Every grant application has an opportunity cost: the time and effort to pursue this grant could have been spent elsewhere. This makes it crucial to focus your available time and effort on the most promising grant possibilities for your organization. Follow our dos and don’ts to improve your aim at the grants bullseye:
DO weigh the risks and rewards of each grant opportunity
What are the signs of a promising grant opportunity vs. one to pass on? versus one to pass —and what are signs you and what are the signs you should pass on a funding prospect? This checklist can help. If the costs exceed the potential gain, it may be right to forego this grant opportunity and focus on finding others.
DO ensure alignment with the funder’s priorities
Foundations don’t exist to fund organizations’ plans. They exist to fulfill their own missions by investing in organizations and projects that bring their vision to life. Examine a funder’s website, mission statement, and priorities for evidence of clear and strong alignment between your organization’s objectives and what that funder cares most about.
DON’T take existing funders for granted
A current funder today isn’t a guaranteed funder forever. The best defense is a strong relationship. Once you’ve received a grant, make sure you are adequately communicating and demonstrating gratitude.
DO forge relationships with new funders
Make personal contact with the foundation before you apply to warm up your chances of funding. Follow our suggestions to connect effectively with a grant maker via an initial phone call.
DON’T be derailed by rejection
You may be declined the first time you apply to a foundation. Don’t feel defeated: putting your organization before a new funder is a mark of progress. After a decline, seek feedback from the program officer to understand if the decision was an issue of fit, timing, or application weaknesses you can fix in the future. This may be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
There are no guarantees in grant seeking, but by observing these dos and don’ts you will position your organization to hit the mark.