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The More Things Change: Strategies for Grant Professionals Seeking Institutional Buy-in

In the grants profession, change occurs on an almost daily basis. Funder requirements are updated, federal regulations evolve, and new submission or reporting technologies are introduced—just to name a few.

But what happens when the institution you work for is the one making the change?


Unfortunately, process revision often results from something stressful. For most of us, the need for new or enhanced administrative processes is brought about by additional agency requirements and increasing regulations, perhaps significant growth at our own organizations, or, in hopefully rare cases, a project or process gone awry. 
Whether you are implementing an updated administrative procedure or rolling out an entirely new policy manual, here are some strategies you might consider:

  • Engage stakeholders early. It can be tempting to develop processes with a small group. These revisions are time-sensitive and time-intensive—and often must be completed alongside many other deadlines. But taking the time to meaningfully involve those who will be impacted will not only enable buy-in and potentially save your team time in the long run, but these different perspectives may also lead to a better product that remains in use longer.
  • Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) or other snapshot document.  Policies and procedures manuals can contain lengthy documentation on a number of interrelated and complex grant topics. By offering staff a short document highlighting key changes, those impacted by the policy have the opportunity to preview information and follow-up with your team. When possible, diagrams, workflows, and other visual representations of the process are beneficial when introducing something new.    
  • Find a champion. Unfortunately, your efforts to enhance internal controls can add to workloads of others. Consider which groups your update most impacts and identify a colleague from that area that may be willing to champion your process improvement. Invest time in sharing with this individual how the new process came about and why it's needed at this time. When possible, incorporate their feedback directly during the planning stage.
  • Share the why.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, when we make changes to the “what” or “how” within our organizations, others are more likely to accept, recall, and even promote, the process when they have an understanding of why change is necessary. As grant professionals, we've read the regulations. We've experienced the audit. We've nearly missed the deadline. Common ground is possible when everyone impacted by an internal change understands it was designed to improve efficiencies, mitigate risk, and ultimately support a shared mission.
For those who've attempted to change a grant process and faced resistance at your organization, think back to how and when your colleagues would have first encountered your new information. What strategies might you try next time?
Kacie Fodness is a grant writer with the Avera Health system in Sioux Falls, SD. As a part of her role, she supports pre- and post-award activities across a variety of topic areas that strengthen local and regional healthcare resources.

Competency #2: Knowledge of organizational development as it pertains to grant seeking


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