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

state-of-grantseeking_GrantStation.jpgGrantStation 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.

Topics: Fundraising