For most organizations grant funds can be a viable source of funding to support their work. However, far too many organizations find themselves struggling for success as they pursue grants. While some of the challenge may be in the writing process, more often than not, the preparation process is also a struggle.
First and foremost, all organizations, particularly those that are faith-based, must stay true to their mission. Unless they stay true to the mission that God has called them to, how can they expect Him to bless it? In his book Mission Drift, Peter Greer says that 96% of all faith-based Executive Directors struggle with mission drift on a daily basis. If you are not always on the look-out for it, it will happen very slowly but surely. Keep the mission of the organization in the forefront of everything you do; include it on every board agenda and use it to determine whether or not to begin a new program.
Before writing a grant proposal, ask yourself if the funder’s goals and interests align with your mission; if not, it is best to walk away from the opportunity. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a position where you begin to “drift to fit.”
Second, get clear on the outcomes you are expecting through your work. Many organizations have never thought out how their programs and services can/will make a difference in the lives of those they are serving. Are they meeting human needs (food, clothing, etc.) or are they working toward some other outcomes? Either way, how can they be measured? Spend some time before writing outlining the “so what” question; in other words, so what that you are offering a program—how will it make a difference?
Third, take a look at your budget. What are the funds needed for? Focus on the needs of those you are serving and not the needs of the organization. Ask for only what you need (don’t pad the budget), but ask for what you need.
Fourth, be clear on what need you are trying to meet. Focus on the needs of the community/people you are trying to reach and not the needs of the organization.
Fifth, develop partnerships and collaborations. Often, nonprofits and ministries build silos around themselves and forget to work with other organizations in the community. There is often a fear the other organization will take all of the money, or the other organization will find out all your “secrets.” Working together helps both organizations maximize their resources and avoid duplication of resources. Partnerships also enable the organization to extend God’s love to those you might not otherwise come into contact with.
So, before the writing begins, let the planning begin. Need help? Feel free to contact us.