From Idea to Event in Four Months - Secret Sauce You Can Use for Your Next Grant

A massive determinant of whether or not your grant writing experience goes swimmingly well or not is if you have a strong kick off meeting. 

I founded an all women’s mountain bike festival in 2018. In four months we went from idea to full execution with 250 participants. We provided skills clinics, a social ride, maintenance classes, a race, vendor village, and great food.

Here is some feedback from one of our participants: 

“I REALLY appreciate the hard-core ladies who took the time out of their busy lives to spend the day teaching the rest of us. These are the ladies I admire from afar; our amazing, beautiful, athletic Alaskan women - and frankly their "she" power, success and abilities can be a little intimidating to some of us non-athletic types, or those of us who weren't perhaps encouraged in the same way to take part in sports. But, they were truly interested in helping hundreds of women and girls learn about and enjoy what they do. There was no judgement; they were approachable and encouraging. It was a really fun afternoon and I would take part again!”


How did we do it? We had an amazing kickoff meeting! You can get the same results with your project and organization if you bring a similar approach. Here are the specifics on what we did:

  1. We invited a list of about 40 people with the ask that they just come and see if our event is a good fit for their volunteer time. We didn’t intimidate people with a big upfront time commitment. 
  2. At the night of the meeting, we had an agenda, inspirational video content to share, and unicorn themed snacks (do you see a theme with me?). 
  3. We used design thinking (referenced here) to dream up an ambitious and bold event that would serve our target audience. Everyone contributed ideas and took ownership.
  4. At the end, we showed appreciation to our volunteers with party bags (also unicorn themed!) with chocolate, pens, hair ties, and coupons. 
  5. We said the meeting would be an hour and we stuck to that respecting everyone’s time. 

The prospective volunteers were so energized by the experience of our kickoff meeting that we had unbelievable volunteer turn out from that night forward. It was all in the kick off. 

The same approach will do wonders for you when you kickoff a new grant application. Grant writing is a team sport and you need people energized to help you get an application to the finish line.

Want to dig deep on kick-off meetings? Check out this blog post on how to have a stellar kickoff with step by step instructions. 

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