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GRANTEGY: Don’t Leave Your Grants to Chance Series

Part II: Grant Optimization

After the feasibility study, the next step is creating a workplan to identify any gaps. We call this step Grant Optimization. You will recall that we utilized the who, what, where, why, when, how, and who cares framework to evaluate the organization and its programs or services during the feasibility study. Using these findings will help you determine the next best steps to create a grant optimization strategy.

The Importance of Strategy

A good strategy provides a clear roadmap, consisting of a set of guiding principles or rules, that defines the actions people in the business should take (and not take) and the things they should prioritize (and not prioritize) to achieve desired goals (Watkins, 2007). Because it drives decisions, organizations should be able to effectively utilize strategies to create a higher level of awareness that focuses on the activities that increase the chances of success.

Per Chirgwin (2016), a successful strategic plan does the following:

  1. Provides Direction and Action Plans
    It establishes in a clear, concise and strategically sound way
  • The direction for the organization
  • How this will be achieved, including detailed action plans
  1. Prioritizes and Aligns Activities
    Strategic planning is about making choices, establishing priorities, allocating resources to strategic initiatives and coordinating to achieve desired results.
  2. Defines Accountabilities
    It defines clear lines of accountability and timelines for achieving expected results on the agreed strategic initiatives.
  3. Enhances Communication and Commitment
    The strategic plan clarifies the vision and accountabilities, increasing the alignment of all organizational activities and fostering commitment at all levels.
  4. Provides a Framework for Ongoing Decision Making
    Since all decisions should support the strategy, the strategy and the strategic initiatives are the reference point for decision-making.

What Is Grant Optimization?

So, what is grant optimization in relation to strategic planning? Grant optimization is a strategic approach that will help you maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of your grant-seeking efforts to better equip your organization for grant success. It is important to align grant-seeking with organizational goals and priorities so it’s clear to all stakeholders, including potential grantmakers. This approach provides additional opportunities to continuously evaluate and refine the grant development processes.

Why Grant Optimization Matters

The funding landscape is constantly changing, and grant seekers need to be able to adjust their requests to correlate with the needs of the grantmakers, while keeping their mission and strategic objectives aligned. Check out these 4 reasons why optimization matters!

  • Increases Funding Success: Optimized grant-seeking significantly improves your chances of securing funding. 
  • Strengthens Organizational Capacity: Builds skills and knowledge in grant seeking, project management, and evaluation.
  • Maximizes Impact: Ensures your organization’s resources are used effectively to achieve its mission.
  • Enhanced Efficiency: Streamline grant-seeking processes and save time and resources.

Filling in the Gaps

After you have discovered some of the areas for improvement, what do you do? Create your optimization plan with goals and actionable items to promote sustainability and create ownership among team members. While creating this plan, set up a timeline with milestones to ensure tasks get completed. Make this a team effort and have all stakeholders work together.

The recommendations and outcomes can also be content that grantmakers may require, so make sure they are properly defined. Utilize your study results to make the grant optimization checklist your priority and a tool that can be used on an ongoing basis.

Optimization Follow Through

Once you have the Optimization plan down on paper and a course of action to complete these steps, it’s now time to follow through.

  • Have monthly check-in meetings to review the checklist as a work-in progress
  • Determine items that have been completed; and see if there are other areas of improvement that need to be identified
  • Set even more specific goals for the stakeholders and parties involved as part of the accountability process
  • And remember – It’s an ongoing process!

Are You Ready?

To help you determine if your organization is ready, here’s a 6-question checklist to help.

  1. Are you eligible? Grants have specific requirements to determine eligibility, such as State Articles of Incorporation, an EIN, 501(c)3 status, etc.
  2. Can you describe a clear and compelling community need that your organization addresses? Most funders want to hear a compelling story that will meet the community and organization’s objectives.
  3. Do you have a clear purpose and vision? You should have a needs statement that clearly defines the organization’s goals that will help the community as well as stand out from the competition.
  4. Do you have impactful programs and good community standing? Your organization must have programs that showcase how they will positively impact the communities they serve.
  5. Does your organization have adequate infrastructure and resources? Resources include both physical and non-physical as well as internal and external that have to be evaluated and considered.
  6. Are the organization’s finances in order? Make sure financial revenue and streams are consistently tracked, stable, and effective to assist with the company’s growth.

Being Grant Optimized is essential if you want your organization to positively affect change by utilizing its resources to access available grant funds through corporate, Foundation, or the government sector. Ensuring your organization is optimized in every way possible will accommodate current and future situations when emergencies occur as well as help an organization be better positioned for competitive grant funding. This is where Grantegy comes in. Our strategy is designed to help you from the beginning. Becoming grant-optimized can be a significant challenge and we are here to help. Stay tuned for the next part in our series – Project Design!

References

Chirgwin, C. (2016, February 24). The Importance of Strategy. Retrieved April 15th from https://www.lanspeed.com/the-importance-of-strategy/

Watkins, M. (2007, September 10). Demystifying Strategy: The What, Who, How, and Why. Retrieved April 23rd  from

https://hbr.org/2007/09/demystifying-strategy-the-what