My Grant WritingToolbox

Welcome to my toolbox. We all have the tools we use for certain tasks. Some of the tools we love. Some we tolerate. Some we just downright loathe. There are several tools which I love to use when writing grant applications.

My Grant Writing Toolbox

Below are the tools I use when writing a grant application. I love each and everyone.

  • MacBook Air – I have said it again and again. I am an Apple Junkie. So I use a MacBook Air now with the Yosemite operating system for all my work.
  • Dropbox - I have Dropbox installed on computer, and use it just like a documents folder. I never have to worry about losing any of my work. I create a folder for each grant maker and keep all the information related to the grant in that folder.
  • Pages – I write every grant application in Pages whether it is an online application or a paper application. I write online applications in Pages so if the site crashes, I do not lose any work. I do have Word also installed on my computer, but my preference is Pages. I think it is much more user-friendly.
  • Preview – I use preview for the applications you can fill in and for opening many of the grant maker’s guidelines and such.
  • Dictionary – I use the native Dictionary app on my MacBook Air all the time to spell words correctly or to look up synonyms.
  • Wunderlist – This is a to-do list app that has a free option. I create a task for each grant application, setting the due date before it is actually due. Then I put any information I need to gather as subtasks. I have Wunderlust on my MacBook Air and on my iPhone so I always know what I need to do.
  • Evernote – Evernote is my digital filing cabinet. I file newspaper articles about the organization, meeting notes, and information in it. Again this app is on both my MacBook Air and my iPhone.
  • iTunes – I use my music or some of the ratio stations I have set up in iTunes to help me focus while I work on grant applications.
  • Mail – I use the native Mail app on the MacBook Air to send and receive all my email.

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Now, what are your favorite tools to write a grant application? 

What is a Grant?

What Are Grants?

Congratulations! Your nonprofit organization is ready to start thinking about apply for grant money. Grants are a great way to fund projects/programs, receive recognition for the nonprofit, and provide professional growth and personal satisfaction.

For a simple definition, Grants are funding awarded under contract for the performance of a specific activity.

To be a grant, it must contain these components:

  • Contractual – If awarded, the grant is a contractual agreement between the nonprofit and the grant maker. The nonprofit must follow all the rules laid out by the grant maker.
  • Outcomes/Deliverables – The nonprofit agree to produce something as a result of being funded.
  • Timeline – A nonprofit lays out the timeline for the project/program they are seeking funding for. Grant makers generally do not fund open-ended applications.
  • Reporting – There will be reporting when receiving funding from grants. Generally the grant maker will request at least a grant report when all the funds have been used. Also the nonprofit will have to report to the state and federal government the receiving of funds.

While grant writing is a great way to help fund your organization, it is important to keep in mind grant funding is not:

  • Silver Bullet – Grants and writing grant applications is not a silver bullet for nonprofit organizations. Grant Writing should be one part of a fundraising plan.
  • Free Money – Grant money is not free money. Grants take a whole lot of work. The organization must follow all the guidelines set forth by the grant maker. The organization must track and document how they spend the funds. The organization must track the impact the grant money had on the project/program.
  • Guaranteed – Grant makers receive hundreds to thousands of applications every year. It is not guaranteed your organization will be funded. And it is NOT your grant writer’s fault if it is not funded.
  • Easy to develop, write, or administer – Grant applications take much time, concentration, and energy to develop, write, and administer. Be sure the nonprofit is ready to take on such task before starting grant writing.

It can be easy to get discouraged reading all of what a grant is not. The reason I tell you what a grant is not is to prepare you and your nonprofit for the process. Each and every nonprofit must decide if they are ready to pursue the task of grant writing.

For more information on grants and grant writing, read these articles.

How would you describe grants? 

5 Ways to Use iPhoto & Photo Streams in Your Nonprofit

Are any of your employees or volunteers Apple junkie like me? I love Apple products. I have used a Mac since I started college. I currently have a Mac Air and an iPhone 5. I use my Apple products for work all the time.

iPhoto & Photo Streams

One of the applications I use the most in my Apple products is the photos app and iPhoto on my Mac Air. There are several ways beyond just taking and editing pictures using these applications can help your nonprofit’s social media strategy.

  1. Import pictures from the photos app into iPhoto so the iPhone storage doesn’t fill up.
  2. In iPhoto, write the description of the photo in the add a description box under info on each picture. Then when you upload them to Facebook, the description is already written in.
  3. Use Photo Streams between colleagues –  Create a photo stream for your nonprofit or each event, then have everyone add their pictures/videos to this stream. PR/Media person can them use them for social media and doesn’t necessarily have to be at every event.
  4. Create a Public Photo Stream for each of your events/classes/programs, participants can upload their own pictures/videos & nonprofit can use for social media.
  5. Use the faces feature in iPhoto to identify staff, volunteers, clients, etc in your organization. Then when doing a piece on someone, it is easy to find photos of them.

For instructions on how use an iPhone for photography and editing, check out David Molnar’s Book iPhone Only Photography.  I have learned so much from David in how to create better pictures.

How do you use your Apple products for nonprofit work? 

LinkedIn for Nonprofits

What is LinkedIn? 
LinkedIn is a professional social media site. Users make connections with colleagues, classmates, business associates, etc. User profiles are is like a resume. LinkedIn is a great site to build professional connections which could lead to business or jobs.

LinkedIn for Nonprofits
What is a LinkedIn company page?  
A LinkedIn Company Page is a lot like a Facebook Page or a Google+ Business Page. It is a way to give people an introduction to your business. You can share articles and posts just like Facebook and Google +.

When a company page exists for a nonprofit, it will link up if a user lists the nonprofit in their work and/or volunteer experience.

Should my nonprofit have one? 
With all these social media networks, it can be hard to know which ones your nonprofit should be on. Most of the time you don’t have the personnel or time to do all the social media sites well.

My advice would be to set up a company page for your nonprofit. It does not take much to set up the page, and it does not take much extra work to maintain. Then if someone adds your nonprofit to their work or volunteer experience, it will be linked to your official LinkedIn Company Page.

For more information on the LinkedIn Company pages and how to set one up, check out the LinkedIn page.

Feel free to connect with me or bmtmedia on LinkedIn.

Does your nonprofit have a LinkedIn Company Page? 

5 Reasons to Update Your Nonprofit’s GuideStar Profile

What is GuideStar? 

GuideStar’s mission is “to revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.” “We provide as much information as we can about each nonprofit’s mission, legitimacy, impact, reputation, finances, programs, transparency, governance, and so much more.”

GuideStar is directed at grant makers, donors, and potential supporters so they can use the information to decide on whether or not to donate to a nonprofit. 5 Reasons to Update Your Nonprofit's GuideStar Profile
Why should I update my nonprofit’s GuideStar profile? 

“[Online] fundraising is built upon GuideStar. Change.org, Network for Good, and Facebook Causes (just to name a few) are pulling your organization’s information from GuideStar. … donations made to your organization are mailed to the address listed in GuideStar! Nonprofits need to understand the importance of keeping their GuideStar entry current.” —Heather Mansfield, Change.org

  1. If you are a 501c3, you already have a profile, so why not keep it up to date?
  2. The information on GuideStar powers more than 60 other websites like Network for Good, blackbaud, Change.org,  and Razoo. It also powers the new give. app.
  3. It adds to your nonprofit’s transparency.
  4. Grantmakers and potential supporters check it to decide to donate to your nonprofit.
  5. You only have to update it once a year.

How do I update our profile? 
GuideStar has all the information you need to update your nonprofit’s profile.

Updating your nonprofit’s GuideStar Profile could literally be worth millions of dollars in donations. Potential donors and grantmakers could use the information to decide if your nonprofit receives any funding.

Is your nonprofit’s GuideStar profile up to date?

funding the future