Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grant Writing - Don't Chase the Money

You have seen this here before - Chase your dream (your vision, your mission), not the money.  I know it sounds counter-intuitive to you, especially if you are a non-profit executive or school administrator who is just trying to keep your programs alive, but it's important.  Not only is a focus on the money rather than your mission the surest way to get pulled off-track with your work, but most savvy funders can see right through the ruse. You end up doing more work for less return.

It just makes more sense to stay focused on your mission than  to keep trying to fit the square peg of the funding source in front of you into the round hole that is your organization's mission-driven need.

No matter how hard I try to educate my clients, I saw it again last week,  As I met with a client to discuss the details about a grant the said they wanted to pursue, it became obvious that this grant opportunity is not aligned with the organization's current priorities.  Yes, they could go for it.  They might even get it, but then they'd have to implement a program that is not aligned with where they say they want to go.....and all this for a couple of million dollars that they wouldn't be allowed to spend on what they really need anyway..

Let's say you need $100 to get to New York next month for a family reunion and someone offered to give you $200, but only if you would go to Santa Cruz next month. Would you take it?  Only if you really wanted to go to Santa Cruz instead of New York anyway. If not, you'd probably be focused enough to know that spending next month in Santa Cruz would take you off track from your plan to get to New York for the family reunion and you wouldn't take that deal.  You'd keep looking for someone who could help you get to New York.

You should keep the same level of focus with your grant research. Keep your mission and vision front and center, and look for the funding sources to help you get there.


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Kara said...

Very well said! I have had clients with similar ideas. I tell them to think of a grant as a governmental "fee-for-service." The funding agency will tell you what they're looking for, then pay you to accomplish the overall goals outlined in the RFP. If I get them to think of it as a payment for services rendered, sometimes it helps my clients refocus on their mission!

Grant Goddess said...

That's a great idea, Kara! I think I'll try it. I try to get clients focused on what life will be like when they get the grant and actually have to implement it - as if that day were today. That often helps make it real enough to help them see if it really is aligned with their mission.

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Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.