We recently kicked-off GrantStation’s Fall 2017 State of Grantseeking™ Survey. And, yes, I’d would be most appreciative if you would participate. But more importantly, I’d like to share some of the results from the reports of the prior survey, results that reflect trends that have immediate real-world implications.
Trend One: Competition for Grant Awards Is Increasing
According to Giving USA 2017, last year foundation and corporation giving increased 3.5 percent, to $78+ billion, so there surely are available grant funds. However, over the last three years, survey respondents have told us with increasing frequency (+45 percent) that the greatest challenge to successful grantseeking is competition for awards. Indeed, we saw small decreases in the rates of funding from most sources between this year and last year—including the rates of funding from the so-important private foundations. We also noted that the size of the median largest award ($50,000), which is often indicative of the overall grantseeking experience, has not changed in two years, so there is no wiggle room for inflation or increased administrative or infrastructure costs. Added to this, between 2015 and 2017 organizations reporting grants as 10 percent or more of annual budgets increased from 64 percent to 68 percent. We are watching these trends closely, because the grassroots data we gather through the twice-yearly State of Grantseeking™ Survey are often precursors to major trends.
Trend Two: The Atmosphere of Uncertainty
We are hearing about an atmosphere of uncertainty, from both our Members and our Partners, fueled in part by the nebulous nature of the future of government, larger dollar funding. To help ease this pressure, at GrantStation we are focusing on our service leadership, to ensure that you are aware of the FREE tools that we provide to the grantseeking community.
We offer the PathFinder, a library of profiles on top-quality resources to help you develop your career path as a grants professional and strengthen your ability to secure grant awards. It includes a Find Your Path tool to get a customized curriculum for your learning plan. And, as you browse our library of quality resources, including profiles of books and articles, courses and degree programs, and workshops and tools, all designed to help you develop your career path as a grants professional, you will notice that many of these resources are also free.
We also offer the free GrantStation Insider, our weekly newsletter filled with the latest information on grantmakers, upcoming grant deadlines, and news that will assist the serious grantseeker. When you read the GrantStation Insider each week, every link will take you to updated and relevant information on funding opportunities.
And of course, there are the State of Grantseeking™ Reports, free to you and ready to download. Based on years of biannual report analysis, I find that annual budget, mission focus, and service area have the most impact on an organization’s grantseeking experience, although organizational age and U.S. region can also skew grantseeking techniques and results.
Here’s an example of the impact of mission focus on award size: the sizes of the median largest award ranged $10,000 for animal-related organizations to $175,000 for educational institutions.
This type of knowledge is invaluable as you manage the expectations of your stakeholders and plan for your 2018 budget. Please take a moment to incorporate this type of knowledge in your grants management strategies.
Trend Three: Three Grant Applications for the Win
Based on the State of Grantseeking™ results, we’ve found that organizations are actively applying for grant funding, because awards are out there. Now, granted, an organization uninterested in grantseeking probably won’t participate in the surveys—but even so, 85 percent of our respondents applied for at least one award. Of those who applied, 83 percent won an award. And 96 percent of those who applied for three or more awards won at least one award. The takeaway? This might be just be the laws of probability in action, but nearly all organizations that submitted at least three applications won at least one award.
I wish you all a successful fall and strong 2018, as you stand strong in the face of competition and uncertainty. Please let us know how you are doing, by taking part in the Fall 2017 State of Grantseeking™ Survey.
Ellen Mowrer is president 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.