Is your organization exploring new funding sources but needs help figuring out where to start?
Reality: Grants require a significant time commitment for research, writing, and engagement with stakeholders on the part of the grant-seeking organization. Even with a grant writing consultant, a grant writer does not trade a fictional piece of writing for a grant. The information must be accurate and reflect an aligned and impactful project plan. Working for a grant should be viewed as an investment. Moreover, most grants have reporting requirements and other strings attached. Grants are not free money.
Reality: Grant writers working for commission devalues grant writers. The Association of Fundraising Professionals considers this unethical. Grants typically do not include administrative costs, especially pre-funded administrative costs. Most likely, a grant funder would not want to see a budget line item for the grant writer in the proposal. Moreover, even the most experienced grant writer has little control over the outcome. An unsuccessful grant proposal provides value in the form of well-crafted narratives that can be up-cycled for the future. Grant writers do not work on commission.
Reality: There are better ways to approach grant-seeking than morphing an organization to fit what a funder offers. This practice is also known as mission creep. A funder can easily spot this strategy when reviewing the grant seeker’s media. A grant proposal that aligns differently from the organization’s website copy is evidence that the grant seeker needs more experience, expertise, and stakeholder buy-in. It also illustrates a greater desire from the grant seeker for the funding than the intended impact. And most importantly, it demonstrates a lack of direction and weakens the organization’s reputation. Shape-shifting will not help an organization get more money.
Private, Corporate and Community Foundations support charitable activities by making grants for charitable purposes.
Local, State, and Federal Governments also provide financial support to nonprofits in the form of grants.
Explore Massachusetts Grant Opportunities here.
Make sure the following requirements of the grant match your program or project:
Grantmakers should see that you have many supporters involved with your organization. Sometimes people who have a “stake” in the organization aren’t yet aware of your organization or don’t yet support your organization. It’s important to consider all the people who should be part of your organization’s development and bring them into the mix.
Three Most Helpful Stakeholder Mapping Questions:
Three Most Helpful Engagement Strategies:
Mission Creep is when organizations stray from their targeted direction of intended action, approach, and purpose, usually to chase resources. Mission creep weakens the organization’s reputation, burdens staff, and confuses communication with stakeholders.
When reviewing a new opportunity for organizational fit, consider the following:
Suppose any of the three elements of the mission are not aligned. In that case, the grant opportunity would likely be mission creep for the organization.
Project Bread connects people and communities in Massachusetts to reliable sources of food while advocating for policies that make food more accessible—so that no one goes hungry.
If Project Bread pursued the following grants, it would be engaging in mission creep:
Avoiding Mission Creep Process Flow Diagram:
A great next step is to evaluate your organization’s fundraising readiness.
Take this Fundraising Readiness Quiz to discover your score.
This is a contributed piece by Melissa Pond. Melissa holds a Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University. She has more than 15 years of experience in government and nonprofit. Most notably, she organized and managed a $595k municipal social advocacy project recognized by the American Planning Association Massachusetts Chapter with an award in 2021. In 2020, she developed and taught a nonprofit leadership course for her alma mater. She teaches intro to nonprofit, social entrepreneurship, and marketing for an accredited online university. In 2022, she launched Melissa J Pond LLC to collaborate with more organizations as a consultant, grant writer, and strategist. You can find her on Instagram @melissajpond and on LinkedIn.
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