Archive for January, 2015

A Strategic Guide to Grant Writing

Posted on January 28, 2015. Filed under: Assessment, Evaluation, grant writing, grants, strategic planning | Tags: , , , , , |

It’s grant writing season, and with the economy still in recovery, proposal development remains one of the best ways to initiate new programs and to sustain your organization’s activities. But before you plan that brainstorming session where ideas will flow freely, here are a few strategic guidelines that may add some focus to your efforts: A vision, mission, or strategic plan is a good starting point. Identify funding gaps and overlaps in your strategic plan goals and objectives. A more thorough evaluation and re-assessment of where resources are already being applied, and where they are lacking is useful. Questions include:

  • Are there expressed or implied priorities among the goals?
  • Are there goals that are (or can be) adequately addressed through current policies, procedures, initiatives? By way of budgetary changes? By way of other fundraising efforts?
  • Are there goals that can only be met through outside funding?

Research a variety of public and private funding opportunities, especially regional or local foundations. The latter will likely require that monies be spent in close proximity, where the results of your efforts can be witnessed first-hand. For federal funding, is an excellent resource. A simple Google search beginning with “grants for…” is also a good idea. Remember to consider your organization’s history of proposal-writing efforts or prior awards as well as the grantor’s history. An evaluation and re-assessment of what is available is warranted. Questions include:

  • Is this a new or previously existing source of funding?
  • Is there a precedent for granting awards to similar agencies?
  • Has your agency received prior funding? Have you submitted an unfunded proposal, and if so, is a re-submittal warranted?

Gain a thorough understanding of all proposal and award guidelines. Consider not only the amount and length of the award, but other factors as well. Questions include:

  • Are there conditions for receiving funding?
  • Is the grant renewable or continuing?
  • Will funding be available over the duration of the proposed project or is there a “contingent upon” clause?
  • Is any matching required?
  • Is collaboration or partnership encouraged?
  • Is there an expectation for sustainability after the grant period? If so, how will your organization absorb this cost over time?

Lastly, align organizational priorities with the mission and priorities of the funding agency. Ask not what the grantor can do for you, but what you can do for the grantor. It may be a harsh reality, but your great idea is not about you or even your cause – it’s about their purpose. Questions include:

  • Is there a noticeable trend in the types of recent awards granted by the agency or foundation?
  • Does the RFP or solicitation contain clearly-stated priorities? Are there points awarded in scoring for addressing these priorities?
  • Is there a preferred target group or population to be served?

With these tips in mind, you’ll be better prepared to write a successfully funded proposal. Happy hunting and Good Luck!

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Danger: Workplace Ahead

Posted on January 14, 2015. Filed under: reducing employer costs | Tags: , , , , |

In the wake of recent events, particularly the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, employers and workers alike are giving more thought to workplace violence. Unthinkable and almost unprecedented, an assault by those with no connection to the workplace is rare. However, approximately two million people throughout the U.S. are victims of non-fatal violence at the workplace, and the Department of Justice has found violence to be a leading cause of fatal injuries at work, with about 1,000 workplace homicides each year.

Workplace violence, defined as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site” is on the rise. Among co-workers it presents itself in many forms including:

  • concealing or using a weapon;
  • physical assault upon oneself or another person;
  • property damage;
  • intimidation;
  • harassment or stalking,
  • physical aggression (shaking fists, kicking, pounding on desks, punching a wall, angrily jumping up and down, screaming at others);
  • verbal abuse including profane and vulgar language; and
  • threats (direct or indirect), whether made in person or through letters, phone calls, or electronic mail.

Additionally, workplace violence is increasingly domestic in nature, spilling over from the home into places of business where partners are predictably accessible. In this form, it affects both domestic partners and coworkers. Lastly, employees that interact more closely with the public are more at risk. Each year, workplace violence costs businesses millions of dollars through loss of productivity, diversion of management resources, increased absences, and increased security costs.

It is the role of Human Resources to create and maintain an effective and clearly communicated Workplace Violence Program that assists employees in prevention strategies, fosters a safe and secure workplace environment, assists employees in crisis, and provides a course of action in response to workplace violence. Components of a more comprehensive Workplace Violence Program should include early recognition of warning signs and early intervention, extensive training and education of all workers, and (ultimately) clear guidelines on what to do when an incident occurs. It’s something we don’t want to think about, but can scarcely afford not to.

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