Sunday, February 01, 2009

How To Plan Out This Year's Grant Seeking...

Especially due to this economy, create a plan now for your grant seeking for this and next fiscal year.

Before your write up the plan, talk with the program manager at your nearest community foundation and ask them what they are hearing from grant donors. Are grant donors concerned that they won't be able to grant much during this year, or are some smaller foundations even wondering if they'll be able to continue donating grants, at all? Talk to colleagues working at other nonprofits, in the geographic region that your organization serves, and ask them what their organization is planning to expect in this year's economy. If you have established relationships (or if one of your board members has a relationship) with a foundation or other grant donor who's given to your agency, recently, call and ask one of their program managers what they are doing in this economy and if they have any advice for grant recipients.

Then do some research. Call your nearest United Way and ask them if they have a report on grants giving trends in the region for the past year. You could also ask the librarian at your public library's reference desk for the most recent philanthropy, nonprofit, donations, etc. studies. You do not need to find the giving trends for organizations who do similar work as yours', only. Looking at the overall granting trend for your geographic region will be informative on a high level so that you can see the general giving trend (up, down, or the same). Local and national professional nonprofit affiliations, such as The Foundation Center, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Association of Fundraising Professionals, etc. often conduct their own studies for both national trends, but also trends in specific regions of the United States. If you are having a difficult time finding local studies or information, in your region, research the information with one of these organizations. If the most recent information that you can locate is for 2007, that's OK. Use it for now, but be sure to add the 2008 granting trend for your region, to your grant seeking planning for this year, when it comes out (maybe a few to six months from now). If you want, you can include statistics of granting in your region from 2006 to give a truer snapshot of the trend locally, in your region.

Talk with the people who are designing and managing the programs or services that your nonprofit provides per its mission. Ask what their needs are this year. What funds do they still need to raise to pay for these programs? How much of that are they hoping to raise from grants? [Hopefully, they have already developed the budgets for any new programs or projects and have also determined a few different methods they'll use to raise all the necessary money].

Finally, talk with the fundraising volunteers and staff. Make sure that they are aware of the programs and service managers' plans, needs, and goals. Also, discuss your research findings with them. Tell them what you've heard from colleagues working for other nonprofits, foundations, recent grant donors, etc. Tell them, too, what trending you are seeing in the rate (or amounts) given in grants, to nonprofits in your region, over the past two or three years. Sit down with them and sketch out a realistic (based on your research, your organization's own receipts trends over the past two years, how much in grants the organization will need to raise this year, etc.).

Review who you've applied to before (whether they donated a grant or not). Then review whether those grant donors are still potential possible grant donors to your organization (by reviewing each grant donor's current giving guidelines and comparing those to where your organization serves, what it provides, and deadlines, etc.). Also, look for new potential grant avenues. Is there a new foundation in the area that your organization may apply to (again, depending upon whether their giving guidelines indicate they'd be interested in giving to your group). To understand how to locate grant donors who will give to your nonprofit read, How Do I Prepare To Find Foundations Who Will Fund Us?

Also read Top 10 Ways To Find A Grant Donor Who Will Give To Your Nonprofit

Plan out which foundation your organization will apply to this year. Plan out how many applications your agency will submit, this year, to raise whatever amount it needs (default to sending more than less, this year). Determine which grant donor you will approach for which funding need (do not apply to one foundation twice at one time). Strategize, here. For instance, if a foundation gives in larger amounts, generally, and you have one program that requires a larger amount and another program that requires a comparatively smaller amount, apply to that donor for the larger need - base your decision on whom to apply to, for what, on their recent giving. In order to learn how to find out any grant donor's recent giving practices read, The Grant Writers Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 Post 1 of 2
Click on the link to part 2 of this post, at the bottom of Post 1.

Set your grant seeking plan into motion. Dedicate a calendar that sits on the wall in the fundraising office to grant seeking, only. Write down each grant donor's deadline on the calendar. Figure how much time it will take to mail, e-mail, or overnight deliver your application to each foundation and back up that many days or weeks, before, and set deadlines, for each grant donor, indicating when you must have that grant donor's application package done and ready to be sent. Stick to those deadlines! Get everything that any potential donor requires or requests, and do not give them more than what they request.

Build contingency plans into your grant seeking plan. For instance, if you need $5,000 to provide parkas to low income children, don't just apply to one potential grant donor for $5,000. Apply to several grant donors who indicate in their giving guidelines that they would be interested in funding that type of program, serving the geographic region that your agency does, and for the cause or issue that your mission serves. If a potential donor doesn't indicate, in their giving guidelines, these three basic requirements it is probably not worth your organization's time, money, and resources to apply to them. Be sure that you spend money, in this economy, where the likelihood for positive results is highest.

1 comment:

Patricia said...

I agree. Preparation and research can ease your way to grant approval.