So much has changed for nonprofit organizations since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Most organizations are feeling the effects of lost revenue due to the nationwide shutdown, which resulted in business closures, increased unemployment, and more. Many nonprofits were left to cancel fundraising events and other fund solicitation campaigns, even as demands for services increase. Though many received some relief from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and other Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, financial uncertainty is very much a reality for most organizations.
Grant funding is a large part of the financial planning process for nonprofit organizations. We feel it’s important to explore how foundations and other grant-makers may have changed their priorities when it comes to reviewing applications and selecting projects to fund. Read below to explore what has changed and the Do’s and Don’ts of how you can best position your organization to apply for much-needed funding.
DO Be Mindful of the Amount of Your Ask
Many foundations are spreading their focus out to include COVID-19 assistance, which may mean less money for other projects. This requires grantmakers to be more selective about which projects they choose to fund. They will seek projects with a big impact and smaller dollar figures. It will be helpful to examine your organization’s needs, that could benefit from grant funding, and consider which will likely have the most immediate, direct impact on the community you serve.
DO Consider the Urgency of Your Project
Grantmakers must know how urgent the need is for your project. Are you able to justify the project need and describe the adverse effects on your community if the project does not come to fruition? Can you describe the expected short-term and long-term benefits of your project? Before you apply, be sure to conduct your research and provide fact- and data-based responses.
DO Diversify Your Funding
Foundations want to know about the other efforts your nonprofit is conducting to raise funds for the project. Are you reaching out to major donors? Are you planning any public fundraising efforts to achieve your goal? Is your organization providing cash or in-kind match? Before you apply, reflect upon these questions, and prepare answers, or consider these approaches first, before reaching out.
DON’T Let Communications Dry Up
We suggest reaching out to prospective funders before preparing and submitting grant applications, including those of which you have received previous funding. It could be helpful to discuss with them the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on your operations and finances, and to also ask any questions you may have regarding your upcoming application.
DON’T Stop Applying
While applying for grants may seem especially overwhelming right now, your organization needs you to press forward. Additionally, it is beneficial to seek opportunities beyond your typical grantmakers. Take time to conduct research for new grantmakers. We suggest the Foundation Directory Online (FDO), which is the largest database of foundations across the nation. This does require a subscription service but your local library may provide free access to FDO. You can also hire us to conduct your research for you, which includes a customized report of grantmakers that best meet your needs and their application deadlines. Even if you have researched before, some foundations may have relaxed their requirements, or may have expanded their areas of focus to fund projects outside of their normal priorities. This is also a great time to explore corporate foundations that are extending opportunities outside of their normal scope.
The most important thing is to press ahead - your mission needs you.
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