Is Your Organization Grant Ready? No? Here's What You Can Do
Updated: Jun 8, 2019
As a Nonprofit Grant Consultant, I often field inquiries from organizations looking to submit a grant proposal only to quickly realized that they do not yet have their ducks in a row. While I admire the determination and drive that propels nonprofit staff to fund an organization or program they are excited about, I do have to advise holding off on submitting proposals until they are grant ready.
'Grant readiness' is a broad term that encompasses a range of list items that will vary depending on the size and scope of your organization or program. If you search online for "grant ready checklist" you will find a number of tools designed to determine whether or not you should move forward with grant proposals. The first step is to complete one of these checklists - and be honest! Here's a good one to use.
And, like many organizations, you may complete this checklist only to find that the answer is not to your liking - namely that you are not grant ready. Now what?
It seems like a Catch-22 - you cannot qualify for funding from grant sources if you are not grant ready, but to get grant ready can cost time, effort, and funds that your organization may not currently have. This can be frustrating and you are not alone in feeling disheartened by this. But grant readiness exists for a reason: Funders need to see that your organization is able to accomplish what you are setting out to do.
Here are a few tips to get grant ready quickly and efficiently:
Divide your list into easy to manage tasks: A long list of to-dos is discouraging. Take a few minutes to break this list down into one or two items per week. If thought of one of the items fills you with dread it can be helpful to do that one first (or last) depending on your personality.
Carve out time each week to work on your list: Plan to spend at least an hour on your task(s) each week. If you are able to devote more than an hour a week, even better! Just be sure to set some time each week aside for this work. Block that time off on your calendar and focus on your weekly task(s).
Build in some accountability: Share your goal to become grant ready with a co-worker, friend, or family member and be sure to check in with them as you progress through your list. Use due dates and calendar reminders to keep you on track.
Build in some rewards: Hey, this is hard work! Acknowledge this and reward your efforts in whatever way that works best for you: treat yourself to a latte after crossing off an item, or plan to have donuts delivered to the office when the team completes the list.
Ask for help or clarification if and when you need it: Unsure if your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant and Time Bound)? Ask someone to take a look and give you feedback. Hire an accountant to help with getting your financials ready. Reach out to an organization that provides assistance with grantseeking, such as the Foundation Center or Grant Professionals Association, to answer the questions you may have.
Remind yourself why you are doing this: Before, during, or after working on a list item take a moment to remind yourself the amazing work that your organization will be able to do as a result of the grant money you are working so hard to bring in. Post a picture of the program in action, a thank you from a client, or an artist's rendering of the goal near your workspace. We do this for a reason. Remind yourself of that reason.
Most importantly, just do it! I can almost guarantee that this will not be the most fun part of your week, but the rewards will come. The work you put in now will make your proposals more competitive, the application process will run more smoothly, and you will ultimately be more likely to receive funding.
Best of luck!