10 Grant tips from a Pro

Looking for money to support your organization’s next important project? You may want to consider applying for a grant. We had the pleasure of hearing from speaker Jane Colacecchi this week who writes grants as part of her work at her company JHC Associates. Here are some of the tips that we took away from her presentation:

  1. Read the directions carefully. Then read them again. …and again. If they ask for 4 copies, give them 4 copies. If they want it mailed, don’t e-mail it! If it’s due by 5 pm, don’t drop it off at 5:01.
  2. Focus your application on the specific piece of the project that you are asking them to fund. Your funding request may be part of a larger project, but the funder is primarily interested in the part that they will be funding. Spend the majority of your time explaining that one piece of the project and why it is important. An example: Let’s say you are doing a historic building renovation over the course of several years, and are asking for money to replace the roof this year. Focus on describing the roof replacement, rather than giving detail about the window replacements you’ll do next year, or the foundation work you did 2 years ago.
  3. Explain why your organization is credible and can be trusted to complete the project. Many applications ask you to give an overview of your organization. This is your chance to raise their confidence that you will make good use of their funds. Talk about your past successes and other things that show your stability and ability to follow through.
  4. Tell them “why” your project matters to the community. Don’t just tell them “what” you will do. Tell them “why” it’s important. What problem are you solving? What positive impact will it have?
  5. Project budgets must be supported properly. Don’t guess on costs for your project. Make sure to get bids from the vendor or service provider, and include that documentation in your grant. Simply getting a price from a catalog may not be sufficient for some applications.
  6. Matching funds. If you can show that you already have money committed to the project, that will help your application (and some grants require it).  However, as long as a match is not required, don’t let a lack of a match stop you from applying. You may still score high enough in other areas to qualify for funding.
  7. Contact the grant maker. It’s always a good idea to contact the person in charge of the grant for questions or clarification (look for the contact person listed in the application). Do not be afraid to ask questions!
  8. Proof read! Have at least 2 people read over the grant to review content and look for grammatical errors. This means you can’t wait until the last minute to write the application!
  9. Use the scoring matrix. Many grant applications include a table that explains exactly how you will be scored by the grant review panel. Make sure to use this and write your grant so that it will score at the highest level! (See example matrix below from the Warren County Philanthropic Partnership grant).
  10. Identify measurable outcomes, within the right timeframe. When the funder asks how you plan to evaluate your outcomes, they will be interested in things that can be objectively measured, and will occur within the timeframe of the grant. An example: If you are replacing playground equipment, one outcome will be the number of people per day that use the playground in the months following the installation, and how much that has increased from before the replacement. 

AND ONE MORE THING…

The MOST IMPORTANT “tip” of all – Get it done! The tips above are all best practices, but the most important thing is that you get the application done. Even if it’s not perfect, as long as you complete every section and do not get disqualified (make sure you follow the directions!), you still have a shot at that money. If you don’t turn it in, your chances are zero! 😉

Click here for the full powerpoint from Jane’s presentation, “How to write a winning grant”

Ready to go after a grant? Here is a list of grant opportunities for Warren County organizations and governments: Grant Opportunities for Warren County Orgs

More grant listings and links to applications on our grant resources page.

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Example Grant Scoring Matrix:

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Volunteer with Hometown Pride in 2019!

Make a New Years Resolution to volunteer with Hometown Pride in 2019! Sign up here.

We have committees working in 7 towns – Carlisle, Cumming, Hartford, Indianola, Milo, New Virginia, and Norwalk – and they all depend on residents like you volunteering your time and talents. Here are some of the things that volunteers did for Hometown Pride this year:

  • Cleaned up parks and streets
  • Built a mobile stage for a 4th of July parade
  • Planned a block party
  • Dressed up as Charlie Brown
  • Designed logos and posters
  • Baked cookies 🙂
  • Wrote grants
  • Drove through town looking for the best Christmas lights (and giving them an award!)
  • Planned a music festival
  • Hosted a “front porch” party for their neighbors
  • Wrote news releases
  • Hung up flyers
  • Designed and wrote a community directory
  • Visited another town to get ideas to bring back to their community
  • Took photos
  • Designed new entrance signs
  • Planned an outdoor concert
  • Watered trees
  • Shared Hometown Pride news on social media
  • Managed the committee bank account
  • Designed a veteran’s memorial
  • Installed a playground swing
  • Rode through town in a convertible, handing out festival tickets
  • Presented to city council
  • Created a new city motto
  • Picked out community Christmas decorations
  • Served food
  • Pulled weeds

Contact us, or any existing Hometown Pride volunteer, to find out more about how to volunteer.

Happy One-Year Anniversary Hometown Pride!

About a year ago we announced the beginning of Hometown Pride in Warren County! Since then, we’ve been pretty busy. After recruiting about 80 volunteers to start 7 new committees, we hosted a music festival, created a community directory, started building a few playgrounds, threw a block party, helped clean up our towns a few times, and a lot more. We started or completed more than 30 projects in 2018, logged about 2,000 volunteer hours, raised around $50,000, amassed more than 2,500 followers on social media, and worked in partnership with at least 25 other community organizations.

Check out our 2018 Year-End Report to read about all we did in our first year!

9 Tips for Hometown Pride Facebook Pages

Our Hometown Pride committees are engaging their communities through social media! Here are a few things we’ve learned about getting people’s attention on our posts. What tips would you add to this list?

1. Pictures, pictures, pictures. A single, engaging picture is one of the best ways to engage people. Close-up photos of people (like this one!) definitely get attention. Take pictures of your committee in action, or pictures of a project you’re working on.

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2. Hit on the Hot Topics! Find a way to connect the news of the day to your cause and community.

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3. Be brief. Use as few words as possible to get your points across. Posts that include just a short phrase or sentence usually perform better than longer posts.

4. Be enthusiastic! Don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm. Sharing that you are “so excited to introduce our newest volunteers!” will get more attention than “we have 3 new committee members.”

5. Ask people to participate. Ask thought-provoking and fun questions or take polls. And don’t be shy about asking people to like and share your page!

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6. Post often and schedule in advance. Many experts recommend posting on Facebook at least once a day, but for volunteer-run pages like ours, once or twice a week is a more reasonable goal. Because of the way Facebook works, the more often people engage with your page, the more likely they are to see your next post. Try planning your posts out and scheduling them in advance so you only have to think about it a few times a month!

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7. Use Events. If you have an event coming up, try creating a Facebook event. You can post updates directly in the event (under “discussion”), and everyone who has clicked “yes” or “interested” will be notified.

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8. “Tag” other organizations, individuals and local businesses. When you tag an organization or individual, everyone who follows that organization may also see your post. (To tag someone, type @ and then start typing their name, and their name should automatically pop-up as an option to select and tag)

9. Coordinate multiple admins. If you have multiple administrators, make sure you are all on the same wavelength as far as what you are posting and when. One way to do this is to schedule posts in advance (see Tip #6), so the other admins can see they are coming and plan their posts around it.

BONUS TIP #10: Do something great! You can use all the tricks you want, but ultimately the most important “trick” is to do good work that people love. By far our most popular post so far was an offer to help out our neighbors. That’s what it’s all about!

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– Tips compiled by Warren County Hometown Pride Coach, Lorin Ditzler and Carlisle Hometown Pride Treasurer (and Facebook admin), Emily Nordyke.

Tips for Running Efficient Meetings

We’ve got a lot of meetings going on for Hometown Pride, and we know you want them to be as productive as possible. Here are a few tips for running an efficient meeting!

  • Have an Agenda: Always have a clear agenda that outlines the topics to be discussed
  • Start on Time: Start meetings at the time stated on the agenda. Meetings that start on time end on time.
  • Time Limits: Include approximate time frames for each discussion item on the agenda, and stick to them.
  • Meeting leader: Each meeting needs a clear leader – someone who will make sure that the agenda is followed.
  • DO Interrupt: While we usually try our best NOT to interrupt people, when you are the meeting leader, sometimes you have to! It’s natural for conversations to get sidetracked, and it’s up to the meeting leader to get them back on track, even if that means (politely) interrupting.
  • Preparation: The meeting leader should sure to have the background information needed to make decisions during the meeting. Or, if other committee members are responsible for bringing the necessary information, the meeting leader should check with them in advance to make sure they are prepared.
  • “Parking Lot”: Inevitably, important ideas or topics will arise that are not on the agenda (or can not be resolved in the allotted time frame). These can sidetrack the meeting and keep you from completing your agenda. Keep a running list of those discussion items to put in the “parking lot” until later, and then make a plan at the end of the meeting for if/when you will address those (like putting it on the agenda for next time, forming a subcommittee, or resolving via e-mail).
  • Make sure people feel heard: If it seems like someone keeps repeating the same idea, it’s probably because they feel they haven’t been heard yet. The meeting leader should make sure to acknowledge the point, either by addressing it immediately, putting it in the “parking lot” for later, or even writing down people’s ideas somewhere visible, like a white board.
  • Follow up: When an item requires action, determine who will be responsible for that and include follow-up on the next meeting’s agenda.

What other tips would you add to this list?

$16,500 awarded to Hometown Pride

Four of our Hometown Pride projects received funding from the Warren County Philanthropic Partnership, for a total of $16,500 in the 2018 grant cycle. The projects were:

  • Carlisle – Playground Equipment for Lindhardt (South) Park: $4,200
  • Norwalk – Cemetery Landscaping (in partnership with the City of Norwalk): $4,900
  • New Virginia – Street Sign Replacement (in partnership with the City of New Virginia): $2,700
  • Hartford – Christmas Lights (through Hartford Betterment Committee): $4,700

The grant recipients were recognized at a reception in Norwalk on May 15.

 

New Ideas for New Virginia

Hometown Pride brought together more than 40 New Virginia residents for an ice cream social and community vision discussion. The participants talked about their ideas for how to improve their great community. The main ideas that came out of the discussion were:

  • Clean-up the appearance of the community and improve first impressions. A few ideas for ways to do this were offered:
    • Offer to help property owners clean-up their properties
    • Improve entryways and add welcome signs
    • Host a clean-up day
    • Paint murals on the sides of buildings
    • Plant flowers/flower baskets along street
  • Market New Virginia and its assets to potential residents. Great community, easy access, low cost, etc.
  • Add sidewalks and walking trails in the community.
    • This will make our community more attractive
    • Continuous sidewalks will be good for the parade and other community events.
    • The City sidewalk code may need to be updated.
    • Some of the older sidewalks are in disrepair and present a safety hazard

New Virginia Hometown Pride thanks the community for the great discussion. Our committee meets monthly to plan how we can act on these and other ideas.

We need your help to make these things happen! Would you like to help get one of these ideas off the ground? Contact us to learn how to volunteer for Hometown Pride.

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