Even as an experienced grant writer, getting started with a new grant application can be overwhelming. In this post, we share how to we structured a kick-off meeting for a new project and grant pursuit with the Native Village of Tetlin (Alaska).
Prep Work: Read the funding guidelines and prep a meeting agenda
To prepare for the kick-off meeting, always read the funding guidelines. As you have questions, type those into the meeting agenda for discussion later. Also list the required attachments and assign different team members to each. Then include a mini grant narrative skeleton (described in the Free Mini-course here), to understand where you have information gaps and to assign responsibilities.
The entire process of reading the funding guidelines and preparing a kick-off agenda took us about 1.5 hours.
Host Kick-Off Meeting
We use Zoom video conferencing to host meetings. For this project, our team spread from Anchorage and Tok, Alaska, to Paraguay! Despite our geographic differences, we had a fun and productive meeting, and largely attribute that to having video for interacting with each other.
Below is a breakdown of how we ran the kick-off meeting.
Step 1: Confirm project scope and what planning has been done.
Coming into the project blind as a contract grant writer, we started the call with a discussion on what planning has been done for Tetlin’s proposed housing renovation project. In less than ten minutes we covered project need, site ownership, teaming, match, cost, and gaps in planning.
Patricia Young, the Grant Development Specialist in Tetlin, was able to respond to inquiries quickly because she had completed the Project Planning Toolkit beforehand.
As an aside, Patricia has taken two of our in-person grant writing workshops sponsored by Tanana Chiefs Conference. She is a talented grant writer! Teaming up with her on this pursuit is a demonstration of how effective grant writing can be when you have at least two people working on it together.
Step 2: Get general questions answered
We then ran through seemingly miscellaneous questions that had been noted while reviewing the funding guidelines. This is where we covered bizarre details like if Tetlin’s Code of Conduct is listed on HUD’s website, a requirement for funding.
Step 3: Provide a birds eye view of grant forms and attachments
Most funding guidelines provide a list of grant forms they require you to submit. We added that list to the kick-off agenda and took a first stab at divvying up who will do what. During the meeting we confirmed if this is a good split of responsibilities.
Step 4: Review the grant narrative “skeleton” and identify action items
Generally, we like to prep a narrative skeleton before hosting a kick-off meeting. It often knocks loose better information to ask for as you prepare to write. The second best option is to embed a mini narrative skeleton into the agenda. We did this and preassigned which team member will do what.
This is an important step. It takes some critical thinking to determine who will do what and when. A lot of times, certain information like a cost estimate or detailed scope description, can hold up preparing other parts of the application. (Hence why we created a whole course on project planning!)
Step 5: Review the schedule and make necessary adjustments
We prepared a rough schedule before the meeting. During the call we shifted things considerably based on when team members were traveling, when the Council meets, and other logistical considerations.
The grant isn’t due until January 9th, but our plan is to submit it December 20th. There’s no reason to drag on grant writing to the deadline – especially over the holidays.
Step 6: Determine next meeting time and summarize action items
We agreed on the next team meeting and summarized action items between now and then. The agenda was updated with notes from the call and sent out following the meeting. Everyone jumped right onto their action items and we were off to a great start! The entire kick-off meeting took 45 minutes.
Below are screenshots of the meeting agenda. Hopefully, you find this level of detail helpful for your own project meetings! We provide a template for a kick-off meeting agenda in the Grant Writing course. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us here or check out our Facebook page for additional insights and updates.
**Photo is from a culture camp at Tetlin a few years ago. You can see smokehouses that are filled with subsistence white fish.**
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