From many years as a writer, a successful recipient, an observer of nonprofits, and a teacher of grants development, I have reached several conclusions:
There is an element of truth in all of the above theories. None of them, however, should be the sole criterion for a grants (“foundation relations”) program.
This last statement is particularly important. Until a fundraising program is carefully planned and implemented, seeking grants more often than not is a waste of time. This adage applies both to annual fund efforts and capital campaigns.
What are the prerequisites for increasing the likelihood of receiving funding? This list is not exhaustive but includes:
Even if an organization receives a 100% “grade” in all these areas, it is not guaranteed a grant. However, the closer it comes to meeting all these requirements, the better its chances are. Conversely, except in some special cases, lack of success will occur if these are not met.
1. Research: To determine an organization’s funding (and fundable) needs and potential funding sources’ priorities, formats, submission guidelines, etc.
2. Screening: To narrow the field to foundations from which the possibility of funding is good.
3. Proposal Development: To create a generic proposal that will serve—with appropriate modifications for every foundation—as the basic request for funding.
4. Final Submission: Once all the prerequisites noted above are met, proposals are written and sent.
Grants development is an ongoing process. The cycle outlined above will be repeated as new sources are brought to the attention of those responsible for obtaining grants. At the same time, it is essential that the other areas of a newly created or longstanding Development Office continue to perform at a high level. Without their success, seeking grants becomes much more difficult.
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