Fundraising is not always easy. Some causes more easily tug on donors’ or funders’ heartstrings more than others. I am sure you can picture the TV commercial with sad music and malnourished children urging you to donate just $2 per month to help feed them. As a mother, I feel physical empathy for mothers of infants who do not have enough formula, diapers, and clothes to care for their children. Causes like this produce a warm, fuzzy vibe that you just cannot say no to. Not all organizations naturally evoke such strong emotions. In some cases, the emotions may be negative and that can make fundraising tricky. What if your cause (or organization) is the big elephant in the room blocking funders from seeing the impact you can/do have? Perhaps you are part of a national organization involved in a scandal, a school district that has recently failed accreditation, or a local nonprofit perceived to serve only wealthy people. Each of these situations can make it challenging to raise the money needed, because donors and funders may be blinded by the media or personal bias. How do you overcome that hurdle?

Audited financials are a common component of grant readiness discussions and are often requested by funders. However, new or small nonprofits may wonder if an audit is really necessary. Understanding why an audit is helpful to a funder, how to find an auditor, and what to do if an audit seems unattainable can help small nonprofits plan.

If you were to ask grant professionals how they arrived at their current position/role, most would laugh and relate a roundabout journey. Grant Professional is not at the top of the list of jobs to which children, youth, and teens aspire. Many of us find ourselves working as grant professionals by way of degrees in journalism, education, social work, and even the STEM fields. Through our various career paths in nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and social service agencies, grant professionals develop unique skills and have various areas of expertise and specialization that support our grantsmanship work. As a result, there are many professional certifications that benefit the grants profession. Certifications help uplift the profession by establishing a level of knowledge and ethical practices and acknowledging experience and expertise within an industry. Below is an overview of professional credentials related to the grants profession and the requirements for obtaining them.

From a very early age, we are taught to multitask. It seems embedded in the American culture of go-go-go and do-do-do. You may be eating lunch and socializing with friends, or watching a sporting event while taking a business call, or cooking dinner while helping your kids with homework. You probably do not even catch yourself multitasking, because it happens so frequently.

In grant seeking, fundraising professionals sometimes refer to low-hanging fruit as the donors who give year after year with little effort, synonymous with “easy money.” While the term is often tossed around, it can be frustrating to funders and grant professionals. Funders may have fewer requirements to increase accessibility to nonprofits or value the longevity of relationships. The funder is still striving to make an impact in the community. Grant professionals understand the nuances of grant seeking and can see the industry landscape increase in competitiveness as more organizations apply for funding and foundations give conservatively in response to volatile markets. Fundraising strategies that rely on these dollars without stewardship may find themselves in the midst of a drought.

All the time and effort you put into designing a great project and developing a clear, well-written grant proposal has paid off and you’ve received a notice of award from the funder. Now, it’s time to ensure that you are a great steward of the grant funds that you have received.

March Madness is in full swing, and all this talk about competition and brackets makes me think about how grant writing relates. Grants, much like professional sports, are competitive, and increasingly so. We can’t come in on gameday and put together a proposal without any preparation and expect to win big. To be competitive, your grant team must train and prepare to advance through the rounds and win awards. So, while building out/reviewing your bracket for college basketball, consider how these strategies can help your grant team gain a competitive edge.

Like any business or corporation, nonprofit organizations must manage revenue and expenses to deliver their products and services to communities. While nonprofits have been charged with addressing the world’s most critical issues, they often lack the adequate resources required to do it. Most organizations need things like safe facilities, light bulbs, furniture, computers, printers, office supplies, etc. to function. Large organizations such as hospitals and university systems are seldom scrutinized for these kinds of “operational” expenses, yet small organizations often accept the nonprofit starvation cycle, assuming that items needed for operations should be donated, mismatched, and held together by duct tape. There is an unspoken yet oft-acknowledged expectation that small nonprofits should rely on free or donated space, equipment, and even underpaid professional expertise more than their larger counterparts.

United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Rural Utilities Services Attention organizations and communities interested in providing distance learning or telemedicine services to rural areas! The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, Rural Utilities Services’ Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program is accepting applications for equipment, software, and other technological needs to provide education and medical services to remote areas with populations of 20,000 and under. Awards range from $50,000 to $1million and there is a three-year period of performance beginning the date the funds are released. A minimum 15% match is required and cannot be from another federal source. This program was created to assist rural communities in acquiring distance learning and telemedical technologies so local teachers and medical services providers who serve rural residents can link to other teachers, medical professionals, and experts located at distances too far to access otherwise.

Staying on top of your grant projects doesn’t necessarily require fancy software or the newest technology. Data or donor management systems are excellent tools, but you only get out of them what you put in. Small organizations sometimes don’t have the staff capacity it takes to utilize all the features they offer. However, if you start organized, it’s much easier to stay organized no matter what system you are working with. Start with the basics. Set up an organized filing or record-keeping process, learn what you need (and what you don’t), and take advantage of technology-supported opportunities when the options arise. If time and cost are obstacles for your organization, here are five tips to keep it together until you have greater capacity: