The government shutdown is hardly news at this point, and has directly impacted at least 800,000 government workers who have been furloughed. It has also impacted a lot of businesses frequented by those workers.
While the full economic impact of the shutdown is still unknown, some nonprofits are directly feeling the effects. Federal agencies, including NIH and NSF, have suspended their grantmaking programs for the duration of the shutdown. While some nonprofits had already received grant allocations for the year from those agencies before October 1, some hadn't, and it's unclear what the impact of delayed funding cycles will be going forward, even once the government has reopened for business.
So what can grantseekers learn from the government shutdown?
- Diversify your funding sources. As we've written about before, relying too heavily on a given funding source (whether a single funder, or a single type of funder) can be risky for nonprofits. If your organization has historically relied heavily on government grants, start building relationships with private foundations and corporate giving programs. Connect with the community foundation in your area. Think about adding individual donors and fees for service (if your organization provides services for which you can charge) to your sources of funding. Your organization may not be directly impacted by the shutdown (and I hope it isn't), but it's never a wrong time to think about diversifying your funding sources.
- Have a plan B. While your organization will hopefully never be in a position where a major funding source disappears overnight, it's always good to have a plan B. When crafting your grantseeking strategy for the year, chart out how much money your organization needs from grants (versus other funding sources) to support your programs, which past funders you expect to support your organization again, which new funders you plan to approach, and the expected grant amounts from each. Then think through what will happen if some of the grants you think are sure things don't come through. Sometimes foundation priorities change, economic conditions shift and diminish foundation assets, or something happens like a government shutdown. Knowing where you'll be able to make up any shortfall is critical. And raising more money than oyou need is also a good thing. You can always put additional money raised into a reserve fund (though be careful if any of the grants awarded are restricted) or offer more programs and services with the additional funds.
- Store your grant information online. What would happen if you were unable to access your organization's office for several days - or several weeks? Would you miss a grant proposal deadline? Or a grant report deadline? How would that impact your grantseeking for the year? How would it impact your relationship with your funders? By storing all of your grant-related information online, in a system like PhilanTrack, you can access your grant information and write your proposals and reports anywhere, at any time, to ensure that you're able to keep your grantseeking going, even if there are unexpected events that prevent you from accessing physical files in your organization's office.
To learn about how the PhilanTrack online grants management system can help your organization's grantseeking efforts, request a demonstration, or register for a webinar.
Photo credit: adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcostin/3449288718/
This is a guest post from Kelli Romero, Membership Director at the Grant Professionals Association
“O’ Say Can You See”…Yourself at the 15th Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference!
In November, the 15th Annual Grant Professionals Association* National Conference will be in Baltimore, MD (November 13-16, 2013). This year, the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) has cooked up a host of new and exciting workshop sessions and special professional levels of expertise to suit every non-profit and grant professional.
This is a must-attend event for anyone involved with grant proposal preparation. An extensive workshop list offers expert advice from some of the professions most successful and accomplished grant writers. Workshop topics are wide ranging and are targeted to individuals with varying levels of experience of beginner, mid-level, and advanced.
Workshops will identify the skill track and SIG that aligns with the topic of the proposed presentation. Skill tracks include; Proposal Development – Planning, Grant Construction, Grant Management and Reporting, Communication Skills, Professional Ethics, Resource Knowledge/Grant Research, etc.
Workshops cover topics such as Program Assessment, Steps to Becoming a Grant Writing Consultant, Program Development, Tactics for Enhancing Donor Loyalty, Fund Raising Strategies, and Proposal Development. Several workshops focus on specific fields, such as education, human services, government and faith based organizations.
The conference will also feature some special experiences, which include the Sail Away with GPA Evening Outing/Dinner Cruise held on the Spirit of Baltimore. This premiere special event will feature a dinner buffet, cruise along the Baltimore Inner Harbor and waterfront, view breathtaking views of historic Baltimore, dance to live DJ tunes and network with your colleagues in the enclosed ship or out on the deck. You don’t want to miss this event! This is a limited seating event. Please make sure you secure your seat today by registering online at the GPA website. Ticket prices are $65.00 and includes dinner, dancing and the view. To purchase tickets, go to: Sail Away With GPA Evening Outing.
This year’s conference will highlight some keynote and featured speakers as well as some wonderful sponsors and exhibitors, such as PhilanTech!
Here are five STAR-STUDDED benefits to attend this year’s conference:
1) Opportunity to visit with sponsors and exhibitors that have DAZZLING products and services to help you in the BATTLEFIELD!
2) By attending some of the 70 Workshops provided, you will become a LEADER in the grants profession. Some workshops include: "Seducing your grant reviewer"; "Thriving Social: 10 Steps of Social Media for the Grant Pro"; "Crafting a Killer Needs Statement - Using Data Effectively"; "The Funder is Coming! 10 Tips for a Successful Site Visit"; "Clearing up the Confusion about Program Evaluation" and many more!
3) Don’t be left out! Attend the GENERAL and Pre-Conference Sessions.
4) Take advantage of a PLETHORA of Networking Opportunities with others in the grants profession.
5) Don’t MARCH to the beat of your own drum. Get connected with others in your Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
Who Should Attend:
- Grant Writers
- Grant Managers
- Grant Consultants
- Grants Officers
- Grant Coordinators
- Development Directors
- Executive Directors
- Government Relations Officers
- Financial Officers
- Any level of experience, beginner to expert.
In today’s extremely competitive world for grant awards, the organization that invests in the professional development of its grant professional increases its odds of receiving grant funding tremendously. The opportunity to meet and learn from this caliber of presenters will not be matched at any other venue.
Registration for this conference is a small investment for the return of knowledge and increased competency that will be realized after attendance at this premier event. To find our more information about the conference or register go to: 15th Annual GPA Conference.
*The Grant Professionals Association (GPA), a nonprofit membership association, builds and supports an international community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards. Founded in 1997, GPA has grown to close to 2,000 active members representing all 50 states and internationally. More than 50 chapters have formed in the past four years.
It was hard to miss the news last week that Lance Armstrong finally admitted to doping during his legendary cycling career that included seven Tour de France wins. The admission was a significant let down for many people who not only believed Armstrong’s claims of innocence, but also idolized him because of his incredible athletic achievements, his successful battle against testicular cancer, and subsequent good work done by Livestrong, the cancer support organization he founded and championed.
There may not be much of a silver lining in what has undoubtedly been a spectacular fall from grace, but here are a few lessons that grantseekers can learn from Lance Armstrong:
- Don’t do illegal, immoral, or prohibited things. That may seem obvious, but there are some pretty critical ways nonprofits can get in trouble, like spending restricted funds for a purpose other than what was designated by the donor. (There are other, obviously illegal things, too, like stealing money from the organization.) Don’t do them. And keep a keen eye out for others in your organization who might be at risk of doing something illegal, immoral, or otherwise just wrong for your organization.
- If something goes wrong, don’t lie about it. In the process of running a grant-funded program, something may well go wrong. Things frequently do. When someone on your team makes a mistake, or something unexpectedly bad happens with a grant-funded program, come clean about it immediately to the funder. Don’t hide it and hope the funder never finds out. Getting caught in a lie will only compound the problem, and pretty much sink any chance you might have of receiving future support from the funder (and possibly from any other funder, if the word gets out).
- Winning at any expense isn’t worth the cost. The old adage that cheaters never prosper rings true in the grantseeking world. Misrepresenting your organization’s abilities, or doing something that undermines your competition will only come back to hurt you in the end. Yes, grants are competitive. Yes, you need to do something to make your proposal, organization, and programs stand out, but do it honestly, and by highlighting your strengths rather than misrepresenting them or denigrating others
- It’s not always a good thing to be interviewed by Oprah. Several nonprofits had great success after Oprah appearances. While Oprah may no longer be the primary aspiration for publicity-seeking nonprofits, many nonprofits still seek that one big media break that will make their organization a household name. But not all publicity is good publicity. Appearing on a major media outlet – or being interviewed by a celebrity interviewer – can bring both fame and infamy to your organization. Just be sure that the publicity you’re seeking is for the right reasons and that the coverage will be positive, otherwise it can do more harm than good to both your grantseeking efforts (if the foundation has heard of you because of a negative news expose, you’re not going to get that grant) and to your organization as a whole.
Feel free to add any other grantseeking lessons learned from Lance Armstrong in the comments.
Image modified from http://www.flickr.com/photos/bike/3281864282/
Immediately after writing a blog post about the need to blog more regularly (just as grantseekers need to communicate with their funders more regularly), I then didn't blog for two months.
But I have a good excuse! (I know. You're saying you also have good excuses for not communicating more regularly with your funders. And we're both wrong -- we don't have good excuses. We should be making the time.)
We at PhilanTech have been busy bees lately. In addition to working with our happy clients and growing their ranks with new grantmakers and grantseekers using PhilanTrack, we have:
- Released a new feature for grantmakers - integrated review functionality within PhilanTrack;
- Added grant research for grantseekers, through a partnership with GrantStation. Now, within PhilanTrack, grantseekers can search GrantStation's 7,000+ current funding opportunities;
- Worked with GrantStation (speaking of GrantStation) to publish the State of Grantseeking Fall 2011, based on responses to our semi-annual survey. It will be released broadly on Monday, so stay tuned!
- Developed some other educational resources around grants that will be released in the coming months. And we're working on more, too;
- Been selected by the Pipeline Fellowship as its first investee. We're super excited to have a talented group of investors backing our efforts to help the nonprofit sector.
Contact us to learn more about the review functionality for grantmakers or research functionality for grantseekers.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jelene/3399436299/