education has $100 million in grant money available under the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) for FY 2010. The (i3) fund is part of the $650 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
PURPOSE: To support local efforts to start or expand research-based innovative programs that help close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for students.
• improve K-12 achievement and close achievement gaps;
• decrease dropout rates;
• increase high school graduation rates; and
• improve teacher and school leader effectiveness.
ELIGIBILITY: Individual school districts or groups of districts, and entrepreneurial nonprofits can submit applications.
Colleges and universities, companies and other stakeholders can be supporters of the projects.
QUALIFIER: Applicants must demonstrate previous success in closing achievement gaps, improving student progress toward proficiency, increasing graduation rates,
or recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and principals.
• Scale-up Grants: The largest category is for programs with potential to reach hundreds of thousands of students. Applicants must have a strong base of evidence that their program has had a significant effect on improving student achievement.
• Validation Grants: Existing, promising programs that have good evidence of their impact and are ready to improve their evidence base while expanding in their own and other communities.
• Development Grants: The smallest grant level designed to support new and high-potential practices whose impact should be studied further.
Grant recipients will be required to match federal funds with public or private dollars. Successful applicants will need to demonstrate how their programs will be sustainable after their federal grants are completed.

If you need help putting these applications together contact Roberts & Associates. We are here to help.