Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity
- Published: Wednesday, 06 July 2016 13:32
Author: Kate Sunners
We’ve heard some really great funder feedback on grant applications recently in our workshop Q&A sessions and at various sector events we’ve attended. And our mothers always told us to share, so here’s the gold:
While most funders don’t like to fund ongoing operational costs, where there is a clear case of need and there are excellent program delivery outcomes, there is a case for ongoing funding.
A good example would be a social welfare service (think meals for homelessness etc) that needs funding year in year out.
But, even in this context, it’s always worth highlighting new angles/enhancements to existing long-running projects. For example, have you improved your evaluation or tweaked the program in response to evaluation? Do you need to grow the program or expand to new areas to meet the needs of a new target group?
Funders are always looking for ways to say no.
Stark as an episode of Game of Thrones, but true. Also like an episode of Game of Thrones, making alliances with other houses*, er, I mean collaborations with other organisations is a wise way to reduce duplication and ensure funders can’t say no because they’re seeing multiple applications for the same thing.
*without the backstabbing of course!
State the need upfront, but make it really obvious whom you are helping first.
Poverty doesn’t really capture it until you’ve got specifics on who it’s affecting and why. The more specific the better – e.g. “Single parents (95% female) in greater Oldtown face housing insecurity or homelessness due to complex and interwoven factors such as domestic violence, private rental costs, barriers to employment, and mental illness. Oldtown Community Housing’s ‘Safe Apartments’ project addresses a need for safe and secure housing for 50 of the 100 single parent families identified in Oldtown Council’s 2014 local census.”
Communicate with funders if the project changes
Funders are keen to avoid charities having to return their funding if the project changes substantially or does not happen and they are unable to use the funding for the purpose they originally applied for. In this case keep the funder informed early on and don’t wait until the final report to tell them. Contact them to discuss and interest them in another project that is equally worthy of funding.
Think about how you are telling your story
We’ve had a few queries from large, well-funded organisations about how to overcome the perception that they don’t need further funding. In this case, be clear about which programs are already funded (by Government, for example) and which remain un-funded and will only run if they receive funding and community support. The answer is to go back to basics – give evidence of the need, communicate that need well, and tell the story of why your organisation is the best placed to address it! Be bold and make it compelling.
People give to people
Go to as many networking events with funders as you can – The Funding Network’s events are a good example. Always attend any briefing sessions they have for their grant rounds, and…yep, we’re going to say it again…call them before you submit!
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