The nonprofit community is rife with idealists cooking up audacious solutions to stubborn problems. It’s a petri dish, bubbling with impudent notions that just might work.
According to Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, grants can be a powerful mechanism for supporting innovation, but finding grant support for new, emerging approaches takes work. Here are four ideas:
- Explore It Thoroughly – When assessing new ideas, you can’t ignore proven approaches, according to Floersch. Consider how the new option fits within what exists, or fills a hole, or elaborates on a best practice. Figure out if others have tried something similar and whether it was successful. Connect with them to learn about their work and tell them what you have in mind. Collaborate.
- Promote It – Once you’ve got your thoughts and information organized, bring the idea to top administrators in your organization and explain why it has value. Get the green light for action, and be sure to keep administrators involved and informed. Reach out to people and organizations that should care about what you’re doing. Engage them and build momentum for the work, she advises.
- Try It – There might be a low-resource way to test the idea, or perhaps it’s a good fit for one of your organization’s current programs and can be integrated into that effort. Keep detailed notes on implementation, challenges, successes, and outcomes. Information from small-scale pilots can be powerful in convincing grantmakers to partner with your organization to move the idea forward.
- Reach Out to Grantmakers – Your goal is to engage grantmakers as partners in the new undertaking. Start by making sure the grantmaking community is aware of what you’re up to, understands its importance, and recognizes the authentic collaboration taking place. According to Floersch, some funders will join you in the endeavor by making grants, some may introduce you to other grantmakers, and some may simply appreciate being informed.
To bring fresh ideas to life, you’ve got to lay a solid foundation of accurate information, and both organizational and community support. The work on the front-end makes all the difference. © Copyright 2016 The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.