Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Centralising Grant-Seeking for New Zealand Organisations operating regional divisions

Jo BNE  Author: Jo Garner

The Problem

Many of New Zealand’s national organisations operate regional offices or divisions that operate autonomously or semi-autonomously. Frequently, in the case of this organisational structure, regional divisions undertake their own fundraising including grant-seeking. This can present challenges when it comes to developing a centralised fundraising and grant-seeking strategy.

Strategic Grants has heard feedback from numerous funders that they have received multiple applications from different divisions of the ‘same’ organisation, which shows a lack of organisational planning and communication processes and in some cases invalidates all grant applications from the organisation.

The Solution

Strategic Grants can work with organisations with a divisional structure to gather existing knowledge and data on funders, prospective funders and grants practices, and provide the advice and strategies to successfully undertake centralisation of grant-seeking, without disruption to existing funder relationships.

CentralisingGrantSeeking blogimage1

 Case Study

Our client operated close to twenty regional divisions, which were each seeking grants for their local division with no coordination between regional offices.

Grant-seeking knowledge, history, data, information and relationships resided with each division’s individual fundraisers in various formats: paper-based, digital and in some cases the memory of the fundraiser!

There was no clear picture of what the fundraising practices were in each division and no processes for the divisions to follow in grant-seeking. The  significant reputational and financial risk this posed to the organisation had been identified by the Executive who were investigating options for centralising all operations.

In the case of grant-seeking, it was clear there were some significant funder relationships held, but there was no clear understanding of where the strengths and weaknesses lay in past practice or who held those relationships.

The Client faced a considerable risk of diminished income from grants by not capitalising on strengths or addressing weaknesses, and the potential loss of information with the restructure and movement of existing local staff.  

Strategic Grants worked with the national office to gather grant-seeking history across the local offices by working directly with each of the local fundraisers. This data was collated and analysed to identify what was needed to build an effective and sustainable grant-seeking strategy under the new centralised structure.  

Grants Program Review

A full analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) was carried out through an in-depth research and collation project that collected data on: 

·            Number of applications submitted per office 

·            Number of successful applications in each (to get the average % success rate)  

·            Detail of the process that had been applied in each office through surveys and in-depth interviews with the fundraisers. This was evaluated against what Strategic Grants knows as best practice, informing the SWOT. 

Questions included:  

o      How have funding opportunities been identified? 

o      Have funders been called before applications submitted?  

o      Have funders been called on receipt of grant? 

o      How is the grants activity stored? 

o      How are accountability dates stored? 

o      Have all grants been reported to funders? 

o      What organisational key messaging have they used in their applications?  

o      Total number submitted over specified time periods 

o      Success rate 

o      Funder feedback  

Both quantitative and qualitative data was analysed and presented within the SWOT and evaluation report.  

Throughout the data collection, grants history was collated into one central spreadsheet, telling us who had funded, how often, how much and showing trends in decreases / increases in funding against sector trends more generally. 

The data and subsequent evaluation report provided a clear plan (including ideal resourcing) for what the next steps needed to be to develop a sustainable, centralised and effective grant-seeking strategy.  

The report was then presented to the new central fundraising team and leadership at a Grants Program Review Workshop. Consultative and informed decisions were made and a final report on processes to be followed in the new centralised grant-seeking strategy was provided.

Example of outcomes

Following advice that they package projects and apply for larger grants rather than applying for numerous small grants, we assisted our client to apply for a large grant for their national central operational costs, for which they were successful.


To book a consultation with one of our Grants Strategists to discuss the best grants solution for your organisation, please contact us: 09 801 0433 or