importance of a grant manual - non-profit grant management
Most non-profits are predominantly funded by grants from government, foundations, corporations and other fundraising initiatives. Although some non-profits might generate funds from the services they offer, these funds are often not enough to fund the full cost of their programs. Thus, using a combination of funding from different sources ensures that nonprofits are able to fulfill their mission in an efficient and timely manner.
To ensure a productive system for the grant writing process, it is highly critical for non-profits to develop a grant manual. The creation of a grant manual will serve as a guide for personnel engaged in the grant writing process and highlight essential steps that ought to be implemented from the conception phase right through to the closure phase. This benefit notwithstanding, additional advantages of a grant manual to a non-profit include the following:
1. Delineation of Roles:
An indepth and organized grant manual will specify the roles of team members in a non-profits grant seeking and writing processes. By clarifying the duties and responsibilities of team members during these processes, confusion and duplication of efforts will be avoided. This will result in higher efficiency, productivity and less stress as each team member will have clearly assigned responsibilities. For instance, the finance director of an organization can be tasked with the role of preparing the budget section of the grant whereas the grant writer can be tasked with writing the narrative. The grant coordinator on the other hand can be assigned with the task of entering information from the grant writer and finance director into the submission platform of the funder.
2. Concise and Actionable Guidelines:
A strong grant manual conveys concise and actionable guidelines on a non-profit organization's grant seeking and writing processes. Ideally, processes covering the conception phase of the grant process right through to the conclusion phase ought to be captured in the grant manual. In essence, the grant manual should serve as a one stop shop that covers the critical steps of the grant seeking and writing processes of a non-profit organization. Some of these steps include:
Also, during the development of a grant manual, it is advisable to include key stakeholders. This will ensure ownership and "buy-in" which will ultimately lead to its usage by team members of the non-profit organization. Without buy-in, a grant manual will yield zero effect and defeat the purpose for creating it in the first place. For, what is the purpose of a document that is not being used by the intended recipients?
Once a grant manual is developed, it is highly recommended to update it annually in order to remain relevant and reflective of the non-profit organization's needs. Not only will an effective grant manual delineate roles while providing actionable guidelines, but it will also boost the non-profit organization's management capacity.
© 2018 Sherita Brace
How to Write a Letter of Inquiry/Letter of Intent to a Funder
Writing a letter of inquiry to a foundation is an important step in the grant solicitation process. Non-profit organizations are often encouraged to send letters of inquiries to funding organizations when further clarification on their eligibility is required. In addition, funders may issue requests for letters of inquiries to some non-profits as a means of gleaning brief information on the nature of their programs/projects.
Prior to writing a letter of inquiry, it is prudent for the writer to visit the website of the funding organization of choice. The information gleaned will contribute to the development of a compelling narrative. Typically, letters of inquiries are between 2-3 pages and follow the format indicated below:
In the introductory phase of the letter, a brief description of the non-profit ought to be indicated. Additional information such as the year the non-profit was funded and the number of years the non-profit has been in existence should be highlighted.
The body of the letter of inquiry should clearly convey the problems/issues facing the non-profits’ community. Thereafter, the non-profits proposed solution ought to be highlighted. The proposed solution, which is reflective of the project that the non-profit has designed, indicates a need for the program in the community.
Furthermore, it is crucial to state the amount of money that the non-profit hopes to be awarded by the funder. The non-profit should also offer a summarized account on the impact of previously funded program(s) on the community.
Once the proposed project is in alignment with the funding organization’s mission and the track record of the non-profit is highlighted, the likelihood of an in-depth proposal being requested from the non-profit increases.
The final phase of the letter of inquiry calls for reiteration of salient points made during the introduction and the body of the letter. The mission of the non-profit, along with the proposed project and budget should be highlighted. In addition, the impact that the community stands to gain from the proposed project ought to be stated briefly. Additional information such as the contact information for the point of contact of the non-profit should be indicated. Once the letter of inquiry is written, it can be delivered through an appropriate medium specified by the funder.
Funders have competing interests along with financial resources that must be disbursed judiciously. As a result, a compelling letter of inquiry that indicates the track record of the non-profit along with its alignment with the funding organization’s mission has a higher chance of being invited to submit an in-depth proposal. A request for a lengthier proposal by a funder indicates an interest in the non-profits programs and consequently, an increased likelihood of receiving funding for proposed programs.
Robert J. Hamper, L. Sue Baugh (2010). Handbook for Writing Proposals. Mc Graw-Hill Education.
© 2018 Sherita Brace
Article was first published on Hub Pages - February 2, 2018
A Step by Step Guide in Branding your Business
The most important step to effectively do brand development is to create a logo that conveys a message behind the business to everybody all over the world. Its essence is to do corporate branding for your business. It is a way of devising a functional representation for a company and the company's name.
Probably, you already have a design in mind about how you would want your logo to look best when displayed for your corporate branding. However, you may need to consider the step by step guide and pointers discussed below to make your overall brand development into a reality.
Brand development and guide
A perfect corporate branding takes time to develop. You cannot achieve it overnight. It needs proper guidance, nurture, and strategic expertise. Thus, here is a list of some don'ts that you may need to consider:
Author: Justin Bregar
Article Source: Article Sphere
How Can Non-Profits Motivate and Retain Volunteers ?
One can't help but to observe the positive effect that a successful volunteering program can have on a non-profit's productivity. A well oiled and functioning volunteer program can catapult a non-profit to greater heights of prosperity. Although a plethora of sources highlight the benefits of volunteering to both the volunteer and the recipient of a volunteer's services, some non-profits increasingly experience challenges when it comes to motivating and retaining volunteers. A common problem experienced is the loss of enthusiasm and interest by volunteers after a week or two or perhaps a month of commitment to a non-profit's cause. The question then becomes, "How can this trend be changed for the better?"
The following measures have proven beneficial in keeping volunteers motivated, happy and committed.
1. Express Appreciation:
Volunteers offer an abundance of skills, knowledge and service at no cost to the receiving organization. Regardless of their decision for offering their services, staff members of non-profits ought to express genuine appreciation to volunteers by providing a welcoming and positive environment. Also, staff members should make a conscious effort to refrain from gossiping, grumbling or sharing personal problems with volunteers. A recommended approach in finding solutions to personal challenges or problems stemming from the work environment should be channeled through the non-profit's procedure for resolving employee problems.
2. Develop a Training Program for Volunteers:
The creation of a training program for volunteers will prevent confusion while clarifying required input from volunteers. A clearly developed training program, where designated staff member(s) guide volunteers through their responsibilities will lead to a productive experience devoid of frustrations that typically occur when tasks/responsibilities aren't clearly communicated.
In addition, the training program should be structured in a format that provides room for growth while rewarding volunteer input. For instance, a component of the training program that caters to the reward of volunteers can highlight initiatives such as monthly recognition of volunteer input. The monthly recognition can be carried out through the issuance of a certificate to a volunteer who exceeds expectations. Not only will this input motivate volunteers but it will also express the non-profits appreciation to volunteer input.
3. Sustain Volunteer Passion:
Most volunteers opt to offer their services to non-profits whose mission aligns with their interests. Therefore, a crucial means of sustaining their interest is through the ignition of their passion. The passion of volunteers can be ignited by helping them buy into the vision of the non-profit. To carry out this objective, it behooves on the leadership of non-profits to share their vision, goals, contributions and aspirations with recruited volunteers. Their actions and interactions should also communicate to volunteers that they are an important part (which they are) of the non-profits ability to succeed in its mission.
By successfully carrying out these steps (express appreciation, develop a training program for volunteers and sustain volunteer passion), non-profits will not only experience successful recruitment efforts but they will be rewarded with a happy, motivated and productive volunteer corps.
Sherita N Brace is an International Development Professional and a Blogger. She serves as a Consultant to non-profits and provides grant writing services, program planning services and communications services.
Pilak, N.B. (2009). Cultivating and Retaining Committed Volunteers: An Analysis of Volunteer Identification in Nonprofit Organizations . Marquette University
The Editor's Creed
By Dan Kois, Laura Helmuth, and Jennifer Lai
Last year Slate’s science and health editor Laura Helmuth wrote about editing for the Open Notebook, advocating that an editor subordinate her voice to a writer’s. Dan Kois, a culture editor at Slate, has strong feelings on the matter. So he asked to debate Laura about editing on Slate Plus.
Dan Kois: Ready to explain how you CODDLE WRITERS, Laura?
Laura Helmuth: Hello, Kois. Have you made anybody cry today?
Kois: Laura advocates for a gentle editorial experience, in which the editor's job is facilitating the author’s voice as unobtrusively as possible. I remember being very intimidated by that piece of Laura’s because my approach is the exact opposite. I view my job as facilitating the author’s voice ... but in the crispest, cleanest, Slate-iest way, and that entails a LOT of detail-oriented conceptual and line editing.
Helmuth: Ah, sure, so your editing style is: Write it like I, Dan Kois, would have written it if I, Dan Kois, had written the story.
Kois: Hahaha no, like an amazing version of Dan Kois + my genius author. Laura, you don’t EVER just wade in and rewrite a lede that isn’t working? You don’t ever add a joke or kill a whole paragraph that is lame?
Helmuth: I call it trimming to keep the focus on the main point, which (I tell the writer) is ever so much more interesting than this also-interesting but slightly less intuitive little bit here ... see, now, it didn’t even hurt and now it’s gone. You and I both work with a lot of freelancers—probably more than any other editors here do, since we don’t have a lot of books (for you) or science (for me) writers on staff.
Kois: Correct. I probably edit 15 pieces by freelancers a month.
Helmuth: And freelancers are delicate creatures. They don’t get paid much, they usually work alone (which can be a little crazy-making), and they don’t have a long experience with any one editor. So every piece they write for a new publication is like going on a blind date.
Kois: As a longtime freelancer, I sympathize with the freelancer’s plight! But nevertheless, my two primary concerns are not the freelancer’s feelings—they are a) getting the piece as good as it can be, and b) making that happen as efficiently (though politely!) as possible.
Helmuth: Our different strategies might have something to do with our beats: It seems like books people are much more thick-skinned and used to criticizing one another than science people are. Science writers usually stick to a new study or mountains of evidence. They don’t often make an argument or express opinions—I mean, they do at the bar or sometimes on blogs, but it takes some coaxing to get them to say what they REALLY think to a big and sophisticated audience like Slate’s.
Kois: You are dealing with people who are authorities on their subjects, and are not used to being edited closely?
Helmuth: Oh, yes, sometimes that makes it tricky. But then I resort to the “help the rest of us understand” approach. Not questioning their expertise, but getting them to talk to the non-experts in an entertaining way. A lot of what I do is ask people to sharpen their arguments—which maybe isn’t something you have to ask for in a book review?
Kois: I do sometimes have to get people to sharpen their arguments. Not as often, probably, as you do. (Book critics are argumentative people.)
Jennifer Lai: So where do these different editing styles come from? Was it a deliberate choice you made when you came into your position (in terms of managing people), or is it a function of how you write yourself or have been edited by others?
Kois: I learned my editorial style COMPLETELY from ... being edited by editors at Slate. Slate was one of the first places that ever paid me to write anything, and it was definitely the first place I was ever seriously edited. I remember the first time I ever filed a piece to Slate—a Culturebox to Julia Turner about iTunes celebrity playlists. It was my first experience with Track Changes, and when Julia sent it back to me and I opened it up, I almost barfed. There was so much red on the page it looked like a crime scene.
Lai: But you kind of liked it?
Kois: She was right about everything! Every cut she made, every wording change she suggested, was more efficient and elegant and BETTER than what I had. I was like, Oh, so this is what editing is.
Helmuth: Tip for freelance writers: Set your Word preferences so that the cuts are in green or purple or something less aggressive. Because CUT is mostly what editors do. … And I don’t think any of us lie about the fact that we love what we didn’t cut or change!
Kois: Yes! It’s not a bunch of lies! If I didn’t have good feelings about the piece I would just kill it. I remember her email itself was very encouraging—“This is a good draft, there’s a lot that works”—I think she actually told me not to be intimidated by all the red, and that she was happy with where it was going.
Helmuth: The “this is great” email memo to a writer is an important part of the job.
Kois: So that’s what I try to do now. I almost always follow that model—extremely detailed edit, chipper cover note.
Helmuth: Have you ever gotten payback? Has Julia ever written a review for you that you slice up into a million pieces? Like, “You have such great material here”?
Kois: She is a much, much better writer than age-28 me. So it’s not as violent.
Helmuth: Ha! Were you ever edited by Plotz? Dude is cruel shoes.
Kois: Thank God, no.
Helmuth: David Plotz’s editing instincts are perfect, but he is NOT concerned with the thickness of his writer’s skin. This doesn’t bother me when he edits me. (I’m pretty thick-skinned.) He once eliminated several paragraphs of an introduction by telling me: BORING.
Helmuth: But I definitely edit his edits. When Emily Bazelon wrote this fantastic, deep story about the Nazi origins of modern anatomy, I was the first editor and Plotz was the top editor. He had some great suggestions, but there was one paragraph he didn’t like. So he highlighted it and typed: BLAH BLAH BLAH. I DON’T CARE ABOUT THIS. When I sent the story back to Emily (Emily, do not read this), I took out that line and said something like “David thought we could probably cut this part.”
Kois: That is awesome.
Helmuth: But Dan, don’t you worry that by rewriting things for the writers, you’re squelching their voices? Kois-ifying it too much?
Kois: I try to steer away from edits where in looking over it, I realize, “Oh this is just me trying to be clever.” But part of my job is not to Kois-ify necessarily but to Slate-ify—or in my case to Slate Book Review–ify. There is a certain level of prose elegance and argumentative flair we want out of these pieces, and sometimes it’s easier to just give writers examples rather than try to drag it out of them.
Helmuth: Yes, examples are good. Sometimes they just take the examples you give them, and sometimes they’re inspired to try something different but get what you’re looking for by looking at the editor’s “here’s how you might try it” suggestions. Hm, that doesn't sound mean enough to be coming from you. It’s a good strategy!
Kois: I want writers to walk away bruised but invigorated and wanting more. Like they just ran Tough Mudder or something.
Helmuth: Ha! They’ll be limping for days but paradoxically feeling victorious. You probably don’t have to worry too much about one of my main editorial challenges: Making complicated things simple.
Kois: I am usually trying to get my writers to stop making simple things complicated.
Helmuth: Whether it’s a scientist writing or a science writer who has done a lot of reporting on a given subject, I think it’s really tricky for the writer to know what our audience doesn’t (and doesn’t need to!) know. One of my most common edits is to ask people to clarify, simplify, or remove jargon and technical details. If they’re interesting, great. But usually they get in the way. Also, I try to be easily confused—I’m always looking for ways that a smart but nonscience reader could misunderstand something.
Lai: What advice would you give young journalists?
Helmuth: The first advice journalists get (or should get) is “Don’t take editing personally.” But of course they do. How could they not?
Kois: Every time I get an edit on a piece I wrote, I still have to remind myself not to take it personally.
Helmuth: And you have to be willing to try again. Almost nobody can write the perfect piece for Slate the first or second time. It’s a learning process.
Kois: Thankfully when you’re learning with Laura, she’ll send you a carton of chocolates along with your gentle edit.
Helmuth: SHUT UP KOIS.
Dan Kois edits and writes for Slate’s culture department. He is writing a book called How to Be a Family and co-writing, with Isaac Butler, an oral history of Angels in America.
Laura Helmuth is the health, science, and environment editor at the Washington Post. From 2012–2016, she was Slate’s science and health editor. Follow her on Twitter.
Jennifer Lai is an associate editor at Slate.
An Alternative to Focus Groups: Group Interviewing Using the Delphi Technique Online
This paper examines the defects of focus group research and suggests that a better alternative to focus group research is web-based surveys using the well-established Delphi Technique.
Qualitative research is an important part of marketing research today. When marketing managers say "we'll do some qual" they almost always mean focus groups. Other types of qualitative research are rarely if ever considered.
The technique of data gathering known as focus group interviewing is associated with sociologist Robert Merton's work in World War II. Merton was one of the great pioneering sociologists of the last century, an intellectual giant associated with the development of such central sociological ideas as anomie, deviance, functionalism and role model.
Like all new research methods focus groups were developed to improve data gathering in social science research. In 1931 as Rice said: "a defect of the interview for the purposes of fact-finding in scientific research, then, is that the questioner takes the lead...data obtained from an interview are likely to embody the preconceived ideas of the interviewer as the attitude of the subject interviewed" (Rice, 1931, p.561 cited in Kreuger, 1988, p.18).
Focus group interviews may have been improvement for some purposes over the one-on-one interviews they replaced but focus groups did not entirely eliminate interviewer bias: far from it. Robert Merton said as recently as 1990 that he felt that this application of focus group research is being misused in that plausible interpretations are taken from group interviews and are treated as being reliably valid (Merton, Fiske and Kendall, 1990, p.xxi). There are three reasons why focus group research cannot be reliably valid:
1. Research has shown that members of a group are strongly influenced by other members of the group. Social psychologists have attributed the influence of other group members to both informational and normative influences.
The individual conforms to informational influence because he trusts the judgment of others more than his own. The individual conforms to normative influence from a desire to be liked by others. Research has also shown that conformity is not always brought about by the pressure of majority opinion. A confident minority will also exert pressure to conform.
2. Another strike against focus group research if improperly used, as it so often is in modern marketing research, is that samples are so small that no generalization of findings can be made to any population of interest. Focus groups speak for themselves alone; they provide no reliable or valid insight into the thoughts of a population.
3. And finally, there is always interviewer bias.
What are Focus Groups good for?
Stewart and Shamdasani (1990, p.15) have suggested that the uses of focus groups include:
1. Obtaining general background information about a topic of interest;
2. Generating research hypotheses that can be submitted to further research and testing using more quantitative approaches;
3. Stimulating new ideas and creative concepts;
4. Diagnosing the potential for problems with a new program, service or product;
5. Generating impressions of products, programs, services, institutions, or other objects of interest;
6. Learning how respondents talk about the phenomenon of interest which may facilitate quantitative research tools;
7. Interpreting previously obtained qualitative results
Nowhere is it suggested by social scientists that focus groups should constitute the entirety of a research project and as Merton said focus groups in modern marketing research are being misused in that plausible interpretations are taken from group interviews and are treated as being reliably valid.
We suggest that if researchers want to do qualitative research without the dangers inherent in face-to-face imposition of interviewer bias and the problems of interactions within the group putting inappropriate pressures on participants then an excellent alternative is the Delphi Technique.
The Delphi technique is a better alternative to focus groups that overcomes some of their major problems. The Delphi technique was developed by the RAND Corporation in the late 1960s. Delphi was developed as a methodology in which a group of experts could arrive at a consensus of opinion about subjective matters.
Delphi is typically not conducted in face-to-face group settings. Participants respond to a carefully crafted questionnaire, their responses are delivered anonymously. This overcomes the major problems inherent in the face-to-face dynamics of focus groups. There is little pressure to conform to dominant group members; those who might dominate in a face-to-face setting are also anonymous.
After the first set of responses is received the moderator(s) summarize the responses, and feed the summary of responses back to the group. At this stage there is discussion; participants are allowed to support one opinion or another. This can be done by way of a blog or a chat session. After discussion, group members respond again. The idea is not necessarily to obtain consensus but to obtain a relatively stable set of responses.
Not only does Delphi avoid the potential problems of face-to-face interviewer bias and adverse group dynamics it also allows relatively large samples of independent individuals to be used, particularly when interviews are conducted on-line. This means that, unlike with focus groups, the researcher can gain valid and reliable insights into the thoughts of a population of interest, such as users of shampoo or voters. This is not feasible with focus groups.
A Delphi study can be run very efficiently on the Internet. This not only enables the elimination of undesirable group dynamics it also means that the people who have commissioned the research can observe and even participate anonymously without having to stand behind a one-way mirror.
Kreuger, R.A. (1988). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research. London: Sage.
Merton, R.K., Fiske, M., and Kendall, P.L. (1990). The focused interview: A manual of problems and procedures. (2nd ed.). London: Collier MacMillan.
Stewart, D.W., and Shamdasani, P.N. (1990). Focus groups: Theory and practice. London: Sage.
Read more: http://www.articlesphere.com/Article/An-Alternative-to-Focus-Groups--Group-Interviewing-Using-the-Delphi-Technique-Online/221687#ixzz4zB2kIqx4
Author: Michael Petty
Artice Source: http://www.articlesphere.com
Essential Fundraising Tips for Non-Profits
Developing a strategic fundraising plan will ensure that the effort invested in the solicitation of funds will be organized and devoid of stressful situations. It will also contribute to the sustainability of programs while advancing the credibility of an organization.
The steps indicated below serve as a guide in the formulation of a strategic fundraising plan for non-profit organizations.
The first step in the formulation of a strategic fundraising plan is Research. A non-profit organization should conduct research on its fundraising operations. This will lead to insights such as ineffective fundraising plans and the amount of funds required for the sustainability of programs.
Once research has been conducted on an organizations’ fundraising programs, a strategic plan that highlights a road-map for fundraising may now the developed. The strategic plan will comprise relationship building and stewardship, grant applications, soliciting donations from individuals, marketing and accountability.
a) Relationship Building and Stewardship
The design of a program that involves interaction between board members and donors will lead to the creation of a strong organizational foundation along with increased financial resources. An example of a program that can yield such results is the creation of a thank you video by the non-profit’s leadership board to its donors. This video can be disseminated to donors through the non-profit’s social media outlets and its’ mailing list. The feedback and interaction that will ensue following the dissemination of the video will serve as an effective medium for remaining in the minds of donors while keeping board-members engaged in the implementation process. Through their participation, board members will have an opportunity of experiencing the tangible result of a program where words might have failed.
b) Grant Applications
It is imperative to include grant applications in the fund-raising process. However, a key measure that can shore up the success rate of an organizations’ grant application is through the use of a warm approach. An organization should refrain from using a cold approach. A warm approach involves the cultivation of a relationship with the funding agency. This approach (warm) often results in a vested interest in the success of your organization by the funding entity. Also, it serves as a time saver.
For instance, upon discovering a grant funder through the web, a call can be placed to the funding entity. Thereafter, an appointment can be scheduled with the Program Officer as a means of finding out more about the funding entity’s guidelines. During the meeting, provide the Program Officer with information about your organizations’ mission and goals. Should there be a fit between your organization and the funding entity, the Program Officer will inform you. On the other hand, if your organization is not a fit, the Program Officer will let you know. This will save your organization time while preventing the application of a grant that would not have been successful due to a misalignment between the funding entity’s goals and that of your organization.
c) Soliciting Donations from Individuals
In recent times, individuals are serving as an enormous source of funding for non-profits. According to the annual Giving USA report, individuals’ contributions hit a record $265 billion in 2015. Non-profits with the help of individuals such as you and I, have the power to create global impact. Most often, non-profits are weary of requesting funds from individuals. They view the act of asking as being burdensome. Perhaps, by shifting their (non-profits) perspective, the “asking” process will become more enjoyable and less apprehensive. This shift in perspective could take the form of realizing the value that non-profits bring to the table. For example, by realizing the value they provide to individuals through their ability to serve as conduits for progress, they can approach individuals with more confidence and joy.
Also, in order to be successful at generating funding for programs from individuals, it is crucial to link a nonprofit to interests that individuals care about. Upon identification of a non-profits target interest based donors, a relationship can be cultivated with them through social media. Once these relationships have been cultivated, soliciting funds becomes easier and more efficient.
Finally, it is recommended to request a specific amount and offer tangibles when seeking funds from individuals. For example; 10.00usd will lead to funding the education (a years tuition) of a disadvantaged female child in Mali.
A strategic fundraising plan should include marketing. This will generate awareness about a non-profits programs to its constituents and donors. Avenues such as social media and other online resources provide great opportunities for non-profiting marketing. For instance, Google for Non-Profits is a great resource aimed at assisting the marketing efforts of non-profits. This resource provides non-profit organizations with an opportunity to apply for google 10,000.00usd worth of free google ad-words per month.
Finally, a strategic plan for raising funds should indicate how funds are used and the results from programs that funds are used on. This step can take the form of regular dissemination of reports. For example, disseminating reports to donors on a regular basis will keep them updated on an organizations activities. As a result, the non-profit will engender trust and good-will from its donors.
The preparation of a strategic fundraising plan will provide an organized and stream lined process for generating funds that. Consequently, a non-profit will be in a position to ensure the sustainability of its programs and contributing to a better world for humanity.
© 2017 Sherita Brace
Article was first published on Hub Pages - November 15, 2017
Inspiring Your Clients With Words: Report Writing Made Easy
The proof, they say, is in the pudding. And a business advisor's pudding is their ability to communicate business solutions through informative and inspirational reports. It is the principal means by which their client will judge their worth.
So why is it that reports are usually written (and re-written) at the last minute? And why do reports often read as though they have been generated by some kind of robot, not a professional advisor from a practice with its own personality and voice?
Without enough planning, a report can seem unclear and uninformed, and it shows little understanding of the client's needs. What a client usually needs is a clearly laid-out, jargon-free and transparent solution to their financial or business problems. A report with page after page of facts and figures, industry analysis and "methodology" will be a report written by a consultant for a consultant. It may allow you, the consultant, to showcase your expertise. But it's unlikely to help the client grapple with the business challenges they face.
So how do you provide your clients with clear insight that also demonstrates your expertise? Here are a few simple techniques that could radically improve the quality of your reports, transforming them into one of your practice's most powerful tools.
1. What exactly does the client want?
The first fundamental error occurs even before you begin to write. Time-stress ensures you lose concentration and instead points your focus towards "getting the job done". The minute the focus of the report turns to "getting it written"; your client's needs become a side line and an irritation as opposed to the heart of your report.
Asking direct questions guarantees that your report contains the right information for your client. The chances are that you will have spent quite a lot of time with your client before writing the report, so why not ask them what they want the report to include and even how long they would like it to be?
If this isn't possible, why not spend some time thinking about your client's objectives and the nature of their problems before tackling the report?
2. What do they need?
What information do they need? What level of detail? How much knowledge do they have already? What will they use your report for?
Spend a few minutes answering these questions before you write your report. This can pay enormous dividends, as it means that you can focus on what the client really wants to know. Think too about the key messages that you want to leave them with. How are you going to ensure that these are clearly communicated in your report, and not buried under less relevant information?
3. The Difference Between Planning and Structuring
Planning and structuring are two very separate processes.
First, focus on brainstorming all the information that needs to go in the report. Information that is essential for a client should take priority over information that is unnecessary. Only once you have done this should you start thinking about the structure. When deciding how your report will be structured, you must answer two crucial questions: what information will go where and in what format? Be ruthless. There is a distinct difference between "essential" and "important". Only essential information should go into the main body of the text. Anything that is not essential will only make the client feel that their time is being wasted. Put "important" detail, diagrams, references, figures etc. in appendices or footnotes.
Make sure that you divide your report into logical sections, with clear and meaningful subheadings that act as signposts for your client. Subheadings tell customers where they can find specific topics and information.
4. Lose the financial buzz words and jargon
How many financial buzz words and jargon do you use on a daily basis? How many of these words are truly meaningful or helpful to your client? Buzz words and jargon will not convince clients of your professionalism; nor will they demonstrate your superior business know-how: they will simply cause confusion and frustration. Like you, most clients are inundated with documents to read. The last thing they want is to waste time deciphering buzz words and jargon. The same applies to over descriptive, "flowery" language, acronyms and abbreviations.
5. Show your personality
Finally; use reports to show that you offer a level of personal service that exceeds mere "number crunching". Show that your consultancy distinguishes itself with its own "personality" and voice to suit your client. Address your clients directly. Try and make your reports personal by using "you" and "we". Avoid passive generalisations such as, "It is estimated that" or "It is recommended that". Clients want to know that they are dealing with real people, so write, "We estimate" or "We recommend", not "It is estimated that". Writing formal, accurate and concise copy does not mean writing bland or impersonal copy.
Try to make all your writing as "active" as possible. It is much more interesting to read about organisations and individuals taking action rather than things mysteriously occurring: "X's Board reported a 38 per cent profit margin last year" instead of "A 38 per cent profit margin was reported last year."
6. Executive Summary
No matter how well structured and well written your report is, some clients will feel they only have time to read the executive summary. This is particularly true for senior management. So it is absolutely essential that you put a lot of thought into its structure and content:
- Make sure the summary can stand alone - it must contain real information, including hard facts and figures
- If your report includes recommendations, make it clear what these are and include their implications, values and costs (if applicable)
- Stick to a maximum of two pages.
Use carefully selected headings and bullets to break up text, as well as relevant graphs or pie charts, to get your main message across.
A badly written report exasperates people and fails to impress or galvanise clients into action. A well-written report is a critical business tool. It can help build trust and loyalty with your clients. If written well, reports can demonstrate expertise and knowledge.
Your consultancy's reports can change the way your clients think and feel about their business. They can influence decisions and inspire action. And no matter how many weeks or months you have spent on a project, it is your final report that will leave the most lasting impression with your client. Make sure it's the right one.
Author: Jo-Rosie Haffenden
Artice Source: http://www.articlesphere.com
How to Write an Executive Summary for a Grant
Writing an executive summary is a critical component of the grant application process. Yet, its' importance is sometimes underestimated. Key goals to bear in mind when writing an executive summary includes being cogent, engaging and credible. A well-written executive summary is enough to get you closer to your goal of receiving funding for the execution of projects. It achieves this goal by garnering enough interest in your grant application by the decision maker. Inadvertently, by kindling the interest of the decision maker, your grant application will be read in its' entirety.
As tempting as it might be to start off the proposal writing process with the executive summary, refrain from giving into this temptation. Tackle this(executive summary) phase of the grant writing process after completion of the entire proposal. By doing this, salient points in the grant that might have ended up escaping your notice will be captured in the executive summary.
The executive summary should mirror the structure of the main document. Whereas some individuals prefer to begin with the goal of the project/program through to the identity of the applicant(organization/individual), others prefer to begin with the identity of the organization while working their way down to the program budget. Regardless of the format opted for, being logical and cogent is essential to success. The steps indicated below may serve as a guide in the writing process:
1. Indicate the identity of the organization and its' goals.
2.Include reason(s) for requesting the grant.
3. Establish credibility and authority by including the qualification(s) of individual(s) tasked with carrying out the project.
4. Highlight the expected outcome of the project.
5. State the amount of funding your organization is requesting for the project/program.
Each section should flow effortlessly into the next. Also, it is important to avoid the use of trite phrases and industry jargon. By doing this, the grant application will be inclusive and easily understood. Additionally, make your script engaging by injecting enthusiasm into it. After all, if you are not enthusiastic about your project, how can you ensure that the decision maker is going to be interested enough to offer support by providing you with funds? A note on enthusiasm. Being enthusiastic isn't the same as inserting sales pitches. Coming across as a sales man or woman will mare your credibility as your organization might come across as trying too hard. Indeed, the goal of the executive summary is to encourage the decision maker to read through the whole proposal.
Several applicants respond to funders' requests for proposals. Consequently, competition for attention is keen and it is important to stand apart. To stand apart, one needs to present his or her executive summary in an engaging, coherent and credible manner.
Written By Sherita N Brace
Sherita N Brace is an International Development Professional and a Blogger. She serves as a Consultant to non-profits and provides grant writing services, program planning services and communications services.
The Essentials to Project Management Communication
Communication by definition is the means to effectively transmit the info at hand to different individual or to a group of people and at the same instance minding to their input n order to achieve a specific end point. In a project, failure to transmit a design scheme finally take's to mistakes and confusion within the squad members thus setting the see in a serious and tough side. Plan management communication is taken as one of the very serious responsibilities of a project director and must never be brought lightly. Yet if a high-quality and excellent plan is in place, without an appropriate project supervision communication scheme, the project will not emerge prosperous.
When understanding what the plan management communication plan role should be, a project director should take into account the plan's clients or stakeholders also as the design group. A project director should be able to respond the coming inquiries: What data should be conveyed at a macro phase, what should be continued private, what specific skills and responsibilities should be transmitted to the other parts of the team or to a single person, how will you convey it in the very effective style, how will you incorporate the group's suggestions and very importantly, how will you enforce it? Keep in mind also that the role of the communications plan should constantly be in arrangement to the design plan, schedule and resources.
Once a use is established, a plan manager should now settle on what the project handling communication necessities are. This essentially symbolizes that as a project handler, you should be efficient to sort the point of information or procedure that the client and group wants all over the the life cycle of the project. With regard to your clients, frequently they want a blow by blow account nonetheless it doesn't damage to find early on what data they demand to take from you. Likewise learn how oftentimes they will need the data to be passed on a everyday or weekly basis.
Upon making project management communication program requirements, the succeeding step is to produce a communication schedule plan. To assist you in this attempt, try using a project planning computer software that can supply you with a project planner in which you can establish a schedule on when to apprise a squad or a singular individual with the required data they ask to realized a job. Lay out in particular the time line on when you will communicate a proper task. Most project supervision software system will as well present a place for you to supply an overview of what the plan is all about and then basing on the acquired schedule will provide you to express the duties and obligations to your team. It would as well be a good view to make a flow chart so that at the onset of the project, your group would know what the asked delivery dates are and how interdependent and essential it is to accomplish it in time. Provide them with a extensive project tracking tool wherein they can easy transmit with each other. Web dependent project handling computer software is a great instrument to effortlessly transmit educations and information as well as get a valuable remark that would improve your processes. A project supervision software package that offers online solutions would plainly establish info and communications much more available.
An average communications meeting should as well occur to apprise and provide an up to date enhancement of the project. It will also be a spot for squad members to grow opinions and fears.
Read more: http://www.articlesphere.com/Article/The-Essentials-to-Project-Management-Communication/222961#ixzz4wRwGOGVF
Author: John L. Ratch