Every nonprofit organization dreams of being able to secure grant funding to support its initiatives. You have a strong mission and you are doing good work. Why wouldn’t a funding agency, whether public or private, want to support you? The good news is, they do!
Public and private funding agencies look for effective nonprofit organizations with whom they can partner to make a difference. Grants are investments. Funding agencies want to invest money in nonprofits that make an impact with their initiatives. However, it is up to the nonprofit to demonstrate that they have the infrastructure to responsibly manage grant funds and achieve what they have proposed.
What Funders Look for
Here are five questions to consider before your organization applies for grant funding:
- Does your organization have a compelling need? Many organizations like the idea of grant funding because they view grants as “free money”. But grants are business contracts where nonprofits agree to achieve certain outcomes in return for the funder’s investment. Before applying for a grant, determine if the proposed initiative can be achieved without additional funding. Can you list the extra expenses that require external funds? If grant funds aren’t really needed, either expand the idea or save the request for a later time.
- Does your organization collect data in support of your mission? Grant opportunities often become available with very short notice. To be ready to secure grant funding, nonprofits should continually compile data that support their mission and the need for their services. Ongoing data collection about the field in which you work will allow you to respond to changing needs and build a case of support any time you need one.
- Do you evaluate current programs and initiatives? In addition to collecting general data in support of your organization’s mission, all programs and initiatives should be regularly evaluated, and this data analyzed for greater responsiveness to identified needs. Funders will feel much more confident about investing in your nonprofit if you can readily demonstrate the impact of your services.
- Can your team handle additional programmatic and reporting requirements? Grant program and funding requirements add additional responsibilities to a nonprofit’s management staff. Before applying, make sure that everyone fully understands the requirements and knows who will take responsibility for managing and reporting on the grant program. If it is necessary to hire additional staff to manage the grant program, include those costs in the grant budget.
- Are your current finances in order? When you remember that grants are investments, it is easy to see why funders want to see sound financial management. If your nonprofit is not regularly audited, or you are looking for funds to pay off debt, it is unlikely that you will receive grant funding. Make sure your records are well-kept and that your organization has demonstrated fiscal responsibility with its donor or other grant funds before making a request.
Funders want to invest in the good work you do. Help them make that investment by building an infrastructure that is ready for grant funding.