Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reserve’s Writing Pros Learn How to Get Results with Grant Proposals

CRE Senior Consultant Ximena Rua-Merkin leads writing course.

While ReServe is increasing its placement opportunities, it also is working to broaden the skills of worker volunteers already in the field. Many of ReServe’s nonprofit partners are in need of professional writers, particularly those who can help write grant proposals to foundations and government agencies.

To help fill that need, ReServe took part in a pilot project with the Community Resource Exchange (CRE), a consulting group for nonprofits in Lower Manhattan which has devised an effective approach to teaching needed skills such as grant-writing. Overall, CRE provides a variety of capacity-building resources to about 200 nonprofit organizations.

ReServists received CRE certification upon completion of the five-day course in September, adding value to future placement with increased skill sets. Both students and teachers voiced high praise for the program. “From our first session together, I could tell that the ReServists had the skills, talent and expertise to become effective fundraisers and grant writers,” Ximena Rua-Merkin, CRE Senior Consultant and course leader, said. Student Ed Falk’s assessment: “The course provided very comprehensive information on techniques used by nonprofits to raise money.”

While a well-written grant proposal is at the heart of a nonprofit development office, the process of raising funds doesn’t end there, nor did the classes. ReServists also learned how to build relationships with funders and foundation board members.

Richard Loyd, a guest speaker at one of the sessions, said that one way to cultivate a foundation is to encourage its movers and shakers to attend events sponsored by the group seeking funds. “Invite them to participate and see what your organization really does,” he said.

Guest speaker Richard Loyd and ReServists

“Your project may not be the right fit,” he added. “Now might not be the right time. It’s very possible that they might be saying, ‘Next year…,’ so it’s very important when someone says something like that, that you have a system in place for following up in the future. This is why you make a phone call. Talk to them.”

“You may have two things that you are very excited about and which are very fundable,” Loyd continued. “When you talk to a program officer, find out which might be a better fit.” Rua-Merkin followed up on this point by saying, “They may ask you what is the priority for your organization.”
ReServist Beverly Hemmings said the course provided a valuable blueprint and insightful nuances of the fundraising process in a stress-free environment.” The clarity of the handouts and presentation amassed a wealth of information. It will be useful well beyond the classroom.”

ReServist Barbara Griffing agreed: “It was excellent. CRE could not have prepared and conducted this course more thoroughly.”

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