Monday, June 14, 2004

Your Track Record Is Out There

Foundations and other entities that donate grants talk with each other. The foundation trustees, staff, and program managers are not only colleagues working in the same field; they have a fiscal responsibility for the grant donation choices that they make. One way to investigate whether a non profit is a good candidate to receive a grant is to ask colleagues whether they've given that agency a grant before, and if so, what was their experience with that agency?

Was the agency truthful in their grant proposal? Did the agency account for the grant in their bookkeeping honestly? Was the money spent only on the program/project? Did they complete any reporting that was asked of them? Honestly? In a timely manner? Did the grant money result in benefits to the community? Would you grant to them again?

Or, if a non profit is currently working on a grant raising campaign for a single item, project, or program, several different grant proposal recipients (foundations, etc.) may get together to discuss a giving strategy for each of their foundations to give to your organization.

For instance,

Barney Rubble Foundation's representative may suggest, "We know that there is a need in our community for a $60,000 adult day care program. We each received a proposal to submit a grant to it. What do your foundations think?"

Joanie from The Fonz's Friends Fund may respond, "We know the need exists, too, and our own foundation's research suggest that the need that they state in their grant proposal was right on the mark. The need in our community is there and the amount that they are asking to start the program passed our internal audit of their proposed amounts,"

"We at the Mork & Mindy Trust feel the same way," Wednesday said. "We have heard good things about the non-profit's success rate and reputation. We're willing to fund them. We're going to give the full ask request that they proposed, $20,000,"

"Ok, that's what my trustees wanted to know,"

"Mine, too,"

"Well, we at The Fonz's Friends Fund will submit the $10,000 grant that they asked of us, then,"

The Barney Rubble Foundation's rep smiled, "My trustees will feel more confident due to your foundations' leadership. We will submit the $15,000 asked of us, too, then,"

This is the conversation that you probably hope that a group of foundations that you submit grant proposals to would have. It's a good one.

These grantors are each familiar with your organization. They are familiar with your agency's work and reputation. They also feel comfortable with giving because they checked the numbers (dollar amounts and the need for the adult day care program that you claimed) in your agency's grant proposal and everything was realistic and accurate. Your agency and its proposal lead to the Mork & Mindy Trust giving first. Not only are they going to donate a grant, they are going to give your non profit the full request amount of $20,000 to begin the adult day care program. Mork & Mindy Trust were community leaders indicating a commitment and a strong one to this program. The other two grantors followed suit. Having a major foundation lead the granting is powerful. It will allow your non profit to go to several other foundations, now, and list these three foundations as granting the amounts that they are, while your agency mails grant requests for the remaining $15,000 necessary to begin.

Your agency's track record in its work and its reputation as a timely, honest, accountable, open, and well researched agency is as important to getting grants as who writes your grant proposals, or anything else in your fundraising plan.

If your agency were to go against any ethical principals while soliciting for grants or while spending received grant money, the result would be farther reaching than just harm done to the relationship with the grantor who gave your org that grant. Foundations do talk to each other and if you request grant money at all, they have or will discuss your organization. Make it easy for them to give your group a grant. Set your organization up for success.

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