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Building Your Grantseeking Program: Setting Measurable Objectives

This post was originally published here (The TechSoup Blog)

Whether you manage a nonprofit organization, an educational institution, or a government agency, there is one truth that is self-evident. It’s that establishing realistic objectives for your grants program is always a bit of a guessing game.

Clearly articulating the objectives — the outcomes — you expect from your grantseeking efforts is a critical component of your overall fundraising plan. To do that, you have to step back and think about the big picture — asking yourself, “What are organizations similar to mine achieving in the way of grantseeking?” One resource is the State of Grantseeking™ Report that GrantStation publishes every six months.

The State of Grantseeking™ Report spotlights current trends in the field. As quickly as things change today, you know how important it is to stay on top of these trends, adjusting your own expectations accordingly. This report serves as a touchstone.

It can help you review your grantseeking objectives, become more strategic in your grantseeking, and utilize leading-edge information to strengthen your own approach. Most organizational leaders ask themselves these questions when projecting grant support:

  • Who is most likely to fund my organization?
  • What is a reasonable level of grant support to expect for my organization?
  • Does my budget, location, or mission affect my organization’s ability to be awarded grants?

The answers to those questions vary — sometimes dramatically — by annual budget and mission focus. Variations in funding rates also appear, to a lesser extent, by service area, U.S. Regional Division, and organizational age.

Over the next few weeks, GrantStation will publish detailed reports based on these variations, and will add them to TrendTrack for free download as soon as they are ready. For now, here are some highlights from the Spring 2017 State of Grantseeking™ Report that may help you establish measurable objectives for your own grantseeking program.

How Active Should Your Organization Be When Seeking Grant Support?

  • Eighty-five percent of respondents to the survey applied for grant funding during the last six months of 2016. In addition, grant funding comprised over 25 percent of the annual budget for 43 percent of survey respondents. Grant funding is critical to the health of many organizations.
  • Applying for at least three grant awards increases the frequency of winning an award. No awards were won by 25 percent of organizations that submitted one or two applications. However, only 9 percent of organizations that submitted three to five applications won no awards, while just 3 percent or fewer of organizations that submitted six or more applications won no awards.

What Level of Grant Support Can You Expect to Receive?

  • Just over half of the respondents to the spring 2017 report (51 percent) reported total awards of $100,000 or more. The median award total was $80,000, a $2,750 increase from the median award total in the fall 2016 report and a $9,800 increase from the spring 2016 report.
  • However, the median largest individual award from nongovernment funders was $30,000. That’s compared to the largest individual award median of $150,000 for government funders (an aggregate of local, state, and federal government).

Will Forming a Collaborative Approach Strengthen Your Requests?

  • Collaborative grantseeking has long been favored by funders. Trends in collaborative grantseeking mainly show participation by organizations with larger budgets and the staff to support the additional administrative requirements that come with collaborative awards.
  • Annual budget, with the implied increases in staff and infrastructure in tandem with the increases in budget size, had a significant effect on collaborative activities. Fifty-four percent of organizations with budgets of $25 million or more participated in collaborative grantseeking in the last six months of 2016. In contrast, 71 percent of organizations with budgets under $25 million did not participate in collaborative grantseeking in the last six months of 2016.
  • In fact, most respondents (68 percent) did not participate in collaborative grantseeking in the last six months of 2016. And only 31 percent of those respondents that did submit a collaborative grant application reported winning an award.

This trend is worth watching, as there appears to be a dichotomy between funder preferences and organizational abilities when it comes to collaborative grantseeking.

GrantStation membership provides the resources for all your grantseeking needs, from finding grantmaking leads to submitting the proposal that will win you awards. We hope that you take advantage of the free State of Grantseeking reports, and invest in a GrantStation membership, to help your organization’s grantseeking program.

Upcoming GrantStation Event at TechSoup

On May 16 and 17, you’ll be able to get a GrantStation annual subscription for just $99! The regular discounted cost of an annual subscription at TechSoup is $299, and the retail price of this same one-year subscription is $699. Mark your calendar now for May 16 and 17 (next week!).

Learn more

About the Authors

Cynthia Adams is the founder and CEO of GrantStation. She has been dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations identify and secure the funding they need to do their good work for well over 40 years. Cynthia founded GrantStation because she believes that grantseeking requires a thorough understanding of the funders and sound knowledge of the philanthropic playing field. Her life’s work has been to level that playing field, creating opportunities for all nonprofit organizations, regardless of size or geographic location, to secure grant support.

Ellen Mowrer is the president of Grantstation. She works with both clients and the GrantStation team in program adoption and management. In addition, she is responsible for marketing, finances, human resources, and the State of Grantseeking™ survey and reports. Ellen is on the board of Music for Everyone, and is active in the fight against puppy mills.

Image: Andy Wetherill / CC BY

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Author: cindyadams

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