Part 1 listed documents to collect during the prospect research stage; Part 2 listed those to collect when you submit your letter of inquiry or proposal. Part 3 will look at what to keep when you've been notified, and suggest ways to keep track of all of this content.
If you get the grant
- Acceptance letter/packet from funder.
- Thank you letter from your org to the funder. TIP: Draft this letter for acceptance or rejection after you've sent the proposal, so you can tweak as needed and send this immediately.
- Signed agreements, contracts, other documents required by the funder.
- Copies of any other communications or program updates that you send to the funder.
- Final report.
- Notes on the likelihood of the foundation renewing the grant, or accepting other grant applications/proposals.
If you don't get the grant
- Rejection letter from funder.
- Thank you letter from your org to the funder. See tip above.
- Notes from follow-up attempts (phone, email, letter) to learn why your proposal was denied and how to improve it. If you had written follow-ups, keep copies of those emails/letters.
- Notes on whether and when you can resubmit your proposal, i.e., is it "No for now" or "No forever?" If "No for now," keep copies of any other communications or program updates that you send to the funder.
Keeping track of it all
The intern who asked us about a checklist was organizing paper files, but we're betting most nonprofits will have a mix of paper and e-files. Regardless of what system you use, are you able to easily retrieve info from it?
We use Google Drive a lot to manage our own projects because we can:
- Save multiple file types in their original form or convert to Google's version
- "Save" a single file in multiple folders (no more out-of-sync copies!)
- Set editing permissions for different groups of users
- Access it from anywhere we connect to the Internet
- Edit files simultaneously AND see the edits being made by multiple users
- Access other useful tools, like Google Calendar and Gmail
Plus, it's easy to use, searchable, and free, at least up to 15 GB. If you need more than 15 GB, you can buy more storage, or signup for Google for Nonprofits, also a free program. If you're just starting, try a free service like Google Drive first so you can manage what you already have while you figure out what features you truly need. Indeed, we likely aren't using Google Drive to its fullest potential yet.
Dec. 10, 2019 update: The Pixel Privacy blog offers Alternatives To Google Products if you're concerned about privacy issues or seeking non-Google options. Our organization moved to Microsoft's OneDrive to unify our productivity tools and for better security.
To explore other options:
- Ask your nonprofit peers, in person or at online forums, about what systems they use to keep track of their proposal documents. Common keywords are: grant tracking, grants management, donor management.
- This Software Advice article lists products with user recommendations. Its Buyers Guide describes common features in fundraising software and states that some solutions can even "monitor application statuses, proposals and awarded funds. Once an award is issued, these tools allocate the funds to their respective department."
- Idealware provides detailed reviews of donor management and grants management software, and advice on how to choose among them. If you're willing to share some contact info, the guides are yours for free: Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems, Consumers Guide to Low-Cost Donor Management Systems
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