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Site Visits, Panel Presentations, and Funder Phone Calls...Oh, My


Disclaimer: I have two young children, so my movie watching these days tends to be animated or introducing them to some of my childhood classics.
 
One of my favorite movies growing up was the Wizard of Oz. It was just scary enough to make my sister and I squeal when the Wicked Witch of the West would appear, but we loved the happy ending and all of the songs. And one of our favorite lines that we used to torment our parents? “Lions, and tigers, and bears…Oh, My!”

 

When I started to think about the activities that sometimes take place during the grant seeking process after clicking submit but before a decision is made, all I could think of was “site visits, panel presentations, and funder phone calls…Oh, My!”
 
These pre-award activities can create fear in grant professionals and nonprofit staff members, but they don't have to.
 
Tips to Prepare for Site Visits:
 
Site visits are a wonderful opportunity to showcase your organization/program to the grantmaker…if there is something for them to see. Regardless, it is also a great chance for face to face dialogue.
  1. Ask the grantmaker who will be attending from their organization if they prefer to see the program “in action” (if that is a possibility) or to have a quiet meeting.
  2. Ask the grantmaker if there is anyone specific (by role) that they want at the site visit. Some grantmakers expect not just the leadership and finance staff to be there, but also a board member.
  3. Have a few supporting handouts about the organization/program available for the grantmaker to take with them.
  4. Send a handwritten thank you note after the visit is conducted.
 
Tips to Prepare for Presentations:
 
Presentations are a formal extension of your proposal and the opportunity for the grantmaker to ask you questions about your submission.
  1. Ask the grantmaker who will be on the panel you are presenting to.
  2. Ask the grantmaker if there is anyone specific (by role) that they want at the site visit. Some grantmakers expect not just the leadership and finance staff to be there, but also a board member.
  3. Arrive early!
  4. Be prepared with a one-minute or less summary of your proposal if offered the opportunity to speak.
  5. Be prepared with who from your group will answer which type of questions.
  6. Have a few supporting handouts about the organization/program available to distribute and leave with the panel members.
  7. Send a handwritten thank you note after the visit is conducted.
 
Tips to Prepare for Funder Phone Calls:
 
You won't necessarily know that a grantmaker is going to phone you with a question about a proposal. While some funders may make arrangements via email for a phone appointment, others will simply pick up the phone to try and get a question answered. So how do you prepare?
  1. Ensure that the person who is listed as a contact on the submitted application has access to a copy of the application in their preferred format (electronic or hard copy) at their desk.
  2. Prepare the application contact or yourself with a few key phrases in response to unexpected grantmaker calls and/or questions. These should include, “that is a thoughtful question that I would like to discuss with my colleagues and get back to you about tomorrow.”
  3. Ask the grantmaker to hold for a moment while you get paper and pen to take notes during the call if you don't have something handy. Proceed to write down all their questions and input they share.
  4. Follow-up as they requested and when you agreed.
 
What other tips do you have to make site visits, panel presentations, and funder phone calls less daunting?
 
When not working on grants for the clients of DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC, Diane H. Leonard, GPC can be found in the 1000 Islands, out for a run, or drinking a strong cup of coffee.

 
 

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