01 Mar Why saying NO can be a wise move
Last week a client emailed me to say she had decided not to go for a grant opportunity due to the tight deadline. I applauded her decision; for being smart and realistic and recognising she didn’t have enough time to plan and think it through, let alone gather the required supporting documentation. Moreover, a rushed application often gives itself away through poor writing, typos, repetition, inconsistencies – in short, not a good look.
When to say NO!
Are you playing a numbers game? In other words, are you feeling pressured to apply for the grant so you can report back to your manager or Board that you’ve put in X amount of applications so far this year? Remember the number of grants submitted only tells us you’ve been busy. It doesn’t give any indication of the quality and outcome of these submissions. In a future blog I will look at grant-seeking KPIs.
Does the funding opportunity and project risk mission drift? Is it a bit of a stretch, and one that will put staffing and resources under strain? If so, think again! And are you tempted to go off at a tangent and create a new project to fit the funding? Don’t! Make sure the project you are applying for is part of your strategy and overall fundraising goals.
Be honest with yourself, do your organisation and project represent a good fit with the funder’s criteria, aims and objectives or is your interpretation of the guidelines tending towards wishful thinking? A good way of checking is to look at what the funder has supported in the past in terms of project type and model, funding amounts and geographic distribution.
If you do go for the grant, will you get the in-house support you need? Are any key members of staff away or on leave making the chances of getting the information you need nigh impossible? If grant-seeking is not well supported in your organisation and you are trying to do a full-time job in half the time, could this be an opportunity to argue the case for increased resourcing?
It can be hard to say NO when the pressure is on to bring in the money and meet your targets. But being discerning and weighing up the opportunity before pressing APPLY will pay off in the longer term.
When to say YES!
When you’ve got your ducks firmly in a row!
When the project for which you are seeking funding is on mission and aligns with your strategy.
When the project has a strong evidence base, clear aims, objectives and measurable outcomes.
When your organisation and project align closely with a funder’s criteria and aims.
When you have a supportive team behind you, one with a culture of embedded philanthropy rather than one that puts you, the fundraiser/grant-seeker, in a silo and expects you to conjure revenue out of a hat.
When you have previously built a good and respectful relationship with the funder and have acquitted all previous grants.
Last but not least, when you’ve got time to build in some reflection time between drafts. I often get a first draft done and then sleep on it. I find returning to it fresh brings greater clarity and I can sort the wheat from the chaff. By contrast an against the clock race to the finish line can bring on brain freeze. But if you don’t have time to sleep on it, even a mini break can re-boot the brain. As a long-time working from home person, my brain breaks range from hanging out the washing to a bit of vacuuming, a spot of weeding or dead-heading the roses or, even better, a walk round the block with my dog. Anything that allows you to step away and come back will sharpen your critical faculties.
If you need help or guidance with any aspect of your grant-seeking get in touch with me at either: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 0431 865248.
Photo Credit: Pauline Leroy on Unsplash