As the summer heat subsides, don’t let your grants program cool down! The fall fundraising season is an important time to assess the performance of your grants program so far this year, including:
How many of your past grant funders repeated their giving in 2021?
How many qualified new grant funding opportunities did you find and pursue?
How many of the grant proposals you submitted were awarded vs. declined?
If you aren’t hearing “yes” in response to at least 75% of your grant requests, you may not be directing the right attention, or making the right requests, to the best grant funding prospects for your organization.
An underperforming grants program is something no organization can afford, as it means a double financial loss: the waste of misused time and resources, as well as the cost of unrealized grant revenues.
The good news is that you can still make the last quarter of 2021 one of abundance! Take these steps in early fall to ramp up your grant strategy now and prepare for smarter, successful grant seeking in 2022.
Fall in love with your current funders
There are no funders more deserving of your attention than those funding you now. Take a careful look at each of your funders from the past two years and follow these steps to create an individualized plan to nurture those relationships:
Identify upcoming due dates to reapply to past funders.
If you received a grant last year, but haven’t yet submitted a new request, immediately check to see if there are remaining deadlines in 2021. If so, make an effort to restore (or repair, if needed) your relationship with the funder with a phone call or meeting, then take appropriate direction from the funder to apply.
Stay attuned to changes in your funding forecast.
Many funders have adjusted their grant making in the wake of the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and increased attention to racial injustice. Review each of your current funders' guidelines and recent grant awards to detect any changes in their requirements or shifting areas of funding focus—and if you do, seek out a conversation to learn what is most important to them and explore if you’re evolving together or apart.
Prioritize the grant report.
If a report is due, don’t miss the deadline. If a report isn’t required, provide a courtesy report anyway. Use the report as an opportunity to tell the story of the funder’s investment. If your activities or plans went off track, provide the context and information funders need to understand why and what you achieved instead. See our tips for addressing the unexpected and strengthening the trust of your funders:
Replenish your grant prospect pipeline
A funder today may not be a funder forever, so you need a plan to replace grant revenues that could drop off. Use this Fall to search for new prospective funders that are most closely aligned to your organization. There are two clues to help you assess a strong fit:
Prepare your grants action plan
With new opportunities identified, put them in an optimized order. You can rate your funding prospects according to these three-part criteria:
Your goal is to see your grant funding possibilities in context so you can make choices about which funders to prioritize. By devoting the greatest effort to the prospects most likely to become funders, you will be on your way to seeing stronger grant revenue returns in 2022.
With the final months of 2021 fast approaching, grant seekers must take proactive measures to ready their grants plan for 2022. By following these three steps, you can create a firm foundation upon which you can establish a successful and sustainable grants strategy in the year ahead. Contact us if you need any help along the way!