What Most Board Members DON’T Know About Grants


by Marie Palacios & Mandy Pearce

How many of you are currently facing a crisis fundraising situation or are making big plans for a new program that is starting within the year?  

More often than not, these situations require the board of directors to respond to the question: “How are we going to raise all this money so quickly?”

In our experience, board members make one of the following two suggestions: “Write more grants!”  or “We need another fundraising event!”

Today, we are going put the grant writing process into perspective!

While grants certainly can serve as a great way to secure seed money, expand a program, support a capital campaign, or complete a one-time project, they are by far the least effective way to raise big dollars on a short timeline.

Grant writing is more than simply putting words on paper. The next time grant writing is offered up as a solution for short-term fundraising needs, take into consideration the following quick facts about grants: 

Quick Facts About Grants

  1. A healthy organization should never be more than 30% dependent on grant funds for general operating expenses.
  2. Grants are NOT a way to generate sustainability but rather support capacity building and new initiatives.
  3. Grants can take 6-9 months to secure from the time you complete research, identify a prospect, begin building a relationship with the foundation, craft and submit a proposal, await award notifications and finally receive a check!
  4. Even the highest quality proposals might not be selected for funding.
  5. Grants are never guaranteed from year to year
  6. Grants that support project materials but not staff salaries and overhead often create a burden on organizations that are not prepared for the increased workload and/or salary increases needed to successfully implement and complete the project.
  7. Most grants are part of a competitive grant cycle. Just because your organization is “encouraged to apply” does NOT mean you will receive funding.
  8. You must be prepared to modify project design and fundraising strategies should you only receive partial funding.
  9. Most grant proposals require that you include a sustainability plan to ensure that the program/project can continue after grant funds expire.
  10. Many grant proposals require that the organization share the percentage of board members who contribute financially to the organization annually.
  11. State and federal grants often award funds on a reimbursement basis. This means your organization should have funds for 3-4 months of anticipated expenditures on available to float the project until reimbursement dollars arrive. (Because we all know that the government’s top priority is making we get checks on time!  Right?)

At the end of the day, donors want to fund your IMPACT, not your EXISTENCE.

If you, your board members or volunteers would like to learn more about the grant writing and research process you can join Funding For Good for one of our 1-day workshop this quarter. Our upcoming workshops are listed below. Click this link to learn more and reserve a seat today.

Jacksonville, FL | Jan. 23
Franklin, NC | Feb. 13
Charlotte, NC | March 6

Keep growing for good!
Mandy & Marie

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