What Can Grant Proposal Professionals Learn from the 2013 Best Companies to Work For?

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    When hikers get together, many of them talk about their boots. When chefs gather, they swap recipes.

    What do grant proposal professionals do? Many of us talk about the proposal-generating work environments at our nonprofits.

    What Good Companies Have in Common:
    Grant proposal professionals can learn how to create good work environments by looking at Fortune magazine’s the “2013 Best Companies to Work For.” These companies vary in their size, products, and services, but they have three things in common:
    • Employees trust each other in the workplace.
    • Employees have pride in their work.
    • Employees enjoy their colleagues.

    Salaries, benefits, and perks are important, but nonprofit employees also need to feel that they are appreciated. No holiday bonus or annual picnic can replace the feeling that their day-to-day work is valued and that they like working with their colleagues, whom they trust. It is difficult to develop good grant proposals when there is a deficit in trust, pride or conviviality among the members of the grant team.

    Improve your Grant Proposal Environment
    If your nonprofit has a good work environment for proposal preparation, you are very fortunate indeed. But if you believe that your work environment leaves much to be desired, short of moving on there are steps you can take to make positive changes:
    • Don’t work in a “war room.” These places are awful. They have
    no privacy, no opportunities for thinking and solitude, and no
    opportunities to build social capital with your colleagues. By
    definition, a “war room” is a demeaning and unprofessional
    • Find out what the best companies do to foster/create great work
    environments and copy them.
    • Start small. Make small changes at first because they are easier
    to implement and may have big consequences.
    • Suggest policies to senior management that make for happier, more
    productive work teams. Provide evidence to support your argument.
    Expect skepticism and resistance, but be quietly persistent.
    • Become the change you advocate. This worked for Gandhi, and it’s
    still good advice. You will have no credibility if you do not model
    the changes you want to see in your proposal environment.
    • Lead the charge – offer to help make the changes by taking a
    leadership role.
    • Get social. A bowling night or a pot-luck lunch with a prize for
    the best dish will help employees build trust and friendships … as
    long as this carries over into the workplace. This is foundation for
    making changes, not a substitute for them.

    Your goal should be to create a proposal preparation work environment where people feel appreciated, trust each other, like each other, and take pride in their work. If you can improve the quality of your work environment, you are likely to improve the quality of your grant proposals.

    We’re taking a short break for the long Columbus Day weekend.
    See you next Thursday.

    Dr. Jayme Sokolow, founder and president of The Development Source, Inc.,
    helps nonprofit organizations develop
    successful proposals to government agencies.
    Contact Jayme Sokolow.
    Look for Jayme’s ebook on
    Finding & Getting Federal Government Grants.
    It’s part of
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks
    They’re easy to read, to the point, and cheap ($1.99 – $3.99) ☺

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