Nonprofits and ministries often ask if they can “get a grant for that.” Or some well-meaning staff or board members says, “Just get a grant.” Perhaps they are aware an organization down the street has obtained grant funds; the logical question then becomes, “well, why not us?” And then inevitably, someone makes a comment that, “it can’t be that hard to get a grant.
Grant funds can be a viable source of funding to support their work. However, they cannot be the sole source of funding for an organization that wants to remain viable over the long-term.
Unfortunately, far too many nonprofits find themselves struggling for success in this area. And, far too many ministries do not believe that they can get grant funds. While some of the challenge may be in the writing process, more often than not, there are other challenges are in the preparation process.
First and foremost, all organizations (especially faith-based organizations) 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.
Second, get clear on the outcomes that you are expecting through your work. Many faith-based organizations have never thought out how their programs and services can/will make a difference in the lives of those they are serving. Or, if they have thought about it, they are not tracking the results they are seeing through their efforts. Are they meeting human needs (food, clothing, etc) or are they working toward Kingdom 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, but ask for what you need. In other words, do not “pad” the budget.
Fourth, be clear on what need you are trying to meet. Focus on the needs of the community/people that you are trying to reach and not the needs of the organization.
Fifth, develop partnerships and collaborations. Often, faith based organizations build silos around themselves and forget to work with other organizations in the community….even those that are not faith based. Working together will help 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.