3 steps for program implementation

September 1, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

Once the ink on the grant award dries, a swarm of start-up tasks sends staff off and running–sometimes, unfortunately, in the wrong direction. “Too often organizations look around after six months and find that program implementation is off track,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center, in Los Angeles, Calif. “If you want to stay on track, don’t start running. Get organized.”

The proposal itself, along with accounting instructions and reporting requirements included in the award document, will dictate your basic game plan. Floersch suggested the following ways to stay on track.

Assemble the Grant Management Team: At a minimum include an administrator, the program manager, and a representative from the financial office. If there is high-level collaboration with partner groups, include representatives from those organizations as well. The purpose of the team is to ensure compliance with grant requirements and to steer implementation so that it adheres to the original plan.

Prepare and Distribute the Grant Requirements Memorandum: This document is prepared by the program manager and is distributed to the Grant Management Team. It lays out the parameters and requirements, defining the period of performance, the budget, requirements for drawing down and obligating funds, the program implementation plan, and the project timeline.

Hold the Initial Grant Management Meeting: In this meeting, team members review the Grant Requirements Memorandum, review the work plan and timeline, and make revisions as needed. It’s critical that each team member walk away with absolute clarity on his or her role and responsibility related to program implementation.

“It’s all about organization, coordination, and discipline,” said Floersch. “Once you put the pieces into place, you’ve got to stay on top of it all.” Hold regular meetings of the Grant Management Team to review progress, check the timeline, and troubleshoot. ©2015 The Grantsmanship Center. All Rights Reserved.

Donors …

Yes, donors require ‘customer service’

Great service is always expected by the finest hotels and restaurants, but by great nonprofits? Absolutely, according to Pamela Grow. The fundraising coach and consultant writes in the recently published “The Essential Fundraising Handbook for Small Nonprofits,” that nonprofits too should strive to provide exemplary service, i.e., stewardship, to their donors. She recommended a few ideas that can foster great service:

* Regularly survey your donors: What is it they like about your organization? What do they want to see more of from you? It doesn’t have to be a big production. Include a question in every e-newsletter, develop a short survey to send to a couple dozen donors, or post a question on your Facebook page.

* Send them gifts: Nothing expensive but go out on a limb and do something fun, bold and wow-inducing.

* Create a pass-it-on packet: Send donors packets of information regarding your nonprofit’s work and ask them to pass it along to others who might share their interest.

* Get your board involved: Schedule small thanking parties during board meetings where they can call donors or write personal thank-you notes.

* Welcome kits: Educate new donors but go beyond just thank-you letters and include photos, surveys, benefits brochures or a small gift, like a bookmark.