In the start-up world, once funding is secured and a project slated to begin, there is a period known as project initiation.
As detailed in Ganthead’s project management newsletter this month (www.ganthead.com) , this “is not a case of seeking out the template and putting a couple of sentences in each section. The document is secondary; it’s about talking to all of the stakeholders, understanding their motivations for wanting the project completed, capturing the assumptions and risks that inevitably have to be made this early on and providing a common starting point for the project. This will give every stakeholder the same knowledge base for the project…”
I suspect it would be useful to see more internal project launch meetings in the arts when a grant gets approved, making it news throughout the organization and ensuring that even frontline staff (box office, reception, etc.) know what the money’s for and why the project’s being undertaken. Too often in the need to keep slugging along on the next deadline, this moment gets shortchanged. Sometimes the disconnect is more symbolic than functional, with some staff perceiving the grants office as existing in a parallel universe while programming “just gets on with things.”
The grantwriter is the specialist who knows all the ins and outs of what was stated in the proposal. Hopefully these were developed collaboratively, with input from many departments, but again the grantwriter is the one who’s had their head in the project long before it occurs, pulling all the pieces together, zooming in and out to keep track of the big picture AND the details.
They should also be able to explain these verbally in plain English to everyone who has a role or a stake in the outcome. When the specialist and spokesperson roles are separated, sometimes important things get lost in translation. Why take that risk when money is at stake?
Once funding is secured, there is a “project management” hat that the grantwriter can wear – if supported and authorized to do so by leadership – to help clarify commitments and assignments. Why not have a staff meeting with refreshments and let the grantwriter debrief the whole team? This will help the organization strengthen its relationships with funders and prepare to document outcomes with precision and intent.