Many fundraisers view grant-seeking a bit like a cross between roulette and a chocolate wheel at the school fete. You’ve gotta be in it to win it, and success is just a matter of luck. Like roulette, you rub shoulders with the top end of town and the potential if you win is huge … but like the chocolate wheel, anyone can enter.
But is there really more to it than that? Have you noticed that there are a relatively small number of organisations who seem to be more successful at gaining this type of support than others? Do their fundraisers just look good in a dinner suit … or is there some skill involved in this game?
I’ve had the great privilege of administering a significant national grants program. I’ve waded through thousands of applications from fantastic organisations, who are making a very real difference in the communities they serve … and who are let down by their ‘luck of the draw’ approach to grant-seeking.
Preparing a grant application requires time and effort. If you don’t put in those things, it’s evident to the assessors that your application is not well thought-out. But if you do pour your heart into every grant opportunity you see, rather than just choosing the ones that are good prospects for your project, you’ll have no time for anything else.
Strategic grant-seeking is a highly valuable skillset. It involves research, strategy and relationship building … oh and great writing skills. And it is a skillset that can be learned.
And finally … a plea from all my grant-maker mates. If you want to do just one thing to take the gambling element out of grant-seeking …please, please, please read the guidelines!