ChristopherReyes's blog

Good Work Requires Strong Infrastructure

Almost every nonprofit wants grant funding. And why not? Grants are a great resource for powering your organization’s work forward, but the infrastructure to support grant acquisition and management is commonly neglected. Large nonprofits, hospitals, and educational institutions typically invest in infrastructure to support the grants process, but in small and mid-sized nonprofits, grants work is commonly catch-as-catch-can, with various staff members taking on roles that can be matched with their skills and squeezed into their workload.

Program Start-Up Demands

When you win a major grant award, a tsunami of demands roars in with the money and all too often your buoyant “we won” high sinks beneath the stress. Project start-up is tough, and careful management is critical. The first step in avoiding mistakes is to fully grasp the importance of this stage in the life of the grant. Experienced administrators know start-up is a make-it or break-it time. Here are a few tips for a full-throttle blast off to a successful grant-funded program.

What's (New)ish with Grants

The field of grant development is dynamic. The basic elements of a strong proposal don’t change, but the environment in which funding decisions are made is in constant flux. The trends below remain current. Although not new, they point towards grantseeking realities we’ll be contending with over the coming year.

No Space for Letters of Commitment?

The grant application guidelines allow 15 pages of attachments, with ten consumed by required documents (IRS determination letter, board list, etc.). You’ve got 15 letters of commitment from diverse community groups pledging resources, volunteers, facilities, transportation, and other significant benefits. It’s a conundrum! The letters are powerful. Which do you use? Which do you leave out?

Win Grants with Proven Partnerships

One organization can’t do everything, and go-it-alone grant proposals that don’t make good use of community networks and resources are not convincing. The most effective proposals include authentic collaborations where participating organizations pursue their own missions while also contributing to a common goal. Unless the "usual-suspect" groups are involved as partners, funders will have questions. For example, if an early childhood agency wants to improve child health through better nutrition, it only makes sense to work with the food bank and the community health center.

Who Gets General Operating Grants?

A general operating grant is the most prized type of funding award. In the best circumstances, it’s a significant chunk of money handed to your organization with the magnificent instructions to do what needs to be done. Private grantmakers increasingly recognize that general operating funds provide flexible support that enables nonprofits to be most effective.