Continuing operations, expanding services, meeting payroll, planning for the future. All require money and for many nonprofits that can be in short supply right now. Remember that foundations and granting agencies are more than funders: they are your partners and it’s time to reach out to them.
For this column we spoke with Dana Textoris, Managing Director of Grants Plus. She has been involved in every aspect of nonprofit fundraising for nonprofits across the country. We asked her the questions we know are on your mind. She also shared a guide for grant seeking during the COVID-19 crisis.
What is the most important thing for nonprofits to know about grant seeking during this crisis?
Keep going. Do not put your grants effort on hold. History shows that foundations step their giving up, not back, during financial crises, meaning grants should be at the top of your fundraising priority list right now.
What is the first step to take right now?
Tell your funders about the challenges and needs the crisis is creating for your organization. If you haven’t made personal contact with each of your current funders since the pandemic started, do that today. Ask for flexibility in how you spend active grants and request emergency grant funding. If you are addressing emergency needs, identify exactly what you need and what it will cost. If emergency funds are available, apply as quickly as you can. Hundreds of foundations around the country have launched rapid response funds to move funding into communities as quickly as possible. At Grants Plus, we are tracking emergency grant opportunities across the country, which you can view online.
What else can organizations do?
Don’t overlook grants from donor-advised funds. Those donors already contributed money into their funds well before the crisis; now they can choose to distribute it! Reach out to donors who have given to your organization through their donor-advised fund in the past and ask for an emergency grant. If you aren’t sure how to maximize grants from donor-advised funds, you can read our complete guide.
We are also very optimistic about a coming wave of opportunity for federal grants. The CARES Act has poured funding into federal agencies to be swiftly distributed to nonprofits in the form of grants. Stay alert for new government grant opportunities and get ready to apply.
Even as many funders have shifted to urgent needs, we expect most to resume their traditional grant making. If your special events have been canceled and your donor meetings are on hold, put that time into researching new potential grant funders. A funder’s giving priorities are unlikely to permanently change, so if you identify a grant prospect whose mission aligns to yours, that is likely to remain a good funding prospect in the future.
Do you have any general tips for grant writing?
Organizations that succeed at growing their grants over time treat grant seeking as a strategic, long-term endeavor. Grants come from institutions, but they are made on the basis of connection and trust between the grant maker and the organization. Grant seeking is as much about people and relationships as any other type of fundraising!
Do you do grant writing?
Absolutely. We are a team of 20+ grants experts devoted to helping nonprofits with grant seeking. Since 2007, we’ve partnered with nonprofits across the country to secure more than $155 million in grant funding. Our goal is to see our clients grow their grant successes by taking the right steps with the right grant funders at the right times. But, “grant writing” is just one piece of the process. Before you’re ready to submit a grant proposal, you need to identify your best funding prospects, open doors with those funders, and find the alignment between their mission and yours. We coach and support our clients to be confident and prepared through every step in the grant seeking process.
Our sector feels turned upside down, along with the rest of the world, but it will ultimately come right side up. When it does, we expect the competition for grants will be even greater than before. The organizations that are proactive and deliberate to plant seeds now will be those that see their grants efforts grow. Don’t despair – here is a free guide to crisis grant seeking.
For more information you can reach Dana at 216.916.7376 x2 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2020 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
Let us help you find your way through this unknown time. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.