Archive for Financial Records

In order to become a certified grant professional, people have to demonstrate my competency in 8 areas as defined by the Grant Professionals Certification Institute.  These eight competencies are critical to the work we do. Five GPC’s have written a series of short articles about the competencies to coincide with weekly grantchats on each one on twitter. The links to the articles are below:

1: Effective Grant Applications by Diane Leonard

2: Program & Project Design & Development – Jo Miller

3: Funding Resources  – Diane Leonard

4: Organization Development – Jo Miller

5: Ethical Practices – Heather Strombaugh

6: Grant Management – Jana Hexter

7: Cultivate & Maintain Relationships – Mark Whitacre

8: Raise the Level of Professionalism – Heather Strombaugh Read More→


Budgets: Downton Abbey Style

Posted by: | Comments (1)

You may or may not know that I’m British. So, like many people I’m a fan of Downton Abbey. I like the costumes, the settings, and the romantic, tragic, and nefarious story lines.

And Downton Abbey is a great example of how the quantifiable and the qualitative support one another to make a beautiful whole – just like a grant proposal.

The grand dinner parties look sumptuous but underneath you see the hours of exact planning down to the minutest detail by the staff below the stairs to make it all happen. If Mr. Carson didn’t decant the wine at the precise time, Mrs. Patmore baked one too few cakes, and Thomas didn’t count the forks, it would all fall apart. So the mundane is the crucial underpinning of the glamor.

Budgets are the downstairs equivalent in the grant world

Most grant writers find them tedious and boringly detailed. But mess up on the budget and there’s no glamorous grant to experience.
On the surface, it looks like the proposal narrative has all the glamor – it’s the upstairs world. In it you can tell the story, put in pretty charts, and startling facts.

The budget is just a bunch of numbers. But, use it wisely and it can make the whole proposal look great and be as compelling as the downstairs of Downton Abbey.

The precision supports the glamor

I interviewed Johna Rodgers for my book and she explained why she loved working on budgets. She said something that was echoed by a few other people.

“A good budget tells a story and lousy planning will show up in your budget.”

What makes a budget interesting is not the drama and glamor of the narrative but the precision and the detail. She went on

“Every reviewer takes a three minute glance before they dive in. My three minute glance starts at the back with the budget and I have post-it-notes, so things that I saw in the budget that I want to see in that narrative, especially the big ticket items, I want to see them. If they are not there, they are going to get marked off somewhere.”

So Johna, and other reviewers that I know, take a peak downstairs before they taste the soup. If you have one staff person in the kitchen but are producing a sumptuous meal, she’ll notice. If you say in your narrative that you are going to start a summer program for teens in the inner city but don’t have any money in the budget for public transportation she’ll smell a rat.

Reviewers are wary of having the wool pulled over their eyes. Johna zeroes in on the budget because she knows that if tom foolery is afoot, that’s where she’ll catch it. She gave a great example,

“I reviewed a library grant a couple of years ago and they were actually going to build a library, it was in the budget but never said a thing about it in the narrative. It was in the budget and I am looking for it the whole time and they never talk about it. And they were going to put up one of those metal buildings. What?”

So, next time you are preparing a proposal – especially a large government grant – make sure that you take care of all the details below stairs in the budget so that it thoroughly supports and is as interesting as what’s going on above stairs in the proposal narrative.

Now, back to find out what Miss O’Brien is scheming to do next.


Interesting Grant Resource

Posted by: | Comments (0)

This week is a quiet week and I’m sure that many of you are off with your families enjoying the last wisps of summer. So, instead of writing a long post I’m going to recommend a great resource that you may not have heard about.

The Grant Professionals Certification Institute has an excellent literature review created by Michael Wells, GPC, CFRE, MA. It includes a summary of how the profession has grown and changed and an excellent list of books and resources about the field broken into to subcategories such as Writing Style, Federal Grants, Grants Management, Funder Perspectives etc.. It’s certainly not beach reading for the long weekend but if you haven’t perused this resource, it’s definitely worth a look. You can find it here.

I wish you and your family a lovely long holiday weekend.