Staying current with grant opportunities

Getting grants for your non-profit organization is a time consuming process, but well worth the effort. The key is finding out about grants that are a good match for your organizational needs. Here are a few of my favorite free places to look:

Grants.gov – There are new federal grant opportunities coming out every day. You can search through the database on grants.gov and if you decide to apply, can complete applications online. Try to find out about deadlines early, because federal grant applications are complicated and take a long time to complete.

The Philanthropy News Digest’s RFP Bulletin – This site provides information about grants in the areas of arts/culture, children/youth, disabilities, education, environment, health, medical research and science/technology. They tend to be smaller grants.

COMMBUYS – In addition to posting opportunities for vendors to do business with the state of Massachusetts, Commbuys posts RFPs from state agencies such as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Early Education and Care, and others.  More and more state agencies are requiring programs to complete an online application through COMMBUYS.

Foundation/Corporation websites:  If you know the name of specific foundations or corporations that may support your program areas, go on their websites and look for information about their priorities, grant programs and deadlines.

GOOGLE – It’s always worth doing a Google search to find out about potential funding sources for your programs.

Reflections on my third American Evaluation Association Conference

It was just over two years ago that I attended my first American Evaluation Association Conference in Washington D.C.  As a first-time AEA conference goer, I went all out, attending two days of professional development followed by four days of the conference.  I threw myself head first into the Independent Consultant topic interest group — the
IC -TIG — making connections with people who I have since worked with throughout the year .

At my second conference in Denver last year, I skipped the PD and saved my energy for the conference.  I was a little more knowledgable about how to choose sessions that were right for me.

This year, as a third-timer, I attended the conference in Chicago for four days.  As a pro, I knew about things like making sure to show up to certain workshops 15 minutes early so that I would get a seat and pacing myself by occasionally skipping a session.

These are my top ten AEA 2015 highlights:

  1. Seeing the blazing torch, indicating that 2015 is the International Year of Evaluation.
  2. Being part of an international conference with the theme “Exemplary Evaluations in a Multicultural World.”
  3. Being among the first to hear about Michael Quinn-Patton’s Theory of Philanthropy.
  4. Learning about the “slider” function of Excel during Miranda Hill’s presentation about data dashboards (you really need to check that out if you haven’t used it).
  5. Hearing prominent evaluators discuss their failures in front of an international audience.
  6. Laughing at jokes where the punchlines involve control groups and outliers.
  7. Getting reappointed as the co-chair of the IC-TIG’s media committee and being part of a TIG presentation about our strategic planning process.
  8. Having Chicago’s best deep dish pizza at Giordano’s with 50 other independent consultants.
  9. Learning to navigate the illogical silver, green, bronze and gold levels of the two towers that make up the Hyatt Regency. Fighting vertigo as I tried not to look down at the brightly-colored striped carpet while walking between towers.
  10. Getting the TSA pre-check on my flight to Chicago.

TIG4

Highlights of The Evaluators’ Institute

Since its good to think in tens, here are my top ten highlights of the most recent gathering of The Evaluators’ Institute at George Washington University:

1. Meeting other people from around the world who incorporate evaluation into their work.
2. Learning that a combination of mail and phone surveys can produce the highest response rates.
3. Understanding that when writing a report on evaluation findings, transparency and humility are best.
4. Eating the cookies and brownies provided by TEI during the afternoon breaks. Continue reading “Highlights of The Evaluators’ Institute”

Reflections on my first AEA Conference

My top ten highlights at the American Evaluation Association annual conference this past week:

1. Connecting with other independent evaluators through the “TIG”

2. Writing my elevator speech in Gail Barrington’s Consulting Skills course

3. Learning all about focus groups in Michelle Revel’s course

4. Attending two great sessions on needs assessment with Ryan Watkins and his colleagues Continue reading “Reflections on my first AEA Conference”