Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

How to prepare your nonprofit for the trend of increasingly short grant opening periods

 KateS

Author: Kate Sunners

 

Our research team is noticing an increasing number of grant rounds that are only open for 3-week periods or which state an opening date, and close when they have sufficient applications.
Panic ensues! How can we pull together a project package or plan in that timeframe let alone write the grant application?! In the vein of the ‘stop, drop and roll’ community fire education catchphrase of yore, we’ve developed a catchphrase for you!

Wish, Plan, Communicate! (maybe not so catchy, but useful!)plan

Having a wishlist of the projects, equipment or capital items you would dearly love funded for the next 6-12 months is the only way to go. “But our projects are responsive” I hear you cry – well that’s awesome, but they’ll need to be planned out and added to your wishlist in just the same way as they arise! Your wishlist might be very dynamic, or you might be seeking funds for similar things each year. It doesn’t matter, just having a wishlist on hand, with each item signed off by your executive/board makes decision making for short lead-time grants a cinch! All you need to do when a three-week closing date pops up on your radar is match which of your projects on your wishlist corresponds most closely with what that funder is wanting to fund. Hooray!

Planning your projects ahead with a lot of the finer details hashed out and documented in a project information template is going to give you a huge advantage when dealing with short-notice grants. You want to make sure you’ve got a budget planned out, a timeline of the activities you’ll need to undertake, the aims and outcomes of the project, information on the need for the project and who it serves, and why your organisation is best placed to undertake it.

You’ve got your wishlist and a couple of really well-planned out projects with enough information on each to have an informed conversation with a funder. A grant round opens with ‘first-in-best-dressed’ as its closing date – what do you do? Read the guidelines, check the eligibility, research the funder, and then call the funder and talk them through the two best projects you see as aligning with their guidelines and mission.

“Which would the trustees be most interested in funding?” you will ask, thinking smugly to yourself how smart you are to have planned ahead so well as to be able to have this conversation the very day the grant round opened. The foundation staff member on the other end of the line will be impressed by the quality of your preparation, understanding and diligence! Hooray!