I don't care what type of nonprofit that you have guys, this is a business. You must think business first when you're talking about fundraising. #Fact A lot of nonprofits have closed their doors because they have been almost 100% dependent on grant funding.
1. Have a Diversified Fundraising Plan
Diversification in financial planning is crucial to the survival of today's nonprofit organization. Part of that diversified financial plan is grant funding. However, grant should be, roughly 20% of the organization's financial plan. Why just 20%? So that they're not at a detriment when it comes to whether or not they get grants; or whether or not the grant that they have is renewed. The best time of year to crate your financial plan is between June and August. This helps organizations be prepared to fundraise in the first quarter of the fiscal year.
2. Get Help
knowledge transfer if, for some reason, they leave the organization. Then, you still have two or three other people that are part of the grant writing team.
This helps your organization avoid a common pitfall... The one person that knows how to do something leaves, dies, etc. There's this one person that's the go-to person. What if that person leaves? Now what do you do? So this is a good nugget for you guys to make sure that you always have somebody that can do this.
3. Are You the Right Fit?
Do your due diligence; is this a good fit? Research the foundations. One of the questions that are important for you to answer is, does my organization fit with what this grant making institution is looking for?
Another is, who are their other grantees? Why is this important? If there are six or seven organizations just like yours doing the exact same thing, you may not get the funding. So they need to be at the bottom of your list; at the top of your list needs to be the grantors that are looking for what you have to offer but they don't have any grantees, that are doing it.
This is where that due diligence, this is where that research comes in handy. Honestly this is where that qualified grant researcher and that qualified grant writer comes into play. If you're working with a grant writer, ask them how much would you charge to train your team. Then...GET THAT MONEY! You can't afford not to.
News Flash! You're not the only applicant. You want to make sure that you are a qualified grantee. So what does qualified grantee mean? Qualified grantee means your organization needs to match all criteria - all criteria. Why? Because if there's one criteria that you do not meet, they're not even going to consider your application. There are several of you reading this and you are visualizing the multiple rejection letters you've received from grantors. The typical reasons that your organization was rejected is: 1. You did not meet the criteria; 2. Your grant package was not in compliance with the requirements.
4. Invest in Staff Training.
It's really vital that someone on your team be trained to research and write grants. If you send someone to grant writing training; you must require that employee to be the staff trainer. This will help you get the most out of your investment dollars. and I'll give you guys another tip. Typically, it's much cheaper to send them to a training that's already established, than to pay somebody to actually create a unique or specific training just for your team.
So this is why I'm encouraging you to invest early, invest upfront in training your own people. Why? Because when you invest in training your own people, you now save thousands of dollars on grant writing fees. The person that is trained can take that information and they can tailor it to the next grant. Bottom line: Don't reinvent the wheel. You must have some people that are trained to understand how to read these documents; how to read what they want; and then how to give them what they want in a way that they choose you over the competitors that are applying for the same small pot of money.
5. Tailor Your Application
Tailor your application. This is why it's important to either have someone in your organization trained or to have a staff grant writer because you want to make sure that you are tailoring your application. Think about this; if you're a non-profit and you are applying for let's say 20 grants because that's really a possibility. You're applying for 20 grants. How much is it cost you to pay somebody on the outside to prepare 20 grants? That's going to be a lot of money, right? For those of you that have worked in corporate America where you've had to have resumes, one of the biggest (and best) pieces of advice is: "tailor your resume for the position that you're applying for." That applies to grants as well. If you are sending a grant request to Verizon, it's going to be totally different from the grant request that you send to United Way. If you use a canned grant proposal and fail to take the time to present a custom product...it is a waste of time. Further, it will add to that rejection, because Verizon is going to say we don't fund these type of activities. This is not within what we want to do and that's why going back to number two, doing your research and doing your due diligence is very important.
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