Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Grant Writing Mission: Demonstrate the Effect of Your Cause!

Lack of success in grant writing to foundations usually means that the applicant is trying to convince a grant maker that the agency's cause IS the grant maker's desired effect. In other words, a good cause isn't enough, grant makers expect the cause to have an effect on their field of interest.  Many times the cause an applicant is promoting has no direct impact on the field of interest; there may a sliver of attachment but slivers of impact don't generate grant money.

The correct approach is exactly the opposite. The convincing grant is the one that presents a cause that makes a grant maker say “BINGO, BULL'S-EYE, that cause has DIRECT IMPACT on my field of interest!" There must be clearly a demonstrable connection between the cause and the effect (on the field of interest).

Ways to improve your chances of securing grant funding:

1. Be absolutely clear about what your cause is. You must know what fields of interest your cause directly impacts. Your mission must inspire that “AHA! DIRECT IMPACT!” moment for the grant maker. Remember, round pegs in round holes and square pegs in square ones.

2. Validate the effect of your cause.  It does not matter if your cause is innovative or common the effect must be demonstrated.

3. Try to get in front of as many people as possible to talk about your cause. Expect to answer a lot of tough questions. Use these meetings to learn and to fine tune your arguments.  Use them to explore all possible linkages to the fields of interest your cause serves.

4. Rally people to your cause. Collaborate and give up some control! Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential partners. Don’t be afraid to bring in powerful Board members. Don’t be afraid to share the vision with others. Many organizations fail to thrive because there is a leader who climbs up on their philanthropic high horse and rides off without the constituents, the Board members, or even the staff! Feed your cause by sharing it and being inclusive; you’ll only starve it if you hold it by the throat.

Grants are given to agencies with a worthy cause that can demonstrate DIRECT IMPACT within a field of interest.  Agency leadership must be clear on what the cause is, who to include, what the impact is/could be, and where the likely funding sources are.

Related Posts:
Taking Your Grant research Beyoind the RFA
Grant Writing - Don't Chase the Money
Photo Credit - Asif Akbar

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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
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.