What’s the secret to grants success?
Harriet Carter from Strategic Grants unlocks the secret behind grant writing success.
We’ve all been there – reading or hearing about those arts groups who always seem to do well in the grants stakes.
“What are they doing that we aren’t?” you ask yourselves. “What’s the secret to all their funding success?”
Truth is, grants success is not the result of any secret, magic formula. These groups are simply applying the same best-practice grants strategies that apply across all not-for-profit sectors – whether you’re in the arts, social welfare, environment, health, Indigenous, you name it.
So where do you start? Perhaps it’s easier to explain where not to start.
First, your grants program should never begin at the keyboard. If your efforts towards sourcing philanthropic funding have anything to do with scrambling at the last minute to cobble together submissions just to “be in the game”, then your grants strategy needs a rethink.
One of the most simple but effective tips to keep in mind when your grants budget needs a boost is all about being “grant ready”. Think of a grant funder as your next business partner, and make sure you’re ready to demonstrate why your organisation is the best placed to achieve the social outcomes they desire.
Ask yourself how many of these boxes your organisation can tick:
- Key messages statement: a four or five page document that answers all those typical organisational questions on a grant application. e.g. your 100-word organisation description
- Clear and current website: if you’re a new name to a funder, will they be able to easily find your mission, your key objectives and your governance details on your website?
- Educated project leaders: make sure that when you are successful, your internal staff understand how and when they need to report back on project outcomes.
- Evaluation strategies: how will you measure and demonstrate your project outcomes?
- Stewardship strategies: which staff member will make that first contact with funders and keep them in the loop throughout a funding period?
- Wish list: what projects, equipment and capacity do you need to carry out your projects? If a funder gave you a $20,000 opportunity next week, would have you have a project to fit? And, would you already know how it needs to be resourced?
Finally, make sure you have a list of potential funders and their corresponding deadlines. As an arts-based organisation, think laterally about your prospects. For example, does your arts project have educational outcomes which may mean you can broaden your funder search?
Why so much groundwork? Because of the 80/20 rule of grants funding: those who are successful put their energy into careful planning and building solid funder relationships. Yes, the other 20% – the grant submission itself – is still at play, but remember the 80% and you chances of grants success will certainly flourish.
Need more advice and tips? Strategic Grants has free resources, including blogs, podcasts and writing examples on their website.