Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Why Do Donors Give Grants At All?

You're grateful that there are grants in your community to apply for. Your organization is a strong one with a great reputation. You've done a great job (or your executive and board have done their work) at getting your agency's name, work, and reputation out in the community. Your organization is innovative, collaborative, communicative, honest, well managed, and successful. You and your non profit have been very successful at raising grant donations.

While you are thankful, you wonder how is there such a proliferation of donation options 'on the table' for your organization and other non profits?

Foundations, corporations, local businesses, governments, individuals, families, estates, and all others who donate grants do so because:

1. They care about some particular issue or issues to the point of wanting to get involved.
2. They have the financial capacity/ability to donate grants.
3. They want to contribute to the community or society and see positive outcomes.
4. There may be a financial bottom line benefit to corporations or other for-profit entities that donate grants, expertise, or items in kind. But, money is not always the motivation behind donating, even for for-profit enterprises. And, even if their motivation is less altruistic than some, businesses' good works are equal to any other good deed!

Some are brought to donating grants through personal experience, or sudden needs in the community. For instance, perhaps a family has sadly struggled alongside their loved one while he or she battles cancer or an addiction. Or, perhaps a sudden need made itself known, locally, when a large piece of private land went up for sale, and word is, a local developer is ready to buy and build on it. The family may decide to fight cancer the one way that they can; providing funds to researchers, or to organizations assisting those with cancer. Maybe a shipping tycoon loves the forests, watershed, and animals on that piece of private property and wants to out bid the developer, to donate the land to the public as a park; preserved from development forever. To go one step further, maybe they see where they could assist with other projects in the same cause in the future. From this vision they decide to form a foundation to give grants indefinitely.

Others appreciate the effective, reputable, honest, ethical work of a single non profit (perhaps a university's research department or a heroin rehabilitation program) and have set aside grant money to be given to that organization for X number of years into the future.

Governments who offer grants may be directing federal (grant) dollars (allocated by the President and Congress for specific causes or diseases, etc) into their jurisdiction to the benefit of their community. Government may also be aware of a specific problem uniquely plaguing their community and may allocate some of their own local budget to fight this problem (such as domestic violence, minority owned business support, the need for art in the community, etc.). Keep in mind that governments can be cities, counties, states, federal, tribes, etc.

The bottom line is that those who donate grants do so because they want to get involved. They want to see that their money and efforts provided effective outcomes in the community. They want to find reputable successful partners in the community who they know they can give grants to again, in the future, to get the intended work done. This is really important to keep in mind when prospecting for potential grant donors, when forging relationships with potential or actual granters, and when reporting back to the grant donor after the grant project/program is done. If you keep in mind why your grant donor is involved it will help you both to work to your community's benefit in a partnership. This is the key. Relationship building!

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