TRUST, RESPECT, ETHICS, GROWTH
With quite frequency in the past year, I have been approached by more and more organizations to review internal documents and prepare boiler plate grant applications in order for them to be "grant-ready" to respond to funding opportunities in a timely and effective manner.
My common response is that no two grant applications are alike and although we can prepare some basic information about your organization in advance, there will always be the need to individualize your response and follow the specific requirements of each funder to the letter.
For example, the list of your Board of Directors and their expertise in your organization is certainly a list worth continually updating and having ready at a moments notice. The latest financial report is something you want to be sure is available in PDF format and easily identified in your electronic folder as these are common requests from funders. However, staffing structure for any particular program will totally be dependent on your current capacity for that specific program and whether or not you will be hiring a new position. If the later, you will need a job description for the new hire including pay grade or salary range and qualifications.
Of course your mission and goals should be well established and you would be ahead of the game if you have a solid strategic plan that includes the goals of the funding source you are applying for. Even an outline of your current programs, policies and procedures could be documented with outcome data to enlighten a new funder of your history and examples of effective stewardship. However, if you are responding to an emerging trend or urgent matter, you will need to gather new data to justify the need for this effort- qualitative, quantitative, process and anecdotal. Making your case for need is essential in all grant applications so this step cannot be underestimated.
Plus, let's not forget each grant limit on font size, section word count, and page limits of the application. I'm all for being prepared, organized and pre-planning. Anyone who knows me, knows those are some of my greatest strengths... let's just not forget creativity, individualism and uniqueness . Isn't that what will excite the funder?