How’s your ratio of grants submitted to grants awarded? Are you tracking it using grant software?
If you are tracking your “grant batting average,” so to speak, you know how you stand. If you’re not achieving the success ratio you desire, and your grant applications seem to be sinking into the black hole of the “denied” bin, it’s time to take a different approach. After all, doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results never works!
Let’s take a look at one of the big mistakes that new grant writers often make: failing to identify the actual problem the promised grant will solve.
The Problem Statement: Are You Stating a Problem or a Need?
Review several of your grant applications from the past six months. Look at the ‘problem statement.’ Did you list a problem you intend to solve or what your organization needs?
A problem statement identifies the audience served and the problem they encounter. The solution, which your organization creates with the grant money, tells the granting organization how you intend to spend their money to fix the problem.
A few examples may help clarify this explanation.
Example 1 – Homeless Shelter
The Homeless Shelter on Tulip Street often faces shortages of beds on cold nights. There are more people lined up for room to sleep safely than they have beds. Their grant application asks for funds to expand the shelter.
The problem they seek to alleviate with the grant money is the effects of poverty and homelessness, and the actual application is to add X number of beds to the shelter to accommodate peak needs.
However, a new grant writer may write the grant application to request money for “program expansion” or “adding two rooms to the existing building.” Both may describe what the nonprofit plans to do, but they do not address the problem. The problem is that people need a warm, safe shelter to sleep in and that the local economy has been depressed for a while, making more people homeless. That is the actual problem that should be written up in the grant request.
Example 2 – Farmer’s Market for Food Deserts
So-called “food deserts” are urban areas which lack access to fresh produce. Studies have shown that the less access people have to fresh produce, the higher their risk of diseases related to diet and nutrition. To combat this, a local town council plans to open a farmer’s market in an empty lot in an urban area. They need permits, fencing, signs, tables, advertising for vendors, and a few other things to make the idea work.
Their new grant writer applies for an agriculture grant for the funds to open the market but lists the problem statement incorrectly as “We request money to open a farmer’s market.” This is not the problem statement. The people in the town do not face the problem of a lack of a farmer’s market; instead, their problem is lack of easy access to fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables in the community. Aligning the problems of poor health, poverty, and lack of access with the requested grant funds gives the farmer’s market committee a better chance at obtaining the grant money. The grant alleviates the problem of food deserts and may boost the health and wellness of local people by making fresh food accessible.
These are just two examples of how a problem statement, tweaked to align more with the outcomes and the audience served, gives a grant application a better chance for approval.
Of course, to see how you’re doing when it comes to grant applications, using grant tracking and management software is essential. A grant management system can help you monitor the grant application process and make it easier to find, use, and share the resources needed to apply for grants.
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.