Don’t Just Write Grants. Create a Grant Strategy!


Just like your other development activities, your grants strategy needs a plan. Below are five steps to create your grant strategy:

  1. Update and confirm your current funders and deadlines Funders will often change their deadlines. Check the foundation’s website to make sure you have the right timeline. If there are no deadlines listed, review your grant award letter and call your program officer. If you still aren’t sure when your grant is due, ZIM recommends that you submit your application a week before you submitted in the previous year.

  2. Review your award letters from the previous year to make sure you have all of the reporting requirements on your calendar Missing reporting requirements is a big deal! The funder wants to know how you spent their funds and what outcomes you achieved. Often, they need to report back to their trustees regarding the impact of their dollars. If there are any issues that will prevent you from sending your report on time, be sure to notify the funder as soon as you can.

  3. Identify previous funders and research them to see if you can apply again In fundraising, we know that lapsed donors are more likely to give than new donors. Pull a report from your database for lapsed foundation funders and call them to see if you’re eligible to apply and if your mission aligns with their priorities.

  4. Research new funding opportunities Did your organization add new programs this year? Do you have a funder who is requiring you to take a year off? Identify all of your funding gaps and use online resources to find new potential funders. Important note: Foundation Center and GuideStar have merged and are now a nonprofit entity named Candid.

  5. Speak to Program Officers regularly Whether you’ve received funding from an organization for 10 years or if you’re a new potential grantee, call the foundation’s Program Officer. It’s their job to help guide organizations through the entire grant process. They also want to know your successes – send them newsletters, invite them to events, and make sure they are on your communication list. Treat them as major donors…. because they are!

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