Getting the Grant – “What do we do now”?

  • Nov - 28 - 2022
  • Mary E. Dolan

Getting the Grant – “What do we do now”?

I think the real topic, though, is navigating the resource tidal wave. Every organization says they have a ton of resources but having the capacity/staffing/funding to spend time understanding and sorting through those resources can be a huge time suck (especially if you have a proposal granted from them) although you know it's worth the effort. 

In the movie, The Candidate starring Robert Redford, Redford, the underdog, wins election as a U.S. Senator. After he is announced the winner, he looks at his campaign manager and sheepishly asks, “What do we do now”? Sometimes getting a grant feels that way. You write it, and you put it on your financials as hopeful income, which looks great, you tell the team and create electricity about the work to be done. And then you wait. The idea of the grant is kind of mythic. You feel like Redford – good at the scratching and clawing for attention – but who knows what it will be like doing the real work.

So, like in the movie, there is that moment when the results come in. BAM, you got it! A sigh of relief. A feeling of vindication, and you are elated. And then, like Redford, you ask that question, “what do we do now?” Luckily you have a roadmap called the grant proposal. Maybe some of the specifics are a bit hazy in your memory from a few months ago, but there it is. The work, the goals, and why this is important.

If you are fortunate as I am, you have a great team working by your side that helped you with the proposal and will help you execute it. Typically grants are given to complete a specific work plan.  Rarely are they aspirational and exploratory.  Fortunately, we have been given the opportunity to do the latter. Several months back, HumanitiesDC awarded the FDR Committee a capacity building grant to provide financial support for us to spend time learning and listening to a key DC education organization- DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative - on how to use their vast network to expand our reach with local DC educators.  There is a work plan and timeline and all the good things you find in a proposal, but, HumanitiesDC understands that small organizations like the FDR Committee need resources to identify partnerships and to make use of networks and resources.  They understand that developing partnerships that really work is like riding a surfboard through a tidal wave of information.  You need support to understand, think about how to implement, and then drive the learning into programming.  This grant will allow us to discover the path that works best for our mission and purpose and then share that map with others so more funding can be put into the direct work. 

Sometime early next year, we will have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP – boring name, I know) on how we will use the great platform afforded by membership with the DC Collaborative to serve our mission to promote education about the FDR Memorial, especially the story of the fight by disabled Americans for the FDR wheelchair statue. This SOP will serve as a template for other organizations looking to “surf the tidal wave.” Consider this your surfboard. 

Thank you to HumanitiesDC for being a funder that believes in our work. And thank you to the DC Collaborative for all that you do to provide equitable arts and humanities in DC. We look forward to learning and growing through your support!