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We Will Apply for More Grants


Is there anything worse for a grantmaker to read in the sustainability portion of an application than the generic line, “We are going to apply for additional grants?” This line is as equally transparent as a weak sustainability plan for a program or project as the response, “We are going to apply for additional grants and seek donations from major and individual donors.”

 

The topic of sustainability has been discussed widely in the GPA community, both at the 2016 GPA Annual Conference and via webinar. Colleagues Margit Brazda Poirier, GPC, and Danny Blitch, GPC did a fantastic job in their webinar, Are You Answering the Sustainability Question Correctly? of providing some alternative ideas on how to answer the sustainability question.
 
My spin on sustainability comes from my years as a grantmaker. When I was a Program Officer I admit, I was surprised by the generic language like, “We are going to apply for additional grants,” in response to the sustainability question. I would be left to wonder, where was the detail? What was the plan? Whom will they apply to this year and for how much? Why would that answer give the grantmaking committee or the Board of Trustees any degree of confidence that the project would continue after the grant award period?
 
More than a decade later on the grant-seeking side of the grant equation, I now better understand the reason why well-intentioned applicants would give such generic answers. They had no idea where the funds would come from to sustain their great new idea/project/program expansion. It was not for lack of trying. It was not for lack of passion. It was not because they did not have a program plan in place. It was not because they were not delivering high-quality programs and services. Rather, it was because they were lacking a proactive plan related to their annual grant-seeking. It was also not just a lack of an annual grant-seeking plan, but a lack of a larger fundraising plan focused on diversifying revenue from all sources.
 
The reality may certainly be that the organization must apply for additional grants and secure major donor support to continue the program. There is a relatively simple solution to beef up such a generic answer. You can strengthen the response by providing the detail of your grant calendar related to the proposed program. Who are you applying to, when, and for how much? Did the funder award your organization in the past? Give the reviewer more detail about your plan, so they realize how serious and robust your plan is.
 
Then look beyond your answer for your plan to secure additional grants as demonstrated by sharing information from your annual grant plan and grant calendar to look at other sources of revenue like special events, third party events, and program income. Share how your organization is diversifying its revenue and how that revenue will support the sustainability of the proposed program or project.
 
Help the grantmaker understand that your plan for sustainability is not a flimsy and transparent idea of “simply” seeking more grants or seeking more grants and more major donor gift. Rather, you have a sustainable plan to diversify and support your idea.
 
How can you strengthen your sustainability responses to share your fundraising plans in more detail?
 
Diane H. Leonard, GPC is the President of DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services and loves talking about #grants#grantreadiness#nonprofits

GPC Competency: Knowledge of how to craft, construct and submit an effective grant application

 

Comments

 
By: Kendra
On: 08/08/2017 21:15:23
I know as a Grant Writer I am always searching for a different way, words, and statements to answer this section of the grant application. I appreciate your suggestions which are spot on and helps position me to ask my clients to produce a grant calendar for funding sustainability and/or a funding plan. This article also helped me to identify a billable service if the client is lacking a funding plan for a project/program. Thanks Diane!
 
By: Kelley Renz
On: 08/10/2017 06:43:50
This is a wonderful reminder to not get lazy when it comes to the sustainability question. Moreover, it assures me that having definite promised dollars is not what officers are looking for. They just want to see a well thought out plan. Thank you!

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