Many nonprofits and charities rely on grants for a good portion of their funding, however writing grants can be a time consuming and frustrating process. Our February Toronto Net Tuesday explored how grant writers can use technology to find and keep track of grants.
By: Brennan S., TechSoup Canada Volunteer
If you happen to notice that the video from Using Technology for Grants lacked sound or failed to focus on the right speaker at the right time, it’s because this camera man is guilty of paying too much attention to our speakers last Tuesday. Tech Tuesday was pleased to welcome an inspired panel of non-profit speakers to our technology forum, where we debated everything from the value of following grant writers on twitter to how to partner with large grant funders. The outcome of the evening was one part tech, one part process, and several great strategies for marketing your not-for-profit cause.
TechSoupers had an introduction to the grant writing process with Jessica Hazen who works at the Centre for Social Innovation. The biggest lesson I learned from Jessica was time management. Even using technological automation will only get a grant writer so far—time management is key to writing a grant proposal that meets requirements and keeps your organizations vision intact. Perhaps the greatest tech tip Jessica gave us was how to phone people. We often think about computers when it comes to technology, but often most of our problems can be solved by simply dialling the right number.
Imagine Canada and Ajah Fundtracker
We were graced with several forms of software, provided to us by Imagine Canada, which helps organizations foster communities of charitable giving, and Michael Lenczner, who works with Ajah Fundraiser, a powerful new product with online search functions. Imagine Canada showed us how to use their extensive databases, and there were walkthroughs of online grant searches.
Both Imagine Canada and Michael from Ajah Fundraiser explained how to use technology once you’ve been awarded grants, since most grants require regular reports and project status updates. They both agreed that using technology to create automated reports in spreadsheets and template documents was a giant time-saver.
When using technology to create reports, make sure you know what a granter wants. Steven Ayer from Imagine Canada told a story where they produced a four-page report that was accepted because Imagine Canada asked for requirements from the funder, while another charitable organization who didn’t ask produced over 70 pages of reporting! Scary!
For more information, see TechSoup Canada's article, Research Funders and Find Appropriate Grants.
Frontline Partners with Youth Network
Lastly, Neemarie Alam & Clarissa Chandler from Frontline Partners with Youth Network (FPYN) rounded off the talk with ways to build projects from your not-for-profit’s needs. Clarissa and Neemarie said that you can’t create a project to match a grant. An effective grant writing process means targeting organizations that would be good partners for your target audience.
Probably the best part of the evening was the Q & A. There were a lot of very good questions thrown to our panel, and we got very good answers from everyone involved. It was exciting to see so many people actively engaged in a dialogue about the grant-writing process and the types of tech available to not-for-profits and charities.
Information on nonprofit-charity partnerships in seeking grants.
TechSoup Canada has plenty of great material from the talk, with tips to help you get started if you’re a beginner, or advice to improve the process if you’re veteran. All of this is included at the end of this article for your personal grant-writing pleasure. Thanks to all the came out, and we can’t wait to see you at our next Toronto Net Tuesday. I’ll master the camera by then, I swear!