Insider the grantmakers black box

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Do you know what 98% of all people  who write grants have never seen … and don’t understand?

What really goes on after a proposal vanishes inside the Grantmaker’s Black Box.

Why? – Because they’ve never been there. 

They’ve never seen the entire grants review and decision-making process in action, from start to finish.

They’ve never experienced the Grantmaker’s Black Box the way grantmakers do … as an insider.

What if you could hop inside a real-life Grantmaker’s Black Box and get an up-close look at what goes on there?

What if you had an insider’s view of the in-the-trenches challenges, stresses, frustrations, surprises, internal timelines, twists and turns the grantmaking team experiences at each step of the way, as it works hard to invest this year’s grant dollars wisely and well?

Would understanding more about the grantmaker’s world make a difference in your own grants work?

Can you imagine how the insights and takeaways from this experience might give you an edge in your own grants success?


Here’s your chance to change that … and become one of the 2% who really understand, from the insider’s perspective, what goes on in the Grantmaker’s Black Box!


GrantsMagic U’s one-of-a-kind video course, Inside the Grantmaker’s Black Box: What Really Happens After You Push “Submit” on Your Proposal!, breaks new ground in grants training by taking you straight into the heart of one grantmaker’s funding process.

From start to finish — from deadline to notification — this at-your-own-pace “wildlife safari” tracks one funder’s grant review process across 8 specific decision-making checkpoints … giving you a unique, real-world glimpse into what life is like for the folks who work inside that mysterious-to-grantseekers Black Box.

In Inside the Grantmaker’s Black Box we’ll travel through an actual grants review and decision-making process. As a longtime resident of the grants world and a grantmaking program officer for 12+ years, I’ll be your trusted safari guide. Together we’ll venture deep inside my organization’s recent real-life grantmaking round on our way to awarding a total of $600,000.

Along the way:

  • You’ll track our proposals through the 8 key “checkpoints,” or observation stations, of the grant decision process, so you can observe exactly what happened at every step of the way. 
  • You’ll see the RFP, the scoring criteria the reviewers used, the actual scores the reviewers awarded … even their comments on key proposal elements.
  • You’ll eavesdrop on my conversations with proposers and review team members.
  • You’ll see our mistakes and near-misses, challenges and celebrations, what was surprisingly easy, what really came hard.
  • And you’ll experience plenty of surprises, aha!s and hmm’s as I share story after story about real life inside this particular Grantmaker’s Black Box – and tons of takeaways you can carry home and put to work immediately on behalf of your own nonprofit and community.

I promise you, plenty of surprises, lots of aha!s and insights, and a whole Jeepload of take-aways you can put to work immediately in your own nonprofit. 


Our travel itinerary:

Inside the Grantmaker’s Black Box includes 11 sessions, each containing a series of brief video lessons.  You can it watch any time, on your own schedule, as often as you like.

In each session we’ll visit a different safari “checkpoint” or observation station, where we settle in, put on our field glasses, and take a close look at what’s going on there. 


Getting Ready: The Grantmaker’s Black Box (runtime: 16 min.)Warm-up: Meet Mama Elephant. Whose game is it, anyway? The obstacle course – and three big myths about grantmaking.


Our Wildlife Safari: What You Need to Know Before We Set Out (runtime: 26 min.)Our safari “huddle-up.” Understanding the environment. The grantmaker’s ecosystem, lifecycle, people, pressure points. What to watch out for. [SIDEBAR]: Letters of intent.


Checkpoint 1: The Deadline/Proposal Receipt (runtime: 12 min.)What “deadline day” looks like from the other side. Twists and turns. Time stamps. Elimination round. Sorting through it all. Who’s in, who’s out?


Checkpoint 2: The Technical Review(runtime: 16 min.)It’s all about compliance. Let’s look at the results (yikes!) Another elimination round. Why “character counts” count. Don’t mess with the statutory guidelines! A dilemma. Judgment calls.


Checkpoint 5: The Individual Review(runtime: 36 min.)Essay test or math test? The myth of the objective review process. Our results: High, low, average. Drilling down: Scores and comments. [SIDEBAR]: How Jill’s 12-12-12 story can change everything for you.


Checkpoint 4: Compiling the Scores (runtime: 21 min.)Making sense of all those numbers. The first head-to-head comparison. More judgment calls. Bad news for proposal 4. The case of the missing proposal: A cautionary tale.


Checkpoint 5: The Group Review and Recommendations (runtime: 40 min.)Clarity trumps everything – absolutely everything. More head-to-head comparison. Why “non-competitive” factors matter. What the heck happened … and why? The gold-star nugget takeaway. The 3 big grantmaking myths – busted! Home free? – nope, not yet!


Checkpoint 6: Official Approval (runtime: 15 min.)
It ain’t over till Roger says it’s over. Getting to yes – ASAP. [SIDEBAR]: The power of the summary … and the suspense continues to build! The gameboard shifts and surprises emerge. 


Checkpoint 7: Negotiations(runtime: 10 min.) Shaving the budgets. Shaving the budgets some more. The July 25 surprise (and not the good kind). How it all worked out. on round. 


Checkpoint 8: Notification and Feedback (runtime: 13 min.)
Outside the Black Box – at last! Notifications and declines. [SIDEBAR]: Asking for feedback: The wrong way, and the right way.


Review, Reflections, Takeaways (runtime: 19 min.)… Our safari is over – let’s talk about it. Important notes as we wrap up. Back to our big myths. Big takeaways. Putting it into action – and Mama Elephant returns.


This is an anytime, anywhere online video training. As soon as you enroll, you will have instant access to the recorded training and can watch over any Internet connection, on your own schedule, as often as you like.