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High-Value Prospects: Setting Your Grants Program Up for Success with Smarter Prospecting Strategy

As grants consultants, we often work with nonprofits who want to pursue new prospects, but don't yet have a clear vision within their organization of what a well-aligned prospect actually looks like for them. When looking for new funding prospects for an organization or program, you don't have the time or resources to pursue every foundation or corporate funder that's out there with a link to your issue area - the quality of the leads is just as important as the quantity. How can you get strategic clarity on what a good prospect looks like for your needs, identify the criteria you'll use to search, and organize your initial research process? How do you get information, feedback, and buy-in from teammates and program staff to develop your strategy and identify the best aligned, actionable prospects? 

We will present concepts and tools that have helped us set up and implement prospecting strategies for clients with a variety of different prospecting challenges and organizational profiles. This includes questions that help clarify a program's key points of alignment (target population, need to be addressed, activity/outputs, goals/outcome, values, funding amount and type, etc.); suggestions for conducting a competitive analysis of your sector to zero-in on categories of funders and the best peers to prospect off of; and, sample formats for an internal prospecting strategy memo to get everyone in your team on the same page. We'll also discuss how this process can help guide the development of a new program to ensure it will have clear value to potential funders.

The interactive session format will include time for participants to try putting some of these tools into practice for their own program and discussing with peers at their tables. We'll also ask participants to share their own past experiences and strategies for overcoming prospecting challenges in a discussion portion.  
GPC Competencies Addressed:
Strategies for effective program and project design and development 
How to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs


Caroline O'Shea has over a decade of nonprofit development experience, both as a consultant and as a development director within a nonprofit. She is currently a director at Washington, DC grants consulting firm Elevate, leading client teams for short- and long-term projects on grants strategy, prospecting, cultivation, and grantwriting. Previously, she worked as the deputy director at NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and as an account executive at development consulting firm Bonner Group. 

Jennifer is a Director at Elevate, a DC-based grant writing firm, where she leads teams in developing customized grants programs for nonprofit organizations in the arts, education, environment, and health fields. She previously worked for nonprofits in higher education and international development. Jennifer earned her BA and MA from George Washington University, and certificate from Georgetown's Nonprofit Executive Management Program.