Involving boards in grant seeking–what works

23 Mar

So now that we know what boards should not be doing with your grant writing–just what is it they should be doing? A great guide is to remember the basic functions of a board–to set policy and direction, serve as ambassadors and hold fiscal responsibility and oversight.

I enjoyed this article from GrantStation about involving board members. Some of which I agree with, and some not so much. For example, enlisting board members in “hosting” site visits from funders–I’m not sure what that means. Site visits, ideally, should always be at your site–hence the name. Funders want to see where and how you operate, they want to see what clients see.

If for some reason, that’s not feasible, meeting at a board member’s swank office might seem like a good idea, but it doesn’t communicate anything at all about your agency. If by “host” GrantStation means being at the visit and serving as a representative to welcome the funder at your site, then I would agree. Though you can’t make assumptions about what your board member knows about the funder, grant or project. It’s worth the time to brief them on all of the above and even create a little fact sheet for them to use and refer to.

The article goes on to talk aboutĀ using your board to make decisions about what kind of funders are and are not appropriate for your agency. All money is green, but you really have to think about the source and what your clients, other funders and the community would think of say, a battered women’s center taking money from Hooters. Getting your board in on that conversation makes sense. It’s called a gift acceptance policy, the operative word being policy. This is definitely something your development and finance committees and staff should work on together. And it should be done before a problem arises and not driven by an impending deadline to a controversial funder.

Again, fiscal oversight is a function of the board. New programs or program changes that could increase your overall agency budget or have an impact on cash flow are definitely your board’s beeswax. So new grants that are not paid in advance of activities being undertaken (and thus, expenses being incurred) fall under this category. Government grants may be tempting, but most are paid on a reimbursement basis–and not always on time. Share this information with your finance committee as well as how cash flow will be affected before you submit.

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