Are you looking for grant funding, or even federal funds, for your nonprofit in 2022? Before you start, we have time-saving guidance from Dana Textoris, Managing Director at Grant Plus. She shares tips for finding funders and how to plan for the coming year.
The first step in successful grant seeking has nothing to do with applying for grants! It has to do with making sure your organization is ready with concrete programs and plans, clear outcomes, strong leadership, and a demonstration of existing fundraising and community support. Funders want to come on board a ship that is ready to sail, not push you off from shore. The bar is even higher for federal grants: not only is the competition fiercer, but the work to prepare a complex grant application package is much more onerous and time consuming. Organizations should be aware of the opportunity cost not only to apply but also to manage the federal grant if awarded. A trusted grants consultant can help you interpret a federal Funding Opportunity Announcement to weigh the requirements and your chances of winning a grant before you invest the time and effort to apply.
Subscribing to a funder database is useful — but that’s just a tool for pulling and reviewing data. The truly valuable effort is interpreting that data to assess the best funding prospects for your nonprofit. Are the funder’s priorities aligned to your organization’s? Has the funder made grants to similar initiatives? Is there an accessible person at the foundation you can contact to ask questions and establish a relationship? You must assess each funding prospect individually, using their website, tax records, and stated funding interests to decide if they’re a priority to pursue.
Some strategies for finding new funders don’t require a database at all. Review the donor honor rolls of similar organizations to see which foundations are funding them–the best predictor of what a funder may fund is the grants they’ve made before. Once you have funding prospects identified, follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn. More funders have a social media presence, where they may share information about new grants they are making and issues they are prioritizing.
Remember to make your current funders your best friends! In an environment where so much is changing, never take current funders for granted. Make sure you update them and nurture a relationship–not only when a report is due. Have conversations about what is changing at your organization and what may be changing at the foundation–if their priorities are shifting, you want to be well in front of that information. Always remember that the most likely donor or funder to your organization is one that has supported you before. And don’t forget: though grants are made by institutions, foundations are made up of people. Focus on the person behind the funding decisions, and you’ll be well ahead of the game.
Dana Textoris is Managing Director at Grants Plus, the nation’s leading grant seeking consulting firm, that has helped nonprofits secure more than $200 million in funding since 2007.
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