How can a nonprofit CEO, director or board member facilitate grantseeking?
Grantseeking is a team sport. As a nonprofit CEO, director or board member you can help guide your team to victory — but you can't do that if you hang back on the sidelines.
If your nonprofit is like the vast majority out there, you need (at least some) grant income to advance your mission in your community. Your role as a leader is to marshal the right strategy and resources so your grantseeking team can succeed.
Whether your team consists of staff, consultants and/or volunteers, you need to help set (or at least know) the game plan so you can manage effectively. Without your vision and planning, your team will lack direction, priorities and motivation.
Even if you are not personally involved in your organization's day-to-day grantseeking activities, you need a solid grounding in how grantseeking happens. That is, you need to know what to expect from the process and how you can help it along. By preparing for success you will increase your likelihood of attaining it.
I've spoken with leaders of many new (and not-so-new) organizations who have not properly prepared for grantseeking. They simply want to see more money come through the door right away. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way. They have often been disappointed.
In my experience, strategic leaders who are starting or upgrading their teams' grantseeking efforts best position their organizations for success when they:
- Frame grantseeking as a team effort that enjoys strong investment from the organization's leaders: in the form of timely information, adequate human resources and appropriate planning
- Encourage an attitude of ongoing partnership between the organization (the entity that makes changes in the community) and funders (the entities that underwrite those changes)
- Model a sense of openness and curiosity about what makes the most sense in the current funding climate, from a funder's point of view
- Routinely share specific plans for accomplishing their mission and evaluating their activities' outcomes and impacts
- Establish community collaborations that the grantseeking team can leverage
- Prioritize funding needs for at least six to 12 months at a time
- Meet with their grantseeking team on a regular basis to strategize and define responsibilities
Is grantseeking high on the agenda of a CEO, director or board member? It should be. Without the support of nonprofit executives, even the strongest grantseeking teams must often watch opportunities pass them by.
For more tips from Dalya Massachi, visit Writing to Make a Difference.