Insight Grants

Grant Tips and Discussion: From Implementation to Evaluation

In recent years I’ve had the privilege of working on various projects for Insight Grants Development. Back in 2006 I was a senior in college and was helping my sister-in-law, Rosalie, double check and prepare budgets for PEP Grant applications. Since that time Rosalie’s company has grown with all kinds of grant related success. From helping clients win tens of millions of dollars in grant funding to providing thorough evaluation services, I’ve seen firsthand Insight standing by the statement on our homepage “Dedicated to Making Positive, Measurable, and Sustainable Changes in Communities Through Grant Programs.” Rosalie has a tremendous team that works to deliver the best possible work and most competitive applications for clients.

Although I don’t have anywhere near the expertise, knowledge, and experience of some of the members of the Insight Team, I wanted to try my hand at sharing some of what I’ve learned while helping Insight. The following commentary is related to implementation and evaluation of a grant.

Grant Tips and Discussion: From Implementation to Evaluation

Winning a grant and knowing you will be able to implement your project is a very exciting time. You’ve put a ton of effort into the application, had challenges and successes along the way, and all of a sudden you receive the notification that your application will be funded. The work doesn’t end here. For your grant project to be truly successful, it is not just about getting funded. It is just as important for you to implement and execute your plan.

The majority of grant funding goes to causes or efforts that improve something. The funding pays for things like equipment, training, or even personnel. The funding is meant to take a problem, a shortcoming, or a need and fill that gap to ultimately solve a problem or advance the greater good in a specific area.

Nearly all grant programs require evaluation reports in order to establish a detailed analysis of the project. Projects may have outcomes, measures, or goals that the awardee needs to report on so that the funder can see what worked, what didn’t, and the best use of funds going forward. Often times these reports can shape future funding opportunities. For example, an organization that was lacking proper equipment to successfully serve the public might get the funding to purchase that equipment. The funder wants to see how it was used and what effect it had for the grantee in fulfilling its purpose or need for funding. If a school is given grant funding for nutrition education and fitness equipment, the funder needs to see the impact of the project and the funding. To show this, awardees will measure data based on where they started the project and progressing throughout the project as new equipment, curriculum, and initiatives are taken.

Grant funders also look favorably on projects and initiatives that are sustainable after the grant funding runs out. If equipment can be used for years to come, training and education provides life-long value, or long-term problems are solved by the funding, the funder is getting better value for and having larger influences with their resources. The lifetime value of a grant can be very high when sustainable measures are put into place. As a funder, this is exactly what you would want your resources to do. Resources that turn into important changes, valuable resources, and long term benefits are resources well spent.

From the time you start working on your project through implementation it’s important to have your organization and key stakeholders “buy in” to your project. To accomplish this, it is best to communicate clearly with all participants. These participants need to know what is going to happen, why it is happening, what is expected of them, and how the plan is going to be implemented. Most importantly, these participants need to know the bigger picture of the project. Educate them about what issues are being solved and what the long term goals of the project are.

It is unfortunate but in many organizations there will be participants who are not as excited about the project as you. Some people simply do not like change or anything coming their way that resembles extra work. Don’t let these participants get you down. If they are in the way of a project you and your funder knows will provide positive outcomes then in the big picture they are not important and are just another challenge to overcome in the way of successful implementation.

As your hard work pays off and your project progresses, just as important as making sure everyone knows the details and purpose of the project at the beginning, keep them updated along the way. And if you are having successes, highlight and celebrate them. If you’ve fixed a problem, are making solid progress, or in general are seeing marked improvements, then show off this positivity. Let your community know more about your project and what it has done. Show your funder through reporting and other information that their funding is being put to good use, and give them exact data on what it has done.


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