Priorities and prospecting to win grants

July 20, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

When it comes to winning grants, the pros are proactive. They don’t wait around for just the right competition and then dive into a frenzy to pull all the pieces together by the deadline. “To be consistently successful, you’ve got to step out of the mad-rush mentality,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center, in Los Angeles, Calif. “You’ve got to think ahead and be strategic.”

Preparation in two key areas can increase grantseekers’ chances of success.

* Begin Work on Organizational Priorities: Solid grant proposals fit tightly with an organization’s mission and priorities. “Study the strategic plan. Meet regularly with administrators and program staff. Keep your finger on the pulse,” advised Floersch. When you understand the most pressing needs of those the organization serves, you can begin work on a number of fronts — gathering hard and anecdotal data, planning service approaches, rallying collaborators, putting together a logic model. “Programs should be planned in response to community needs,” said Floersch. “When your planning is driven instead by a funding opportunity, that’s reactive. It’s backwards.”

* Prospect for Funders: Subscribing to a few online grant alert services and waiting for opportunities to pop up won’t do the job. Identify high-quality research tools and conduct a systematic, thorough search. “Your job is to identify all the funders and government grant programs that would be a good fit for your organization’s work,” said Floersch. Once you’ve nailed down a solid list of prospects, explore possible connections with foundation staff and trustees. Learn all you can about the officials and grantees of the government grant programs. Begin reaching out and making contact.

When your grantseeking is driven by community needs and grounded in a well-considered plan, you’re ahead of the game. And when you have a solid list of possible funders, you’re no longer dependent on catch-as-catch-can grant alerts. “Proactive is professional,” says Floersch. “Working this way increases program impact and also increases success.” ©Copyright The Grantsmanship Center 2015. All rights reserved.