Emily Hampton, GPC

As grant professionals, we all know that one way to boost our proposals is to include collaboration. Funders like to see partnerships for a number of reasons. But too often, the partnerships we include might not be very substantive. Maybe we worked together on one event or they refer a few clients to our organization. But funders emphasize collaboration for good reason and it might be time to truly give those partnerships a chance to GROW! So, how do you go about helping your partnerships blossom? Begin by taking stock of all of your current partners, big or small. Partners could include other nonprofit organizations, funders, businesses, or individuals. Assess the ways in which you currently partner and begin thinking outside of the box to explore other ways in which both parties could benefit from expanded collaboration. One way the levels of partnership are often framed is through the 3C Model, which came from the for-profit sector. Its tiers include cooperation, coordination, and collaboration (moving from simple to complex). Here are a few ideas of ways to expand from surface-level partnership to meaningful relationships that benefit everyone involved:

I don’t know about you, but I have never been so relieved to have spring arrive! Winter, like everything else, did not give us a break this year. But here we are! The sun is shining more, the temperature is warming, and hope is in the air! We’re coming up on a year since the pandemic lockdown first occurred. In commemoration of getting through everything that followed, it’s time to UNLOCK our potential as grant professionals. As the days get longer and we all feel a little more optimistic, I would encourage you to use the energy that comes with spring to rejuvenate yourself personally so you can develop your best professional self! It’s important to find a balance between work and life because if you’re not feeding your soul outside of work, you’re not giving your all as a grant professional.

To kick off the month of love, I’d like to talk about relationships. In our personal lives, we know that nurturing relationships with our families, friends, and partners is important. Strong relationships provide mutual benefits; we give support to our loved ones as they make steps toward their personal goals, and we hope they do the same for us. As nonprofit leaders and grant professionals, we all know how crucial it is to build solid relationships in order to succeed in reaching our organizational goals, as well. We build relationships with our beneficiaries to make sure our program strategies match their strengths, needs, and solutions. And we build relationships with funders to ensure we have a strong financial foundation to continue offering those programs. Just as every relationship in our personal lives is unique, so are the approaches we must take with funders, depending on whether they are a foundation, corporation, or federal agency. So, let’s talk about the distinct “love language” and which approach to take in building relationships with each of the funders listed below.

It can be difficult to find positive aspects to this year. I don’t need to remind you of all of the unprecedented challenges we’ve experienced so far and will likely continue to live through well into the coming year. Instead, let’s focus on something more hopeful! Let’s spend the rest of this year (and early 2021) on something we may not have found much time for in the past: LEARNING!

While there are legal requirements for nonprofit organizations around transparency and disclosure of financial information, there can also be some grey areas where ethical decisions aren’t as clear. For instance, it can be tempting to apply for and accept funding anywhere you can get it. But what if you serve clients who are struggling with substance use, and a potential funder is known for contributing to the opioid crisis? If accepting money means you are straying from your mission, or if you have any doubt about the morality of doing business with a certain corporation, it may not be worth the financial benefit. Your goal should be to build funder relationships that you can stand behind and feel good about. Here, we are going to explore a few other ethical dilemmas you may run across when building relationships with funders.

  Every grant proposal requires some type of budget. Unfortunately, some of us tend to put off this component for as long as we can. However, it should really be the starting point. When we write a proposal, it should be for the purpose of filling a gap in our budget, not just to get money for money’s sake. In a previous blog, Julie Alsup introduced the idea of braided funding. Here, I’ll walk you through the nuts and bolt of implementing this useful concept.

Grant proposals consist of a variety of components depending on each grant’s requirements. Most require some form of a budget, whether that is a simple project budget or a complex organizational budget, or both. Some will also include a budget narrative or justification and any number of other attachments. But in any grant proposal, the narrative is where you will likely spend most of your time. Fortunately, the proposal’s narrative is the fun part! This is where you get to put your storytelling skills to work. So how do you get started? Much like an author would begin a novel, start with an outline.

The USDA’s Community Food Projects grant has been around since the 1990s and is renewed as part of the Farm Bill every five years. The purpose of the grant is to increase the food security of low-income communities which unfortunately continues to be a salient need across the country. Food is one of our basic needs. Many organizations work hard to feed the growing number of people who struggle to put food on the table every day. Whether in a rural or urban landscape, people often must make choices between paying rent or medical bills and buying food. Children are disproportionately affected by hunger, and the COVID-19 crisis has not only caused loss of income for many families. With school closures, kids can no longer count on free or reduced lunches every day.