You can maximizing your odds of funding with a grant strategy, that is, a carefully considered approach to grantwriting that focuses your resources on the highest-percentage opportunities. Here are three vital components of a grant strategy that can help avoid low-percentage post-shot approahces to proposal development:
- Funding priorities have been carefully identified and documented.
Funding is a match between the needs and goals of your organization and those of a funding agency. It will take a little time and thought, but it's worth the effort to consider and document those few areas that have 1) will have the greatest impact and 2) are potentially most attractive to funding agencies. (You can learn more by reading our recent blog post, “What Grants Won’t Pay For”). A written set of grant funding priorities is worthy of review and approval by your board.
Along with identifying priorities, it’s important for an organization to conduct or locate research that supports the need for each priority. When you apply for a grant, you have to make your case for funding. If you can concisely explain why you need those grant dollars and what benefits your target audience or organization will receive as a result – prior to searching and applying – you’re already ahead of the game. (Need help explaining your funding need? Check out our free download, Making the Case for assistance.)
- A systematic process for finding and selecting opportunities is in place.
Your best chance of finding high-percentage opportunities is with an ongoing plan for finding possible funding sources, along with a means of tracking opportunities that are likely to recur. Many grants are announced with only a few weeks' notice; if you are aware of them ahead of time you can get a step ahead in your preparations.
The process also needs to specify how your organization will determine whether or not to apply for a grant. The cost of grant writing is an investment, and it’s necessary for organizations to think through the factors that go into determining whether or not that investment should be made. If the deciding factors are in place ahead of time, your organization won’t lose vital time in the “grant writing window” determining whether or not it’s wise to apply.
- You have thought through the Return on Investment.
What do you expect to get out of a grant writing effort? What amount of capital (human and otherwise) are you willing to invest in the effort? Do you have, or can you obtain, the resources necessary to compete effectively for grant dollars? Answering these questions--like the funding priorities, a board-level discussion--will sharpen your focus and ability to obtain funds over time, and could save countless dollars and hours in low-percentage, one-shot grant efforts.
- What Else?
Need help drafting a grant strategy? It's one of our specialties! Contact a Grant Helper today.