THE IMPACT LEAK – Grant writing:Part 1- Making a bitter pill easier.
Updated: Jan 31
- What impacts the good we do?
Without a doubt, there is some artistry to grant writing. How do we make boring timelines look unique? How do we offer services that we can’t afford but have to imagine so that a funder ‘buys’ our ideas? And how do we get over the idea that monies are rewarded on a per person basis ('beneficiaries’ cost) meaning some won’t get service when we know they deserve it?
Because grant writing is the activity of making programming dreams come true, one would think that it would be treated with respect; however, often the opposite is true. Most grant writing is a representation of ‘Too many cooks’ and it shows. Systems need to be in place to ensure clear communication and coordination. A Grant writer is not the programming person but she will know how to put that program in the best light to gain the grant. Essentially, no grant = no service, so why is grant writing treated as an afterthought, or an evil ‘must do’. It’s a bitter pill that nonprofits must swallow.
Many nonprofits try to rely on donors to fund their programs but the administration is high and requires staff to be in place. Programming grants provide money for staff but you’ve got to write a winning proposal and there’s a lot of uncertainty, so often the results are disappointing. Facing all this means that good grant writers need tools, experience and willing co-workers. When these align, you are in a better position to gain meaningful revenue for your org and its mission. Having a few tools will help, so here’s “A spoon full of sugar” to make that bitter pill go down a little easier.
ALWAYS develop a Strategic Approach to a Concept Note or Proposal
A “Strategic Approach” document is deceptively simple, so as to facilitate ease for programming staff. Typically, people want to build programs irrespective of costs; they want to build what is needed. It’s a noble sentiment and the crux of most nonprofit work but it is not mutually exclusive from seeking the funding to help those programs become real. Starting the proposal process with a “Strategic Approach” document helps staff to understand that certain approaches will fit better than others. As the grant writer, you will be translating funder requirements into service delivery. Your strategy is to foster comprehension for staff on why something needs to be done in a certain way. Your strategy must highlight unacceptable or conflicting activities. You must show staff that the funder is looking for more than the minimum requirements and that staffing expertise can shine with innovation or insight into better services. Funders want better but they also know that the minimum service standards must be met. Meet and exceed the funder’s requirements!
Using a “Strategic Approach” is only the beginning of proposal creation. ANSWER.it will be providing a series on proposal development over the next month. But when you start the process with help from staff, it will save time and effort and reduce the frustration of ‘too many cooks’. We’ve mentioned before that 66% of all proposals fail so some might say that a strategy will help alleviate the headaches and that’s good medicine.
Some Helpful Medicine: Download the Strategic Approach Worksheet!