Grant work is an ongoing process, so review your plans and outcomes, see what worked or didn’t work and then you will be prepared and ready for more grant success.
Implementing Your New Project
At this stage in the process, you receive notice from the funder as to whether or not you were awarded the grant. If you were successful, CELEBRATE! Then:
- Thank the funder! Write a brief letter expressing thanks to the funder for supporting your project. Let them know that you are excited about implementing the project.
- Tell officials/staff about your award. Inform your team about their success, congratulate them for a job well done, and honor their hard work by celebrating. Don’t forget to include your partners and supporters in the celebration. This can be as simple as pastries and coffee. The most important thing is to acknowledge the people and their hard work that made your proposal a success.
- Let the community know about your success. Send a press release to the local paper and media, and to state and regional publications. This is a good time to call for volunteers if your project will require them.
- Begin preliminary activities, such as reviewing your budget, starting the evaluation processes, confirming reporting requirements and deadlines, and purchasing needed equipment. There may be a grant contract for you to sign which stipulates the conditions of the grant. Make sure you understand the terms of the grant contract and the work the funder expects you to do for the funds they are awarding to you.
If your project was not funded, contact the program officer and ask for feedback. Some funders will provide you with this valuable information. Remember to put these comments and the denial of funding in perspective. You may have written an outstanding proposal, but if there were hundreds of applicants, not all of them can receive funding. Also, proposal reviewers are humans, just like you and me, who come with their own biases, preferences and opinions. Judging grant proposals is by nature a subjective activity. The same proposal read by a different team of reviewers may have been funded.
Putting things into perspective does not mean that your proposal doesn’t require some work. Read the reviewers’ comments and get opinions from people you know who are not involved with your library or the proposed project. Sometimes an impartial reader can see things that you cannot because you are so close to it. Most of all, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up! Strategize a new approach, see if you can revise and resubmit, or try another source.
Evaluate the Process
Take some time to think about what worked and didn’t work as you went through the grant process. This will help you to improve as you seek grants for new projects, and it will help you to avoid making the same errors again. Make sure your project was based on your strategic plan. Check to see if you did adequate planning and met all deadlines. What would you change or do differently? Learn from your mistakes and make the necessary adjustments. You can begin to incorporate what you have learned right away, as you seek another grant for this project or a new one.
Continue the Process
Stay up to date so you are ready for the next grant opportunity. Keep your strategic plan and project plans in mind and updated. Maintain and build relationships with potential funders and partners. Find and attend continuing education opportunities on grant research and proposal writing given by your community foundations, regional fundraising associations, libraries, professional organizations, The Foundation Center, or at conferences. Read about current funding trends and opportunities through funding newsletters, email updates, databases, web sites and blogs.
As you have learned, acquiring grants is not a one-time activity. It is a continual process in which you:
- Focus on Priorities and Needs
- Develop the Grant Project
- Research Funders and Find Appropriate Grants
- Write the Grant Proposal
- Implement, Evaluate and Continue the Process
Best of luck in your grant writing endeavors! There is a saying that luck—and success—is what occurs when preparation meets opportunity. Plan, prepare, and then go after those grant opportunities.