Stay Connected to Your Stakeholders after You Submit Your Grant Application

By Beverly A. Browning

Before you write a grant request, you convene your staff, volunteers, community partners, and other interested parties to help your organization develop the plan of action and provide the information for the statement of need. After you turn in your grant request, you need to bring the stakeholders back together for a debriefing in which you pass on key information.

Providing updates on what’s been completed and what to expect next

A few days after the grant application deadline, schedule a debriefing conference call or face-to-face meeting online or in your office with your program-level staff, board members, community partners, and any advisory board members who were involved in the planning process of developing the grant application’s focus. The debriefing can occur simultaneously online, but a meeting is really best. Regardless, follow these debriefing steps:

  1. Review the group’s efforts and explain how the information they contributed in the grant-planning meetings was included in the final grant application.
  2. Give each person or agency a complete electronic and/or paper copy of the final grant request.

    Blacken out any personnel salaries before distributing.

  3. Answer questions and propose some what-if questions to find out whether the stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities if and when the grant application is funded.

    Consider asking the following questions, in addition to others appropriate for your project:

    • What if we’re funded for less than we ask for?
    • What if we’re not funded at all?
    • What if the needs of our constituents change before we’re funded?
  4. Provide a general overview of the process from here and when the funder will make a decision.

Even though you may have worked as a group when putting together the narrative information, people present at the debriefing meeting may not have been present at the meeting for the document’s final draft review, where your stakeholders were given a chance to critique and/or approve the final document for submission to funders. Some feelings may be hurt when a writing contributor sees massive changes in the final document. Remind anyone who seems upset of the ultimate goal: to get funded and help a segment of the community.

Keeping your partners in the additional-information loop

Give your collaborative partners a list of the funding sources and contact people. Someone on your team may know a foundation trustee or a corporate giving officer personally. And sometimes a simple telephone call or an email to a connected friend can make the difference between getting funded and not getting funded.

Share other critical information with your partners, too, such as the following:

  • Timelines for funder decisions
  • A master list of partners with contact information and make sure that you have clearance from all partners before distributing their information
  • Other projects or programs your organization is planning (this info opens the door for future partnering opportunities)

What can partners do for you as a result of the sharing process? They can commit seed monies to begin program implementation on a small scale. Partners who know your needs can unexpectedly make donations of needed equipment, program space, or other items and services. Partners can also give you leads on other funding sources for the project. They can also recommend an internal staff person or an affiliate colleague for your board of directors.

Always strive for increased involvement from the team leaders at your partnering organizations.