Nonprofits seeking their first grant should take several steps to ensure their efforts are successful, beyond just writing a strong grant proposal.
It’s extremely difficult for brand new nonprofits to find success in their efforts unless they have a contact at a foundation or have the ability to make a contact. Or if they’re able to make a strong case for a grant that specifically funds start ups or provides seed money.
In our experience, these opportunities are rare. New organizations should wait until they have a strong base of support (financial and otherwise) before pursuing grant opportunities or hiring a grant writer on a contract basis.
Here are some other points to consider when pursuing your first grant:
1. Do your research. Make sure the foundations you’re contacting are a strong match for your program.
2. Make the case for your organization. There are lots of social issues out there that need attention, but there are also lots of nonprofits. Why you, why here, why now? Also, be sure to avoid the pitfalls of some common grant proposal mistakes.
3. Show you are on stable financial footing. I’ve argued you will not benefit from begging or from looking desperate. You must show your organization is financially stable.
4. Invite the foundation’s staff for a site visit or offer to make a presentation to their board and/or staff. Do something to get the name recognition that I think will help when the foundation is sifting through a huge pile of grant applications.
The bottom line is: don’t rush the grant proposal process. Wait until your organization is poised to receive funding before you invest the massive amount of time (and sometimes money) that grant writing requires.
Learn more about our grant writing services here.