Stephanie Gerding, grants expert and an author of the best selling book, Winning Grants: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians from ALA Editions, is teaching an updated version of her popular Infopeople course, Library Grants 101.
As a course preview, Stephanie shared her top ten tips for library grants with us!
- Plan Ahead
Strategic plans are a grant writing time saver and a key to success! There are two major reasons to have a strategic plan. The first is to best serve your community. The second reason is that funders like plans (and some require them). The main components for grant proposals and the inspiration for grant projects are easily found in a well developed strategic plan. Libraries with plans have much greater prospects for a successful future and are able to contribute to their community’s biggest aspirations, which is what funders are striving for as well. Strategic planning is about being proactive, rather than reactive…not responding to the RFPs, but starting with your library’s mission and vision to create the desired future based on the true needs of your community members. It is important to know what you want to accomplish and who will be helped.
- Focus on the People
Your proposal should tell the story of the people that will be helped. It is never about the “stuff” you will get (money, technology, buildings, etc.) but about the people. Funders want to help people, not buy things. In library work, we are passionate about what we do and we change people’s lives every day through our programs and services. Make it clear to the funder how your library grant project will impact your community members.
- Share Your Grant Goals
Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a grant and discuss your grant project. Make sure your library staff, board members, and volunteers know about your grant goals and can talk about them as well. You never know where a great contact might come from or who might know of a great opportunity.
- Develop Relationships
Funders aren’t ATMs, they are real people, just like you and me (really! I’ve been on the funder side of things!). Contact potential funders to clarify your questions, discuss your project, and determine their interest in your project. Develop relationships with the contact people. If your project is not a match with a particular funder, ask if they know of other potential funders who would be a better match.
- Find Library Grant Opportunities
I started a shortcut to finding library grants on a free website that I have co-authored since 2005 (librarygrants.blogspot.com). I include the deadline, a brief description, and a link to more information. To save you time in your grant seeking, I verify with every grant opportunity that libraries of some type are eligible to apply. In the Infopeople course, I share my top funders for library grants plus another big tip for finding grant opportunities.
- Demonstrate Impact
Build evaluation into your grant planning so that you can demonstrate impact to your funders and to your community. Evaluation of grant projects can help demonstrate how your library supports your community infrastructure and your community’s future.
- Save the Best for Last
The most important part of your grant proposal may be the proposal abstract or summary as it serves as the first impression and can be critical to the success of the proposal. It may be carefully scrutinized to determine if the rest of the proposal should even be considered, so it needs to be able to stand on its own. Even though it is often the first section of a proposal, it should be written last to make sure it contains all elements of your grant proposal.
- Balance Facts with Emotional Appeal
Decisions to give (like most human decisions) are emotional. Facts by themselves are not persuasive, and do not motivate people to give. Provide fact-based, verifiable data, but include the passion you feel for the people you serve. But don’t be afraid to include emotion with your facts and data. After all, you are communicating with people you share values with and you want to persuade them to champion your project while fulfilling their cause. Tell the story of the people who will be helped.
- Follow the Guidelines
When completing grant proposals or award applications, follow the guidelines explicitly and answer all the questions. Make it easy for the grant reviewer to find the information requested by following the same format and headings as the application, and your proposal will be easier to read. The reviewer may have hundreds of applications to read, so don’t let yours be disqualified due to a technicality.
- Be Positive
A positive attitude yields positive results. Some libraries get so mired down by budget, staff, and/or space shortages that their grant applications seem like an airing of grievances rather than evidence of needs with plans for creative solutions. Although you need to demonstrate the reasons your library requires the funding, make sure that the application’s overall message is encouraging and perhaps even inspirational. The funder has a vision how they can help make the world a better place, and your library has the means to help fulfill their vision. Remember to be grateful to the funder, and to all the staff that support the grant. When you’ve received funding, celebrate any success and always give recognition where it is due.
Stephanie adds, “Libraries do change lives, and we need to make sure that funders and supporters know that libraries positively impact communities. There is a saying that luck—and success—is what occurs when preparation meets opportunity. No one is ever 100 percent successful, but libraries have a lot of advantages in the grant world, so keep writing those grants!”
Information and registration for the course are at https://infopeople.org/civicrm/event/info?id=792&reset=1.
Check out these upcoming learning opportunities!
- Reducing Workplace Stress with Mindfulness
A one-hour webinar, May 24th at Pacific – 12 Noon, Mountain – 1 PM, Central – 2 PM, Eastern – 3 PM
Presenter: Katie Scherrer
Do you sometimes feel distracted at work? Do you feel pulled in too many directions simultaneously? Do you feel stress from your work life creeping into your personal time? Mindfulness is a simple practice that can help all of us reduce stress by connecting to the present moment. It requires no special equipment or prior experience and can be practiced anywhere at any time. This webinar will introduce participants to the practice of mindfulness by presenting basic science about the practice and its benefits, connecting the experience of mindfulness to library work, and by guiding participants through several beginning practices in real time.
- Workplace Burnout: Bouncing Back with Resilience
An online course, starts June 5th and ends July 2nd
Instructor: Debra Westwood
Staff who work in public service positions, like libraries, face mental and emotional challenges in their daily work. Budget struggles, trying to make a difference in high need communities, changes in the library’s role, concerns at home, local and national politics – it adds up! When that kind of pressure is coming at you from all directions, it can contribute to a gradual grinding down, loss of joy, a fading enthusiasm that we call burn-out. In this 4-week course, look at the physiology & psychology of burnout, as well as how it manifests itself physically, emotionally and behaviorally. Know the difference between stress and burnout. Learn restorative practices to help restore resiliency and job satisfaction.
- “I could really use a good laugh!” How to Give a Laughter-as-Therapy Program in Your Library
A one-hour webinar, June 14th at Pacific – 12 Noon, Mountain – 1 PM, Central – 2 PM, Eastern – 3 PM
Presenter: William Mongelli
Stress – good AND bad – is a fact of human existence. As it turns out, laughter IS one of the best medicines! The physiological and psychological benefits of laughter and humor continue to be documented in the scientific study of laughter (gelatology). Even the simple act of smiling has been shown to improve mood and nurture a positive mental outlook. This webinar will give you the skill-sets necessary to teach both your library users and library staff a fun & effective way of managing the stresses of their day. Laughter-as-therapy in the library environment can be offered to library users of all ages.
Many in the library world are working to better understand issues related to privacy. In this post, we’ll highlight a few free resources that can help you learn more.
- ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom will be hosting a free webinar on April 16th. Julie Oborny and Erin Berman from San José Public Library will present “A Practical Guide to Privacy Audits.” Attendees will learn why healthy privacy practices are more critical than ever before and get a step-by-step guide for starting an audit at their libraries.
- Alison Macrina, director of the Library Freedom Project, recently delivered a webinar for Infopeople, called “Teaching Privacy in Libraries: Strategies and Tools.” At a time when society is facing a new set of challenges around privacy, surveillance, censorship and free speech, library workers, as stewards of information and providers of internet access, are in a prime position to educate patrons about their digital rights. In this free recording, Marcrina demonstrates tools and best practices that can be taught in any library environment, in one-on-one patron interactions or computer classes.
- Back in November 2017, Laura Solomon presented an Infopeople webinar called, “Protecting Your Online Privacy: Risks and Strategies.” The free recording includes information and examples to help us understand why protecting one’s online privacy is now so critical and what can happen when one doesn’t. The session highlights various concrete methods and tools you can use to help protect online privacy as much as possible.
We’ve added our eighth free online module to the new Infopeople Academy! These are self-paced learning opportunities for library staff. Each is designed to be practical, applicable and relevant. We’ve created these by re-purposing instructional content in collaboration with Niche Academy.
Knowledge and Skills for Staff Providing Reference
Five of the modules are part of a Subject Area Reference Series. They include:
- Government and Law
- Consumer Information
- Poems, Songs and Quotations
- Homework Help
- Business Resources and Job Hunting
- Government and Law is designed to introduce legal information available on the Internet and in a few standard print sources. Federal and state government information is included. This is for non-law library staff . Learn about the structure and sources of law, what types of legal questions you may be asked, and what you can do to answer them.
- Consumer Information includes tips on handling requests for general consumer information. It also concentrates on several areas people often need to research: vehicles, antiques, collectibles, and art.
- Ever help patrons who are looking for Poems, Songs and Quotations? When searching for a poem, song, or quote, an effective search depends upon doing an effective reference interview. Learn about useful web and print resources, too.
- Homework Help focuses on best reference staff practices, great reference resources for homework assistance, and suggested methods for responding to students with homework needs and concerns.
- Business Resources and Job Hunting introduces core business resources. Resources for starting a business, investment and finance, and job hunting are covered, too.
Other Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
The three remaining modules cover a variety of topics, including:
- Tabletop Games and 21st Century Skill Development
- How to Serve Genealogists Now
- Making Employee Training Stick
- In Tabletop Games, Lauren Hays highlights how you can use games in your library to foster skills such as creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration.
- In How to Serve Genealogists Now, Nicole Miller covers genealogy research best practices, sources, and software. She also covers genealogy related library programming.
- In Making Training Stick, Andrew Sanderbeck, Terry McQuown, and Brenda Hough discuss ways that supervisors should be involved with their staff members’ training. The modules include tips regarding how to make training stick and introduces the concept of “transfer of training”.
We hope you find these modules useful. Please share them with other staff who may be interested in the topics. Would you like to be updated when new topics are added to the Infopeople Academy? Sign up for the Infopeople training list. We’ll use the list to announce new content.
Are you a supervisor or manager with a staff member who is taking an Infopeople course? Would you like to help them make the most of the learning experience? We would love to share a few potential ways you can help “make training stick” for them.
- Read through the course description and learning objectives together. Every Infopeople course includes a course description and learning objectives. Reviewing them will help both supervisor and employee have a solid understanding of what is going to be covered in the course.
- Review the estimated amount of time required for the course work and make a plan for scheduling that time. Most Infopeople courses are designed to require 2 1/2 hours of time per week for the duration of the course (2, 4, or 6 weeks).
- Assist staff with finding a place for their learning. Do they have the space needed to accomplish or complete readings, online meetings, and assignments without being interrupted?
- Discuss assignments together. Assignments in an Infopeople course are practical and relevant. Many of them encourage applying course concepts to the learner’s current library setting.
- After completion of the course meet with the staff person as soon as possible to brainstorm where new knowledge and skills can be applied, or if additional continuing education is needed to build on what they have learned.
- Provide a way for the learner to share their acquired knowledge with other staff (e.g. blog post, staff intranet, informal bag lunch, staff bulletin board, etc.).
- Make a calendar note for 2-3 months after the course end date to talk about what has been accomplished.
Want to know more about the research and models behind these ideas?
We were inspired to develop and share these 7 tips while working with Andrew Sanderbeck and Terry McQuown to create an Infopeople Academy tutorial called Making Employee Training Stick.
The free tutorial will introduce you to:
- “Transfer of training”, helping you understand various tools and strategies available to support your staff in using more of their learning on the job.
- The critical role that supervisors play in the success of employee training in any organization.
- Practical tools and strategies that you can start using immediately.
- Strategies for overcoming potential barriers to using transfer of training.