What is the Grant Professional’s Secret Super Power?

Is there a Grant Professional’s Secret Super Power? #grantchat Community Members Think So!

Imagine this scene….a HUGE federal proposal has just been submitted.  You are gathered with your colleagues/client and they turn to you as the lead grant professional for the project and say, “Wow, that was such a strong proposal, and the process felt so much *less* stressful than we anticipated …what was your secret?”  You, the humble, yet confident grant professional smile (thinking to yourself, that trade secret might be kept just among the members of the Grant Professionals Association), and instead reply, “You are right, it *WAS* a strong proposal, and the secret to our successful process was the pre-planning process that you went through with me in the months prior to the RFP being released.”

While it might not play out in real life exactly like that, and you likely aren’t necessarily wearing a cape to grant team meetings, pre-planning *can* feel like a special “secret” approach to the colleagues you pull together on a grant team.  But what exactly is pre-planning?  Here are the definitions by #grantchat -ters about their personal definition:

Pre- planning means:

  • Planning for grant development 1) annually, 2) quarterly review 3) per project/grant opportunity with the grant team.
  • Research: What is fundable? Who will fund it? What needs to be in place to make the grant development and project happen?
  • Having a clear program design (goals, objectives, key activities) & budget outline put together BEFORE formal RFP is out.
  • Having an organizational strategic plan and case statement in place BEFORE you start to  search for funding opportunities.
  • Writing guides, thorough reading of solicitation, reading other sources of info about grant.

Are you still a bit skeptical about whether or not your colleagues or clients will be supportive of engaging in the pre-planning process for a grant application?  Especially if we are being honest and know that they might already feel like they spend too much time on a large grant application for the organization?   #Grantchat community members identified these pre-planning benefits:

  • Pre-planning is usually where I discover what future plans/hopes/dreams the program directors have.
  • Pre-planning makes our grant more thoughtful, compelling, and competitive. Less uh-oh moments close to the deadline. More award letters!
  • Biggest benefit of pre-planning is that I have more time to focus on developing the grant narrative and application package rather than chasing required documents.
  • Thoughtful preparation of the grant includes understanding how it will work when awarded.
  • Smooth: good. Surprises: bad. Pre-planning helps smooth the process.

If pre-planning for grant applications is not something that you feel completely comfortable with yet as part of your grant professional toolbox, here are some of the standard approaches that our #grantchat community members include in their pre-planning work:

  • Standard plan for application process = research funders, create shared cloud space, CHECKLISTS, task assignments
  • Introductory meeting to gather standard info (a form). RFP –> Checklist –> Timeline
  • Spreadsheet/Evernote!
  • Our program directors are across the world, so SKYPE is our lifeline. That, and a good spreadsheet which is updated weekly with needs.
  • We love to use @washingtonstrat ‘s workbook as a guide/handouts to help clients.

Looking to check out the rest of the dialogue that went on during the chat about pre-planning?  It was a lively one!  You can read the full Storify transcript of Grant Pro Secret Power…Pre-Planning here. Join us every week @ 12pm ET for #grantchat.  Wondering what our future topics are?  Be sure to check out our calendar


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