Program Planning and Design

Be Clear About What the Grant Is For

An imaginary conversation at a nonprofit: “Hey, we could sure use some new computers and software. And while we’re at it, we ought to see about new office furniture to replace this old junk.” The development person: “OK, I’ll just write a proposal for technology and other equipment.” Off go the proposals and back comes a big handful of rejections. Why, didn’t they see the need?

Who’s Your Competition?

Traditionally, it wasn't the norm to think in business terms about your nonprofit but it’s a useful exercise because it sharpens your thinking about what you do and how you do it. One element of this kind of thinking is to consider competition—what other agencies or groups or community organizations are working on the same issues, addressing the same problems? This can be an uncomfortable question but what you learn can be valuable in program planning and in submitting proposals.

What If We Can’t Use the Grant as Planned?

It’s not likely, but it happens, that a nonprofit wins a grant from a foundation only to discover that the money can’t be used as proposed. Maybe so much time has elapsed between the proposal and the award that the original problem no longer exists. Maybe there are no applicants for the scholarships that have been funded. Maybe community leaders have found another way to deliver services. Perhaps it will take longer than expected to complete the project.

The Many Facets of Your Clients: Intersectionality

Nonprofits addressing economic and social justice themes—in fact, virtually all nonprofits—ought to be familiar with the term. It was introduced by scholar and advocate Kimberle Williams Crenshaw in 1989 and it has its roots in civil rights activism and scholarship, and in the lives and lessons of DuBois, Douglass and Truth. And it’s turning up in the conversations between funders, community organizations and others who want to use grants to change the world.

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