Friday, September 4, 2009

From Hole-Plugging to Sustainability

A great short article on "Grantseeking in a Tough Economy" from Cheryl A. Clarke in today's Guidestar newsletter.

Anyone involved in nonprofit grant writing has received the panicky "fix it fast!" message that leads directly to a fundraising-as-hole-plugging ethos.

The best organizations out there, and the ones that are the most sustainable, are the ones who allow their fundraisers to raise smart dollars, not necessarily fast dollars.

That requires treating a grants calendar as a live document, like a budget, that contains clear goals and objectives (and running actuals) with a built-in in flexibility for opportunities and unexpected challenges.

Especially in the world of grants, turnaround on receipt of funds can be anywhere from 1-12 months, and probably averages between 4-6. Don't waste your agencies or your grant writers time by forcing quantity over quality out the door.

With foundations and government agencies as tight-fisted as ever, spending extra time on the front-end to prospect agencies with strong mission and program alignment will be well worth the wait. When opportunities arise, as Ms. Clarke says, jump on them.

But for fast dollars, look elsewhere.

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