Monday, August 9, 2010

Tips Leading to Successful Grant Applications

I just noticed the Minnesota Council of Foundation's Philanthropy Potluck Blog post "Turn 'Cautious' into 'Real' Optimism." Midway through, the topic turns to "What Makes Successful Grant Applications, According to Program Officers." As a grantwriter, and sometimes a grantwriting coach, I really appreciate these tips. It's as if the conversation we began with funder panelists and participants in the July 22 "Finding Funding" Workshop in Willmar with Willmar Community Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation and Otto Bremer Foundation continues with three more voices!

As posted on The Philanthropy Potluck blog:
"'s more important than ever,...that nonprofits seeking foundation funding invest in learning how to do their homework and successfully prepare their grant applications. Specifically, here is what staff at three family foundations recommend to nonprofits:
  • Fund development capacity is only as good as the organizational infrastructure in place to support the effort.
  • Use every possibility to have direct contact with foundation staff. The building of relationships is critical.
  • This is not an overnight process. Fund development requires time, building relationships and establishing trust.
  • Follow all foundation instructions and remove funders from general mail solicitation requests.
  • The new reality has created a situation where outcomes are more important than ever, and those outcomes need to be directly aligned with the program goals.
  • The outcomes cannot simply be communicated through stories. While foundations understand the importance of the emotional connection to stories when nonprofits are trying to raise money, in this economic time, grantmakers need to see data that shows the program is working on a broader level than one or two people's lives.
  • In grant applications, communicate how the program is using evidence-based strategies.
  • In site visits, marry story with data; the data tells the funder the program is working for the majority of the participants and getting the desired results, which can then be illustrated through one personal story.
  • Focus attention on asking for money from foundations whose grant criteria match the mission of the nonprofit (withouth having to do too many writing gymnastics to make it work.)
  • Think long-term; building solid long-term relationships is more important than short-term fixes and obtaining immediate funding.
  • Nonprofits should not feel that they are supplicants. Instead, they should present themselves as partners in the betterment of the community.
  • Say thank you after receiving a grant. It is astonishing how many organizations do not. Use the time immediately following receipt of a grant to get to know a donor; this is "safe" and happy time, and a great chance to just engage as partners in the work grantmakers and grantees are doing together. It is hard to feel a real partnership with an organization when the only time it contacts the foundation is when it wants money."
Lois Schmidt, NRS, Willmar

1 comment:

Cary Walski said...

Thanks for the mention of our post, Lois! We appreciate you sharing this info with the readers of the Nonprofit Resource Center. :)