Is your organization seeing more “ We receive many more funding requests than we are able to approve” or other types of rejection emails and letters from funders in response to your grant request? If so, you are not alone. Grant awards over the past few years have shifted to economic recovery and work continues to be more focused on areas like, Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI). More and more funders seem to be prioritizing funding for organizations that work to change systems and policies in order to increase equity and justice. So what has changed that needs to be acknowledged and addressed?
Covid-19 and an increased awareness of systemic inequities has caused a shift in society and as a result, grant funding focus areas. Many foundations and corporations are seeking ways to bridge systemic gaps by providing grants for non-profit organizations that serve traditionally underrepresented people.
According to The Grant Writing Academy (2023), we have to recognize five of the major trends that continue to affect the grant funding landscape.
Increased focus on climate action and sustainability
Greater emphasis on community-led solutions
Increased investment in digital infrastructure
Focus on equity and inclusion
Collaboration and Partnership-Building
Because of increased awareness of the depth of systemic problems, nonprofits are in a unique position. Pulled between the needs of today and tomorrow, they are required to have a vision for the future while simultaneously executing in the present. In light of societal changes and recent shifting funder focuses, organizations need strategies to help them pivot for funding success now more than ever. Organizations should review their mission statement to make sure it is still effective and applicable. Do not underestimate the change the past three years has had on society. Because of these changes, some programs may need to be tweaked or completely revamped.
Where Is the Money Going?
The global pandemic, lack of diversity and equity in society are pressing issues that foundations and corporations are pivoting to respond to. Increasing awareness of community needs are a catalyst for the shift in funding focus areas to economic recovery, systemic inequities for racial minorities, and the LGBTQ community. The money is being directed more and more to organizations that focus their work on changing these systemic inequities and prioritize REDI. What does this mean for your organization?
Responding to changing needs is an all hands on deck situation. Potential shifts in mission should have as much input as possible. Nonprofits are investigating new strategies to help meet the changing needs of people in their communities. So many people and organizations have been affected by changes in the socio-economic situation over the past three years. It is important that organizations utilize community feedback and give a voice to people served by the mission and/or direction. A strategic planning process can help an organization to evaluate its current capabilities, identify new opportunities, and make decisions on how to move forward.
What Can We Do?
Make sure your organization is grant optimized. Here are some ways to work toward grant optimization:
8 Ways to Ensure You Are Grant Optimized
Determine if your organization is changing with the shifting needs in the communities you serve.
Is your Board of Directors and Organizational management as diverse as the communities you serve?
Review your internal policies and procedures including items such as your organizational diversity statement.
Expanding the mission of the organization to better serve the community and become more aligned with funding focus areas. It is okay if the original intent of the organization expands in response to changing needs.
Continue to diversify your revenue sources.
Include the community that is being served in the decision-making process.
Realize how important relationships are and continue to build them between the grantmakers and nonprofits.
How can your case statement be altered to address the changing needs in your community?
Grantmakers seek to make change by addressing identified priorities or their own interests – whether it’s a local need, promoting change, philanthropy, or for tax purposes. In order to be effective and competitive, an applicant must respond to these priorities. The more you can naturally incorporate REDI initiatives into your work and mission, the more likely you will be aligned with where more funds are being awarded, ensure the organization is doing the right thing, and increasing your chances of funding success. And grant funding aside, Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion should be a global human priority anyway, don’t you think?
Grant Writing Academy. (2023, February 24). The Top Trends and Changes in Grant Funding in 2023. Retrieved from https://grantwritingacad.org/the-top-trends-and-changes-in-grant-funding-in-2023/