Coral Dill is the Founder and Principal at Grant Writer Etc., and a contributing author to the 2019 #1 Best Seller, 101 Biggest Mistakes Nonprofits Make And How You Can Avoid Them. Coral is an expert grant writer and regularly helps nonprofits of all shapes and sizes become “grant ready”, and has helped those organizations raise millions of dollars over the last decade.
In this episode Coral talks with us about some of the biggest grant seeking mistakes and how to avoid them. According to Coral, the biggest mistakes she sees are:
- Starting with grants: So many organizations – especially start-up nonprofits – assume that the fastest way to significant funding is through grants. But the reality is that most funders want to see a track record of success and fiscal health outside of grants before they’d be willing to consider a funding request.
- Sending unsolicited funding requests: Grant seeking my be functionally different from individual donor fundraising, but there’s one major similarity. They’re both deeply relationship-based. In the same way that you wouldn’t think of calling an individual donor you’d never met before and making an ask on the spot, don’t make that mistake with grant funders either.
- Assuming that everyone wants to fund you: Grant funders have specific focuses of their philanthropy. If your approach to grant seeking is to “spray and pray”, you could end up sending a million grant requests and get the same result as if you’d sent none at all. Instead, invest the time to research, find funders that are aligned with your mission, and engage them deeply — that’s where you’ll find success.
- Making poor revenue assumptions: This isn’t unique to grant seeking, but it’s critical to avoid. The mistake here is assuming that you’re going to get funded by every funder or that they’ll fund you at 100% of your request. It’s rare that any organization gets funded at 100% by 100% of the funders they solicit. Make sure you’re not executing spending plans based on poor assumptions like this.
- Not being prepared to manage the grant: Most organizations are prepared to accept the funds associated with a grant. But as Coral explains, often organizations are ill-prepared to handing the various stipulations, reporting requirements, and other aspects of actually fulfilling on the grant terms. If you’re not prepared for those, you’re not ready to solicit the grant yet.
This conversation is full of great insights and context around the biggest grant seeking mistakes that organizations make, and what you can do to make sure your nonprofit doesn’t make these same mistakes.