Receiving Grants - the beginning of a beautiful friendship
By Jo Garner, CFRE, Strategic Grants
Ask yourself, what percentage of your organisation's grants come from repeat funding? The choice is yours. A grant received can either be a fleeting encounter or the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
The ultimate key performance indicator of a successful grant-seeking strategy, is when funders phone you to ask if you need more funds for a project. And yes, it does happen! But how do you get to this point?
Saying thank you - it is, after all, just good manners
It never ceases to amaze me the number of funders who report that they have to chase receipts and accountability reports! Many also report never being thanked by some beneficiaries. Phone calls of thanks, and even visits, are few and far between. The charities that are receiving repeat gifts and phone calls from funders, are not only phoning to say thank you as soon as the grant is received, they are engaging them in a meaningful way, both throughout the course of the project with update of exciting progress, and when the final accountability is due. Messages of thanks from the project beneficiaries also make a lasting impression.
Ensuring the project leaders know the conditions of the grant
Not having the reporting data you said you were going to at accountability time is not uncommon. It is essential that the people in your organisation who are responsible for the project delivery plan have built-in evaluation methodologies from the start, so that you can report against the proposed outputs and outcomes that you said you were going to in your successful application. When the funding announcement arrives, ensure that you sit with the project team, go through the application and the accountability requirements and go back to the funder with any questions on any of the funding terms that are unclear. Diarise report due dates and ensure you have allowed contingency for the busy project team.
What if the project doesn't go according to plan?
Let's face it, things don't always go according to plan. Whether it be an equipment purchase that is delayed by the supplier or a community development or health project not delivering the anticipated outcomes, we need to alert our funding partners the minute things start to go awry. They do not want to be hearing about delays and problems for the first time, when the accountability is due. Remember, they are working with many other charities and are very aware of the issues and challenges. Often they can suggest a solution and accommodate a project extension.
And is learning that a different way of doing things is needed a bad result? Definitely not. Always be clear about what you have learnt. Why things turned out differently than you expected and what you are going to change are key learnings and action research in practice. Dissemination of these learnings is also a great way to impress your funding partners, not to mention strengthening your position as a key provider in our field and amongst existing and prospective collaborators.
And when everything goes swimmingly ensure that you engage your funders in that success. Celebrate with them, the impact that their grant has had. Exceed their expectations and ensure that they feel the gratitude of the beneficiaries whose lives have been touched as a result of their grant.