Grant Writing: A Focus on Data

When it comes to writing a competitive grant application, many nonprofit professionals wonder: “How much data will be needed?”

The answer depends on the funder’s guidelines; but it is always a good idea to be ready to tell your story with data.

October’s Data Institute 2020 hosted by Good Measure and produced by Mission Capital, effectively helped nonprofit professionals see how insights, trends and other data can help increase social impact.

Here are some of the tips I shared as a presenter at this virtual conference. I hope you find them useful in your social impact work.

Data for Nonprofit Professionals

This month, the Data Institute 2020 hosted by Good Measure and produced by Mission Capital, effectively helped nonprofit professionals see how insights, trends and other data can help increase social impact.

I was thrilled to present a mini-session as part of this virtual conference, with tips that focused on using data as part of your grant proposals. If you’d like to learn more about using data to tell the story of your organization’s social impact, visit the Data Institute’s web site for links to resources.

Susannah Erler presenting at the Data Institute 2020 virtual conference.

Three little questions

Grant Writers loathe a blank page.

The blank page represents the beginning of a long road ahead.

But what if you had a way to strategically break that long road into manageable pieces? Then that blank page is not so menacing.

One of my strategies for facing a blank page is the “three little questions” strategy. Basically, you boil the information you need into three questions.

I’ll be talking about those three questions and about other grant writing strategies at a 90-minute zoom master class called Effective Grant Writing Strategies: Using Your Compass to Gain Treasures. This class will be presented on Monday, June 22nd, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. (central time) by the Center for Nonprofit Studies at Austin Community College. And as an extra bonus, the Center for Nonprofit Studies is currently offering classes as “pay what you can” because “learning never stops.” Jump in to this learning experience from anywhere in the world; RSVP here. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!


The Grant Writer’s Compass

Having a compass can help with direction-finding and making decisions about any journey. One of the key tasks for any grant professional is to have a strategy for getting to the “destination”: a winning proposal! To help with these goals, on March 5th, 2020, I’ll be making a presentation called ‘The Grant Writer’s Compass and Discovering Hidden Resources.’

Thank you to the Austin Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association for inviting me to share this information. The description of the presentation and a link to RSVP is below.

The Grant Writer’s Compass and Discovering Hidden Resources

There are three elements that all Grant Writers should have a firm grasp of as they seek funding: knowledge of your organization; knowledge of your funder; knowledge of yourself (your job).

We’ll cover the ways to gather info on and communicate these elements efficiently and effectively to take your grant writing achievements to the next level. Susannah will share tips, secrets and resources she has developed in her decades as a successful grant writer. We will also have an opportunity for interaction and shared learning; and as an extra bonus, all who participate will be entered in to win a $10 Gift Card from a local coffee shop. 

‘The Grant Writer’s Compass’ will be presented at the Austin Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association on March 5, 2020 from 12 to 1p. Link to RSVP: https://bit.ly/2uR2LNI

Susannah Erler, CFRE, took a 21-year career in public radio (starting at Austin’s KUT Radio) and morphed it into her current calling as a self-described Nonprofit Geek. She earned her master’s degree in Business with an Arts Administration (Nonprofit) specialization and is a Mission Capital Certified Interim Executive Director. As a grant writer, Susannah has obtained over $12 million in project funds for nonprofit organizations and educational institutions such as Austin Community College.

Creativity is a word Susannah loves: she has played her violin in several rock bands, she made a documentary about her favorite restaurant (Tamale House #3) and loves to tweet about nonprofits (handle: @GreaterGoodGeek ). Susannah grew up in Austin (but ask her about some of the other places she has lived too) and helps nonprofits in her role as Director of Greater Good Strategies. If you are going to SXSW EDU 2020 she would be delighted if you would attend the panel she is moderating: “Get that Grant! Tips and Trends from Philanthropists.”

Hispanic Central Texas and the 2020 Census

Coordinating a national census is no small task. Those who attended the recent ‘Hispanic Central Texas, Economic Opportunity and the 2020 Census’ panel presented by the Hispanic Impact Fund of the Austin Community Foundation gained insights into how this monumental endeavor is unfolding in the Austin area.

One key concern to Central Texas is that some populations historically have been, or are at risk of being, missed in the census at disproportionately higher rates. The latest estimates indicate approximately 25%, or nearly 7 million, of Texans, including a large proportion who are Hispanic, live in hard-to-count neighborhoods.

The panelists emphasized the importance of an accurate count. The distribution hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds, and grants are based on census data. This money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads and other vital programs. An undercount of the Texas population of just 1% could translate to a loss of $300 million in federal funding for the state and for Texans.

The Austin Community Foundation panel included representatives from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin, St. David’s Foundation, Todos Juntos Learning Center and the United Way for Greater Austin and was supported by Bank of America.

Spread the word that Census Day 2020 is April 1st. For more information on actions you can take to support an accurate count in Central Texas visit: The United Way for Greater Austin’s Central Texas 2020 Census Resource page.

Panelists and supporters of the ‘Hispanic Central Texas, Economic Opportunity and the 2020 Census Panel’ on February 27th, 2020 presented by the Hispanic Impact Fund of the Austin Community Foundation including representatives from Bank of America, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin, the Austin Community Foundation, St. David’s Foundation, the United Way for Greater Austin, Todos Juntos Learning Center and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Tips and Trends from Philanthropists

Educators! Do you have innovative project ideas, but are not sure how to get funding? Do you ever wish you could hear grant information directly from funders?

Well, at SXSW EDU 2020, there is a panel for you: Get that Grant: Tips and Trends from Philanthropists.

Get that Grant: Tips and Trends from Philanthropists – a panel at SXSW EDU 2020

This presentation will help education practitioners, administrators and nonprofits who are searching for project funding. The panelists will demystify the grant funding process. These grant-givers will describe what makes a successful project and how to make your grant request shine. You’ll learn what innovations today’s education funders are looking for, how to propose your project ideas and what you need to do to Get that Grant!

Their perspective and information will prove to be indispensable to grant-seekers. The scheduled panelists:

Click here for more info about SXSW EDU 2020, taking place in Austin March 9-12, 2020.

The Director of Greater Good Strategies (Susannah Erler) will be the moderator of this panel. We hope to see you there!

#SXSW #SXSWEDU #SXSWEDU2020 #EDUGrants

Women changemakers – let’s talk self-care

Some say your life’s purpose something you’d do for free. If that were true, why do so many feel burned out by purpose-driven work? Plus consider that the front-lines of these professions (nonprofits, NGOs, social impact, human services, advocacy…) are highly populated by women. Let’s talk about this! A meet-up is bring proposed for SXSW 2020 to do just that.

The proposed meet-up is titled Women changemakers – let’s talk self-care. And we need you, the public, to show your support for this idea during the community voting period (Aug. 5 – Aug. 23, 2019). Please go to panelpicker.sxsw.com , log in and vote-up and comment on this proposal if you’d like to see it at the next SXSW. Here is a video about it:

Research that suggests 50% of nonprofit employees are either at or nearing burnout (Opportunity Knocks). So, as we do our work, should we keep this metaphor in mind: when there is a problem with the plane, put your own oxygen mask on first?

Please take a look at the video describing the details; and vote and comment here. Thank you very much, and we hope to see you at SXSW 2020.

Philanthropists Offer Grant Tips

Do you have an idea for the next innovation in education and wonder if it could win a grant? A panel is being proposed for SXSW EDU 2020 that would help education practitioners, administrators and nonprofits who are searching for project funding.

The proposed panel is titled Get that Grant: Tips and Trends from Philanthropists. And we need you, the public, to show your support for this idea during the community voting period (Aug. 5 – Aug. 23, 2019). Please go to panelpicker.sxsw.com , log in and vote-up and comment on this proposal if you’d like to see it at the next SXSW EDU.

One very exciting bit of news is three very strong and knowledgeable philanthropists have already committed to participating! Their perspective and information will prove to be indispensable to grant-seekers. The grantmakers who have committed are:

These philanthropists will demystify the grant funding process during this proposed panel. They will describe what makes a successful project and how to make your grant request shine. You’ll learn what innovations today’s education funders are looking for, how to propose your project ideas and what you need to do to Get that Grant!

Please take a look at the video describing the details; and vote and comment here. Thank you very much, and we hope to see you at SXSW EDU.

Nonprofits: Get that Grant!

Grant Writing Class at Austin’s Center for Nonprofit Studies

I am excited about helping nonprofits achieve their missions. Similarly, I love helping nonprofit orgs get grant funding. So I am thrilled to let you know here that I’ll be presenting a day-long Grant Writing seminar at Austin’s Center for Nonprofit Studies on June 26th, 2019. I hope you’ll join me!

Get ready to look at grant writing in a new way – and energize your fundraising efforts! We’ll cover the basics of applications that support nonprofit organizations. We’ll cover:

  • Overview of grant funding
  • Your “success compass” – Top-line information about three key areas will point the way to a strong application. In this class we will focus on what you need to know and how to gather that information.
    • Know your organization
    • Know your potential funder
    • Know yourself (and your job)
  • The application journey – Once you have the facts above, you are ready to take the application journey. A strong application process will help you build a successful application. This class will teach the essential activities of going from step to step to step.
    • Step one: Our Nonprofit Organization has a Dream
    • Step two: We Have Found a Potential Grant Funder
    • Step three: We Have Turned in the Application
    • (Step four: Celebrate Success!)
  • Key tools for success – Now that you have the outline of what you need and how to proceed, this last section will give you practical tips, tools and hacks for crafting a successful application.

I have been writing grant applications since the 1990s and have raised over $11 million in grant funds for recipient organizations.  I also hold a master’s degree in Business with an Arts Administration (Nonprofit) specialization, and am Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).

Here is the link for tickets. I hope you’ll join me to learn more about successful grant writing on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM at ACC Highland Business Center, 5930 Middle Fiskville Rd, Austin, TX 78752.

Image: Cutrer

#SXSW 2019 Preview for Nonprofits

Nonprofits are here to change the world. And SXSW® is here to inspire do-gooders in their work.

Whether you are headed to #SXSW2019 or keeping up with the conference on social media – keep an eye on this site for this “nonprofit geek’s” descriptions of top offerings from the SXSW Social & Global Impact track.

Brené Brown (March 8th at 11:00 a.m. – Austin Convention Center)

The strength of our beliefs can be the foundation for positive changes.  Storyteller, Researcher and Author Brené Brown (Daring Greatly, Rising Strong…) will address top questions that change-makers face in an age of increased polarization. Is it possible to improve the world in a culture of shaming and blaming? Brown’s keynote will shed light on the effort it takes to show up and make a difference in our communities.

Stay tuned to this page for more Social & Global Impact SXSW® picks from Your Nonprofit Geek.

Image: Blake

Amplify Your Nonprofit’s Online Donations

Christine Herlin, Manager of Nonprofit & Customer Relations at I Live Here I Give Here

It seems every internet advancement produces a new way for nonprofits to spread the word about their work. Amplify Austin Day is one such way for nonprofits to describe their mission and reach potential supporters.

On January 4th, 2019 the Texas Grants Resource Center Nonprofit Networking and Learning Program presented “Amplify Austin – Your Questions Answered.” The speaker was Christine Herlin, Manager of Nonprofit & Customer Relations at I Live Here I Give Here which is a nonprofit that helps promote philanthropy in Central Texas and whose signature program is Amplify Austin Day.

Christine shared some great information about online giving, such as:

  • 61% of donors worldwide prefer to give online;
  • 75% of donors use social media as a primary news source;
  • 90% of Amplify Austin’s donations from social media come through Facebook;
  • 62% of millennials give online & are inspired by social.

Some additional tips as your nonprofit enters a giving campaign include: set your goals as a team, set measurable goals, and set goals that are bold, meaningful and attainable. In 2019, Amplify Austin Day will be from February 28th to March 1st.

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Data Source: I Live Here I Give Here, “Who Is I Live Here I Give Here”;

Image: Erler

Wine Knowledge Helps Nonprofit Professionals

wine2

Andrew Stevens of Twin Liquors Marketplace at Hill Country Galleria (Store #60) teaches a class on French Wine

A headline like that needs an explanation, doesn’t it?

Well, networking and socializing are key activities for development officers and other nonprofit professionals. Recognizing this, the Texas Grants Resource Center and the Grant Professionals Association – Austin Chapter partnered to bring an essential (and fun) event to their members: French Wine 101 – a primer for nonprofit events and fundraisers.

The attendees got a chance to learn about and taste wines from France. And the group also learned wine essentials like how to decant wine and how to increase your vocabulary of taste descriptions (hint: taste, smell and savor various natural items – like during a visit to a farmer’s market). But folks also took the opportunity to socialize, win prizes and have some holiday cheer.

Special and heart-felt thanks goes to the skillful presenter Andrew Stevens and the Twin Liquors Store #60  Manager, Andrew Zemites.

Andrew Stevens lead the group on an exciting and educational virtual journey through French wine country. Attendees learned not just about how wines are made and what to look for when enjoying them, but they learned the history and social aspects of the French regions as well. Andrew Zemites kindly set the whole experience up and created a very welcoming environment.

If anyone has questions about any wines or other spirits, the team at Twin Liquors Marketplace at Hill Country Galleria (Store #60), 3925 Market St, Bee Cave, TX have proven they will give you kind and knowledgeable service. You can find the store next to Dick’s Sporting Goods and behind the Verizon store at the Hill Country Galleria.

wine

And by the way, here are the wonderful wines that were covered in the class:

  • Alsace – Mure Reisling Signature
  • Loire – Dom Dugois Trousseau
  • Roussillon – Cuvee Constance
  • Burgundy – Liger-Belair Bourgogne
  • Bordeaux – Neipperg Collection
  • Rhone – La Fermes Du Mont Vendange

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

 

Images: Erler, Cochran