In small nonprofits, it’s not unusual for one staff person to handle the entire grants process. These lonely grant professionals design programs, decide whether to enter competitions, represent the organization in community meetings and partnerships, develop budgets, and submit the proposals with little oversight.
“Even when resources and time are scarce, administrators can’t accept this approach,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles. “It’s unfair to the staff member carrying all the weight, and it’s dangerous for the organization.”
In addition to providing resources, grants impose obligations. The funded proposal becomes the map telling the organization which way to go. A small award might result in minor changes in course, but a large award can hijack the ship and turn it in an unintended direction.
“Because they dictate what an organization will do and what goals it will pursue, grant proposals are a high-level organizational issue that require deep consideration and the involvement of top administrators and board members,” said Floersch.
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