Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tips for the Nonprofit Applying Again to One of Its Past Grant Donors

When a nonprofit is conducting its grant writing, as time passes, it will develop a list of grant donors to apply to (through prospecting work), it will submit grant applications (or grant proposals), and it will hear back from those grant donors that it applies to. When the nonprofit hears back from a grant donor that it applied to, it either receives the grant or it doesn't. This process then repeats itself. For instance, as long as a grant donor allows a prior applicant nonprofit to apply for another grant again (after having applied previously) when the nonprofit is re-applying; they are re-initiating the possibility to raise another grant (and the applicant nonprofit will want to check with that particular grant donor's giving guidelines to be certain that reapplying now is O.K.). In this way, a nonprofit may both repeatedly approach a potential grant donor (or a grant donor that has donated to the nonprofit, before), while also additionally applying to new potential grant donors (as more new potential grant donors are located through prospecting work).

If a nonprofit that has received a grant from a specific grant donor, in the past; and its grant writer checks that grant donor's giving guidelines, before applying for another grant again; and the grant donor's giving guidelines say prior grant recipient organizations are allowed to apply for another grant no sooner than one year after having received a grant; and it's one year after that nonprofit received a grant, then the nonprofit may go ahead and apply again to the donor in order to possibly raise another grant (and each grant donor is different so you want to check their specific giving guidelines).

When a nonprofit applies to a grant donor that has given to it, before, there are a couple of things it can do to increase the chance that it will receive yet another grant from them.

__ After receiving a grant from any grant donor the recipient nonprofit should proactively (conscientiously) manage the relationship with that particular donor (and this is the case with any type of donor and is why a donor/donation database is so helpful for a nonprofit to manage its relationship with each individual donor, even in large numbers). Usually the grant writer or the development associate (or both, through their different responsibilities respective to each position) will oversee the nonprofit's relationship with its grant donors. The nonprofit will want to conduct donor development (or donor care); be certain to get to the grant donor all reports, information, etc. that it requests, in a complete fashion, and on time; encourage peer to peer interaction between the nonprofit's leaders (probably the executive director and maybe a program manager in the grant donor's organization); and of course a thank you letter must be sent. Copies should be made of all correspondence and replies received and filed into a hard file. Notes should be taken during each conversation that the nonprofit conducts with the grant donor organization and also filed. If a nonprofit applies to a grant donor, receives the grant, and then two years later wishes to apply again for a grant; without a paper trail it is exceptional to be able to accurately remember who all the nonprofit's representatives spoke with within the grant donor's organization, what the nonprofit exactly wrote in its application or end of grant report, etc. and submitted to the grant donor.

__ When applying for a grant from an agency that gave a grant to a nonprofit before, it is helpful to include in perhaps the first paragraph of the letter of introduction (if one is submitted), in the grant proposal, and anywhere else that is appropriate simply saying something to the effect of, "The clients, volunteers, and staff of the National Society for the Science of Clams remain grateful for the grant that Sea World Conservation donated in April 2008 for our then new Public Outreach and Education program." Including this kind of simple but on point acknowledgment in the documents that a nonprofit submits to raise yet another grant does a few things. It reminds the grant donor, in a conspicuous location in the document (maybe in more than one document that it submits to the grant donor), that they have given to the nonprofit before. Yes, they probably will recognize the applicant nonprofit's name, etc. and know that in the past they've given a grant to it, before. Yet, never assume that the donor organization's files are entirely complete or accurate. Errors get made, so a reminder is compelling. Also, the applicant nonprofit is saying 'thank you' once more. Finally, including this sentence demonstrates the nonprofit's professionalism: it practices a professional culture, in its operations, of inclusion, gratitude, a long-lived memory, recognition, etc. All of these professional qualities do lend towards indicating that the nonprofit may operate transparently (inclusion, acknowledging the need for partners for its operations to succeed (such as donors' donations), long- memory, etc.).

__ Conversations may be easier between a nonprofit that received a grant from a specific donor organization and that donor, than for a nonprofit applying for the first time that the donor is not familiar with (though, this situation is not a deal breaker). When a nonprofit's executive director, for instance, phones a grant donor and says we are about to apply for a grant for this program and 'oh, by the way, we receive a grant from you four years ago (or whenever)' the contact at the grant donor organization will get a few things. First, they will know that this nonprofit met all of their standards back in time. It won't be a stretch for them to imagine that it could, today. Second, they will likely have a file on this nonprofit and will be able, then, to easily access the record (why the nonprofit was awarded the grant, how the nonprofit followed up, etc. This demonstrates why it's important for a nonprofit to interact with a donor that gives a grant professionally, gratefully, etc.). Also, the grant donor agency's representative will, frankly, probably view the nonprofit in a positive light. Others working within the donor organization probably will, too. All of the possible positives for any applicant nonprofit add up. Finally, when a grant donor has given to a nonprofit that is applying again - there is a sense of an established relationship existing. Any positives that a nonprofit can put on its side when it applies for a grant are pluses (and they may be pluses that other applicant nonprofits do not have on their side).

Do all of these attributes guarantee an applicant nonprofit a grant? No. There are never any guarantees in any form of fundraising, including grant writing. The name of the game, here, is to increase the likelihood of receiving a grant. Also, some grant donors do not give grants to a nonprofit that they've granted to before, even when their own giving guidelines say 'prior grant recipients may apply again, in the future'. Being allowed to apply is no guarantee that an applicant is automatically viewed as a potential recipient candidate. Each grant donor is different and their own policies or internal operations may change over time. A good way for an applicant nonprofit to gauge how a grant donor may interact with them (whether they received a grant from the donor before, or not) is to research their recent (perhaps past two years, for instance) giving history and patterns. What other nonprofits have they donated to? How much did they give? When? For what types of programs or projects? Did any of these nonprofits receive another grant from the donor, recently? If so, how recently, and for what kind of program (is it support for the program they contributed to before, or a new project)? Is there networking chatter, in the nonprofit community in the region, that a recent grant recipient nonprofit applied again for a grant from them (per their giving guidelines' directions) and was told something like, 'we would grant to your agency, except that we have decided to only give grants to nonprofits once every twenty years' (even when their own giving guidelines say 'past recipients may apply for a grant again X months after receiving the grant)? This kind of information can be invaluable for the applicant nonprofit. Anything that helps increase the likelihood that a grant will be awarded is a plus.

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