Before seeking grants, it’s smart to assess your organization’s capacity to compete effectively and to handle the money it might bring in. If it’s not ready to compete, a proposal is a waste of time and resources. If it’s not prepared to manage the money, a grant could place the entire organization at risk.
According to Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, a Google search will surface numerous checklists for assessing what’s typically called grant readiness. Some are simple, addressing policies, procedures, registrations, financial systems, and the basics of doing business. Others are broader and include planning, partnerships, and a host of more nuanced considerations.
Floersch suggests looking beyond the basics and examining the following six areas:
1. Are the basics in place? This includes a mission statement, a board of directors, bylaws, a federal employer identification number, and an IRS decision regarding the organization’s tax status.
2. Are systems and operations ready? You’ll need strong leadership, clear policies and procedures, a solid operating budget, a sound financial system, a recent strategic plan, and a track-record of achievement.
3. Is subject-matter expertise on hand? You’ve got to know what you’re talking about. This means understanding beneficiaries, problems and needs, the service area, best practices within your field, and challenges you’re likely to confront. You’ll need data to prepare well-documented proposals?
4. Will the culture support grantsmanship? Grantseeking thrives in a collaborative organization that focuses on mission, is committed to teamwork, nurtures authentic community partnerships, evaluates what it’s accomplishing, and uses data to increase its impact.
5. Do you know how to develop grant proposals? You need to understand the grant process, how to identify funders who care about your work, how to articulate a logical and compelling argument for funding, and how to avoid common pitfalls that sink grant requests.
6. Are logistical requirements in place? Some things are relatively simple–a DUNS#, registration with SAM.gov and other sites, access to a good database of funders, up-to-date technology. But one requirement isn’t simple at all. Staff members must have time to develop the partnerships, programs, plans, budgets, and grant applications that result in funding.
As you move through the assessment, gather documentation and data so that it’s close at hand. © Copyright 2016 The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.