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The dilemma of funding projects by multiple grantors

Receiving grants for projects, in times where there's so much competition, is often a challenge for nonprofit organizations. Because of this, fundraising proposals are usually written to several donors, hoping to get at least one. Now, how to plan the grant writing stage to not jeopardize the possible donation if the organization receives multiple funds for the same project? Why is it a dilemma if organizations are always trying to increase their donor portfolio to diversify and continue providing service?


Donors require accountability and transparency in the use of funds. They usually ask for evidence of payments, either by check or wire transfer. It means that this evidence must be provided to only one donor and not to several to justify the use of funds, as it is not correct. As an external grant writer to nonprofit organizations I have had the dilemma of preparing applications for a project to multiple donors and then been lucky enough to win partial grants from more than one funder. With this is good news, there is also the urgent need to review the budget and adjust it according to the approved amount. Here are three strategies I've used to ease organizational post-grant approval actions.
First, I try to subdivide the project into mini projects or stages. Although each one is necessary for the success of the main project, they have relative independence and specific objectives. The logic model is an essential tool for this exercise. Each objective can be converted into an autonomous stage with measurement indicators and tasks to accomplish in a given period. The results of the indicators and the tasks to be fulfilled will also provide the person in charge with the information necessary to prepare the accountability reports, which are necessary for both the organization and the funder.
Second, although the recommendation is to divide the projects, we can't forget that they are all pieces of the same puzzle and some stages need each other to be effective. For this reason, I point out that independence is relative. Likely there are objectives that depend on other objectives being met and maintained together in the same mini project or stage. This determination should not be made by the grant writer, but by the person who will lead the project in the organization, the one with all the technical and content knowledge.
Third, the budget should reflect the total expenses required to execute the whole project. However, to the extent that grant guidelines allow it, the budget should be easily deconstructed by mini projects or stages. Therefore, if the organization receives multiple funding approvals for a project, the budget allocation adjustment will be easier. In the case it is not allowed by the funder guidelines, it is an exercise that I recommend for any project and something that can be created internally.
Nonprofit organizations need to plan, write, and wait for a positive response from the donors. Keep in mind that negotiations are always possible if there is a history of credibility and good fund management. In the end, the dilemma might not be a real dilemma if addressed properly.

Luz Mairym López-Rodríguez is Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. As well, since 2013, she offers consulting services to nonprofit organizations in grant writing and program evaluation. She earned a PhD in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Walden University and also obtained a BA in Finance and a MPA in Public Administration, both from the University of Puerto Rico. Her main research topics are public policy evaluation, nonprofit management, nonprofit funding, and local government.

Primary GPC Competency: 01. Funding Resources