Do you have a fantastic project design and grant narrative crafted but fear “putting all your eggs in one basket?” Relax! Simply consider ways to leverage multiple grant donors for the project.
The good news is that grantors do not expect or want you to limit yourself to one grant submission per project.
Foundations understand charitable giving trends and actively seek to support organizations that are NOT dependent on grants for survival. Grantors want their dollars to serve as a stepping stone for organizations that are committed to building capacity while achieving their mission.
In 2019, charitable giving in the United States topped $449.64 billion, yet private foundations only accounted for 17% of that total.
Giving by individuals account for nearly 70% of charitable giving on an annual basis. (Giving USA 2020)
We all want to apply for and win as many grants as possible. Here are three strategies to help you increase your grant-winning odds.
1. Avoid “single grant submissions.”
It is exciting to find a donor who has the capacity and willingness to fund 100% of a program or project cost. Many organizations focus all their energy on one submission and pray it gets funded. The reality? Even if a grant foundation can support the entire project, they usually prefer not to. It is also unwise to “put all those eggs in one basket!” For this reason, it is perfectly acceptable to submit multiple requests for the same project, or leverage multiple grant donors, to increase your odds of getting grant funding. Demonstrate excellent stewardship skills by reaching out to grantors to discuss modifications to your proposal if your organization surpasses fundraising goals.
For example, you submit two proposals in hopes of securing $100K for a program:
- Foundation A awards you the full $100k you requested. Funds will arrive in January.
- Foundation B awards you $20k of the $80k you requested towards the same project. Funds will arrive in March.
- You now have $120k committed to cover a 1-year program budgeted at $100K.
If this happens, you have several options. First, you should call both foundations. Thank them for their investment in your program and share that you were blessed to receive more than $100k needed to achieve initial program goals. Second, come prepared for an intentional discussion on how your nonprofit and the grant donor could modify the proposal and proceed with the award. Foundations will often allow you to:
- Expand your initial goals, increase the number of individuals served, or amend the budget to reflect how you can reallocate dollars to improve the program’s intended impact during the current cycle.
- Extend the program/project timeline to cover expenses beyond the initial 1-year cycle, so you have dollars on hand to grow the program after the first foundation’s dollars are expended.
- Reallocate funds to a similar program/project that aligns with the donor’s current funding priorities.
* Keep in mind that grantors do reserve the right to rescind a grant offer if your project was fully funded. If that is the case, be gracious and continue to develop a positive relationship with the foundation representatives.
2. Use “other grantor support” to leverage new dollars.
Have you ever wondered why grantors ask you to list all current funding sources for your proposed project? Many will even require that you note the source and status (pending, confirmed, secured). These simple application questions reveal a lot about your organization to the donor. Grantors want to know if your fundraising strategy is diverse. They may know a potential grantor to connect you with to ensure additional support.
Grantors are wary of creating dependency on their dollars and seek to invest in programs that are both successful and sustainable. They WANT to see that a nonprofit is not “desperate” for their support but instead is capable of strategic stewardship. Highlight how your organization intends to use grant dollars to leverage charitable gifts from other sources.
For a larger project, grantors like to see other credible foundations, businesses, and individuals are committed to your proposal. It is good to leverage multiple grant donors for large projects.
For this reason, it is helpful to expand grant timelines to allow for an initial “planning and development phase.” During phase one, your organization can focus on securing a few key donors. Those donors can be used to leverage matching gifts from grantors as the program moves into phase 2 (implementation/deliver).
3. Create multiple “projects” from a single “program design.”
Grantors have specific funding priorities and award timelines. Rather than limit proposals to grantors who want to fund the overall program, consider deconstructing your program into several impactful projects.
For example: Your organization seeks $100k to cover all costs associated with an educational program to achieve three primary goals.
Rather than wait to see if one or two significant proposals get funded, you can identify all budget line items associated with each of the three program goals and submit smaller “project grants.” This is another way to leverage multiple grant donors for the project.
It is also helpful to cluster program budget line items. For example, take “technology, marketing/outreach, capacity building, academic programs, enrichment activities, leadership development, life skills” and convert each of those clusters into small projects. A competitive project proposal will illustrate how successful completion of each small project will contribute to achieving the greater/broader program goals.
Converting program line items into small project proposals increases an organization’s grant prospects. Furthermore, it creates greater flexibility in funding timelines and allows you to secure multiple smaller awards. That can be helpful when trying to leverage more substantial awards in later funding cycles.
At the end of the day, a well-designed program, a competitive grant proposal, and intentional conversations with foundation decision-makers go a long way!
- Pre-Program Design | Set Grant Writers up for Success
- Preparing for a Conversation with a Foundation
- Proactive vs Reactive Program Designs
As always, Keep Growing for Good!