Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Grants Success Rates – What are we measuring?

Jo-BNE Author: Jo Garner

Often when we are talking to prospective new nonprofit partners, the question is asked, what is our success rate*?

Strategic Grants' role in helping you to achieve an improved grants success rate is only one part of an overall organisational grants strategy. Whether a grant application is successful or unsuccessful is not generally dependent on one contributing factor. It relies on a combination of all the elements of best practice grant-seeking coming together to achieve a successful outcome.

Here are the essentials to ensuring your application stands the best possible chance at success:

- Your project meets the eligibility criteria AND the guidelines for the specific funding round.

- Your project results will deliver the funder’s desired outcomes and their selection criteria can all be met and exceeded.

- The amount of funding you are seeking is in line with the levels of grants being made.

- You can demonstrate the need for the project with a strong evidence base.

- You are clearly defining why your organisation is the best to deliver this project and receive the grant and you have given the funder confidence you will deliver the project in the way you have said you would.

- You are stating how your organisation / project is different from others that may be similar. i.e.: it is filling a gap.

- Collaborative partnerships with similar organisations are a priority and part of your program delivery, as relevant and wherever possible, to prevent duplication and increase dissemination of sector wide learning.

- You are able to measure the results of the project; outputs, outcome and impact forecasts.

- You will be able to complete the project on time, and provide the final report on time.Success

Of course, before the writing even commences, we advocate contact is always made with the funder (wherever possible) by way of introducing the organisation and the project. And take the funder’s advice. If they advise that your project isn’t likely to receive funding, then don’t go ahead and submit anyway.

And the big one – PLAN AHEAD! Last minute applications will typically not present your best case. When you are rushing, steps are skipped and quality wanes.

Our experience and track record dictates that the organisations who follow all of the above, have a success rate of anywhere between 30% – 85%. Those that constantly apply each and every best-practice essential, are those with the best results.

For those with lower success rates, the goal of course is to ensure that you are continually refining processes to ensure you are applying best practice to each and every funding application, no matter the size.

And of course, it is always important to be clear about what you are measuring. You may have an application success rate of 15% but have doubled your income target. Again, follow the above steps and you should achieve both a good income target and application success rate.

* We base our success rate on the positive feedback we receive from our NFP partners on the work that we help them with and are proud to report that over 95% of the time, it is nothing but positive. There is after all, always room for improvement.