Your Grantsmanship Team: Who’s on First?

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    If you’re the only staff person devoted to grantsmanship at your organization, then you’re the one on first … and you’re also the manager! But, you have a great team, and each member plays an important role in helping to win the grant. As in baseball, each member of your team has specific responsibilities and a specific skill set that relates to the responsibilities of their position.

    So, here’s the team roster:

    • Manager: As the manager, you’re responsible for winning the grant. This means that you’re responsible for the four steps I have discussed earlier in this series: grant prospecting, grant cultivating, grant/proposal development, and grant management, including reporting and stewardship. As the manager, you also need to keep abreast of changing rules, techniques, technologies, and philosophies relevant to grantsmanship.
    • First Baseman: In this position you need to receive information from all your other fielders.
    • The Infield: The program staff members are your infielders, and they cover a lot of ground delivering services to your clients. When it comes to the programs you need to describe in grant proposals, they are the experts, and are invaluable members of your team. You must work closely with them to establish program goals, objectives, and metrics, and you need their help with monitoring outcomes and reporting results.
    • The Pitcher: Your Executive Director and board members will, fairly often, make the pitch to a foundation trustee. The pitch can be in the form of a meeting to discuss the possibility of applying for grant funding, at a site visit that you have arranged, or even a phone call. Your board members’ connections in the community, and their ability to cultivate these relationships, are the specific skills that make them excellent pitchers for your organization. And in this capacity, they often function as talent scouts, helping you prospect for other sources of grant funding.
    • The Catcher: Foundation trustees, program officers and/or the foundation manager are on the receiving end of your grant pitch. And, although not members of your nonprofit organization, they are very important members of your grant team. They can provide valuable information about the funding priorities of their foundation, and specifics on proposal format and due date. Most important, if they have caught a good pitch, they can be advocates for your proposal with the other trustees at their foundation.
    • The Outfield: Other members of the development staff and the finance staff at your nonprofit round out your fielding positions. Other development staffers can assist with proposal review, and finance staff will provide budget information for proposals, and budget “actuals” for reports.
    • The Competition: Just as Tony La Russa kept an eye on the Texas Rangers during the 2011 World Series, you also need to keep an eye on your competition. Review the annual reports of other organizations that provide the same or similar services as your organization, and identify the foundations listed as their funders. Foundations that fund these organizations are likely to be good prospects for you.
    • Coaching Staff: As in baseball, coaches can assist in the smooth functioning of your team. Attend professional development seminars, network with other grant professionals, and seek out a mentor if you are new to the profession.

    If you manage your team well, by understanding the importance of all your players and communicating with them about the roles they play in your organization’s grant program, then you may end up rivaling Tony La Russa’s winning record… and yes, I am from St. Louis!

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    Lynn deLearie Consulting, LLC, helps nonprofit organizations develop, enhance and expand grant programs, and helps them secure funding from foundations and corporations. Contact Lynn deLearie..

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