How to Build a Winning Grants Team Part 2: Regular Season

Now that you’ve had a successful Spring Training and have signed on all the right players for your grants team, let’s strategize for success during the regular season. Your guiding philosophy for this part of the process should be “Ease [their] pain.”

Your Roster 

First, you need to craft your ideal team roster. Figure out who should play which position, and then make it as easy as possible for them to achieve their optimal performance! As the team’s manager, you’re responsible for outlining the necessary tasks and timelines to complete each grant proposal. So, based on your knowledge of team skills and talents, you need to assign roles and responsibilities, and be sure to get input from your players and other coaches (managers or supervisors) as well. Then create your line-up and game plan and secure commitment from all members of the team.

Keeping Stats

Once the team begins to work, how can you keep score to track progress on assigned tasks and adherence to the agreed-upon timelines? Be sure to schedule regular check-ins with both individual players and the entire team! These check-ins should be part of your initial game plan so that all team members know what’s expected of them and by when. You may also need to have additional ad-hoc coaching sessions if any player is falling short of the performance expectations. During this part of the season, you need to be both the manager and the coach, and you may even need to step into a player’s role if a team member falls behind or fails to produce the desired results.

Your Bench Players

Little Kid in DugoutIn fact, knowing who else is on the bench is another critical strategy for building a winning grants team. After all, during a long baseball season, it’s very common for players to get injured. We certainly hope that no one on a grants team gets hurt, but there may be other external events that impact a player’s ability to contribute to the team – competing work priorities, family events, pre-approved vacation time, etc. So be proactive! Think about who else could be brought in from the bench or even from the minor leagues to help fill in if you need some extra players as the season progresses.

Coaching Through the Season

Finally, as you near that ultimate deadline and the end of the season (i.e. the due date of the grant proposal), be sure you’ve involved all the necessary stakeholders, not only the players but also the management. Do you need to get approval from the finance folks? The CEO? Another level of leadership? Be sure to build this task and timing into your game plan at the beginning of the season. Otherwise, you could end up in a slump at the very end and miss out on the post-season!

As a grant professional, you need to be both a strategic manager and a supportive coach to all the members of your team. Make the process easy for them so that each player performs well, and always know who’s on the bench to fill in any gaps that may occur during the proposal development process. With this approach, the entire team can achieve success through on-time submission of a highly competitive grant application that helps you clinch a spot in the post-season playoffs!

(next up - Part 3: Post-Season & Off Season)

Have you read “Part 1: Pre-Season” from Jodi? If not, click here to check it out!


Photo by Chanan Greenblatt on Unsplash

About the Author

Jodi Samuels

A devoted Red Sox fan, Jodi is the Deputy Director of Development & Training at the California Primary Care Association (CPCA). Jodi has worked with health and education non-profits since 1997, including as Director of Grants, Data, & Research at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte; as a teacher and trainer for Kaplan Test Prep; and as a Foreign Language Technologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her current position at CPCA, she has successfully secured more than $27 million in funding over the past six years from public and private entities, including awards for core operating support, special projects and programs, and event sponsorship. Jodi holds a PhD in French Literature from the UW-Madison, an MA in French from Middlebury College, and a BA in French & Theatre from Wesleyan University.

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