As an experienced grant trainer, writer, and reviewer, I spend a good amount of time explaining the process of grant readiness. This is a process that prepares a nonprofit to apply and secure grant funding. See my articles on getting ready for grants HERE and ways to increase your grant success HERE.
But what about nonprofits that are still challenged in seeking and obtaining grant funding? There are many types of grant funding from family foundations to federal grants, and your nonprofit’s work must align with a funder’s giving priorities. Many funders still prefer to provide support for programs and specific projects rather than operating expenses.
Nonprofits that don’t offer direct services can sometimes face additional challenges in demonstrating their work fits the funder’s giving priorities. Perhaps your organization provides capacity building services to help other nonprofits. Or your work is focused on leadership training or professional development.
This is a time to remind your board that grants aren’t usually the first priority in fundraising. As discussed HERE, grants are NOT easy money. While traditional grant funding might be not the top revenue for your nonprofit, you will still need to build relationships with individuals and potential funders.
Building a relationship with a program officer at a local foundation can be key in explaining how your work makes an impact. Applying for numerous grants without building those relationships will often lead to frustration.
Diversified revenue is also important. Having a base of individual donors is one way to avoid over-reliance on one funding stream or source. Here are other examples of funding for your nonprofit:
Fees for goods and/or services
Individual donations and major gifts
Interest from investments
Membership dues and fees
Social enterprise projects
Grants are an important part of fundraising but submitting lots of grant applications doesn’t guarantee grant funding. Being prepared, understanding the process, and building relationships will ultimately help you appreciate if your nonprofit is a good fit for grants.
Michelle Crim, CFRE
Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.