Jan 8, 2009

We Write Grants...and Stuff

For my first installment of What DODAD (What does the opera do all day?), I hung out with Sarah for a day. She's Opera Cleveland's Foundation, Corporate and Government Relations Manager (aka: My title is too long to fit on my business card).

When she arrived for the day, we booted up her computer and then headed downstairs to buy some Coke Zero "because hot drinks make me thirsty," she said. (Um...okay. I wondered then if this might be a long day.)

It's a busy time of year for grant writers--or at least for Sarah. There's a lot of deadlines, and I got to work with her on one in particular.

I didn't realize there was so much "pre-work" to writing a grant. For this particular grant (we'll call it "Please, Please, Pretty Please"), she had to write a letter of inquiry to the foundation in October. That letter led to a meeting with its program officer and a trustee. Then we were invited to apply for the grant. Egad.

BUT Sarah said this process is way more helpful than laboring over a grant that we don't have any chance at.

While a lot of questions on a grant application are similar to other grant applications, we don't just cut and paste here. No, sir. Sarah tailors the responses to the particular grant and what we intend to use the funds for.

Me and Sarah (not Cousin It)

To break up the day (aside from breaking to read the horoscope--I'm a Sagittarius!), we also worked on reports. Once we have received a grant from a foundation or the government, there are reports to complete.

The foundations use the reports to analyze how they allocated their dollars. (Everyone answers to someone.) And since many funders view grant dollars as an investment in their community, they want to see the return on this investment by asking how their dollars were spent, so we provide info like who, what, when, where and how.

One of the reports we worked on was an education report, in which we need to supply demographics.... So we went to talk to Laura, our Manager of Education and Community Development. (Laura is perhaps a wee bit tired of questions for grant reports. Suck it up, lady!)

In the end, Sarah is responsible for about 36% of our revenue, (again: egad!) with 20% coming from foundation grants, 14% from government grants (like the NEA and CAC) and 2% from corporations (c'mon guys, pony up!)

Hopefully my input into the "Please, Please, Pretty Please" grant will be helpful. (I just hope she keeps in the part about using grant dollars to fund a luxury chicken coop.)

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