Money. They say it makes the world go round. When you run a nonprofit, the pressure to keep an influx of money coming in the door is overwhelming because so many people and organizations depend on your programs.
It takes a lot of work to get grant funding. Don't lose your grand funding because you overlooked small details. Invest in not only getting, but keeping your hard-earned dough:
Invest in a Grant Seeking and Relationship Building Strategy
Building a Grant Seeking Strategy and Relationship Building Strategies are worthwhile investments of time and money. Create your Grant Seeking Strategy by thinking through and writing down your plan to pursue grants this year. You can engage a grant writer or nonprofit consultant or do it on your own, however it is MUCH better to engage a professional. Their outside viewpoint opens the door to opportunities that aren't always as obvious.
After creating a Grant Seeking Strategy, use this strategy to form your relationship-building strategy. Who do I need to connect with? What collaborations would be helpful? Building and maintaining relationships with current and potential funders are key to receiving grants years over year.
Track Your Impact- Stat
In the world of grants, you have to tell, sell, execute and prove that the funder is investing in an organization that is upholding its mission. One way to accomplish this is to continuously track and measure your community impact. Did you distribute 100,000 pairs of socks to 75,000 members of the homeless community? Track it. Over 500 girls benefitted from your STEM program last year? Measure it.
Running your program without tracking your outcomes makes it difficult to tell your story to current and potential funders. Hence, you may no be considered to receive funds in the next grant cycle because you couldn't demonstrate the impact of your project this grant cycle. It also makes it difficult to ....(next section).
Complete Your Reports
After winning a grant, most funders require submitted reports at set intervals during or after the conclusion of the project. It's a way to communicate - "Hey, we said we were going to do something in the proposal and this is what we actually did."
This is why it is really important to be truthful and realistic in your grant proposal. No one wants you to promise the sun, moon, and stars in the proposal and when the report is shared, it's filled with disappointing results- not because you didn't do well, but because you overpromised.
Speaking of being truthful, if you run into a snag during your project- speak up. Don't wait until the report to share with the funder that a problem has arisen. If funds go unused or if a need arises to use funds in a different way than outlined in the proposal, contact the funder immediately. Never spend money in a way not outlined in the proposal without getting permission from the funder (preferably in writing).
Most importantly, turn in your report on time. If a monumental crisis has arisen, contact the funder and ask for an extension.
Invest in and Consistently Use A Grant Management System
Speaking of reports, invest in a grant management system. Investing in a grant management system may be the easy part (everyone has Excel at the bare minimum), but consistently using the system is a different matter.
Research a grant management system that is within your budget that can track outcomes and report due dates. Some may be stand-alone or tied into other systems such as CRM systems, Volunteer Management Systems, etc.
Regardless of your chosen system, the best way to improve consistency is by adopting a cloud base system for easy access (even better if they have a mobile app), creating policies and procedures for its use, and training staff and volunteers.
Shavonn Richardson, MBA is Founder of Think and Ink Grant Consulting™ www.thinkandinkgrants.com.
She is a grant writer, nonprofit consultant, speaker and an active member of the Grant Professionals Association.