Navigating Pop-Up Crisis Funding Opportunities

When numerous crisis-response funding opportunities become available quickly and several offer support for similar activities, sorting out what to request from which grantmaker can be confusing. 

“In a fast-moving, multi-faceted crisis it’s essential to be as organized as possible in connecting community needs to pop-up funding opportunities,” said Barbara Floersch of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif.

The first step is always identifying the specific issues your organization will address. To get a solid, up-to-date read on what the community needs, you’ll want to confer with officials, speak with those you serve, and coordinate with other nonprofits.

Once you’ve identified the most pressing needs that fit within your nonprofit’s mission, sort out exactly how you’ll address them. “Your experience with more leisurely program planning processes will serve you well,” said Floersch. “But fasten your seatbelts and make another pot of coffee. This work needs to be done well, but also at warp speed.” She suggested the following four ideas:

  • After you’ve hammered together response plans, stitch those together into a line-item budget divided into appropriate service categories. 
  • Use Excel or similar software to build spreadsheet with line items in column 1, dollars needed in column 2, and a running tally in column 3 set with a formula to keep track of how close you are to reaching the needed-dollars goal for each line item. 
  • Label additional columns with the names of available funding opportunities and in the row beneath each heading insert the amount of funding available from that source. 
  • At the bottom of each funding opportunity column, establish a formula that will subtract each amount you allocate to that funder and show how much is left yet to allocate.  

Once this tool is set, your job is to match line items with available funding from the various sources. You’ll be working to allocate the needed dollars to each line item while staying within the guidelines and available dollars of each grantmaker. 

“The spreadsheet process is basically a cross-walk between funding needs and funding opportunities,” said Floersch. “It’s tremendously helpful in sorting out what to request from each funder.” © Copyright 2020 The Grantsmanship Center.