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Thinking about a Collaborative Grant, Read this First

One of the things I learned in the grant-seeking process is collaboration is king. We were unable to secure a large grant as a solo applicant but once we collaborated with other organizations, we were able to secure $1M state grants. This allowed us to expand our staff and program services for the betterment of those we served.

If you do an internet search of the joint funding process you will quickly get practical advice. Appoint a team leader. Establish a work plan and project schedule. Assign roles and responsibilities. Agree on how you will make decisions. Have one person do the writing. Have everyone read a draft and offer edits. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Document everything.

But I will say there are some lessons I learned in the process of collaboration that can only be gained from experience.

1. You must trust the organization that you partner with on the grant application. Partner with those you know and if you want to partner outside of your sphere of influence start building the relationship now. As you know it takes time to establish trust and understanding of the resources that a partner brings to the table.

2. Talk about money early in the process. Determine who will be the fiscal agent and how the funds will be split. Note that sometimes an organization may have to take one for the team budget-wise to get the funding. That may mean forgoing an administrative fee for being the fiscal agent. Have all these conversations upfront so everyone is on the same page.

3. Talk about the program impact early as well. Often time, we are just so happy to be added to a joint funding application we don’t pay attention to what this really means for the organization. So, have joint meetings during the application process where the program scope is discussed and hammered out, so no one is surprised about their grant deliverable if awarded.

4. Deal with conflict immediately in a professional and civil manner. Leave room to have an open and honest conversation about what is or is not working. The goal is to maintain a good relationship so you can continue to partner in the future. I have seen partnership go bad because they begin to question each other motives and choose not to discuss the elephant in the room. And

5. Each organization must be accountable for the grant reporting process. As a collaborating partner, you must be timely with all grant reporting requirements. Remember the fiscal organization is at your mercy and it is their reputation with the award agency that is on the line. They can’t provide reports unless they have all participating partner’s information. So be a good partner. Don’t be late with reports. You may not be invited back to the table for the next funding round.

I hope this helps. Comments are welcomed. Sharing is Caring.

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