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Cynthia Adams

Recent Posts by Cynthia Adams:

Sherlocking Trends in Philanthropy

 

I know! Sherlocking is not a word. But sometimes it's just difficult to find the right word to describe what I am up to.

For the past year or so, I have been very excited about that fact that there are actually trends in philanthropy, specifically in grantmaking, that we can follow. For so many years, there were no trends to speak of. Grantmaking was pretty "ho-hum," never changing, or changing very little. Granted (so to speak), there were a few foundations that did mix things up and attempted to change the status quo, but they were few and far between.

Today, however, things are truly starting to change. We're seeing everything from collaborations and transparency to open data and layered funding become regular topics of discussion within the grantmaking realm. We've also seen interesting trends developing in what some are calling the balance of power.

How do you stay on top of these trends? And what do all of these trends mean to the grantseeker?

Keeping up with trends takes time, and I would know, because I am constantly doing research to stay abreast of what is going on! I try to share a lot of this information regarding trends via my weekly podcast, Talk2020. In fact, I just did a six-part series on the most innovative trends happening, not just in the United States, but globally.

To keep people informed about the latest trends, we're also developing a new area of the GrantStation website called TrendTrack. This part of our site won't go live for a while, but we've been playing with the different items we might include, including having our writers (staff that develops and updates all of our grantmaker profiles on GrantStation) look at trends they see emerging. I wanted to share a few of their observations with you.

One of our authors, Tracey Lease, said:

While updating records this last month, I have noticed more foundations requesting, or strongly encouraging, grantseekers to attend introduction webinars or in-person sessions so that they better understand the foundation's eligibility requirements and guidelines before engaging in the application process. I have not noticed enough foundations requesting attendance to call this a full-blown trend, though I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of this type of advanced communication over time.

Another one of our authors, Sally Morral, noted:

One of the most noticeable trends among philanthropic organizations is support for K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. I first noticed this trend in corporate giving companies such as Northrop Grumman and other aerospace organizations. The focus on STEM tends to lean toward the need to "close the achievement gap" in the U.S. as a whole or in regional areas of the U.S.
What I find among corporate giving websites is that focusing on STEM helps to give American corporations a competitive advantage by investing in a future workforce that will be capable of enhancing and propelling new technology. This is a strategic move, ensuring a larger pool of college graduates with STEM education and capabilities who will be employment ready.
These companies include energy, software, robotics, and the like. In the article on the CISCO Systems, Inc. website, "Teacher Prepares High-School Students for STEM and Cybersecurity Careers," the goal of one nonprofit grant recipient is to "inspire students to pursue careers in cybersecurity and STEM." DTE Energy Foundation gives awards for STEM education programs to "increase the number of college undergraduates entering the STEM disciplines, thereby expanding the STEM workforce pipeline."

It's these "in the trenches" trends, along with broader national and global trends, that we will be highlighting in our new area of the GrantStation website. I'd love to hear from you to see if this type of information would be helpful in your work. I'd also like to know if during your own Sherlocking work, you've come across resources you think I should investigate further! You can e-mail me at: Cynthia.adams@grantstation.com.

The preceding is a guest psot by Cynthia Adams, CEO of GrantStation, a premiere online funding resource for organizations seeking grants throughout the world. Providing access to a comprehensive online database of grantmakers, GrantStation helps nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies make smarter, better-informed grantseeking decisions. GrantStation is dedicated to creating a civil society by assisting the nonprofit sector in its quest to build healthy and effective communities.


Grantseeking: What Does the Future Hold?

 

The State of Grantseeking™ survey, reports, webinars, and articles reflect grassroots activity and trends in the field, and, because of the twice-yearly frequency, provide leading-edge information months earlier than other annual surveys. So, what does the future hold for the state of grantseeking?

With annual grantmaking foundation grants totaling over $50 billion in recent years, an incredible amount of charitable investment, it feels like there should be enough funding available to support nonprofit organizations. Yet our respondents tell us that their greatest challenge to successful grantseeking (after a lack of time/staff) is increased competition for grant awards.

In the Fall 2014 State of Grantseeking™ Survey we saw a trend toward greater reliance by nonprofit organizations on private foundation funders. Private foundations were the source of the largest grant award for 33% of respondents, a 15% increase from the prior year. However, we also saw a decrease in the median largest award size from private foundations. In fact, the median largest award from private foundations was $28,500, a 19% decrease from the prior year. This data tells us that private foundations are trying to meet the needs of more nonprofit organizations, but are awarding smaller grants from within a finite set of award dollars in order to do so.

In spite of competition, there is funding available. Wouldn't it be nice to devote an organization's limited time and staff resources to only the grant applications that result in awards? GrantStation can provide guidance to help organizations tailor their grantseeking toward the funders most likely to respond favorably, not with magic, but with something even better—recent, trending data.

For younger organizations in existence ten or fewer years, "other" funding sources were the most frequently reported source of their largest grant award. Those other sources included religious organizations, the United Way, donor-advised funds, civic organizations, and individual donors, and they appear to be more receptive to funding organizations that have not yet proven the organizational sustainability that is implied by increased organizational age. In the Fall 2014 State of Grantseeking Report™ the median largest award from "other" grant sources was $30,250.

Does organizational size based on annual budget have an impact on the type of funder most likely to support an organization? When it comes to government funding, the answer is yes. Survey respondents told us that the Federal government and state governments were more frequently the source of the largest award for organizations with budgets of $1,000,000 and over. And, while larger organizations are often better positioned to administer Federal programs due to an established infrastructure, 28% of smaller organizations with annual budgets under $1,000,000 did report the Federal Government as the source of their largest award. In the Fall 2014 State of Grantseeking Report™ the median largest award from the Federal government was $319,000, and the median largest award from a state government was $147,000.

Finally, let's look at how service area impacts organizational funding. Our data suggests that collaboration between rural and urban organizations will result in more frequent funding for both organizations. Unsurprisingly, funders tend to invest their charitable dollars in areas where they will have the greatest impact on the largest population. Rural organizations reported funding from any source at a much lower rate than did organizations in urban areas. However, organizations from a combination of service areas reported funding from any source at a higher rate than did organizations in any individual service area. Corporate foundations were the most frequently reported source of the largest award for organizations serving a combination of population-based areas. In the Fall 2014 State of Grantseeking Report™ the median largest award from corporate foundations was $12,000.

The future of successful grantseeking is dependent upon the use of trending, recent data to guide organizational time and staff resource allocation. Are you interested in The Fall 2014 State of Grantseeking™ Report(s)? Click here to download your free copies. Would you like to participate in The Spring 2015 State of Grantseeking™ Survey? Click here to do so.

Do you need funding for your 2015/16 grants strategy? Full Membership with GrantStation, which can help you take on that task, is on sale through March 31, 2015 for $149, a 78% savings. You will get access to thousands of grantmaker profiles, carefully researched and organized to help you find the right grantmakers quickly, as well as guides, tutorials, and articles to enhance your grant writing and grant strategy development.

The preceding is a guest post by Cynthia Adams is CEO of GrantStation, a premiere online funding resource for organizations seeking grants throughout the world. Providing access to a comprehensive online database of grantmakers, GrantStation helps nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies make smarter, better-informed grantseeking decisions. GrantStation is dedicated to creating a civil society by assisting the nonprofit sector in its quest to build healthy and effective communities.


2015 Heralds a New Openness for Grantmakers

As we move into 2015, we are witnessing a fairly dynamic and aggressive set of changes in the world of philanthropy. Transparency and communication are both playing a large role in these changes.

I am not a big proponent of referencing too much historical information when it comes to deciding which grantmakers an organization will approach for funding. I generally encourage those doing research on grantmakers to be very cognizant of what the funder wants to fund today, rather than what they have funded in the past. If, however, a grantmaker hasn't changed focus for a number of years, then reviewing that funder's grant award history can help attract savvier applicants.

Today, of the largest 25 foundations (by assets), 15 have online, searchable databases of grants they have awarded. And 7 of them update their grants listings daily or weekly. So we're seeing a definite trend here that could be quite helpful for the person doing research.

A good example is the Kresge Foundation, which offers an interactive, searchable database that includes a map showing which states and program areas receive money from Kresge in any given year.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that these grant award databases are more important than other resources that the foundations provide, but I do think they are starting to play a helpful role in the research process for grantseekers.

And here's another interesting trend! It has been my experience that the public really has little expectation for any level of engagement with grantmakers in their communities. I think we are all pretty used to a one-way flow of information and, if not completely satisfied with that one-way flow, then at least tolerant of the decision making about how grants are distributed in our communities.

But that seems to be changing. Today, there are some grantmakers that are trying to share a lot more information about themselves with the public, such as the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. On their website they clearly encourage grantees' feedback. And they engage the Center for Effective Philanthropy to provide an annual Grantee Perception Report, which assesses the foundation's application process and responsiveness and the charities' overall experience with the grantmaker. Their website even offers an opportunity to provide feedback to a company acting as an independent ombudsman that collects comments from anyone who visits the site, whether a grantee or not.

There appears to be a new mind-set among grantmakers for openness. Part of that is because there is a new generation moving into leadership positions at these grantmaking agencies, so you're seeing less adherence to the old ways of doing things (i.e., everything the grantmaker does is heavily cloaked) to a new openness, an attitude of sharing and collaboration.

The Center for Effective Philanthropy does another interesting survey, the Declined Applicant Perception Report. Like the Grantee Perception Report, this report is conducted as a way to provide funders with comparative, actionable feedback based on responses to a grantee survey. I don't think there is a way for the public to access either report, but just the fact that foundations are undertaking these kinds of surveys is a good sign.

It appears that philanthropists across the globe are committed to looking at their failures as well as their success stories. According to a report published not long ago by New Philanthropy Capital out of the United Kingdom, the United States is the "frontrunner in the idea of failure in philanthropy, with organizations and campaigns springing up to help the non-profit sector 'fail forward.'"

All of these different ways of sharing information originally started as someone's bright idea and have matured into true movements being embraced by philanthropists throughout the world. At GrantStation, we survey grantseekers twice a year regarding the State of Grantseeking, and share the results with the world at large. It is an exciting time to be involved in philanthropy, whether you're looking for funding or making grant awards!

Cynthia M. Adams, GrantStation
© 2014, GrantStation

Cindy Adams is CEO of GrantStation, a premiere online fundraising resource that provides information on more than 6,500 funders accepting inquiries. You can learn more about trends in philanthropy in her weekly podcast: Talk2020, part of GrantStation's Vision2020 series to help nonprofits prepare for future grantmaking.


Benchmarks to Guide Your Grantseeking

GrantStation conducted its eighth semi-annual survey focusing on grantseeking, the State of GrantseekingTM, this past March. More than 1,200 nonprofits participated, providing data and experience that can be turned into actionable information to help your organization succeed at grantseeking.

The results of the survey are important because change in all fields, including philanthropy, is happening at a faster rate than ever before. From the immediacy of social media to the focus on overhead and transparency to volatile shifts in government funding, waiting for a year or more to learn current trends simply doesn’t cut it.

And, whether you are an experienced grants professional leading a team of grantwriters or a volunteer preparing to write your first grant application, having recent, trending data will help you prioritize, manage your time and expectations, and quantify your level of grantseeking success.

Somewhat shockingly, 95 percent of the respondents to the spring survey told us that they do not use any grant industry benchmarks to compare their grantseeking performance with external standards.

So why is it important to understand benchmarks and trends, especially if only 5 percent of organizations are doing so?

Without understanding current benchmarks, you are planning your grants strategy in a vacuum. You are for all intents working entirely alone, with no input to guide your planning.

Clearly, most organizations have experienced leadership with the knowledge and wisdom to guide their organizations successfully, but most people lack objectivity. While organizations can quantify their own grantseeking success by measuring their performance against the past, benchmarks enable organizations to determine how their results stand up against those of similar organizations and to plan for the future. The results of surveys, such as the State of Grantseeking, provides you with some basic guidelines as you build your own grant strategy for the year.

So, what does that mean to you? The best way to explain this is through some examples taken from the spring State of Grantseeking report.

Median highest grant awards vary dramatically by mission, ranging from $20,000 for organizations focused on arts, culture, and humanities (ACH) to $200,000 for educational institutions. Without benchmarks to add to their analytical toolbox, an ACH organization that was awarded a grant for $40,000 could think that they were underperforming (compared to the $47,000 median largest award of all respondents), when instead that award is actually double that of other ACH organizations.

This table shows benchmarks by mission focus:

  All Organizations Arts, Culture, Humanities Community Improvement Education Institutions Education Nonprofits
Lowest $ $35 $100 $2,000 $169 $500
Highest $ $80 million $25 million $2 million $80 million $9 million
Median $ $47,000 $20,000 $46,000 $200,000 $26,000
Average $ $586,866 $386,060 $154,403 $3,016,745 $363,531
  Environment Health Housing, Shelter Human Services Youth Development
Lowest $ $999 $35 $500 $500 $3,000
Highest $ $650,000 $12 million $1.3 million $80 million $5 million
Median $ $42,244 $60,000 $35,000 $50,000 $37,500
Average $ $102,603 $495,907 $112,146 $797,690 $204,311

Another example, big-picture this time, concerns the simple truth that applications equal awards. For the respondents to our survey, the breakpoint on grantseeking success is three or more applications. The spring survey indicated that in the last six months of 2013, 84 percent of organizations that applied for grants won awards. When we delve into that statistic, we find that 90 percent or more of organizations that applied for three or more awards won at least one award.

If you are just launching a grantseeking program for your organization, you now know that you will want to submit at least three applications in the next 12 months if you are to receive an award. Sharing this kind of information with your board can help guide their expectation, as well as assist them as they establish specific goals and objectives for any grants program.

This is just a glimmer of how you can use the benchmarks articulated in the spring 2014 survey report to help you grow your own grants program.

GrantStation uses the report to help illustrate the current state of grantseeking and to stay out in front of trends that will affect grantmakers and grantseekers. We use this information as a steering mechanism for growth, and as a real-word lens, to ensure that we continue to provide the tools and resources organizations need to stay competitive in the world of philanthropy.

Our participation goal for the fall 2014 State of Grantseeking survey is 1,500. The survey is open until the end of September. Please participate in this very revealing snapshot of what is happening in grantmaking today! And more important, begin to use this information to help guide the development of your grantseeking program. The resulting reports and associated webinars are always free, because we believe that this information is imperative to creating healthy, sustainable organizations.

To take the survey simply go to our home page for an overview, or go directly to the survey itself!

Cynthia M. Adams, GrantStation
© 2014, GrantStation

Cindy Adams is CEO of GrantStation, a premiere online fundraising resource that provides information on more than 6,500 funders accepting inquiries. You can learn more about trends in philanthropy in her weekly podcast: Talk2020, part of GrantStation's Vision2020 series to help nonprofits prepare for future grantmaking.


Knowledge-Based Grantseeking: What Is It?

A decade ago, when someone referred to something as "knowledge based," they were talking about technology—basically how to store complex structured and unstructured information used by a computer.

Over the next several years, that term evolved to encompass the entire Internet.

But today, I'm using it as a way to distinguish between writing a grant proposal that is based on the topic or issue at hand and one based on knowing and understanding the leading-edge trends in the world of philanthropy.

Let me begin by saying that I'm fairly confident that by the year 2020 philanthropy, not only in the United States but throughout the world, will wear a new face. These changes will expand opportunities in the area of grantseeking for nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and regional governments.

A global sensibility combined with an array of innovative technologies and attitudinal changes on the part of philanthropists will birth a new way, and perhaps a new wave, of giving. We are witnessing the beginning of many of these changes today.

Whether you are a professional grantwriter or a novice just dipping your toes into the world of grantwriting, it is now important to stay abreast of trends that may be able to provide you with that special edge you need to secure grant awards.

Two of the most predominant changes are in the area of technology (no surprise there) and attitude on the part of grantmakers.

Technology: Opening Doors and Changing Processes

More and more grantmakers are engaging in social media, sharing information with grantseekers that has previously been only for the privileged few. This is a positive trend, demonstrating the grantmakers' inclination towards transparency, and giving those of us seeking funding more information.

This means you now have the opportunity to learn more about what the grantmakers are trying to achieve. These social media posts provide an inside look at what the grantmakers are thinking and what interests them. Reviewing the grantmakers' social media—be it Facebook, Twitter, or blogs—plays an important role in researching and analyzing grantmakers to see if they are, indeed, the right ones to approach.

A variety of technologies has also begun to crop up, everything from online eligibility quizzes to submitting letters of inquiry and full grant requests via the Internet. Online grantee reporting is almost commonplace, and communication with the grantmaker via e-mail has never been as easy, or as productive. Having a staff member or volunteer who can help you develop Web grant applications is going to become more and more important.

If you want an example of where this trend is going, check out the application for the New Music USA awards. Instead of filling out a grant application, they ask you to create a simple project page on their site with all of your artistic work samples and project information. These pages remain invisible to the public through the course of the review and decision processes. Nonetheless, you are building a Web page as your grant application!

I have also noticed that the IT person is getting a seat at the table when it comes to reviewing grant requests, simply because there are so many requests with technology components. Reviewers feel they need advice from someone who can analyze these pieces of the proposal.

This means you need to develop the IT part of any grant request carefully, as a knowledgeable person will be analyzing it on the other end! Budget detail and budget justification are very important in this section of a grant request.

While the increased use of social media and a variety of technologies is the most noticeable change, there are also numerous attitudinal changes happening within the field of philanthropy.

Changes in Attitude

More and more grantmakers want to see that the outcomes of your program or project strengthen your community. This idea of positioning the outcomes of your grant request as community assets isn't necessarily a new trend, especially for those of us working in the area of community and economic development, but it has taken on more importance and is now being applied throughout the grantmaking world.

If you want to understand this trend better, you can download a workbook called Shifting Focus: Alternative Pathways for Communities and Economies. The workbook helps you think through this idea that people, not industries or government or social service agencies, not buildings or even natural beauty, are the assets of a region. It is the people, their energy and skills, that make a community grow. The workbook gives practical, hands-on examples of how people can come together and learn to see themselves as the main resource of a community. It was published in 2001, but much of what it offers is helpful today. And it's free.

But there are also other changes in grantmaker attitudes. Many leading grantmakers are aware that high-performing nonprofits are data driven, and effective nonprofits use data for improvement.

The good news is there are a number of new websites that provide the ability to add your own data (about your organization or about your community or neighborhood), which is then linked to other data, allowing you to compare your statistics with others. This kind of self-fed, accessible information is the new starting line for developing a robust need statement and helping to paint a clear picture of your organization's particular situation.

These are just a few trends that you need to be aware of as you develop grant requests. There are many others that I cover in my webinar Knowledge-Based Grantmaking: Tips, Trends, and Tools, which we offer through GrantStation every few months!

Cynthia M. Adams, GrantStation
© 2014, GrantStation

Cindy Adams is CEO of GrantStation, a premiere online fundraising resource that provides information on more than 6,500 funders accepting inquiries. You can learn more about trends in philanthropy in her weekly podcast: Talk2020, part of GrantStation's Vision2020 series to help nonprofits prepare for future grantmaking.


High-Speed Trends in Philanthropy: An Oxymoron

For many decades if you were referring to a "trend" in philanthropy, you were embracing the definition of trend in its totality, which is a general direction in which something is developing or changing.

In this new world that is driven by the interchange of thoughts and opinions flying back and forth across the globe, philanthropy has taken on a new guise.

Let's explore one of these trends that I find particularly exciting.

"Giving while living" is the new mantra for many family funds. The trend is simply to spend down the corpus of a family fund within a set period of time. The debate continues between the idea of giving in perpetuity and the instant gratification that comes with giving it all away in the near future. This discussion, which can become quite heated, has been going on for decades, but it seems to have accelerated in the past several years as more family funds are inherited by a generation of individuals wanting to see quick returns on their investment.

Accompanying this new trend is the increased willingness for the grantmaker to take risks in order to achieve a specific vision. Because there is limited time to achieve their goals, these grantmakers are investing in advocacy as well as untested ventures. That allows the grantseeker the opportunity to propose projects and approaches that would not typically be funded.

What Does All of This Mean for the Grantseeker?

First, collaboration is the key to unlocking these funds. Limited life foundations clearly recognize the need to partner early and often to meet their goals—and to encourage their grantees to do the same.

Second, when submitting applications to funds that have defined life spans, it is important to include a sustainability plan. You need to recognize openly that there is going to be limited support from a particular grantmaker, and that you have a plan to carry on your work beyond that funder's involvement. Sustainability is a topic unto itself, but it is imperative to both your organization’s success and your own peace of mind.

And third, I would suggest that groups establish endowment funds now in order to be ready to accept large gifts. Those who are ready are most likely to inherit the larger amounts of money that may be spent down in the last year of a fund's life.

So, let me sum this up by noting that by the year 2020, philanthropy, not only in the United States but throughout the world, will wear a new face. I feel confident that these changes will open an expanded door of opportunity in the area of grantseeking for nonprofit organizations. A global sensibility combined with an array of innovative technologies will birth a new way, and perhaps a new wave, of giving.

Cynthia M. Adams, GrantStation
© 2014, GrantStation

Cindy Adams is CEO of GrantStation, a premiere online fundraising resource that provides information on more than 6,500 funders accepting inquiries. You can learn more about trends in philanthropy in her weekly podcast: Talk2020, part of GrantStation's Vision2020 series to help nonprofits prepare for future grantmaking.


Little-Known Funding Sources: Where to Find Them?

It's always exciting when a funder or group of funders announces a new initiative. Often these announcements involve millions of dollars being pledged to "help stamp out ________ [fill in the blank]" or generate a whole new way of looking at a particular social issue.

But what I find just as exciting are those moments when I run across a foundation or business program, or even a government program, that is little known and completely catches me by surprise. To see people giving to people and causes, at all levels, and in many different ways, is so very gratifying.

Lately I've been doing a lot of research around philanthropy and national and international associations. I've been taking on this research because I record a podcast each week (about three minutes) that highlights these unique and sometimes difficult to uncover grantmakers. And I have found some real jewels.

For example, the Toy Industry Foundation, which is part of the Toy Industry Manufacturers Association, is the focal point for the philanthropic efforts of toy manufacturers. The foundation collects toys and funds from companies across the toy industry for the benefit of children in need.

The foundation held its most successful one-day toy collection in its 10-year history this past February. They gathered more than 42,000 toys and games worth over $400,000. This big collection of toys was held on the last day of the American International Toy Fair, an annual event.

A number of toy manufacturers participated in this collection, some you may have never heard of such, as Little Tykes, Timeless Toys, and the Tin Box Company,and others that are household names, such as Mattel.

These manufacturers donate everything from bikes and outdoor toys to dollhouses, action figures, puzzles, and books, and a lot of other items as you can imagine. (And some of which you'd have to be a toy manufacturer to imagine!)

These toy industry champions give globally as well as in their own communities to a pre-selected list of about 1,000 carefully vetted charities across the country that support military youth, foster children, impoverished communities, disaster-stricken neighborhoods, children battling illness, and many other populations in need.

Another interesting association is the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, which offers an unusually diverse set of products that can be useful when offsetting typical budget items for some organizations—things like diapers, medical supplies, electronics, furnishings, a whole array of medical/health care products, even transportation-related products.

The beauty of these types of giving programs is that the association lobbies their members for donations. They ask them to contribute excess inventory and other items, and then the association helps deliver the products to nonprofits in need of these items.

These are just two examples of hundreds of such associations that have giving programs. Start doing a little research, and you'll uncover a small gold mine of potentially new funders for the work you do.

Cynthia M. Adams, GrantStation
© 2013, GrantStation

Cindy Adams is CEO of GrantStation, a premiere online funding resource for organizations seeking grants throughout the world. Providing access to a comprehensive online database of grantmakers, GrantStation helps nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies make smarter, better-informed grantseeking decisions. GrantStation is dedicated to creating a civil society by assisting the nonprofit sector in its quest to build healthy and effective communities. GrantStation has a holiday sale going on right now and also offers a weekly podcast, Talk2020, that discusses the U.S. and international grantmakers in its database.


The State of Grantseeking: A Story of Growth and Strategy for Nonprofits

GrantStation runs an informal survey every six months to help illustrate the current state of grantseeking in the United States. Organizations can stay competitive in the world of philanthropy by using the survey results as an informal guide for their own grantseeking programs.

The most interesting fact to emerge from the spring 2013 State of Grantseeking survey, which had more than 1,000 respondents, was that 81 percent of organizations that applied for grants won awards. Which supports the old adage that if you don't ask, you won't receive. The really interesting figure, however, was that the number of organizations that received awards increased 6.1 percent.

How should this information affect your own grant strategy?

First, you want to make sure you keep your grantseeking pipeline full. Second, you should set a goal of increasing your success rate by 5 percent or so over the next six months.

How do you do that?

Keeping the Pipeline Full

Keeping the pipeline full is tough unless you have a few powerful tools to help you manage your grants program:

  1. Full access to a searchable database (such as GrantStation or Foundation Directory Online), so you can determine the most likely candidates for funding your programs and projects; and,
  2. A super-easy-to-use project management tool, such as SmartSheet, that allows you to capture information about grantmakers; create and attach documents such as grantmaker profiles and draft letters of inquiry; attach application guidelines; and perform other administrative tasks, such as noting deadlines.

There's a lot more to keeping the pipeline full, but these two step will let you start!

Increasing Your Success Rate by 5%

Start by putting together a grant strategy around every program and project you have. A strategic approach to securing grant awards always pays off.

If you have specific stumbling blocks that seem to get in the way of making applications—be they issues of geography, such as being located in a rural community, or of grantmakers not understanding the scope of your issue—sit down, roll up your thinking sleeves, and address them.

For example, in the case of geography, you might decide to develop collaborative partnerships with organizations in a larger community (one that isn't located in a rural area) who have similar or complimentary missions. An honest collaborative partnership can open doors to grantmakers you could normally never apply to (for both you and for your partner). This door swings both ways.

When grantmakers don't understand the scope of your issue—say funders always want to support specific projects, but what you really need is funding for your overall mission—you need to change the conversation. It's hard work, but it can really pay off in the long run.

Geoffrey Canada at Harlem Children's Zone explains how he changed the conversation in the early days of his work: "We honestly would not take money that was not multi-year, and it had to be unrestricted. You had to fund the plan, not a specific program."

These are just a few ways to apply the information via the State of Grantseeking survey results. To learn more about the spring 2013 State of Grantseeking, download your free copy of the full report.

Cindy Adams, GrantStation
© 2013, GrantStation

Cindy Adams is CEO of GrantStation, a premiere online funding resource for organizations seeking grants throughout the world. Providing access to a comprehensive online database of grantmakers, GrantStation helps nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies make smarter, better-informed grantseeking decisions. GrantStation is dedicated to creating a civil society by assisting the nonprofit sector in its quest to build healthy and effective communities.