Did you know that some of the world’s most famous archeological discoveries were found by accident?
In 1974, for example, Chinese farmers stumbled upon pieces of a clay figure, which led to the discovery of thousands of terracotta statues, marking one of the most famous finds of the twentieth century.
Thirty years earlier, a shepherd boy looking for a stray goat found the Dead Sea Scrolls—over 900 Jewish and Hebrew Scripture manuscripts dating back to at least 68 BC and possibly hundreds of years earlier.
Two hundred years prior, a group of French soldiers were rebuilding a fort in Egypt when they came across the Rosetta Stone, which has since served as a crucial interpretive tool for ancient texts and languages.
These stories tell themselves. But one reason they are so intriguing is how uncommon they are in the broader world of archeology. Most notable discoveries result from archeologists spending several years—even decades—following a series of tiny clues until finally achieving the payoff they must have felt would never come.
And so it is in the world of grant writing, where most grants are won through tireless, determined effort by a nonprofit. In a previous post, we discussed an organization’s need to keep its mission top of mind when researching and applying for grants. Today, we will delve into the other end of that equation—getting into the mind of a grantor.
A Partnership for a Better World
Just as nonprofits exist to improve specific areas of life and the world, a grant maker supports community partners who can invest in bringing about positive change. This is true whether that group is a government entity, a foundation, or a connection to a business or large corporation.
As a nonprofit leader, it is easy to get transactional in your thinking. You are passionate about your work and deeply invested in seeing it come to fruition. But as you sit in your office, analyzing the cost estimate for a program or service to accomplish that goal, you can easily fall into the trap of approaching grant research in utilitarian terms of mere dollars and cents.
But consider this: You are not the only person passionate about accomplishing your goals—even though some days it may feel that way. And that realization is our starting point for getting into the mind of a potential grant maker.
Getting Hands-On with Mission Alignment
Say you run an organization that serves the homeless, and you do so through various means. Whether it is a food pantry, an overnight housing facility, job training, placement resources, or much more, your organization exists to bring about a lasting change in the lives of those you serve.
The question for grant research and writing becomes, “Who else shares this goal?” Are there government entities—local, state, or federal—that can partner with you for your overnight housing and shelter service? What about a community foundation with a track record of supporting initiatives, such as eliminating food deserts? Is there a corporation or franchise near you with a passion for job training and placement?
As you ask these questions, keep your mission’s overall vision and the tactical components in mind because as you look for alignment, you may be surprised at where you find it.
Wrapping It Up
Finding the right grantor for your organization, service, or specific initiative can be hard. We are here to help. But one thing we keep in mind is that we are looking for an overlap of passion—where do our nonprofit’s goals align with that of a grantor? Seeking funding through a grant-making entity is about investing in a shared vision for a better world. It is not about asking for a handout or a mere transaction but looking for a true partner to accomplish a worthy goal.
In upcoming posts, we will explore the various categories of grant funding streams and examine how we can make the most of each. But what about you? Are you ready to search for grantors who align with your mission? If so, make sure you have asked yourself these three key questions, and, as always, do not hesitate to reach out and discover what The Nonprofit Advantage can do for you.
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