Caroline Ghosn, an American businesswoman said, “Collaboration is like carbonation for fresh ideas. Working together bubbles up ideas you would not have come up with solo, which gets you further faster.” Caroline’s words ring true in today’s grant world. Together we can upend unrealistic deadlines, deflate overdemanding federal grant guidelines, and publish a winning grant through collaboration.
A search of “online collaboration tools” on the Internet produced 177 million hits. This article carves, shapes and whittles down the online collaboration tools search to a manageable handful. Let the virtual carbonation take over your eyes for the next few paragraphs, and see how the online collaboration tools such as Grants.gov, GoogleDocs, Google Hangouts, Workspace, Scribblar and Huddle, produce bubbles of fresh ideas.
– Grants.gov as its name suggests, belongs to the federal government. Grants.gov Workspace “is the standard way for organizations or individuals to apply for federal grants in Grants.gov. Workspace is a shared, online environment where members of a grant team may simultaneously access and edit different forms within an application.” According to the website, Workspace makes applying for a federal grant as “convenient as possible.” I inwardly giggled when I muttered “convenient as possible.” In the past, working on Workspace was clunky and somewhat cumbersome. However, with fixes from digital experts, Workspace has flown into the twenty-first century. Individual users are named “Workspace Participant.” Participants add data to PDF’s and various webforms and if authorized, submit online applications. The lead grant professional is labeled “Workspace Manager.” Managers authorize participants, assign duties, input data and submit online applications.
– GoogleDocs is a free digital workspace where up to 100 grant professionals can collaborate, brainstorm, write, edit and publish winning grant applications. The two requirements are each grant professional must have a google account and have access to the Internet, as this is an online document only. “I don’t understand GoogleDocs…I would rather work offline…my computer does not like Google,” are words from some past associates. If you get push back from a colleague on not having a google account, hand walk them through the steps on setting up a google account; first name, last name, username for @gmail.com, password, confirm password. It takes less time creating a google account than reading this paragraph. Also, you can share the GoogleDocs with your client during the writing phase; however, the client can see everything that is written on the document.
– Google Hangouts is an excellent tool for virtual meetings. Google Hangouts allows you to articulate aspects of the grant project. If you send out a written task, it can be hard for the recipient to understand a task if you bold, CAPITALIZE, or use ten exclamation points. Google Hangout rids the world of these overused, sometimes misunderstood and usually hateful grammar. This free service lets you video conference with 25 associates.
– Workspace is not associated with Grants.gov Workspace and is a for profit company. Workspace offers 35 services and is designed for grant businesses and large projects. A few services offered are requirements management, project planning, resource management and capacity planning. Requirements, planning, management and capacity are key words in most large grants.
– Scribblar is a free service and touts its online whiteboard as “simple, effective online collaboration.” The online collaboration room is “ideal for holding virtual brainstorms.” The main features are chat, audio and virtual whiteboard. The whiteboard is especially handy for visual grant professionals and in the planning stages of grant preparation.
– Huddle is another for-profit company specializing in collaboration and file sharing. Huddle is an excellent tool for large projects as it allows for internal and external collaboration and file sharing. File sharing allows the grant manager to share all or parts of the grant proposal to the client. This is handy during the writing phase as it allows you to control the extent of the file sharing. Even though the client is always right, they do not need to know “everything” behind the scenes.
There are literally 170 million resources for online collaboration. Use the websites listed above or use your favorite online collaboration tool. Caroline Ghosn inspired me with, “Don’t let anyone — including yourself — hold you back.” Become a team player and collaborate your way to success.
About the Author
Judy Riffle, Ed.D, is a former teacher, university mentor, and K-12 central office administrator with degrees in special education, Deaf education and educational leadership. She was a school district Director of Federal and State Programs in Arizona, including additional hats as a grant writer/manager, English Language Learner Director, Homeless Student Liaison, technology committee facilitator, fundraiser and teacher professional development coordinator. Dr. Riffle began writing state, federal, corporate and foundation grants in 2008 for a school district, and branched out to independent grant consulting in 2011. Since 2012, she has served on six federal grant review panels. Encompassing over 20 years of experience in the field of education, she also serves on the Grant Professionals Association Grant News Publications Subcommittee, Grant Professionals Foundation Marketing Committee, the GPF Silent Auction Committee, and several nonprofit Governing Boards.
Judy Riffle has authored several grant advice columns for EducationGrantsHelp.com.