Ready for Reset? So Is Your Grant Strategy by Tracey Diefenbach, GPC

It’s January. Are you ready for a reset? Better yet, is your grant strategy ready for a reset? I am just hunching here, but I think the answer may be “yes!” There are many different tools and tactics to reset your grant strategy. My process starts with gathering essential materials including: (1) Agency’s updated strategic plan, (2) Agency’s updated annual budget, and (3) Last year’s grant calendar. From there, the steps I take are:

  • Review agency/client goals and any updated strategic plans. Whether working as a consultant with various clients or as an in-house grant professional with one agency, I begin my process with the same strategy. I review the updated strategic plan to understand the high-level, overarching goals as I begin to create my grant calendar for 2024.
  • Review current funders. Take a look at current and past funders to identify who we can re-apply to, check and update deadlines for the new year, and determine cultivation and relationship work that needs to be done. Is it a phone call to discuss a new project idea or a quick email to let them know we will be applying again? Whatever the strategy is, I want to get this relationship work into my 2024 grants calendar with deadlines so that I can be ahead of the game when it comes to application time. This is also the point where I want to look at grant calendars over the past two to three years to identify those funders that may require more than 12 months between applications or funding periods. This can also capture any lapsed funders from previous years. All of this information is used to update 2024 deadlines, review amounts requested and secured, and identify proposed ask amounts. Are there are the opportunities for potential increases or has this funder decreased awarded amounts? I want to ensure that I am putting forth that best strategy in align with not only the funder, but the agency’s strategic plan, as well.
  • Review denied grants. I have often heard – and I believe – that rejection is, many times, the first step to funding. Take a look at which funders have said no over the last few years, whether or not it makes sense to re-apply, and how doors can be opened and relationships can be re-worked. The goal is to understand why the proposal was not funded so that it can be improved to re-apply or moved to a future year’s calendar or perhaps, even eliminated from the calendar all together. Ideally, I am doing this follow up throughout the year with each denied proposal (hey, I said ideally). However, the beginning of the new year is also a great time to take a look at rejections again and craft out a plan as funders may also be setting their strategies and priorities for the new year.
  • Identify gaps and new grant opportunities. Once I have reviewed current and past funders and rejected applications and laid them out in my 2024 grant calendar, I then begin assessing the total proposed ask amount for each grant. Keep in mind the agency’s grants strategy and priorities and opportunities for increased or new funding. Once I have determined estimated ask amounts, I compare the calendar to the agency’s projected grant revenue to identify the gap or surplus (but more likely, the gap). With this, I can then begin to identify how much is needed in new grant funding and craft out an intentional, strategic research plan. For instance, if I have a $100,000 gap, I will look at prospect leads I have and their potential funding amounts. It might look something like – I have identified two prospective foundations – ABC Foundation and XYZ Foundation, which both have an average award amount of $50,000. While this total amount meets my gap of $100,000, we all know the rejection rate of grants and thus, I like to identify four times the amount of funding needed (i.e. $400,000). This allows me to create a more calculated approach to reach the goal and helps eliminate funding prospects that may not be worth the return on investment, such as a $1,000 grant that takes a significant amount of time to write.

So, if you are like me and ready for a reset this year, I urge you to examine your grants strategy and use these ideas or your own tactics to start fresh. And don’t let this strategy go stale throughout the year – keep looking at where you are with grants and where you want to go and aligning with agency strategies.

Competency 2: Knowledge of organizational development as it pertains to grant seeking.

Skill 2.4: Identify values, mission, and goals of your organization’s overall strategic plan as it relates to the grant process/grant seeking.

Competency 7: Knowledge of practices and services that raise the level of professionalism of grant developers.

Skill 7.3: Identify strategies that grant developers use in building social capital to benefit their communities and society at large.

Competency 8: Knowledge of methods and strategies that cultivate and maintain relationships between fund-seeking and recipient organizations and funders.

Skill 8.2: Identify strategies to determine funder-relation approaches that suit fund-seeking entities’ mission, cultures, and values.

Discover more from Assel Grant Services

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading