Building Long-Term Grantseeking Strategies
Monday, November 15, 2010
As many schools, municipalities, and non-profits can attest, having a month or so to respond to a solicitation is a very short window for all the work that goes into a grant proposal. Quality projects and applications can take months to fully develop and articulate. Additionally, there is a direct correlation between the amount of preparation done before a grant program opens up and the funding success rate of that grant proposal. Do what you can today, in order to secure the longest runway possible for a future submission.
Standard grant-seeking practice includes the avoidance of making assumptions. Assuming that an existing grant component will always be applicable threatens to put the project in a difficult position if variables do change. That said, a successful grant-seeking strategy is often built upon some level of anticipation. With the understanding that a specific grant program will often have similar a deadline date, project priorities, and areas of focus as that seen with its predecessor, you can rely on the existing guidance document to clue you into the nuances of the program. It may be advantageous to review various grant components like narrative length, eligibility requirements, necessary partnerships, and eligible expenses beforehand so there are fewer unknowns down the line.
In all cases, a would-be applicant should be working on developing potential collaborations, beginning to formulate the project on paper, and working with vendors to develop a bill of materials and corresponding budget. All of this work will lessen the application burden that will be present when the program does open up. Feel comforted to know there is always something to be done that will help the eventual application. Applicants who are rushing around at the eleventh hour to get the project in order will often threaten their proposal’s success because of a lack of front-end preparation and planning.
While general underpinnings are typically consistent, changes to grant programs do occur. If a current grant offering is just slightly different than its predecessor, pay special attention to those modifications. For many programs, it’s inevitable that public comments will be considered, experts will weigh in with their opinions, new threats and priorities with surface, and federal and state appropriation amounts will change. It’s often these types of factors that play a role in a programmatic shift from one year to the next.
Grant makers are constantly fine-tuning their product and, if modifications exist, rest assured that those changes are deliberate. For example, if a program mentions a specific priority for this year or additional preference for those who partner with a non-profit organization, recognize this information as the grantor “tipping their hand” on what may carry additional weight in the funding process. In the competitive grant world, any leg up on the competition may tip the scales in your favor. Focus your application on responding to these new program areas as the grant reviewer will likely be doing the same.