Anticipating Funder's Needs

September 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

I was tempted to title this post "Training Your Grantor." You have probably been in more than one workshop  in which you were told to not include anything in your proposal the funder didn't ask for.

I certainly have. And I've said the same thing in my workshops. Respond to the guidelines, and only the guidelines. Anything else is just asking for trouble.

I've recently heard a persuasive argument to re-examine this accepted truth. No, don't ever exceed the page limits. If the guidelines say, "please don't send us a DVD," don't act as if they mean everyone but you.

But what about when the guidelines don't ask you for something? Something you know is important?  If the guidelines only ask about the history of my organization, I usually interpret "history" to mean right up until yesterday. That way, I shift the focus onto what we are accomplishing today. 

What do you do if your grantor does not ask for goals or objectives? Or a target population? What if they never ask you, "and what will improve in the community if we fund you?"

To be honest, I usually found a way to squeeze impact in somewhere. But if I was not asked for goals and objectives, I sighed a sigh of relief and moved on. Now I am being encouraged to think differently. To think that the grantor really does want this information. They just either 1) do not know to ask about it at the application stage or 2) are going to spring this on us at the reporting stage.

Either way, you can avoid a lot of grief and trouble if you include goals and objectives in your application even if they are not requested. Your project will be stronger and in a better position to reach its desired goal.

Bonus? You have started the measurement conversation with your funder, hopefully heading off the need to redesign measures at the end of the project. You will also be able to to track your meausres from the moment the grant is awarded, saving you a lot of time and effort at the reporting stage.

If you clearly state your target population or audience, even if it is not requested explicitly, you can ensure there are no misunderstandings about who is receiving your services. Anything that helps my organization avoid awkwardness and meet our funders' expectations is a good strategy in my book.

What about you? Was there a time you included information that had not been requested and it backfired? Was there a time you took this leap and were grateful you did? Please post your comment here.

Thanks to my colleague and occasional co-presenter, Barb Putman, Executive Director of the Community Creative Center for sparking this discussion.

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