More Myths About Grant Writing
1. Our organization needs to just go get a grant or two, and we'll be set. Wrong. Grant writing must be a part of a diversified, long-term, supported fundraising (or development) plan. For example, your fundraising could include grant writing, an annual appeal, bequest planning, envelopes in your monthly newsletter, a major donor program, and a walk-a-thon special event. This takes experience, commitment, and work. A new fundraising method often takes two or three years to make money, and it takes a lot of planning. Your fundraising must be ongoing and diversified.
2. Grant donors are just the wealthy giving their money away so that they can feel good.
Wrong. Today's grant donors are savvy. They do not just sign away checks. They select causes that they are passionate (and informed) about to effect change in our world. They often research which nonprofit organizations are mission-driven, healthy organizations, successful at their mission statement', and good to work with. They often expect reporting, and always program success and results. Grant donors talk to one another and share information about bad apples.
3. We can just dive in and apply for a grant.
Wrong. Successfully getting grants takes planning, learning what to do and how to do it well, professional know-how, commitments to the process from leadership and staff, time, research, writing drafts and re-writing, patience, relationship building, communication, public relations, and more.
4. There aren't any grants out there for our organization.
Probably wrong. Unless your organization is trying to perform some obscure service, most every cause can gather some support. If your cause is having a tough time raising support, perhaps you need to develop educational materials about what your organization is doing and how your community can help.
5. Once we receive the grant, we're 'home free.'
Wrong. Seeking grant money is part of a fundraising strategy. It is not a short-term venture. No organization dedicated to its mission can do all its cause needs through the funding of one grant.
6. Whether or not we receive a grant depends mostly on how good our grant writer is.
Wrong. This is a common incorrect assumption. Raising grant money is a team effort. A professional grant writer must be reputable, successful, and knowledgeable about potential funders. They have to be very good at what they do. But they do not work in a vacuum. Staff, leadership, and even volunteers must be dedicated to the grant writing process, as it often requires proof-reading, fact-checking, research, pulling necessary agency documents, feedback, draft mark-ups, etc. Also, a grant writer must provide a great grant proposal but the agency's reputation, track record, relevance, effectiveness at its mission work, financial health, etc., are more important factors to the grant donor. Grants are awarded based on many attributes, 99% of which are the organization's - not the grant writer's.
7. The board does not need to be involved in obtaining grants.
Wrong. Grantors who choose to meet with perspective grant recipients (some do, some don't) should be meeting with the highest level representation from your organization, such as board members and the executive director. This is called peer-to-peer relations. Treat any potential donor with respect and interest. This should come from your leadership to demonstrate your care for the relationship with them.
PLEASE NOTE - Dallas Social Venture Partners' Philanthropy Education Task Force is sponsoring an educational event on "Creating and Expanding Your Strategic Network" on Tuesday, June 12th, 6:00-7:30 P.M. in the DSVP training room, suite 210 of the North Dallas Bank Building, 12900 Preston Road in Dallas. The presenters are George Ellis and Bethany Detrich. Ellis is a long-time DSVP partner and has been involved with many organizations in the community, including founding the Entrepreneurs Foundation of North Texas. He co-authored a book called The Little Green Book of Venture Philanthropy. Detrich founded a company called Online Sales Productions, now called Leadership Growth Partners, in 1997, and after 20 years in marketing, sales, management, and high performance training, she developed a leadership development program called Grow Leaders Now. She has been a consultant for many large companies. Register here
Recent grants received by our clients include:
$40,000 for an agency providing services to seriously ill children and their families – for general operating expenses
$22,000 for a mental health advocacy organization – for a program providing mental health services to veterans and their families
$20,000 for an agency providing shelter and other services to the homeless – for general operating support
$20,000 for an organization providing a variety of services to low-income families – for an afterschool program
$15,000 for the same mental health advocacy organization mentioned above – for a program that teaches youth how to be safe and avoid victimization
Murray Covens, Principal