There is a lot of time invested on by grant applicants in the fundraising process, so it is understandable that there is often a lot of anxiety and emotions. This article offers a quick and gentle reminder not to become too emotionally invested, and personal, and forget the fundraising process.
In the fundraising process, applicants spend a lot of time reading and understanding the unique guidelines for each foundation. There is the time to researching the opportunity, preparing the application, answering the specific questions and putting together the financial statements. Many times, the non-profit has to fit their programs into the focus areas of the foundation, and guidelines of the foundation. A common fundraising application is used in a few states, but in most of the country it is still rare. If you add up all the man-hours that it takes to produce a polished grant application, it could very easily reach 20 or more, for a $10,000 grant.
With all the time that grant applicants invest in the process, it is understandable that there is a very high level of anxiety and emotion involved in each and every application. This can last for many months, as the application makes it way through the grant making process. Having invested so much time, energy and hope into each application, many applicants not only forget the fundraising process but that grant officers are human as well.
Most grant officers are career professionals and highly above board. In many small foundations, they will wear many hats and be responsible for many areas of the organization’s operation. During these difficult financial times, grant officers often must make investment decisions about their own assets, consider current programs already underway, and decide how much to offer new programs. With existing programs, sometimes, the true budget available for new grant applications is often not as high as everyone would like them to be.
Before non-profit applicants spend a lot of emotional energy, he or she should remember the following. First, there are many, many deserving causes. Second, a grant officer also career concerns and a job review, and often their performance evaluation entails the success of past investments. If a grant officer has funded a multiple year program, then some of the funds for the current year may not be available for new grantees. Furthermore, grant officers have relationships and feelings just like everyone else.
They have career concerns just like people in the for-profit industry, families and outside interests. This means that they want to fund as many successful non-profits as they can. However, like their investment manager counterparts in the for-profit industry, they too only have a limited capacity for new projects. Grant officers must be very selective. No grant officer wants to fund a project where he does not think that he can see the successful completion of at least a phase of the project.
Finally, the math never changes. A grant applicant must consider the benefit – cost equation. There is no magic or emotion in it. The amount of the grant divided by the hours invested times the probability of receiving the grant must be greater than your cost of applying.
(Grant Award / Hours invested) * Probability of an Award > Cost per hour of Applying
While emotional energy and anxiety is only natural, it increases the hours invested, and does not impact that other variables. Certainly, phone calls should be made to understand the probability of an award prior to applying, and invested in updates to improve the probability of an award during the process are worthwhile. However, beyond that, if the grant application has done well, the energy is better spent on another foundation application, or tapping creative, less competive, non-foundation funding sources, such as walk-a-thons, corporate giving programs, social marketing campaigns, and other means of support where a bigger pie can be created.
If you are a first-time fundraiser or non-profit director, I hope you will read my other article. http://bit.ly/bDVkCa Thank you.