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Strengthening Connections With Your Nonprofits (Part 1)

Are you looking to improve your grant process, application, and relationship with applicants? Does your organization want to integrate more trust-based practices into your philanthropy and be more transparent? Listen to a panel discussion with several nonprofit professionals and hear them describe ideal connections and relationships with funders.

Stephany Hessler, Grants and Foundations Manager | Save the Bay

Nonprofit professional with expertise in: volunteer management; grant research, budgeting and writing (corporate, foundation, and federal); experiential learning program development; project management; relationship building; recruitment, retention and recognition of volunteers and staff; public relations/media relations; internship program development and management; community outreach and sponsorship; event planning; creation of public programs for nonprofits; group training and facilitation; board development and leadership.

Laura Cochran , Senior Development Associate | Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP)

Laura Cochran has been a grant professional for over 14 years, a member of GPA for over 11 years and a GPC for 10 years. For the last 11 years, she has worked for the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP), helping to increase access to affordable housing in Indianapolis.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC, Founder | DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services

Diane H. Leonard, GPC, RST is a Grant Professional Certified (GPC), Approved Trainer of the Grant Professionals Association, and a Registered Scrum Trainer. Diane began her career as a Program Officer for a state-wide grantmaking organization and she continues to serve as a reviewer for a variety of grantmaking organizations. Since 2006, when she formed DH Leonard Consulting, Diane and her team have secured more than $98 million dollars in competitive grant awards and Diane has personally trained more than 69,978 nonprofit professionals. When not working with her team, Diane can be found in the 1000 Islands, out for a run, or drinking a strong cup of coffee.



Logan Colegrove 00:00:02:11

Welcome to Connected Philanthropy. Today’s episode is a panel discussion featuring several nonprofit professionals discuss the things they wish funders knew. This discussion comes from a recorded webinar that found it hosted, and this was actually one of our most rewatched webinars of 2023. The original recording was over an hour and a half long, so we wanted to release this trimmed down version and split it into two parts.

Logan Colegrove 00:00:32:01

This first part is just the planned presentation, and the second part was the Q&A that people stuck around for afterwards. This episode is going to start with the panelists introducing themselves, and this discussion was moderated by Tami Telsey. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Laura Cochran 00:00:52:24

Hello, everyone. My name is Laura Cochrane. I am the senior philanthropic gift advisor at the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership. We work in the affordable housing arena, both helping low and moderate income families qualify and prepare for homeownership, as well as building and increasing the number of affordable housing units in the Indianapolis area. I have been a in the grant field for 16 years now, working at HP for 12 of those, and I’m responsible basically for all things grants at ION HP, both incoming and the limited outgoing grants we have.

Laura Cochran 00:01:36:11

So I actually work. I have two hot hats and I’m happy to be wearing my grant seeker hat today.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:01:44:03

Hello, everyone. Greetings from the Thousand Islands and far, far, far upstate New York. I’m the president and founder of D.H. Leonard Consulting in Grant Writing Services. We’ve been helping at nonprofits and charitable organizations of all shapes and sizes. Take the stressed out of grants for 17 years now. Before I founded the firm, though, I was on the other side of the equation.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:02:07:01

I was a grant maker, and so I was the program officer for the statewide Public Foundation, the Michigan Women’s Foundation. So was managing the grant seeking process for the women’s and girls programing throughout the state. And yes, I’m dating myself. That is back when online forms were just a twinkle in our eyes as grant makers. Oh, how things have changed.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:02:29:04

But I’m thrilled to be with everyone today.

Stephany Hessler 00:02:32:05

Hi, good afternoon and good morning. I’m Stephanie Hassler. I am the grants and foundations manager at Save the Bay in Providence, Rhode Island, where we work to protect and improve Narragansett Bay and inspire the next generation of bay stewards through education and outreach and engagement. I have been in program development and management in the nonprofit sector for 15 years and in the grant sector exclusively for about eight years now.

Stephany Hessler 00:02:59:07

But my background spans from the events and PR side all the way to the fundraising side and program development and presentation and management. So I’m excited to share my kind of well-rounded knowledge with you all, and I’m excited to join my panelists in the discussion.

Laura Cochran 00:03:15:15

Thank you, everyone. Now we get to dig in to our questions and answers. I really hope people put their in questions that come to you either follow up to two comments that our panelists are making as they talk about some thoughts and advice that they’ve prepared. We’ve had we put together five or so questions to to get started, and I think that’ll really bring other questions to mind.

Laura Cochran 00:03:44:23

But let’s start out with what barriers have you seen in the application process from the grant seeker side that you wish funders were aware of and. Stephanie, can you jump in here first and and tell us what you’ve seen? Sure.

Stephany Hessler 00:04:04:11

There are definitely a few that I have seen, one that comes across regularly in a few foundations. We apply to our kind of the time frame of uploading applications to a foundation in addition to our nine nineties and audits that need to be attached for us. Our audit cycle may be off from the typical calendar year, and if you’re a larger organization, you might have to undergo additional audit procedures.

Stephany Hessler 00:04:34:11

If you have a large quantity of federal funding that you receive. So for us, we can actually take us 4 to 6 months after our year end to receive our 990 an audit. So we have what we have in-house is our most recent, but we will always provide a foundation with the most recent information as soon as we get it in.

Stephany Hessler 00:04:54:19

So I think that kind of speaks to timelines in general, just making sure that, you know, if you’re putting a deadline out there that you keep a consistent deadline as best you can year over year. I know I’m not alone in the panels here. When we plan our pipelines of what we’re applying to for, you know, 2 to 3 years out.

Stephany Hessler 00:05:16:15

So when a foundation changes their deadline without any notification, it can be a challenge for us. So definitely making sure that any changes are communicated in advance of when the new deadlines might be would be really helpful.

Laura Cochran 00:05:32:06

Excellent. Thank you, Laura. Since you are on both sides, what’s your advice about character limits there? My advice is please, if you have to have them air on the side of too many, then not enough. I mean, no grant professional. Nobody writing a proposal wants to spend more time writing and telling you about what we need to tell you about.

Laura Cochran 00:05:58:05

Then we have to. So if you take away character limits, you are still you’re not going to get 12 page application because we don’t have the time or the desire to write that much. But we do need more than a thousand characters to tell you about the need in our community, particularly if we have multiple projects going on or programs.

Laura Cochran 00:06:25:04

So that’s really probably the biggest frustration, particularly with online applications, is just hitting that that character count and trying to work what we do into a paragraph instead of three paragraphs. Excellent. And to wrap up on the Eric der Counts and I see a question coming in, what’s the ideal character limit? If someone requires them and and I’ve heard this, this is the best advice that I’ve heard.

Laura Cochran 00:06:57:06

And if somebody here something different is that, you know, maximizing it and then say, we anticipate that this would be this much, but there’s enough room there. A beyond that, But you’re kind of giving an indication of, you know, we expect that this is, you know, half a page or less on the page, but you have more characters than that I found.

Laura Cochran 00:07:21:15

And I get my fellow panelists could speak, you know, between 3 to 8, even 2005 thousand characters is generally more than enough for the longest answers that I want it want to provide. So that might help you in answering that question.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:07:41:21

They still really appreciate when that character count is accompanied by the kind of answer that you’re hoping for. Specifically, if you say something like in a few sentences about the mission of your organization or the direction you’re trying to go with that with impact on a project or in a few paragraphs, And that allows us to to know whether this is you’re really hoping for a.

Stephany Hessler 00:08:07:01


Laura Cochran 00:08:08:02


Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:08:09:05

A more complete answer. You tell it in a few sentences or in a few paragraphs. We really know the direction that we need to go, and then we can kind of starts out whether it’s a big story that we need to tell or something that we can really get a quick synopsis for. That’s really helpful. Guide And then you can give us 10,000 characters and we will give you the best.

Laura Cochran 00:08:30:12

Outcome in saying those are paragraph because yeah, trust me, I have a long version of our organization, history and programs and a short version. So just by providing us with that guidance, we can we can give you what you’re looking for. Excellent. Diane, do you have anything to chime in here?

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:08:50:09

I did. Thank you, though. I think one of the other things to consider about, like the perfect number of character counts, goes to the constant barrier. Word count. Character count. Right. Bundlers want to receive the information that’s meaningful to them and their review process. And I’ve been on that side, and I still I serve as a review member now for some foundations.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:09:10:05

And I think when faced with what’s the right number in the portal, right. And trying to answer that and step your limits, one of the things that I’ve been be successful is to look at the applications you just most recently received and find out where were there a lot of unanswered questions from your review members to figure out if you want to give more space?

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:09:30:12

We all asked a lot of questions while we were in the review space about the need in this community or about their anticipated outcomes and impact. Hmm. Next year. Right. Let’s try to give them more space in that. So that way if you feel like you have some shorter and some longer that you can use your committee or your board members feedback on the applications you’re reading and deciding on now to make your changes for the next year.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:09:54:06

And so I as on that process to be helpful from one year to the next with one of the groups that I’m a part of for reviewing or write.

Laura Cochran 00:10:01:18

The next question I’d like to ask our panelists is can you give an example of a really good question or, you know, if it’s more applicable or a bad one to show what a good one could be? Let’s let’s start with Stephanie. What do you have here for us?

Stephany Hessler 00:10:21:21

I always when the questions come up, we I see the two a lot. How is your work transformational or what’s the long term impact of your work for me and how I look at those and how our organization and the ones I volunteer for, I look at those. It really, I think can be a more productive line of questioning if you’re really looking at who and what the short term benefit, the short term outcome.

Stephany Hessler 00:10:48:03

Again, you know what that kind of what are we going to do with your dollar and what are we going to report back to you on? The reality is, a lot of times foundations we’ve seen and other organizations that work for we’ve seen, they ask this, what’s the long term impact? And we these groups just don’t have money for long term evaluation.

Stephany Hessler 00:11:09:15

Evaluation is exceptionally costly. And I would say the majority of organizations I worked for or work with do not have anyone in-house that does evaluation at that kind of level. So we can recite data about, you know, the long term impacts of, you know, for seniors or outdoor recreation, for youth and engagement for youth from national sources. But the reality is your dollar is helping us in the short term.

Stephany Hessler 00:11:37:22

So it’s getting, you know, some hands on education of students. It’s managing a habit or implementing a habitat restoration project where we may not see the impact of that work until there’s a large storm or it’s ten years down the road. We’re not following students longitudinally across, You know, when we see them in fourth grade. Are these students now getting jobs in the sciences?

Stephany Hessler 00:12:00:10

The 15 years later? We just don’t have the resources internally to follow that and track that. So I think kind of reframing for us, we always, when we’re looking especially at new programs and funding for new programs, we follow kind of a logic model basis. So we have our short term outcome. So our number of people are, you know, acres, miles, whatever it may be for whatever organization, which are really the reportable metrics, which are, you know, the things we’re using your dollars for in that 12 month or 18 month funding cycle.

Laura Cochran 00:12:31:10

Excellent. Those those are so important. You know, if if the long term impact and that’s what they’re what would a funders looking to get then definitely funding that effort and making that clear but that’s the type of funding or project it is versus others. Yeah. Diane, do you have a few examples here of good or bad?

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:13:00:00

Of course I do. And whereas my fellow panelists have given you some of the big, broad narrative based questions, I think you might be surprised that some of my examples might feel like some of the almost logistical questions that were asked as applicants. So what would be a good question? One that does not have a dropdown that pops up later on depending on your answer.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:13:25:13

So if the full question is visible without dropdowns, that can be kind of a tricky thing in the different portal. And we and something but right. Some of those like triggered questions those are hard. So if you avoid those those are great. When preparing an application. Great questions are those that two in the earlier point are very specific in what they’re asking so that when contemplating the limit you’ve set, whether it’s 250 characters or 2500 characters, the answer that you get is what feels right, the the specificity of that.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:14:02:19

But when we think about those character counted components, if you can group them together into what you would hope would be a story, something that even if shortened in a box, but something that is all relevant to the logic model related question, something that is all related to organizational capacity keeping all the collaborative related questions, I think those are great.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:14:25:22

I would also like to give a shout out for the question that says, Is there something that you think we need to know that we haven’t asked you yet? Or like that other optional attachment like, please offer us one other piece of information. Not everyone. I think they could. And again, you can put some limits on it, certainly, but that gives space.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:14:43:17

If there’s something about the story that your questions are. Well thought out, well laid out questions didn’t grab. It gives an organization a chance to be a little more intentional about making sure that you hear what they think is so important. But I do have two things on the logistical back side, if I may, things that we would ask you to put to consider of waiting.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:15:05:01

One. And this comes straight from my team today. They said, Diane, when you go to that panel today.

Laura Cochran 00:15:09:08

Could you please talk.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:15:10:07

About facts, numbers? We’re really curious, right? Like the day an application called for the fact number six times in the application. True story. And I know it was a government related application. So it’s not something we found was the portal provider list were like, ooh, when was the last time that like we used fax machines, right? So think about the relevance of even that logistical information that you’re requesting.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:15:37:02

The other one, though, when we’re thinking about demographic, gender, ethnicity, think about how broad you can be. And if you’re concerned that maybe you’re not broad enough, maybe you could offer in other for example, recently we were applying for a program where there was an organization focusing on LGBTQ community members, and the funder was also saying they were funding in that state, and the gender demographics available in the application form were only male and female, which is not inclusive.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:16:10:03

And so that really caused a question about under partnership, despite the priorities stated by the funder. So those teeny tiny logistical question in really have an impact on burden for applying, but also for what that interaction or relationship might look like.

Laura Cochran 00:16:28:20

And Laura, do you have an item? Because I mean, you know, we have some great questions that I’m excited to get to after your response. Just a couple really quick ones on this. Yes. To like the consistency across applications, particularly when it comes to like demographic ranges. I mean, I understand as somebody who is also reviewing grants and the grant that it’s very helpful to have, you know, box that.

Laura Cochran 00:16:52:12

So we know what percentage falls within this. But the biggest frustrations I have, I want to every single application I have to slice and dice my data differently because someone is asking for how many people did you serve between the ages of 20 and 25 and the other person’s asking between 20 and 22 or 18 and 24. So just either some, you know, instead of checkboxes, boxes, you know, more open ended questions about demographics or just where are you can some standardization on that would be lovely.

Laura Cochran 00:17:27:18

But the biggest frustration I have is not reviewing questions and having questions asking the same thing. I just completed an application that had the following question. You know, pre provide a brief demographic description of the population to be directly served through this program project. And then two questions later, describe the target population that will participate in the project program.

Laura Cochran 00:17:57:23

I you know, I wanted to answer questions. I wanted to provide what the funder was looking for. I could not even today. Do you have like, you know, and then I couldn’t tell you what the difference between those were and what different information they wanted. So just really being clear as possible would make your your applicants just absolutely fall in love with you.

Laura Cochran 00:18:23:01

That excel. Thank you. Diane, we have a follow up question to the drop downs that I think may be using the language that that we use in our software. I think they’re called conditional branching questions.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:18:40:10

That sounds like the technical description for what I meant, though.

Laura Cochran 00:18:45:12

Though. So that’s what you’re outlining. So if if you look at an application and it says, Hey, pick from this list, are you one of these five and you, you have a dropdown and then you see the next question, but all and you don’t realize that if you select item three four and more questions pop up. Right?

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:19:03:00

Exactly. And as good as I mean bound end when we open and this is not getting paid to say this, we love it when we open a portal. We don’t know who what the funder uses. We’re like, Oh, okay, found it because we know that we can see the preview and we know that it’s in a like really accessible what you’re going to use and how you might draft in it.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:19:21:21

But those conditional branching questions and that was my right software word, those are difficult even in any of the situations we’ve seen when it causes any sort of is if this than that to try and draft from and work with teams on and so that is exactly the problem of like so can you try and simplify it provide a different I’m not sure but that’s what we were talking about like if you are we provide economic development services versus we provide home ownership classes versus workforce development and all of a sudden then we get like different demographics that are required.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:19:56:17

So we’re either gathering too much because we think we have to do all of it or we don’t have enough ready. And when you go to populate in the portal, you realize that you’ve missed something.

Laura Cochran 00:20:06:24

Excellent. Thank you. So we got that follow up question to Laura, if you have something. Yeah, I think I agree with Diane, but and I think the key to that is being able to have a preview document that has every question. I mean, they the frustration as a grant writer or proposal writer of thinking, you answered a question going into the portal, answering it and then have two or three more questions pop up is is probably one of the worst because suddenly you’re scrambling to answer these other questions.

Laura Cochran 00:20:41:11

So whenever or however you do a preview in just making sure that every question is on that preview is benefit is very helpful for us. Excellent. And Stephanie, I see you had a follow up to a little pet peeve there, too. And that’s important for people to know if they don’t realize that. So.

Stephany Hessler 00:21:01:23

Sure, I think when you’re asking for uploads, making sure you don’t have a cap on the size of the file limit, there are so many foundations that I, I just know I have to start the application 2 to 3 weeks earlier than normal because I can’t ever attach anything and I have to reach out to their web people to go in and, you know, remove the cap.

Stephany Hessler 00:21:26:01

So for our 990 hour audit, they are all over that size limit. Typically. So making sure that your attachment fields allow whatever size attachment you are asking for.

Laura Cochran 00:21:39:24

Max, thank you. And we have a question for the panelists on what this is from Lori Perkins. I love the question. I’ve heard it. What do you what are your thoughts on having an option to do a video or an interview instead of fully completing.

Stephany Hessler 00:21:57:13


Laura Cochran 00:21:57:16

Application and everything that might go along with that? What’s what’s your thoughts on that, Stephanie? First, you got your hand up.

Stephany Hessler 00:22:05:16

So we had quite a few foundations actually, during the height of the pandemic that moved to a phone call, Zoom call if it was nice outside. We sat outside and visited, meeting with our executive director and some of our program directors, and we have quite a few of the foundations that have kept that model going forward and some that also have kept that as their reporting going forward.

Stephany Hessler 00:22:32:01

They don’t require a written report anymore. It’s simply like an hour long phone call. They really have the opportunity. I think any time you have the opportunity where you can have a face to face interaction with someone and you’re not confined by a character limit, you know, an upload limit or anything, I think you can really develop a meaningful relation chip because you’re not only hearing about their program work maybe from the past year that they’re interjecting, but what their plans are going forward.

Stephany Hessler 00:22:58:05

But you’re really hearing about kind of that day to day operations and products. What are their issues? What’s really impacting their communities right now, their constituents? What do they they need to be successful to have the biggest impact for the people they serve or the communities they serve? So I think it really opens that that, you know, opportunity for more conversation.

Stephany Hessler 00:23:18:15

But there is a space in place for the written as well when you need to, you know, have things written out that you can review with multiple people. I know for some nonprofits it might be intimidating to meet with your entire board over a call at once. Maybe one on one is better, but supplement some written content as well.

Stephany Hessler 00:23:38:02


Laura Cochran 00:23:40:01

So overall, thumbs up on the interview versus of application.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:23:43:22

Okay. I don’t have a concern about videos to be aware of. Just as when asking for written application, there’s a concern about the equity of that position and what’s the capacity of a community to put forward a strong written application and to then be comparing perhaps how well-written it is, the level of grammar that’s included in the application for editing work right?

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:24:08:05

So the written work has its own equity issues, but I do believe that the video components can also create a bit of an equity concern that you would want to be aware of in terms of expectations with polish, of presentation, and the level of preparation that might come in for the different types of conversations that would happen with different types of groups.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:24:25:14

So I think just as the equity conversation takes place for written applications, I would encourage those. I think videos are more accessible in general to a great number of groups, but just to be aware that there there could be concerns there as well for a group for concern in their video on or even the phone call, what that would mean, what the prep would look like that would be appropriate.

Laura Cochran 00:24:46:00

Yeah, I agree. 100% with what Dianne said. And I think I think you get into some trouble when you make a blanket requirement, like every founder or every applicant has to do a video or every applicant has to, you know, do that. I think if there are applicants where a video would be helpful, right? I think that’s kind of where you might fall more into the equity.

Laura Cochran 00:25:11:09

But there are times when it’s harder for me to get my program staff together for a video than it is for me to just write a report. Even though we are a fairly large organization with a budget that we can do a video without a problem. But timing wise, you know, it’s it’s difficult, I think, when it comes to just, you know, conversations and, you know, in face meetings.

Laura Cochran 00:25:37:17

That’s very helpful. Just building that relationship so that you can know it doesn’t have to be the sole application, but just having that those conversations with organizations and building that relationship throughout the time, not just for an application, not just for report, but really getting to know them and understand what they’re doing and how you can best partner with them is is key.

Laura Cochran 00:26:04:14

Excellent. Thank you. I love these questions coming in. So next question, we’ve we’ve slipped into it. And so let’s just talk about follow up reports and and what is the best follow up report experience you’ve had or you know what has been difficult one or the other. Again, try to keep it short so we could have some follow up questions here because I think the whole fix the form initiative first pain point was character counts and let’s address that with online forms.

Laura Cochran 00:26:39:12

The second most painful one was the follow up report. And they’re going to be digging into more of that in their next element of that. So let’s let’s leave some time here for follow up reports, best experience and worst. Briefly, Diane, can you go first?

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:26:55:14

Sure. Happy to. Though Beth wonders that, listen, when the grant maker, the grant maker and grant seekers are talking so there is a large national funder that started their award process by saying, we’re going to make you do a quarterly report, and they had X, Y and Z big thing, and then they got feedback from grantees like on day one, and they said, We hear what you’re saying, and that was a little bit too burdensome.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:27:21:21

And they stuck with quarterly, but they went work one page Mac to tell us about the demographics of how you’re doing on outputs and who are you serving. Like real high level took away forms, took away like deep evaluation questions as a quarterly expectation. So quarterly can be okay. I think if it’s lightweight. We came to appreciate that because then when it came time for the annual report, we took quarter one, two, three and four and rolled them together and you were ready to go.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:27:49:02

And that met everyone’s expectations because of how transparent they had been. That was actually a really nice reporting requirement. Despite the initial oh four. What everyone’s out similar to the ranching question in an online form, we had a similar experience recently with a report. The formal report was submitted by the portal, thought everything was fine and then what their process was, but had not mandated was that they sent a second follow up report that had to be completed within two weeks.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:28:20:10

A whole bunch of demographic information about the individuals that had been served through the program. So that was a bit of a surprise. It felt sort of like those branching questions. It was an annual report, though. It only happened once and then, well, we’ll see what happens based on feedback in the next year. But so two different examples of some things that have happened in the report space.

Laura Cochran 00:28:46:04

Perfect. Stephanie, how about your experience with the reports.

Stephany Hessler 00:28:50:01

Making sure we know what questions you’re going to ask, whether they come through an application process where you have a sample report form online so foundations that send out their report form or the questions they want answered, if it’s a narrative, you know, email us. A PDF report when we get the contract is very helpful because that helps us manage our program staff throughout the grant period to ensure we’re collecting and gathering information and data that you want reported back.

Stephany Hessler 00:29:22:04

Additionally, kind of what Diane said, we have had I’ve seen funders that have an online system that they we report through and then they have a whole other system in like Google or another platform with additional report questions that you also have to fill out whether space for those questions within their online portal. So I think being consistent, doing all your reporting requirements same time across one platform is very helpful and I know, Tammy, you are an example of a good question to ask as well.

Laura Cochran 00:29:59:10

Yes, yes, yes.

Stephany Hessler 00:30:01:14

So we have one foundation that asks a question either during their site visit process or in their reporting period, and they will ask the question, what keeps you up at night? And it can’t be related to your request or the work that you have gotten funding for from them. So it’s really an opportunity for them to see, you know, what other things are troubling, worrying, bothering nonprofits that maybe they can help make an impact in in the next grant cycle and grant round.

Stephany Hessler 00:30:33:22

So sometimes we’ve answered the question, you know, it’s the cost of insurance is going up for the organization, which means it’s going up for our staff. So what does that mean for the foundation? Can they alter, you know, the types of funding they’re giving? Can they look at more general operating support? It’s a really I think it’s an opportunity to kind of see what other things are bothering our on our brains as nonprofit professionals.

Stephany Hessler 00:31:01:08

Additionally, we have another foundation that always asks the question, what can we as the foundation or the sector be doing differently to help you? And that’s an open ended question. And it’s such a great opportunity for us to have kind of this this opportunity like we have right now, to share our feedback. And they’ve been a funder we’ve worked with for countless years and we’ve seen them implement some of those things that we have suggested over the years.

Stephany Hessler 00:31:27:12

So it’s really meaningful to, you know, and it makes us understand that you’re listening and hearing our feedback, though.

Laura Cochran 00:31:36:21

Laura, I think yours was on the same line as that. Or do you have any other to add here? Yeah, no, I think they I think the other panelists have covered you know, what I was going to say, you know very well, just again, if you want specific information, track particular if it comes to demographics, let us know upfront as part either of the application or immediately as part of the grant agreement, particularly if it’s something that is not traditionally tracked by an organization that’s very helpful when it comes to feedback.

Laura Cochran 00:32:09:24

Don’t tie your feedback questions to the report itself. You’ll you’ll never get, you know, real constructive feedback if if it’s tied that closely to something we’re submitting for our funding, ask that completely separate from a report so that we don’t feel like it’s, you know, going to be that closely linked with, with our future funding potential. Those are really the only two things other than agreeing with everyone completely.

Laura Cochran 00:32:41:19

Okay. So beyond the the if you’re prepared to say something else concise and just say your final wrap up, how about that, whether it was a specific question or not? Well, let’s go around the panelists and let’s start with you, Laura. One thing I want funder funders to know is I want to build a relationship with you. I want to have real conversations with you about the work we’re doing and the impact we’re having.

Laura Cochran 00:33:12:12

I want to help you meet your funding goals, so let us have that. Let’s have that relationship that way for us to communicate with. You have ways for us to, you know, reach out to you. If we if you’re more new to you or you’re a new funder for us, be open to having those conversations and also know that the persons may you may be contacting you may not be c-suites people, it may not be the executive director.

Laura Cochran 00:33:45:08

It it could be someone like me who is responsible for grants and not try that to get keep at that level. Being open to talking to the people who contact you, not saying, hey, I’m only going to talk to the executive director, the vice president, because I’ve got the time, I’ve got the time and the desire and I’m the one writing the grants and filling the reports and needing to know this information.

Laura Cochran 00:34:12:15

Honestly, not my executive director. I mean, she’s very supportive, but she doesn’t know when the grant reports are due. I do. Excellent. Thank you. All right, Diane.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC 00:34:26:04

So my closing, what’s one thing if you can think about, how can you simplify the process while still achieving your goal, your goals? I think this is a really nice example of trusting those relationships in the community. And so I would encourage you to think about creative ways to do that.

Laura Cochran 00:34:43:18

Thank you. And Stephanie.

Stephany Hessler 00:34:46:18

I think understanding that we want to be a partner with you, but there are often times, I mean, the height of the pandemic with case a point that it’s important to recognize that organizations do need flexibility from time to time. We may have the best laid intentions that this is how this program is going to run. But, you know, staff leave, things change.

Stephany Hessler 00:35:11:13

Maybe a partner drops off that makes it on where. And we are able to complete that program. So allowing the opportunity to work with the nonprofit when that happens, be open to the phone call, maybe help leverage other partnerships you have within the same community they’re working in to help maximize impact is important. And I also think understanding that if we are coming to you with an application or a request, we really have done the most due diligence we can do before we’re getting to we’ve we’ve made sure we are in alignment with your priorities, your past funding.

Stephany Hessler 00:35:54:17

You’re kind of giving average. So, you know, again, it might be me calling, it might be our one of our directors, our executive director, but allowing space and your application process for those conversations and knowing how you’re going to answer those questions when they come up, are you going to, you know, kind of get keep all questions until a certain date to answer them?

Stephany Hessler 00:36:17:24

Or are you going to be open to a candid phone call with someone to ask to get questions and answers? But really allowing flexibility? I know all the panelists here. We’re all busy. A lot of us are one person shops or small shops, and we’re doing it on our own and have varying deadlines throughout the year. So really giving us enough notice, making sure we have the time to get you everything you want on the application side.

Stephany Hessler 00:36:45:12

The reporting side is is very meaningful.

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