Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Ruth Author: Ruth Button

Hi, I’m Ruth one of the Grants Strategists at Strategic Grants.

Some of you may be wondering “Ok, what does a Grants Strategist do?”

The short answer is we help non-profit organisations with all things grants-related. Everything from grant application writing, grant application critiquing, training, industry relevant blogs, grants strategy, program design, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting frameworks.  We also help funders and councils with their grants’ strategies!

But that’s not all…

One part of my role, behind the scenes, which really appeals to the secret nerd in me - is helping the Strategic Grants Calendar Team build Customised Grants Calendars for our clients. Grants Calendar Blog Image

Here at Strategic Grants we are fortunate to work with a diverse range of non-profit organisations across New Zealand and Australia, helping to build the capacity of these organisations through their grant programmes. Building Customised Grants Calendars is one of the ways we do this.

Our online grants database GEMS (Grants Expertise Management Systems) includes thousands of funding opportunities from philanthropic trusts and foundations; government grants; local councils; corporate foundations; and public and private funds. When a non-profit organisation signs up to GEM Portal we also build a Customised Grants Calendar unique to them, which includes just the funders whose interests match the activities, projects and services of their organisation.

Building the calendar
Extracting that level of customised information from a huge database of grants including everything across all areas of community need, is an in -depth process. Initially there is a lot of research and consultation involved to get an understanding of the organisation’s work, their purpose, projects, who they are helping and which geographic area they cover. 

We then match this information to the grant codes in GEMS, selecting just the grant categories, beneficiaries, geographic location, legal status, grant range and grant types that fit the organisation’s profile.

Then GEM Portal does its magic, automatically selecting all the grants that match that organisation’s profile to include in their grants calendar. The data then gets checked by the SG Calendar Team to make sure there are no grants that should not be there and that relevant ones are not excluded.

Grants History
It is so important for a grants strategy to be effective, to have a record of your organisation’s grants history. That’s why our clients provide a list of their history with funders, so we can include these notes and details in their Customised Grants Calendar to help with their future planning. And of course, for any funded projects, the funder report due dates can also be added to help manage those deadlines too.

Wishlist & Prospect matching
Another part of the grants calendar process is using the client’s wishlist to get them started with some suggestions of funders they can approach as a priority. Having a wishlist of projects, equipment, operational needs or capital items that need funded for the next 6-12 months is a must when planning your grants programme for the coming year.

Before we send out a grants calendar to a client, as with all our client work at Strategic Grants, the calendar and prospect list goes through our internal review process for a final check.

Then finally, the exciting part for me after all that hard work….

It’s time to deliver the calendar to the client, who is always very excited to see how many opportunities there are!  2020 GENERAL POSTS Strategic Grants 9

If you want to save hours of research time, allowing you more time to focus on developing relationships with funders, robust project plans and well written grant applications, get in touch to see how a Customised Grants Calendar and GEM Portal subscription can help your organisation.

Be sure to check out the GEMP demo at

And if you are a smaller organisation with revenue under $1Million - check out



Bianca BNE Author: Bianca Williams

What is a Case for Support?

A Case for Support is a compelling document that inspires your prospective and current donors to want to be involved or further involved in achieving your vision.  It targets your organisation’s philanthropic donors who may include individuals, community groups, major donors, trusts and foundations or corporate foundations.

A well-written and well-designed Case for Support document provides these donors or prospective donors with a concise, persuasive, and informative communication which sets the scene for:

- why your organisation exists

- the need you are meeting

- how you are meeting that need

- your organisational accomplishments

- details of the particular project you are raising funds for, and

- why you need financial support to do more

What is the purpose of a Case for Support?

A Case for Support covers individual projects or programs, rather than the organisation as a whole. For example, I have worked on Case for Support documents raising funds for various projects including a capital project, the launch of a new program, a high-cost item of medical equipment, and the ongoing costs of an established program.

Typically, a Case for Support document will perfectly balance the “heart and head”. It will communicate specific project details such as infrastructure, number of staff required to deliver the project or specs of a piece of equipment. It will also provide background on your organisation, and – most importantly – create a personal connection with the reader.

A Case for Support document should take your potential donor on a journey of the project, from the beginning to the end.

How should quotes and imagery be used?Case for Support Image1

The use of qualitative quotes from people who will benefit from the project paints a picture of the project, and the impact it will have. Quotes can be sourced from a range of stakeholders including:

Individuals who have benefited from, or will benefit from, the project – to demonstrate how the project will impact their lives.

Program staff who deliver the project – to give insight into how the project will improve their ability to deliver the program.

Other financial donors who support your organisation – to demonstrate that your organisation is a responsible steward of funds, so much so that existing funders are advocating for others to donate.

These quotes are strengthened by including images of the individual, or by including a profile of somebody who will be impacted by the project. The choice of visual imagery is incredibly important in a Case for Support to create a connection to the reader. Powerful images and quotes should be included to engage the reader, evoking their interest to learn more, and become absorbed in the potential impact the project can deliver. 

How does a Case for Support compliment fundraising efforts?

Whether conversations with your major or prospective donors are face to face (given our current situation with COVID-19 and the reduction of face-to-face meetings this option may need to sit on the back burner) OR via phone / ZOOM meeting, a Case for Support is the ideal tool to compliment any discussions you are having with a donor about the project.

During conversation, you have a tangible (whether it be hard or soft copy) and tailored document with eye-catching images to refer to and to bring the project to life. You can then leave the document with the donor once the meeting is finished, for them to refer back to at a later time.

A Case for Support document can also be circulated amongst community groups and donor groups (for example Giving Circles) to raise interest and, ideally, additional financial support.

Case for Support Image 2

How does the Strategic Grants team work with an organisation to develop a Case for Support?

First of all, we ask the organisation to provide any existing organisational documents such as Annual Reports, key message statements, strategic plans, project plans etc to give us a deeper understanding of the organisation AND the project in question. This is so we can effectively prepare concise messaging to include in the document.

Next, we coordinate interviews with an agreed number of stakeholders. These interviews are critical to developing a genuine and strong Case for Support as this is where we get the qualitative quotes to include in the document. It is often through conversation that amazing and inspirational comments surface to evidence just how important the project is, and what benefits it will deliver.

Once all of the information is gathered, we get to work on the content and layout. The order of information is particularly important when planning the layout of a Case for Support Document. Essentially you have a limited number of pages (usually no more than 10 pages) to contain sufficient information to motivate your prospect donor to make a significant donation.  

The document must engage the reader, and keep them engaged to the very last page.

We prepare the first draft, get feedback and work with the client until the final draft is signed off.

As noted before, the Case for Support needs to be eye-catching and hold the readers’ attention – so the layout and design is critical to get right. You should have a Graphic Designer work on this document to make it visually stimulating and ensure the document flows and includes plenty of images to break up the content. If organisations do not have access to a Graphic Designer to assist in ‘beautifying’ the document, we can refer them to a fantastic designer with whom we work regularly.

Personally, I LOVE the process of developing a Case for Support to assist organisations in achieving their fundraising goals. It’s an absolute privilege to be so involved and learn so much about individual organisations and their projects – yet another perk of working with our nonprofit partners!

If you would like to chat to the SG team about developing a Case for Support to help achieve your fundraising goals, get in touch.