The infusion of targeted government or foundation grant dollars can boost an organization’s ability to accomplish important work in the community. When the grant is a good fit with what your organization is trying to accomplish, it’s a win-win scenario for you and the grantmaker.
In the most productive situations, nonprofits and funders are partners and the grant moves both of their missions forward.
- “The trick is making sure the fit is right,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. When considering responding to a grant opportunity, ask yourself these four questions.
- Will this grant help my organization pursue its mission? Be sure the obligations you’ll assume with the funding are a solid match with what your organization is working to accomplish. If the requirements that come along with a grant award will draw you even slightly off target, you’ll be taking a step towards “mission-drift.”
- Is this grant in line with my organization’s current priorities? Even if the grant opportunity syncs with the mission, the timing could be wrong. Will the requirements of the grant send you in a direction that’s different from the course carefully charted in the strategic plan?
- Does my organization have the capacity to do the job? Stretching to reach goals is admirable, but over-reaching is dangerous. Accepting a job that’s beyond its capacity can throw your organization into chaos. “Playing a constant game of catch-up tilts the organization’s focus away from other work,” said Floersch. “And if you don’t catch up, you won’t meet the obligations and requirements you agreed to when you accepted the funding.”
- Is the time-line reasonable? Even if your organization is well positioned to implement the program and produce the agreed upon outcomes, be sure time frames are reasonable. Carefully consider how the required work intersects with other obligations.
To get real power from grant funding, assess each opportunity carefully. Only when a grant award fits snugly within your organization’s mission, priorities, capacity, and work plan, can it add real muscle to your work. © Copyright 2017 The Grantsmanship Center.