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Help! Some of my Board Members Don’t Do Anything.

Nadia Prescott

As a consultant I hear these words many times! One of the first things I always ask is do your board members know the expectations of the role and responsibilities of the board member in your organization. The onus is initially on you….the board chair or any of the board officers whose responsibility include intervening with board members as necessary.

Sometimes you might have board members who are joining a board for the first time. Others may be more seasoned board members and those of the boards maybe different to yours.

Perhaps they have more staff and there are less requirements for support from board members on a day-to-day basis.

So first things first. Check your board job description and update if necessary. Let’s say all of that is in order. Whose responsibility is it “to do something” about board members who are undependable? After all, there’s nothing worse than attending board meetings and finding out your colleagues are not reliable, and not contributing to the well-being of the organization, and of their volunteer teammates.
Some suggestions:

  • Hold a board meeting where the focus is only on the board. Give yourselves a self-assessment. How did we do last year? What are our goals for the coming year as a team? What are our expectations for each board member? What backup and support systems – particularly around communication and visibility – would make your role easier?
  • Ensure you as the Board Chair meet or talk with board members regularly. Not email or WhatsApp! This way you build trust and communication. You will know if there are issues that prevent your board member from being more active if you know them. If necessary it is also easier to ask the “Do you still want to be on this board” and have the needed conversation.
  • Feed your board members! Not just with food but with education. How many of your board members truly understand financials. And would be willing to say so in front of their peers? How many know how to make a fundraising ask Discussions and actions like these can lead to insights such as the day or even duration board meetings that might make it easier for board members to attend.
  • Sometimes you’ll find board members just need a little check-in and a reminder to be more present and diligent with their duties. Other times it might require more action. It is up to you to find out which situation applies to your organization.

Budgeting for Diversity

Nadia Prescott

When formulating your diversity strategy, you must consider your budget. Yes, your budget. In the corporate world, where money is not a barrier, companies like SAP and Microsoft have created Autism at Work programs. SAP alone has committed to a goal of employing 650 Autistic team members. (Click here to see a video on diversity and inclusion from SAP).

These initiatives are expensive. In the nonprofit world, achieving your diversity goals will impact your financial plans. For example, I have worked with groups with ties to the Deaf community, where boards are required to have a certain percentage of deaf members. As a result, these organizations need to budget for interpreters and regular training for all staff members.

Other organizations may have board or staff members who come from disparate locations. It can be expensive to cover the costs for attending meetings, whether in-person or via technology.

A frank discussion about budget constraints should be part of a larger diversity strategy. Some general points to consider:

  • What is your current diversity policy? If it needs to change, why, and is this the right
    time? Ensure you have team discussions to answer these questions.
  • Be clear on the business reason for diversification. For example, are you expanding
    your network to increase awareness of your mission? Or would you like your
    organization to be more representative of the community you serve?
  • Write your diversification policy and goals into your bylaws. Be ready to adapt this
    as your best business practice.
  • Will your current culture support diversifying your organization? If not, what needs
    to change?
  • Strategically examine the skills gap in your organization at the board and staff level.
    Reach out only to qualified individuals with these skill sets. It’s a mistake to reach
    out to candidates only because they represent communities or demographics you seek.
    Build a team that is culturally competent by ensuring everyone possesses the right
    skills, adds real value, and fully supports your cause.
  • Understand any budget implications.

How Important is Outcome Measurement?

Nadia Prescott

Congratulations on winning that latest grant! Now that the money is in the bank, it often seems like running programs takes over all of our time. Outcome measurement can turn into an afterthought – yet it is a vital part of program delivery. Here’s why:

  1. Outcome measurement provides a valuable real-time feedback loop so that programs are informed and relevant. In addition, clients who are given the opportunity to assist with feedback – providing we take it seriously – often feel honored and empowered. They feel that their opinions matter, and that they are part-architects of the program. Not only will their insight help us serve them and others better in the future, we have created strong bonds with our clients that lift all of us up.
  2. By querying partners, we address any small relationship problems before they become unmanageable. We can also incorporate their inspired ideas and suggestions for improvement immediately if a feedback loop is in place to catch them.
  3. Are we fulfilling our goals and obligations as promised? If yes, excellent! Never underestimate the impact of good news on funders, our public, and our staff. Most of us in the non-profit sector work because we believe in a heart-based mission, and not for externals like money or status. Keeping good outcome measurement gives us the opportunity to praise staff, spread the good news about our work to our supporters, and touch funders on a regular basis. There is nothing more satisfying than to let a funder know that their money is achieving exactly what they hoped it would, and that they have made a positive impact in people’s lives.
  4. If we are not fulfilling our goals and obligations, we have a chance to reevaluate and ask why in time to make changes. We can also communicate our challenges to our funders before the end of the grant cycle. They may be able to assist us, but even if they can’t, timely notification avoids an unpleasant surprise in the final report.

Here’s how you can implement basic outcome measurement:

  1. Develop a basic evaluation form to be used whenever services are conducted or clients touched, emphasizing how important their feedback is to the program. A short pre- and post-test can also help you understand if there have been any knowledge- or attitude-based changes as a result of program implementation.
  2. Budget time for administrative staff to input feedback and answers into an Excel spreadsheet, which then can be used to generate reports on a regular basis, and compare answers over time.
  3. Make sure to seriously read, reflect upon, and implement the feedback provided.
  4. Consider using online questionnaires to follow-up in the six- to twelvemonth timeframes, and to solicit additional feedback about new program ideas before implementation.
  5. Communicate your successes to supporters and funders on a rolling basis, and create heart-based videos based on cases that have been lifechanging.
  6. Invite key clients, partners, and supporters in for informal focus groups at least once a year to ask what you are missing and how you can improve. Your desire to do better will form a foundation for trust and gratitude that will allow you to improve current programs and build future ones that achieve your mission and goals.

Outcome measurement is an absolutely essential tool for developing the programs and deepening the relationships needed for success. Please let us know if we can help you put your outcome measurement system into place.

How Will You Achieve Diversity in your Organization?

Nadia Prescott

Most nonprofits recognize the importance of, and need for, diversity on their board and staff. But they aren’t always sure how to achieve it. Cultural competency is at the heart of managing diversity. According to BusinessDictionary.com, Cultural Competency is defined as “a set of behaviors, policies, and attitudes which form a system or agency that allows cross-cultural
groups to effectively work professionally.”

Many people have a natural ability to work across boundaries and in different cultures. It is easy for them to listen, watch, read, and learn about other cultures and their norms. While I’ve had the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, it wasn’t until I was fully immersed in a community in St. Lucia that I recognized how many questions I needed to ask to fully understand another person’s perspective. In fact, I’m still learning as I go.

Other people may not have an opportunity to travel or live in another country. They may also have to overcome personal biases and opinions that, through no fault of their own, have been ingrained for years. Addressing diversity is not simple. The term can trigger many strong reactions, and discussions about diversity can be uncomfortable. They bring up complex emotions and frequently, very differing opinions.

Why is diversity so important? A diversified board and staff will provide insights that will be beneficial. Organizations become stronger through a diverse combination of culture, race, ethnicity, age, and gender. Understanding the goals of your diversification policy and the changes they will bring to your culture is imperative.

How Should You Define Diversity?

Organizational diversity has different dimensions. Demographic characteristics are often based on ethnicity, age, gender, disability and location, but should also be based on the specific characteristics of your organization. Attaining diversity will be reflective of what your organization is trying to accomplish. Success requires being deliberate about what will best serve your organization. For example, organizations for differing causes, such as women’s rights, immigration, or religious groups may choose to stay mission-based and have a board that reflects their constituents. It would be a concern, for example, if an organization that primarily serves immigrants has no immigrants on its board.

Who will express their point of view?

How can organizations diversify successfully?

First, your board and staff members must have an open discussion about the current culture, what diversification means, and the business reason you want to move in this direction. Second, leadership must identify potential roadblocks, and what you can do as a group to manage them.

You can then formulate a strategy. If you are an all-female board or an all-white, middle-aged board, how will you reach out and find African-Americans, men, or women? How will “you be” at your next board or staff meeting if, for example, you have hired just one person from a new demographic? More importantly, how will they feel as a sole representative in your organization? What is the process your organization will adopt to address these questions?

I have spent time in a community in which I was the only white person. It was humbling to think that my African American friends must feel as isolated and alone as I did, but on a regular basis. It was a process for me to finally begin to feel comfortable which, thanks to my friends, I now do. It took a conscientiouseffort to want to learn, keep an open mind, and be mindful of my own internal
biases.

Are You a Good Listener?

Nadia Prescott

Henry David Thoreau wrote “It takes two to speak the truth; one to speak and another to hear.”

There’s a big difference between listening and hearing. Most of us think we’re good listeners, but are we really? In today’s polarized world, active listening and meaningful dialogue are more important than ever. The recent #MeToo movement raises difficult questions that require thoughtful answers. Those who hope to affect significant cultural change through this movement need to ensure lengthy discourse between a wide variety of people with differing opinions.

It is essential for good leaders to employ active listening techniques while engaging with board members, staff, and other stakeholders. Take the time to learn what’s important to your team, discuss their concerns, and observe how they address challenges. Armed with this information, you can create an environment that encourages teamwork, active problem solving, and commitment rather than passive compliance. Build a team that will ask, “How can we tackle this together?” rather than “Can we ever reach this goal?”

There are two types of listeners; those who listen and those who wait to talk. Most of us fall into the second category. Work on listening like it really matters, especially in times of conflict. In heated discussions, often each party is more concerned with being right than listening to different perspectives. If you find that you begin to repeat yourself in a discussion, it probably means you feel like you’re not being heard. If that’s the case, stop the conversation, and take a moment to gather your thoughts.

To become an active listener, adopt the following strategy:

  1. Rather than focusing just on content, listen to the tone of voice, and pay attention to body language.
  2. Don’t get trapped in problem solving. Remember – you are there to listen.
  3. Put away your cell phone or move away from the computer. Focus on the person who is speaking.
  4. Prior to a conversation, acknowledge your own opinions and feelings about the issue at hand, and resolve to enter the conversation with an open, inquisitive mind.
  5. Listen and make note of what is not being said. Issues that go unaddressed will likely need to be addressed in some future discussion.
  6. Do not say, “I know how you feel”, especially if you have never been in the exact same situation. Acknowledging the other person’s comment is a much better strategy.
  7. Never tell someone what to do, as this immediately closes the possibility of dialog, Deep listening is transformative, as being heard connects and validates people. It creates the opportunity for dialogue around big issues that everyone faces. Try and spend some time every day practicing being an active listener, and see how it changes what you learn.

To learn more and experience deep listening with an executive coach, contact us at info@emergingexecutive.com

Stories from the Field: A Black Leader’s Experience On Workplace Relationships and Diversity

Gracious Octave

Cultivating good relationships within the workplace cannot be emphasized enough, especially those built on trust and respect with your immediate manager. It is important on a day-to-day basis, but also for your career.

This is much easier said than done because it often escapes us that what everyone shares in the work environment is that we are human. Yet we are not all the same. So, developing good relationships in the workplace can be challenging. Much more so if the manager is white and the employees are black. This adds another dimension to already complicated work relationships.

Hoped for workplace relationships, where good ideas are heard, improved upon for the good of the organization and its clients or guests, elude black staff, who often see need and have solutions, leaving them feeling like they must walk on eggshells. The mutual distrust built through a sordid history of colonialism and outright slavery that reverberates to the societal structure today, leaves little room for solid interpersonal and working relationships with a white manager. They fear taking calculated risks because they believe their manager will not have their backs if they make a mistake. Especially when working at hotel resorts, where I gained much of my experience. Over 90% of the guests are white and find it difficult to understand that the staffs are their servers, and not their servants. This distinction to some may be subtle but it is one of the most important I can make.

It is strongly believed that not all white people are racist. In fact, I believe that most white people are good people but who, by their silence, allow others (of their race), in word and in deed to achieve racist ends. Or worse, they piss in my eyes and call it rain, claiming they do not see systemic racism nor should I. But is it truly so? A racist is defined as a person who, empowered by the dominant society to discriminate against people of other races. At its core, racism is premised on the power dynamics and on the belief of white superiority over subordinate races. Most, importantly, racism has distributional consequences. As blacks are held back and held down, the societal goods and services flow toward the white race. Not all white people openly demonstrate racism, but how many stand against it when it’s happening?

Not speaking out against discrimination allows systemic racism to continue. Racism belongs to all of us and plays out through individuals and from there though all of our institutions. Just because you’ve never put a cigarette against your lips, yet you habitually inhale the fumes from cigarette smokers around you does not mean you are not impacted by the smoke. Ignoring the realities of race at work is impossible and out of the question.

Black people feel the reason there is usually a white man in high management position within black dominated populations is because, sadly and unfortunately, black people, especially black Caribbean men and women are still shackled by the chains of mental slavery. The worst kind of slavery! They know there are black people among them who are just as capable, if not more so, of doing same managerial job. But it is clouded with a conscious or unconscious belief of “how dare they think they can sit at the same round table for a game of poker as the big boys?”

It is especially challenging for black staff to “get over it” when white managers assume that their subordinates face the same trials they do. To a certain extent that is true. After all, when it comes to the expectations for the job role, they seem the same.

Yet on the flip side, black staff often have to jockey for position in a toxic environment of differential treatment meted out along racial lines. This more often than not creates an atmosphere of extreme tension and distrust where, despite all outward appearances, the staff are not entirely happy. Their work suffers and solutions grounded in experience and creativity are stifled. This is especially true where there is not a strong black leader and mentor among the team to teach others how to work effectively in this environment.

Staff may even resign out of frustration. It is usually baffling to white managers when their black staff resign “out of nowhere,” or seem to “blow things out of proportion” over what looks to be a little issue. But to that staff person, that seemingly little issue is a, “I’ve had it with you and this place!” The true cause of departure is usually always much deeper than what appears on the surface. As a black leader, I find I have to work hard on all aspects of emotional intelligence with my team, my peers and my managers. The right conversation in the wrong mood between me or my manager or my client is the wrong conversation.

Every time I look back and think of my experience as a black individual working in hospitality with a white management and owners, one thought keeps resonating in my mind, “Boy, It must be good to be king.”

It may appear as an unfair and ungrateful statement to make and it is in no way meant to insult or disrespect. I respect that white managers also work under tremendous pressure to meet deadlines and achieve targets. I’ve learned and achieved so much from all of the places that I’ve worked under white managers. Yet, to my white managers, everything seemed okay with me when it honestly wasn’t. It’s amazing what the powers of a plastic face, good acting skills, strong will power and drive for success can do.

After long years of constant battles defending the quality of work and other good colleagues, this feeling that we need to guard ourselves, and the extra work that it takes to discern our true friends, creates significant additional stress. I eventually left my role to become a consultant. I too said I was leaving for “an exciting new opportunity”. But truthfully I was worn out by the need to constantly defend the team, watch out for myself, and the extra work it takes to determine who to trust. It is sad when “I don’t completely trust you” is your primary belief towards a manager even when you have accomplished much together over many years.

If staff members do not trust their manager, rest assured they want very little to do with him or her. They will always be professional, but will never open up or share more than needed. And they will do everything to avoid that manager as much as they can. The dynamic of the relationship and work will always be adversely affected with the best outcomes for both clients and staff never realized.

What can be done to overcome all of this? One thing is for certain, there is no one way around this nor is it an easy fix. But something has to give.

The hospitality sector is growing at an extremely rapid pace within the Caribbean. The nonprofit sector in the US is also growing quickly. Approximately 1.41 million nonprofits were registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2013, an increase of 2.8 percent from 2003. The sector contributed an estimated $905.9 billion to the US economy in 2013, composing 5.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (The Non Profit Sector in Brief 2015). There is a universal need to be able to relate to numerous ethnic and racial groups in both for profit and nonprofit organizations in the US as well as the Caribbean.

The first step is for management to commit to diversity and equality in the workforce. They need to be willing to ask themselves uncomfortable questions and prepared to deal with some discomforting answers. They must reevaluate the manner in which differences in the workplace are understood and managed. A team has to be built from the ground up, on shared values that include trust and respect.

Otherwise that team will never truly benefit from diversification and will simply continue the same practices with different people. This is absolutely key.

Here are a couple of suggestions for how to get started:

The Power of Circles

Together we can move toward more just workplaces. Put white managers in a conference room, with some of their black staff. Everyone is equal, sitting in a circle. This format enables participants to see everyone present. It almost gives a sense of over-exposure and yet allows for conversation to become intimate. Stress the fact that the meeting is a respectful and secure atmosphere for the staff, where they can speak openly with no repercussions. Your most important goal at this initial meeting is to create a safe forum to really get to know the each individual and their very different experiences at work and outside of the workplace. Only then from a shared knowledge and understanding, can you bring workforce issues and challenges into the open and find ways – together as a team – to sort them out in continued dialog.

If you’re looking for a way to show white managers how different their experience in the work environment is from the black staff, this in my humble opinion is one of your best bets.

This will also show the black staff at an organization that they need – and can – relax, open up and start to drop their defenses. This is so important since their own past experiences can create a high tendency to misinterpret situations and have a genuinely good white manager pay for the mismanagement of a past white boss.

From personal experience, in the beginning the room will be mighty tense with a huge grey cloud of awkwardness floating above everyone. With commitment to circle as a regular workplace practice, smart facilitation and the right preparation, the goal of a shared understanding will transform the culture of the organization.

Revisit your Recruitment Process

Another area that needs to be revamped is recruitment. In its current format, it feels to black people that quality looks like and comes from only a certain place. One place. Particularly when it comes to management roles. Therefore, a significant effort has to be devoted to change hiring methods that have been employed throughout time. Set clear expectations about the qualities and skill sets for the job. Then remove names of schools and the name of the applicant from all application forms. You’d be surprised how much something like this removes biases from the decision making of a hiring team.

From recruitment through to day-to-day working relationships, whatever processes you decide to use, once you commit to this work it is important to keep momentum. The worst thing you can do is to hold a meeting and do nothing. This merely reinforces the idea of not being heard. Just because you’ve found a meeting format for example that works the first time, it doesn’t mean that it is a “one and done” scenario.

It shouldn’t be looked upon as the end or the beginning. Growth and achievement will only be gained if it is treated as an ongoing process of relationship, trust and communication.

I’ve grown a lot, developed many tangible management skills and, more importantly, learned what it takes for a black leader to work and be seen and heard in a world of predominantly white leadership.

Essential is trust and respect and the immeasurably valuable skills of communication, listening, emotional intelligence to build a team and work with peers. Change is needed and it takes courage from everyone. Without this, our children and our children’s children will not do well. The question for all of us is what kind of a world do we want to live in? I hope this essay inspires discussion on how we can come together in our workplaces to create inclusive environments where everyone succeeds and creates sustainable organizations. I would welcome your thoughts and comments. You can reach me at gracious@emergingexecutive.com

Are you a good listener?

Nadia Prescott

Henry David Thoreau wrote “It takes two to speak the truth; one to speak and another to hear.”

There’s a big difference between listening and hearing. Most of us think we’re good listeners, but are we really? In today’s polarized world, active listening and meaningful dialogue are more important than ever.

The recent #MeToo movement raises difficult questions that require thoughtful answers. Those who hope to affect significant cultural change through this movement need to ensure lengthy discourse between a wide variety of people with differing opinions.

It is essential for good leaders to employ active listening techniques while engaging with board members, staff, and other stakeholders. Take the time to learn what’s important to your team, discuss their concerns, and observe how they address challenges. Armed with this information, you can create an environment that encourages teamwork, active problem solving, and commitment rather than passive compliance. Build a team that will ask, “How can we tackle this together?” rather than “Can we ever reach this goal?”

There are two types of listeners; those who listen and those who wait to talk. Most of us fall into the second category. Work on listening like it really matters, especially in times of conflict. In heated discussions, often each party is more concerned with being right than listening to different perspectives. If you find that you begin to repeat yourself in a discussion, it probably means you feel like you’re not being heard. If that’s the case, stop the conversation, and take a moment to gather your thoughts.

To become an active listener, adopt the following strategy:

  1. Rather than focusing just on content, listen to the tone of voice, and pay attention to body language.
  2. Don’t get trapped in problem solving. Remember – you are there
    to listen.
  3. Put away your cell phone or move away from the computer. Focus on the person who is speaking.
  4. Prior to a conversation, acknowledge your own opinions and feelings about the issue at hand, and resolve to enter the conversation with an open, inquisitive mind.
  5. Listen and make note of what is not being said. Issues that go unaddressed will likely need to be addressed in some future discussion.
  6. Do not say, “I know how you feel”, especially if you have never been in the exact same situation. Acknowledging the other person’s comment is a much better strategy.
  7. Never tell someone what to do, as this immediately closes the possibility of dialog.

Deep listening is transformative, as being heard connects and validates people. It creates the opportunity for dialogue around big issues that everyone faces. Try and spend some time every day practicing being an active listener, and see how it changes what you learn.

To learn more and experience deep listening with an executive coach,
contact us at info@emergingexecutive.com.

What to do with board members who do nothing?

Nadia Prescott

There’s nothing more demotivating than coming to a board meeting and finding the same one or two people never show up. Its sets the wrong tone for other board members, and they are more than likely watching to see how the situation will be handled. So whose responsibility is it to “do something” about a board member who does not show up consistently, or who does not carry their weight, especially in a small organization that relies on board members to be a working board?

The responsibility is yours. And the problem only gets worse if you don’t address it. First things first – confirm that you were clear in expressing board participation expectations during orientation. If so, then ask either your board chair or chair of the governance committee to find the time to talk one-on-one with the board member about regular attendance.

Make sure you learn the reasons why that person isn’t coming regularly. Perhaps they have a personal problem that needs to be addressed, and taking a short term leave of absence is the best solution. Listen carefully without making assumptions, and then evaluate whether or not that board member has the time and commitment to participate in a meaningful way.

It’s Time for Out of the Box Thinking About Collaboration

Nadia Prescott

There is growing pressure on private foundations to pick up shortfalls as government budgets around the world continue to be squeezed. There are limited funding sources to tap, and a growing number of organizations vying for these monies. Funders and donors are increasingly partnering with those groups who are working together to achieve the common goal of improving outcomes for their constituents.

Historically, non-profit collaborations centered on discreet partnerships between local groups who shared a common mission. These partnerships were geared towards expanding or improving regional program services, and included shared best practices and/or back office services. This short-sighted strategy rarely yielded long term sustained social change.

For non-US based organizations, this emerging strategy involves pursuing creative
partnerships through corporate sponsorship. If, for example, your organization operates in an area where the economy is tourism-based, partnering with hotels to promote local projects can provide access to a new and potentially very lucrative donor.

An article by Peter Panepento’s in SSIR talks about the growing number of successful
collaborations between groups working towards achieving very different missions, or between nonprofits and groups outside the nonprofit world.

If you are US based, there are plenty of opportunities to identify global donors using
international fundraising platforms such as Global Giving. You can also leverage social media to expand your donor base. To tap into this fundraising market, you will need a strong and visionary website that clearly states how a donor’s financial support will make a significant difference in achieving your mission.

Innovative collaborations can be very exciting, and infuse new energy into your organization.

Success will be dependent on how well you craft your strategy. True collaboration happens
when nonprofit leadership analyzes their market and forges alliances with other entities that will support long term progress towards achieving meaningful social change. If you are contemplating a new type of collaboration this year, it’s a good idea to complete an honest assessment of your organization’s core competencies. Determine what you do better than anybody else, who your target audience is, and your desired social change outcomes.

The results of your assessment will help you identify which entities (private and public) are
potential prospects for a long term partnership that will help your organization realize your goals.

To move your mission forward through innovative collaboration, you will need to create a value proposition that articulates your organizations strengths, and describes how these strengths will also support achieving the goals of your potential partners. You will have to craft a story that illustrates that through collaboration, the social change outcome will be more meaningful than if both organizations continued to operate individually.

Think of your non-profit as part of a larger network of organizations trying to impact social
change, versus an island in and of itself.

To recap, nonprofit leadership must embark on a 3-part process to determine if collaboration makes sense and if so, with whom to collaborate:

  • Complete an organization assessment to determine your nonprofit’s core competencies (what you do better than anyone else), target populations (who you seek to benefit or influence), and desired social change outcomes (the change you’d like to see in the world). Consider creating a Theory of Change.
  • Map your external marketplace to identify potential collaborators, and how it makes
    senses to forge these strategic alliances
  • Engage your board in the process. Ask them for help in developing high-level relationships with the leadership of your target list of potential collaborators.

Collaboration makes strategic sense when a nonprofit is very clear about the change they want to effect, and then identifies what other entities can help achieve it.

Keep on Top of your Grant Information

Nadia Prescott

A small to medium side nonprofit organization may submit somewhere between 12 and 50
proposals a year. As an executive director role development director or even the fundraising committee chair, how do you keep track of all of the information? What do you need to track?

Keeping on top of grants information is critical. But it so rarely receives the attention needed. This can mean missed grant deadlines, new priorities for funders and important conversations your organization may have had with the funders. A grants tracker in Excel or Google sheets is a simple way to organize your grant writing work. Some very simple rules to follow:

Set up the first sheet as a monthly calendar overview. Each foundation is listed with the grant deadline marked by month and date. You can add as much or as little extra information as you need. For example clients like to allocate “A” priority funders to designated board members to develop relationships.

You might consider a column that shows who is responsible for writing the grant. Is it an
internal staff member, a board member or an external grant writer? The general rule: keep the first sheet as a simple overview.

The second sheet is where I recommend keeping detailed information on funders. You can
track funder contact information, type of grant request, specific funder requirements, and
average grant size.

You might consider an additional sheet to keep track of grant submitted and information on interim or final reports and the dates required.

This three page format is the best I have found to meet everyone’s needs. The development director can allocate resources internally or externally in a timely manner to meet all grant writing requirements. The financial director can easily access dates for grant reports due with financial ramifications on sheet three. The fundraising committee and executive director have access to as much or as little information as they need.

A little organizational work upfront saves a lot of time! Especially if you also use the tracker to track your online sign in and password information since most grants these days are submitted online.