You Can’t Say “Thank You” Enough … in Grant Proposals

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    It’s been my honor to have served as board president of two nonprofit organizations – a synagogue and a music society.

    I learned a lot during my terms with these organizations, but perhaps my most important lesson was the need to acknowledge people and express my personal appreciation of them, to them.

    That is something we need to do a lot more of in our grant proposals.

    The Importance of “Thank You”
    Unfortunately, today we all are drowning in clichés and platitudes, many of them patently insincere. How many letters do you get a week from your bank or investment companies that tell you how much you are valued as a customer, and how many of these same banks and investment companies helped topple the economy in 2008 through their greed and criminal behavior? It often seems as if we are living in an age of insincerity.

    As grant proposal managers, we are always under a great deal of pressure to adhere to schedules and milestones … and produce outstanding proposals. And, while immersed in those hectic work schedules, we often forget that our most valuable asset is our proposal team.

    We cannot treat each other as tools or cogs in a gigantic grant proposal wheel. Instead, we must acknowledge what every study has demonstrated – that we all need to feel appreciated and valued.

    We also know that when we acknowledge and thank a colleague, we feel better too. Expressing appreciation is a very pro-social kind of behavior.

    Saying thank you increases the likelihood that your colleagues will not only help you but help other people too. Saying thank you is a form of social capital. It helps build trust and cooperation.

    How to Say “Thank You” More Often
    Mark Goulson in a Harvard Business Review blog has provided us with a good roadmap for providing a meaningful thank you. I will modify his suggestions and apply them to grant proposal development.

    I encourage proposal managers, and everyone on grant proposal teams, to take these four steps to say thank you:
    • The first and most important step is to be grateful for the work your colleagues
    are doing. You cannot give sincere appreciation and thank you unless it is real.
    They will immediately see through any acknowledgment that is not genuine.
    • Thank them for something very specific. For example, you could say, “Mary,
    I really appreciate that you stayed late today and helped us finish
    our red team review.”
    • Acknowledge the sacrifices that people are making. “I know that you could be
    spending today with your kids at the playground. I really appreciate you working
    this Saturday afternoon to finish our grant proposal.”
    • Tell people what their work personally means to you. “Mark, I couldn’t have
    managed this proposal without your great work on resumes. You helped make
    this a very strong proposal.”

    Follow this simple rule: You cannot sincerely say thank you enough to your grant proposal team.

    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 – $4.99) ☺

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