If you’re like me and you spend a good chunk of time putting together new and renewal grant proposals, you may find yourself with proposals in a dozen different folders throughout your computer; or perhaps on different computers altogether. It’s a de facto system that you can get by with, but it is risky if you lose track of your proposals.
Ultimately, not having easy access to previously submitted proposals can make putting together the next grant a frustrating or slow process, especially if you have to recreate language that you know you’ve already written.
Different foundations, in their grant guidelines, will undoubtedly be asking you similar questions. And instead of recreating language each time, focus on implementing a Grants Boilerplate Folder that captures everything that you need to build your grant proposal in record time.
A Grants Boilerplate Folder System is a centralized location of all the text you have written for grants that can be reused in new applications without much modification. It contains, in one easily backed up location, all the proposals that you’ve submitted and it provides a space to break those apart into their individual components. More importantly, it reduces the time that you dedicate to assembling future proposals and it cuts down your grant writing time considerably. After you get your Boilerplate system in place, if all the essential components are ready and available, you could create a new grant proposal within a day.
I have a few funders who provide us with general support grants so once the main proposal is updated and finalized, I can tailor some elements and resubmit to another foundation relatively quickly.
Here’s the trick…
Grant writing shouldn’t end after you hit the send or submit button. Take an hour or so after you submit the final version to break the proposal down into its components and then organize the sections into your Grants Boilerplate Folder. Here are 1, 2, 3 tips to help make the system work effectively for you:
- Submitting the same language for a proposal as you did the previous year can send the wrong message – so make sure to revisit your challenge statement and proposal narrative. Keep these fresh and up-to-date, including relevant changes in political, economic or social trends.
- Losing your grants documents due to a computer crash, which can happen to all of us is not fun. It can set you back weeks or even months. Schedule periodic back up in multiple locations and rest easy.
- Make the folder shareable by using a cloud service (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.). That way it’s backed up and accessible from anywhere by anyone on your team.
Boilerplate Shareable Folder Model
Below are a few suggestions of what your Grants Boilerplate Folder could include. As you prepare new proposals, add new folders based on common questions that you frequently see on foundation guidelines.
- Permanent Folder: a place for all the items that never or seldom change
- Mission Statement / Vision Statement
- Organization Description
- Organization History
- Social Media summary
- Membership Base description
- Staff Bios
- Organization Chart
- Board List
- 501(c)(3) Letter
- Evaluation Methodology
- Narrative Folder: a place for your program and general support narratives
- Recent Accomplishments
- Challenge Statement
- Core Programs
- Goal, Measurable Objectives, Activities, and Outcomes
- Financials: a place for all the financial info that a foundation may request
- Operational Budgets – General
- Program Budgets
- Expense Reports
- Grants Submitted: a place to gather all your submitted grant proposals
- By Foundation Name
Add to your To Do List:
- Collect and organize your Grant Proposals in one Grants Boilerplate Folder. Spend the next day or the next weekend locating all the proposal related materials on your computer. Organize them by foundation.
- Now, before you do anything else, BACK UP that folder on an external drive. Hearing stories of the aftermath of losing proposals due to a computer crash is not just heartbreaking, it can do some damage to the organization, setting you back weeks or worse.
- Brainstorm with key staff members who help with grants to develop a Grants Boilerplate Folder system that work for you and your team. Review a recent proposal and break it down to populate your boilerplate folder.
- Make your Grants Boilerplate Folder shareable for your development team, and create it on a cloud service like Dropbox, which allows you to share the folder with others. You can open a free account using the following link: Free Dropbox Account.