Thursday, July 28, 2011

Questions about Proposals

I'm hearing from a variety of staff that questions are floating around, and I would once again encourage everyone to post their questions here on the blog. I will respond directly and everyone else will get the benefit of the information. I cannot respond to 31 groups via personal e-mails and the risk you take if you are asking other Trust or Arts & Business Council staff is that responses will not be the same, depending on who you ask. THIS BLOG IS THE DEFINITIVE SOURCE, so don't be shy about asking questions.

Re. how many management areas can/should be addressed?
The smaller your organization, the more important it is to focus on a realistic approach. It's better to create outcomes in one management area during Year 1 and achieve them than to set up several outcomes in multiple management areas and then fall short and have to keep working on the same lagging areas in Year 2-3. The goal is to tackle 1-2 per year and achieve the desired improvements so that you can move on. Ideally, by Year 3, your organization may have brought its 2 (for example) lagging areas up to par and may opt to focus on a management area that is ripe for growth.

Re. Are there any restrictions on grant funds?
This is a general operating grant. It cannot be used to pay past debt. You may develop your budget however you wish; however, you will need to show how it helps you address the lagging management areas and achieve the outcome(s) you've identified in the grant. For example, if your lagging management area is Financial Management, it makes sense to include the cost of a PT bookkeeper; if it's Audience Development/Marketing, you may want to allocate your resources there. We would really be concerned if you were working on the lagging area of Financial Management and we saw in your budget that there was a new hire that was a Development Director because this position is associated with Income Generation.

Remember that the budget required is your organization's FULL OPERATING BUDGET for your upcoming fiscal year - 2012 - not a budget that adds up to the grant amount you're requesting.

Since this is designed to build the management capacity of your organization, we strongly encourage you to include a little money in the line item that says "Board and Staff Development". This way you can have the resources to find workshops, conferences, or consultants/facilitators to help you, your staff, volunteers, and Board members broaden their knowledge in the management areas you've identified.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Looking forward to next phase

Hello all,

I'm off on vacation soon, but wanted to share a few thoughts before I leave. As you may or may not know, I've been proofing for content, guiding changes and diligently wading knee deep into each and every one of your smARTscope reports over the last few months. While a few of you are awaiting your final presentations, all but two of the reports are now completed.

As you begin work on your SMART Growth plans and your first year grant proposals, remember to rely on the excellent work of your smARTscope consultants and the findings of your smARTscope self-assessments.

I look forward to working with all of you in August/September.

Andrew Micheli
Director of Programs

A question has been asked regarding amount requested..

Regarding how much should be requested within the grant proposal, the grant request should be between $20,000 and $50,000. The request should be based on budget size, program/project requirements, history etc. Ultimately, the Trust will determine the final grant amount based on the total distribution of funds allocated to the program.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hints for Good Grantwriting

I wouldn't blame anyone for spending more time by the lake than the
computer, but in case you're working on your grant proposal, here's a couple of
tips to keep in mind:

  • Please try to minimize or avoid the use of acronyms. There are no
    character limits to inhibit you, so err on the side of clarity. For Trust
    staff and Board members that will be reading about 31 organizations, an alphabet
    soup of organizations and programs will merely dilute your identity and make you
    less memorable.

  • Omit superlatives (see my earlier post); state facts, figures, and awards
    with specificity, rather than "...thousands

  • Remember to update your Board list and your demographic info.

  • Complete your IL Cultural Data Project in plenty of time so that it can be
    reviewed by the Help Desk at CDP. Please try to give accurate information
    regarding participation figures because it will be used as a baseline and
    if you're guessing wildly or overestimating (we marched in a parade..." it will
    be very hard to measure incremental growth.

  • If your fiscal year ends June 30, we understand that you
    may not have your audit completed by Sept. 15; however, we will need to have it
    by Dec. 15, 2011, so that it can be reviewed before the final vote by our
    Board in January.