Open letter to the President and Congress

The Grant Doctors released an open letter to the President and Congress today regarding non-federal matching funds contributed to federal grant projects. Below is an excerpt from the letter:

The President’s 2018 “America First” Budget proposes to establish a 25 percent non-federal match for FEMA preparedness grants that currently has no match requirement.[1] This letter is to express our support for this proposal and to offer a suggestion.

We would like to see the non-federal match requirement expanded to all discretionary/competitive federal grants. We believe federally funded projects are more impactful when recipients leverage existing local and/or private resources. That is, every party to a project should have a financial stake in its success.

We propose an applicant’s non-federal match requirement should be based on its Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) population. This will result in at least three benefits: (1) greater non-federal commitments by urban applicants; (2) increased participation by applicants in rural, isolated and frontier/remote areas; and (3) improved geographic distribution of federal grants.

Download the complete Open letter to Congress (.pdf).

[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf, page 24.

Diversify your funding

Reliance on a single funding source can spell disaster for nonprofit organizations. A recent New York Times article perfectly illustrates this point. Popular programs one year can be cast aside the next. Politicians are fickle people; they want to fund their own pet projects, not the previous office holder’s projects.

We recommend nonprofits limit their federal funding to no more than one-third of revenues. Any more than one-third exposes organizations to unnecessary risk. If your organization is too reliant upon a single funding source, contact us and let us help you diversify.

New grant seekers: Ditch the templates

We occasionally receive requests from organizations seeking a template grant proposal they can use when approaching funders. That’s not how grants work—at all. Funders can spot templates from a mile away. They’re ineffective and they diminish an organization’s credibility.

Every funder has different application requirements based on their mission (or the authorizing legislation in the case of state and federal monies). You need to tailor each application to the funders’ needs. You want the funder to see that you invested the time to develop a program that will advance their goals. Grants are partnerships. If you’re replicating a single proposal over-and-over again, you’re telling the grant-making community your organization is more interested in dollars than partnership.

The best way to create a successful grant proposal is by writing many grant proposals. The first one is naturally the most difficult because you’re starting with a blank sheet of paper. The second proposal is a little easier because you can pull some language from the first proposal to enhance your next effort. The third proposal builds upon the work from your first two: you shore up the weak spots and you can recycle text that was especially compelling. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The more proposals you prepare, the more comfortable you become with the process and the more narrative language you have to use from earlier proposals. Every proposal is a little better than the previous one. Just keep after it. Success will come in time.

Need help getting started? Contact us!

The machine has awoken

Proposed federal regulations and information collection activities (ICAs) are back on the rise. In the Trump administration’s first four weeks, between 50-75 proposed regs or ICAs were posted to regulations.gov per week. That number has steadily increased. Last week, over 200 new proposed regulations or ICAs opened for public review and comment. By comparison, the Obama administration posted 400-500 proposed regulations or ICAs every week. It’s only a matter of time until we’re back to those levels. Uncle Sam can’t help himself.

Follow us on Twitter or like The Grant Doctors’ Facebook page for current news from DC. And, visit us on the Web if your nonprofit/NGO needs organizational development assistance.

Quick tip: financial controls

Don’t allow just one person in your organization to have sole control of your financial records, bank accounts and credit accounts. Always have checks and balances over your finances. The person preparing checks should not be the one to sign them. The person signing the checks should not be the one to record the information in the accounting system. Misspending, embezzlement and fraud can occur when only a single individual is in charge of financial records. In smaller organizations, it might not be possible to have three staff people controlling expense authorizations; in that case, board members need to step in and fill the oversight gaps. Trust but verify. At least once every year, perform your own internal audit by spot-checking a handful (or more) of random expenses to see if proper procedures were followed. Everyone in the organization has a duty to safeguard funds.

If you need help reviewing or establishing your internal controls, please visit our site and contact us.

Accepting new clients

The Grant Doctors is always looking for new client-partners. If your organization needs help applying for or managing federal grants, let us compete for your business. We have an extensive catalog of services to accommodate all needs and all budgets. We accept engagements of any duration: one hour (for technical assistance, document review, etc.); one project (applying for a grant, creating a sustainability plan, developing an indirect cost rate, fixing a grant management issue, staff training/coaching, etc.); one year (for ongoing assistance); or anything in-between. Visit our website to see all our services, then call or Email us for a price quote. We look forward to partnering with you!

Case study: matching funds

Matching funds are an essential component to many federally-funded projects; leveraging additional resources can greatly expand the scope and impact of an initiative. Without proper oversight and documentation, however, matching funds can create bigger headaches than mismanaging grant funds. Read The Grant Doctors‘ latest case study to see how they identified and solved a multi-million dollar matching funds problem for a large California school district. Download the case study (.pdf).