Funds for All & All for Funds

Welcome to my blog! I'd like you to consider this an interactive space for sharing information, successes, ideas, strategies, and links to help us all raise more funds for nonprofits.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Strategies of Grant-Seeking

While many courses are offered in writing actual grant proposals, few courses -- if any -- address the need to analyze the programs for which grants are being sought in the context of funders' current priorities and strategic links between a nonprofit's board and the decision-makers in foundations. It always surprises me that so much attention is paid to the word-smithing (not that careful writing isn't one of the strategic elements of grant-seeking), while so little is paid to the matching of prospects and outcomes, as well as the fundraising climate within which the grant-seeking nonprofit operates.

A few years ago, I wrote a grant proposal which received a few big grants, one of them for $400,000 (a challenge grant that represented 28% of the total cost of the project. We were all ecstatic, of course, but also realistic about what went into that award: the perfect moment in the nonprofit's history for such a project (a capital project), several local foundations with large endowments and narrow geographic scope, a well-written proposal package, a lean-and-mean operating budget that was a testament to good management, and -- drumroll here -- a strategic linkage between the nonprofit's board and that of the foundation.

Conditions like this rarely occur. And sometimes, when they do occur, those raising funds fail to recognize the opportunities. They may go to the well with the wrong project or a poorly executed proposal. They might mar the ideal climate of linkage and need with an unfortunate recent operating deficit. Or their board might be unwilling to help by using their linkages.

Good sources of training and consultation? Of course, I'm a great source of consultation on your grant strategies! But The Foundation Center is a wonderful source of high-quality grant development courses. Send your staff, yourself, your board.