by Mandy Pearce
You should not necessarily apply for every grant board members send you.
First of all, you probably don’t have time to be sitting behind your desk every day putting proposals together. A lot of board members are very well intentioned and think they are helping when they provide you with grant opportunities. What they may not realize is, you already have a ‘plan’ for your development department for the year, and it may or may not align with the proposal(s) they have presented to you.
Yes, if an amazing opportunity came up and a perfect grant came along, you would probably find time to work on that application. But, that is the exception, not the rule.
I remember working with a board member once that had a strong passion for a particular program. This board member was involved, participated, advocated for and financially supported the program. Additionally, this person was very proactive about finding grants that were in the same field as this program. I was constantly getting emails about grants I should be applying for. I was asked why we didn’t apply for all of them and this board member got noticeably upset when I replied with the honest answers.
They did not understand that the organization had specific priorities for fundraising and this program was not really on that radar. They also didn’t understand that spending 10 hours putting an application together for $5,000 to offer something that would cost $10,000, was not a good use of my time or the organization’s resources.
It took a lot of talking, very nice emails and even other board members talking with this individual to get the point across. The help was appreciated, but there had to be some balance of understanding that just because I was a grant writer, I had many other hats to wear in the development department and could not spend all my time writing program grants.
You will have to learn the balance within your organization for these situations. The best tool you can have at your disposal is a written fundraising plan. When you have a plan you can pull out and show to board members, you have a weapon that will help you disarm their insistence.
As my friend Sandy Rees, CFRE of Get Fully Funded says, “You can show a board member your fundraising plan and tell them that before you can add an additional item to it, you would first have to eliminate another part of the plan. This usually helps them step back and see that you have a full plate and you have a plan for success.”