4 ways to strengthen collaborative grant proposals

June 9, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

Some grant proposals seek support for highly collaborative programs in which several separate organizations will work together to produce the results. “These proposals can be especially powerful,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center, in Los Angeles, Calif. “A deeply collaborative program plan demonstrates dedication to making a difference by leveraging available expertise and resources.”

The quality of both the program and the grant proposal hinge on the planning process. “Don’t cut corners,” warned Floersch. “I’ve never seen a great proposal or program come out of shabby planning.” To strengthen collaborative grant proposals, Floersch advised the following:

* Go for Quality: Don’t let a funding opportunity drive the process. Keep your eye on the quality of the planning, not on a grant application deadline. “A grant award is only the means to an end,” said Floersch. “The end you’re seeking is impact and results. Don’t present a half-baked plan just to get something into competition.” Wait until the next round of funding, if you must, or look for other funding opportunities when you’re ready.

* Be Thorough: Good planning is highly detailed and addresses logistics, operating systems, and administrative hierarchy. “When several organizations are orchestrating activities to produce results, there’s no room for assumptions,” said Floersch. “You must thoroughly articulate and agree upon all roles and responsibilities.”

* Confront Issues Now: When tough problems arise, don’t sidestep them. If one organization won’t carry its weight or partners disagree on budgets or on lines of authority, it can be stressful to face these issues head-on. But if you don’t, you’ll pay later in damaged relationships between partner organizations and in poor program implementation.

* Communicate: When partner organizations are fully informed, they’re better prepared to play their part, and they’ll feel more secure in the collaborative relationship. “Many of the problems organizations experience in this type of work are caused by flawed communication,” said Floersch.

In collaborative programming, all partner organizations must realize a greater benefit from working together than from going it alone. “The compelling benefit can be powerful outcomes for clients, greater access to expertise and resources, and more power in leveraging funding,” said Floersch. “These benefits are well worth the effort.” © Copyright 2015 The Grantsmanship Center. All right reserved.