Facing vast funding demands, nonprofit boards all too often assign the executive director the quixotic task of slaying every dragon with a grant. The roof is falling in? Get a grant. Can’t afford administrative salaries? Get a grant.
According to Barbara A. Floersch, director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, a successful grant acquisition program can do a lot, but not everything. It’s just one element of what should be a diverse fund development plan. To set your grant acquisition work on the right track, keep these six principles in mind.
1. A grant is a transaction in which your organization receives money to perform an activity that will achieve an agreed upon result. A grant is an obligation, not free money.
2. Grants should respond to needs identified through a planning or assessment process. Successful grants aren’t based on what someone thinks, believes, or assumes. They’re based on facts.
3. To win grants, you need an informed view of what grants can and can’t do. Grants aren’t for erasing deficits or rescuing organizations that are collapsing because board members and administrators have been asleep at the wheel, according to Floersch.
4. A grant acquisition program must be based on solid research on grantmakers and government funding programs. You’ve got to understand what funders are interested in and what they actually support. Spraying hundreds of foundations with generic requests and then praying for results (the spray and pray approach) will get you nowhere.
5. With foundation and corporate grantmakers, relationships matter. The grant acquisition effort should work hand-in-hand with the board and administration to build and maintain targeted relationships.
6. The grants effort requires support from many within the organization–it’s not a one-person job. Administrators, human resources, finance, and program management must be involved.
For more info on grants, go to www.tgci.com