The past year has been one of flashing headlines and reactive planning. While it appears that the world may slowly be returning to some semblance of normalcy, there are certain affects that no policy or vaccine can undo. More specifically, the grant seeking scope has changed dramatically. What was once an atmosphere of crisis has now become our extended new normal.
We are reaching a point where we can look back on the past several months and draw valuable insights and lessons on how to strengthen our grant seeking strategies.
Our team at Grants Plus has determined three steps every organization should take to optimize their grant seeking programs in our new post-pandemic normal.
Write your new narrative
To state the obvious, the world is different than it was two years ago—and likely, so is your organization. When seeking funding, it’s important to shape a new narrative for funders. Some questions to consider include:
How was your organization impacted by the pandemic?
Don’t assume funders know your COVID story. Explain the effects on your finances, operations, staffing, and programs or services.
What new needs or communities is your organization serving and how?
Describe how you’ve evolved to address unexpected needs, challenges, and opportunities.
Where does your organization fit in this changed world?
Persuade funders why your mission is urgent, relevant, and deserving of funding now.
After some reflection, it’s likely that the narrative to describe your organization is entirely different, but it should be! Being transparent and proactive to illustrate your adaptiveness and readiness for change will only strengthen your connection and competitiveness with funders.
Prioritize contingency planning
We know that every organization works hard to achieve stability and consistency across their operations. However, what happens if crisis budget cuts force layoffs? Or what if your organization (like so many others today) is experiencing a wave of resignations? Taking time to develop contingency plans for crisis scenarios is critical. You never want to be in a position where your most valuable and important programs are put on hold.
The good news is that funders are now very accepting of contingency planning. In fact, our experts at Grants Plus recommend that organizations share "if/then" scenarios to demonstrate to funders how you are taking proactive steps to ensure the project they are backing will be able to move forward under a variety of circumstances.
Some examples of "if/then" statements could include:
Again, funders will be wondering how you intend to react to potential roadblocks. Being upfront and open about your planning will strengthen your proposal and your relationships with funders.
Nurture your grant prospect pipeline
While it may seem like the pandemic only introduced new challenges, it also introduced new opportunities! According to the Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020, giving from foundations increased by 17% in 2020 (when compared to 2019).
Many funders have shifted their funding focus and requirements in the wake of the crises of 2020, not only to address the consequences of COVID but also to direct grants to organizations addressing systemic racism. Additionally, some funders have loosened grant making restrictions while others have added new funding requirements.
For all these reasons, don’t take it for granted that the foundations making grants to your organization before COVID are still your best funding prospects today. Establish a routine and thorough research strategy to keep on top of these changes as well as discover new and promising opportunities. Let us know if our team can help you with this very crucial step!
We understand how overwhelming it can be to stay on top of funding trends and best practices. However, these three steps will help you create a stable foundation for your grant seeking programs moving forward. If you're interested in more information regarding grant seeking strategies, funder relations, and other important topics, be sure to visit the Grants Plus Resource Center!