How To Guide To Twitter Chats

Every week I participate in a Twitter Chat called #GrantChat. This chat happens every Tuesday at noon EST on your Twitter account. Through this chat, I have made new friends, learned best practices, and obtained valuable resources all while having fun discussing a topic I am quite passionate about, grants!
How To Guide to Twitter Chats
I am going to share with you some basics about Twitter Chats. I hope you will find the information helpful and consider joining a Twitter chat or tow.

Twitter Chat Basics

What is a Twitter Chat? 
A Twitter chat is when a group of Twitter users meet up on Twitter (or Twitter chat platform) at a pre-determined time to discuss a certain topic using a hashtag for each tweet contributed to the topic.
Why participate in a Twitter Chat?
  • Twitter chats are a great way to network with other individuals interested and/or working in your profession or hobby.
  • Twitter chats provide an easy, cheap way to learn more about your profession, a hobby, or other interesting topic.
  • Twitter chat participates are generally generous with their knowledge and resources.
How to find Twitter Chats to participate in? 
  • Reading tweets of those you follow – Often those hosting or participating in a Twitter Chat will tweet about the chat.
  • For nonprofits, three chats I recommend are #GrantChat (Tuesdays at noon EST), #FundChat (Wednesdays at noon EST), and #FoundationChat (Fridays at 2pm, currently only once a month).
  • Chat Salad is a place to find chats that are happening now or in the near future.
  • Tweet Reports also keeps up a list of Twitter Chats.
  • Twubs has an easy to read list.

Twitter Chat Tips: 

You can do this by including A1, A2, A3, etc corresponding to each question in the chat. Many chats number their questions with Q1, Q2, Q3, etc making it easy for you to keep up.

Twitter Chat Tools 
There are some great tools to make following and participating in a Twitter Chat much easier.

Each tool is great. Experiment with which one you fits your needs the best.

More information on Twitter and Twitter Chats
Your turn: Have you ever participated in a Twitter Chat? 

Do You Have Grantitude?

A few weeks ago the #grantchat discussion was about grantitude. Before the #grantchat, I had not given much thought to the idea of being thankful for grants. Yes, I was definitely thankful for them and the opportunity I have to write the applications for several nonprofits, but I was not expressing my grantitude much.
Do You Have Grantitude?
Grantitude is -
  1. the state of being grateful for grants, grant makers, grant opportunities, grant partners, grant teams, grant reviews, grant managers, and grant professionals
  2. a grant professional’s optimistic/realist strategic can-do attitude
So first, thank you, dear readers, for reading this blog. I hope the ideas present on here help you in your nonprofit work.
Second, thank you, grant makers, for providing grant funding. Without it, many nonprofits would not be able to continue their work and many people would be unemployed including me.
Now: Do you have grantitude? Does your organization? 
The nonprofit organizations I am currently working with do not have formal processes for thanking grant makers so I am in the process of creating the policies to express their grantitude. Organizations are sure to thank donors and corporations when they give a contribution, so why shouldn’t grant makers receive the same level of gratitude.
Who should nonprofits should thank:
  • Grant makers
  • Grant professionals
  • The grant team – anyone who worked on the grant
  • Nonprofit partners
  • Grant manager
The grantitude plans do not have to be elaborate. Just do something to make those involved with grants know you are thankful for them and the money grants provide to the organization.
How to thank Grant Professionals, Grant Teams, Grant Managers:
  • A handwritten note
  • Shout out on social media
  • small celebration when a grant is submitted
How to thank Grant Makers, Partners:
  • A handwritten note
  • Shout out on social media
  • Thank you on website with logo
  • Invite them to tour facility and see grant money at work
Your turn: Do you have a grantitude policy at your nonprofit? What have you included in it? 

4 Simple Best Practices for Federal Grants Applications

Your nonprofit has found the perfect federal grant for one of your projects or programs. And you have started on working on gathering all the information you need to complete the application.

4 Simple Best Practices for Federal Grant Applications

As you start filling out the application, be sure to follow these 4 simple best practices.

  1. Fill in the documents in accordance with the instructions provided. When working in the grant application package (what downloads from grants.gov), as you scroll over each box, it to provide instructions.
  2. Identify your nonprofit in the project title – Example: XYZ Nonprofit’s after school program
  3. If your nonprofit has more 2 or more employees, assign two different people as the Project Director and the Primary Contact. This will help ensure nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
  4. Do not commit these 7 common mistakes.

These best practices won’t ensure that your application is funded. There is nothing that can ensure that. But these practices will help your application stay in the running to be funded.

Your turn: What would you add to this list? What are your best practices when completing a federal grant application? 

9 Social Media Resources for Nonprofits

If there is one thing most nonprofits agree on, it is that social media takes considerable time to master. Do you find yourself in this boat?

9 Social Media Resources for Nonprofits

I have been studying and experimenting with social media for several years now. I find it very interesting, but I know most people do not want to spend the amount of time I have in exploration of social media. So in this post, I will share some tools and resources that I use in social media management. I hope you also will find them helpful.

Social Media Tools for Nonprofits:

  • Canva - an online app and now an iPad app designed to empower the world to design. Canva is free to use and if you use a picture it is only $1.00. In this application, anyone can create graphic designs and edit photos. This tool has many social media templates. Canva also just launched a free design school called Design Essentials. Design Essentials guides you through 30 tutorials that will help you create designs you are proud to share.
  • Picmonkey – another online app to create graphic designs, edit photos, and create collages. Picmonkey has free and paid plans and is easy to use. Like Canva, anyone can create graphic designs and edit photos.
  • Buffer – My social media management lives and dies by Buffer. Buffer helps you manage multiple social media accounts at once. You can quickly schedule content from anywhere on the web, collaborate with team members, and analyze rich statistics on how your posts perform. There are free, personal, and business plans to use this application. You can use it online, Chrome extension, desktop, iPhone, iPad, and Android.
  • Buffer Blog – One of the main topics of the Buffer Blog is social media. It is always filled with great content. I read it every day.
  • Feedly – This is how I keep up with blogs. Feedly is an application for web browsers and mobile devices that compiles news feeds the user wants to read into one application. The user can also share content right from the application. I use Feedly daily.
  • Grow Your Social Media Following with These 10 Different Kinds of Posts [Podcast] - Do you get stuck sometimes what you should post? This podcast from Michael Hyatt is for you. He lists 10 different kinds of posts. It is a handy list to keep ready for when you are creating social media content.
  • iPhoto & Photo Stream - I use iPhoto & iPhone Photo Streams for social media all the time. This article gives 5 ways to use them in nonprofits.
  • Platform Get Noticed in a Noisy World: A Step-By-Step Guide for Anyone with Something to Say or Sell - This book by Michael Hyatt is an excellent read for anyone building their platform.
  • Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits – This book by Heather Mansfield at Nonprofit Tech for Good is a must read for every nonprofit. Read my review here.

I use all the resources listed here. All of them have helped me greatly in social media management.

What resources would you add to this list? 

7 Common Grant Writing Mistakes (that will probably cost you the funding)

You have researched what constitutes a grant. Your nonprofit is grant-ready. You have researched potential grant makers.

And now it is time to put the a grant application together. It can be a little scary. There are plenty of items and much information to include. It can be overwhelming. So how do you know what to focus on?

7 Common Grant Writing Mistakes (that could cost you funding)

Here is a clue: Most Grant makers have regulations you must follow. Use their guidelines as a guide to what the grant application should focus on.

And do not commit these 7 common grant writing mistakes. They could cost you the funding.

  • Excessive budget items/cost – Grant makers do not look too kindly on applications with excessive budgets. They want to do the most good with their money.
  • Padded budget – Do not ask for more money then the nonprofit needs for the proposed project/program. Generally grant makers require you to spend all the money or give the extra funds back. Nonprofits cannot use the extra money on other projects/program.
  • Budget items and proposal not lining up – This is fingernails on a chalkboard to me.
  • Miscalculations – These can be forgivable if it is just once or twice, but do not count on that. If the proposal is full of miscalculations, it shows the grant maker the nonprofit does not care enough to double-check the work.
  • Sections missing – Not all grant applications have the same sections (check out this article for the type of information grant makers seek), but most grant makers give you guidelines or an application to follow.
  • Not following the same order provided by the Grant maker – Again follow the guidelines provided by the Grant Maker
  • Proposal not consistent – An inconsistent proposal shows a Grant Maker the nonprofit does not have a clear plan for their funding.

Do you seem a theme with the common mistakes? 
Grant makers want to see that the nonprofit has thought through their project/program. Four of the common mistakes have to do with the budget. Grant makers put a great deal of emphasis on it. They want to know where their money will be going.  The other three common mistakes have to do with guidelines.

If the Grant maker gives you guidelines, they expect you to follow them. Grant writing is not creative writing exercise.

Many grant makers will throw out your application when they notice any of these mistakes. Committing any of the above mentioned mistakes could cost your nonprofit funding for the proposal, so be sure to re-read through the proposal after it has been written.

What have you learned from committing a grant writing mistake?

funding the future