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Stop Chasing Dollars; Be Strategic Instead.

Don’t chase those dollars!” … It may seem strange to start a grant writing blog post by suggesting that we stop chasing funds to support our various programming and service support needs. However, I am not trying to discourage increasing your personal or organizational capacity by acquiring different collaborative funding income streams. Instead, I advocate for folks to follow basic strategic planning principles to build organizational capacity and enhance project reach and longevity when seeking project funding.

This is important because, too often, non-profit and community-based organizations are wasting time and energy applying for award opportunities that are too either small for the project scope or that do not fully align with their project framework. We all have the best intentions, trying to advance our mission by piecemealing various funding streams together, but this is not the most efficient way in all reality. We shouldn’t be racking our brains for discrete strategies to convert our programs into whatever the funding award requirements denote when we read the application, either. Instead, I assure you, trial and error and expert instruction all support that saying, “if you build it, they will come.” This is because field experts typically conclude that the best way to procure steady grant funding streams is to develop a strategic project plan and then identify funders and pathways to attain the resources to advance goals forward.

So, all, don’t chase the dollars. —be savvy and strategic, design a feasible and consistent plan to deliver an available solution to a salient problem, and communicate it in terms that relevant grant funding stakeholders will understand.

I strongly advise that award-seeking entities intentionally develop a plan for how they will go about procuring funding, both in the short and long term, and establish their internal programmatic framework before beginning the award application process. This includes defining their project’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives and detailing an action plan for achieving progress. Additionally, organizations need to conduct targeted grants research to identify and apply for appropriate funding opportunities that align with and advance their mission. These strategic capacity-building techniques are essential for success throughout the entire grant funding award continuum and are critical to supporting and sustaining projects across each phase.

Why do we care? – I hear you: more research, more writing. While dedicating precious financial and time resources to grants research and development may seem like it is keeping you on the bench, let me assure you this is not the case. Targeted research for funding opportunities that match your mission and project plan will increase your potential for large-scale grant awards, maximize your organizational efficiency and capacity, and improve your ability to achieve specific goals and objectives through injecting resources directly into the project’s most critical target areas. Essentially, by investing a little more time in the planning stage, you can optimize your organizational return on investment by attaining more multi-year, high-dollar awards and tapping into funding resources and available assets geared explicitly toward your project focal area.

How do you plan, not chase?

1.) Design and implement a robust programmatic framework with clearly defined success measures. Your program or project needs to include essentially; an overview of what it is and what it does, what need it responds to and for whom, where and who is your target population, how and when you will do whatever it is you say you are going to accomplish and how you are going to prove what you did. Don’t let misleading or disparate application wording lead you astray, and don’t panic and apply for funds that don’t align with your direct mission and capacity needs. Stick to what you know and why your work will benefit its targeted audience with the support of fiscal resources.

2.) Be on the lookout for grant opportunities and funders that support your organizational and project mission! I can’t stress it enough; identify and apply for funding opportunities tailored to your corporate and project assignment. Grant application pools are competitive, and your proposal needs to be a good investment for the fiscal sponsor or awarding agency. Thus, make sure to establish how your proposed solution responds to a need the funder agency has a vested interest in addressing. In summary, don’t be reactive and apply for awards just because they are available- everyone needs funding, so strategize what likely high impact and viable opportunities there are for you.

3.) Constantly advance towards your mission- and highlight your progress and impact in your grant applications! Funders are looking to elevate practical and effective long-term solutions, so providing examples of your previous success and current momentum towards outcomes helps establish why you should be the award recipient. Also, important to note, funders are looking for solutions that will have a sustained impact. Tell them exactly what steps you will take and whom you will contact to continue funding your project during and after the proposed award cycle. Advancing your mission should include engaging in strategic grants research and proposal development since organizational capacity building is integral to achieving goals and objectives. Include relevant grant awards, stakeholders, and fiscal sponsors for your project and organization on proposals as well.

With all this in mind, remember it is a process of strategy, but as with most things in life, chasing the money will never get you the outcome you desire. The grant funding world is no exception, even if you get some awards from applying for enough of them by sheer probability. Maximize your impact and optimize your resources by strategically using and attaining a grant funding stream—and check out the following resources if you need additional support developing a strategic plan or searching for grants that align with your work domain!

Thank you all for your time, and please let me know how I can support you or if you have questions or feedback! I will connect with you again soon!

- Categorize searches by organizational purpose, place, and population! --

o For my fellow NC residents, here are a few more for the time being!

***Honestly, I recommend you pay for or contract someone else who does grant listserv services such as to access tailored grant funding opportunities easily!

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