Before submitting a grant application, ask yourself one question: Have I demonstrated how the funds would make an impact even after the urgent need is satisfied?
Most nonprofits focus on their immediate, pressing needs when completing grant applications. That’s natural: when you have a leaking roof, a new program to fund, or a dire need for cash flow, submitting a grant pitch that heavily emphasizes the urgency of the needs at hand is common.
But consider the viewpoint of the grantor or foundation. They want to know not just what the funds will do today but the impact they can make for years to come.
It is this intersection of satisfying an immediate need with producing a sustainable future result that makes a big difference when applying for grants.
Providing for the Future: 3 Scenarios and Examples
Grant applications must include many points, including both the current and future impact of the funds. To improve your applications for funding, ask yourself the following:
- What is the immediate effect of these funds?
- What will the impact be one year from now?
- What will the impact be five years from now?
- Can the impact be sustainable without the infusion of additional funds from the grantor?
- Does the future impact align with the goals and mission of the grantor?
It can be challenging to imagine how funds received today for an immediate need will carry over into the future after a grant ends. There are different ways to make this point to grantors depending on the type of funds sought, the nonprofit’s mission and need, and the grantor’s mission. The better the alignment among need, nonprofit, and grantor mission, the higher your chances of securing funds.
Here are three examples that show how the alignment may work and how different needs can translate into future impact.
Example 1: Homeless shelter pitch for a new fire suppression system.
A homeless shelter requires funds to replace an outdated fire suppression system. Without the new system, the city will revoke their permits, and the shelter will close. The shelter needs $150,000 in grant funds to improve the fire suppression system in the existing building.
The grant application may cover the following:
- Immediate need: Without the new fire suppression system, the city will force us to close. If we close the shelter, hundreds of men and women may lack basic shelter on cold nights.
- Future impact: If we are awarded the funds and can install the new system, we can keep our doors open for at least another five years when our lease runs out. The effect will be significant upon several hundred people we serve in the city.
- Mission alignment: The grantor’s mission is to support programs that serve the basic needs of people for food, water, and shelter. The alignment between the immediate need, the future impact, and the mission should be made clear.
Example 2: A therapeutic horseback riding program seeks funds to build an indoor arena.
An indoor horse arena provides a covered space for horseback riding activities. It enables people to ride horses in inclement weather and to continue lesson programs despite the snow, rain, cold, or excessive heat.
A therapeutic horseback riding program that helps children with disabilities seeks funds to build a new covered arena. If they receive the grant, they will be able to hold therapy sessions six days a week and throughout all seasons.
- Immediate need: It is clear to what purpose the funds will be used when they are awarded.
- Future impact: To provide a thorough grant application, the therapeutic riding program should address how they plan to maintain the building. Perhaps a private sponsor has agreed to pledge funds for maintenance, or the organization intends to hold an auction each year to raise maintenance funds. The organization should state their vision for the future care of the building to persuade the grant organization that their donation will continue to make an impact in years to come.
- Mission alignment: The grantor supports charities that benefit children. Demonstrating how therapeutic riding helps children with special needs can help secure the grant.
Example 3: A college nursing school seeks a grant for a state-of-the-art nursing lab simulator.
A small liberal arts college seeks funds to build a nursing lab simulator. Such simulators include hospital beds, equipment, and realistic dummies that enable student nurses to practice vital skills before embarking on actual hospital rotations with their instructors.
- Immediate need: The school should make it clear to the grantor how many nursing students each year will utilize the lab and the impact this makes upon their careers.
- Future impact: Eventually, the effect can be projected to the number of registered nurses entering the profession and filling the nursing shortage nationwide.
- Mission alignment: The grantor provides funds for health-related organizations. Grants for a nursing lab align with their mission.
When it comes to applying for grants, details do matter. Paying attention to all of the details in your application can make the difference between securing funds and scrambling for money. Many nonprofits neglect to complete the future-casting aspect of grant applications. By adding this vital step to your pitch, you’ll be one step ahead in the fundraising process.
Tracking Grants – We Can Help
The entire grant application cycle can be daunting. That’s why Welter Consulting offers help in selecting the right software to track, manage, and monitor the grant process. When you need to keep tabs on documents, applications, and possible future impact statements, keeping all the information in one place makes sense. We are here to help you with software selection, implementation, training, and audit preparation. Contact us at 206-605-3113 for a consultation today.