Lesson #31 – Evaluating Your Opportunities

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Once a year I need to look at what has been accomplished. It is part of an overall model that has worked for me for years. It starts with assessment, making a plan, accomplishing the plan and then evaluating. There is no right or wrong in the assessment, the facts speak for themselves. So how can you do an assessment of your fund raising opportunities? For most chapters there are five main opportunities to raise money: solicitations, thrift shop revenues, retail sales, fund raisers, and grants. Through the strategic planning process, a chapter decides how much money they need to raise and how they plan to do it. Nothing happens without planning. One of my favorite statements is, “Prior planning prevents poor performance”.

Obtaining grants long-term for chapter philanthropic programs will only work if there is commitment from a team of skilled members. Realistically, a chapter needs to look at their geographic location. If the chapter is located in a large metropolitan area like Reno, Kansas City, or St. Louis there are funders who want to provide resources to nonprofit organizations. If the chapter is in a small rural community, the opportunities are limited. A chapter needs to determine where they want to put their resources which is basically the time and talent of their members. Some chapters have members who love to spend their time putting together a large event that raises thousands of dollars each year because it is well established. Others have a well developed solicitation which nets them thousands each year.

For many grant writing is fraught with fears! The posts of this blog has worked at providing a step by step practical guide to obtaining grants for chapters. This is a long time strategy, it will not happen overnight, nor in a year. It may take as many as 3 to 4 years before the initial work of the first group of people who take the steps shows fruition. The work has to be about consistency and improvement one step at a time over time. Let there be no questions, grants are not going away. Funders have too much at stake in the tax breaks they receive to have it go away. Funders are getting smarter in their distribution of funds. They are looking for work that makes a difference and Assistance League chapters’ work meets that criteria. They are looking for results and we have results.

The most important thing you can do is really think about whether grant writing is right for your organization at the Board level. If the Board determines that this strategy is right for your Chapter then the next step is to develop a team of people who can make grant writing important and successful in your chapter.

Here are questions that the Board should evaluate:

1. Is the chapter located in a geographic area where funders are making grants, i.e., in or near a metropolitan area?

2. Are there members who could work together to develop a plan to write grants for the long-term?

3. Do those members have the skills or can they be trained in the skills to complete applications?

Each chapter has to determine for itself whether completing applications is part of the way they see themselves raising money for their chapter.

I just want to put a plug in for those chapters who live close to or in large metropolitan areas, there are monies out there for your chapter! And it is fun to find those opportunities and bring in the money!

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon! Sandie


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