Build Your Grants Strategy - An Overview

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Skills, Staff, Strategy, Shared Value, Systems, Style, Structure

In this area of the GrantStation website, we have provided a step-by-step guide for building your grants program.

Securing grant support for your organization is so much more than just finding an opportunity and writing the proposal. There are many pieces that need to be in place for you to be able to successfully receive that award and the rest of the funding that you need for your work.

Too often we identify a grantmaker for a particular project just because a staff member walks in our door and says, “Can you find me funding for this project?” Or we draft a grant request because a board member brings a copy of a request for proposals to a meeting and says “I think we could get this money.”

Too seldom do we actually go through a rigorous process of finding and deciding which funding opportunities to pursue and then create a calendar with all the essential steps to be successful in winning awards.

Chasing money is just about the biggest black hole there is in the nonprofit world, and many of us risk falling into it. Having a clear process around your grants program will allow you to say “no” to grant opportunities coming across your desk that may sidetrack you from your overall plan.

This guide will help you establish a grants program so that you can keep your grantseeking focused on the opportunities and the tasks that will efficiently lead you to winning awards.

  • To guide your program in the right direction, you first need to Set Grants Program Objectives that are realistic and achievable. You can create these objectives by using our R3 tool for reviewing your revenue and our Benchmarker tool for learning from similar organizations through The State of Grantseeking Survey and Reports.
  • Then you need to Create Your Infrastructure for a grants program that can handle submitting all of your requests in an efficient and sustainable fashion. This will include establishing policies that will guide your grants program and assembling a team to help you with the various tasks involved in grantseeking.
  • After you have those key pieces in place, then you are well-positioned to Find the Right Grantmakers that are most likely to fund your project or program. This will include documenting the needs of your project and then researching potential funders, first in GrantStation, and then with each funder’s information, such as their website and their IRS forms. Then you can pick which opportunities to pursue using our Decision Matrix.
  • Once you have potential funders identified, you can Craft Your Plan by developing a strategy on how to motivate the funders to support you, and by creating a calendar for all the work involved in submitting the requests.
  • One of the most common issues for grantseeking is having the capacity to do all of this work. You can review our section on Creating Time to make it possible to take on the essential work of gaining the funds for your good work!

This process takes quite a bit of work upfront, but it is a worthwhile investment of your time and effort. Once you have all of these pieces in place, you will have a grants program through which you can submit requests effectively and efficiently, and most importantly, in a way that will result in awards that will power your programs!