The seed catalog came in the mail immediately after Christmas, its cover graced by bright sunflowers and its pages filled with beautiful photos of plump tomatoes on the vine, shiny eggplants, juicy cantaloupes, and everywhere green, green, green. This catalog didn’t meet its end in the recycling bin; instead, it has been given a prominent place next to my couch, a coffee table book of sorts, where it has been helping generate happy thoughts of spring while Mother Nature turns my city into a pretty but frigid snowglobe. With the vernal equinox only two months away, spring will be here soon, and I have started to plan: What will I grow this year, and why do I want to grow it? Should I scale back this year, after previously starting off too big and ambitious for my limited knowledge and experience? How will I best work within time and space constraints?
As seed suppliers, nurseries, and gardeners begin to ramp up for spring, so too is the world of grant writing beginning to speed up again after a slow period typical of the holiday season and beginning of the year. Government grant opportunities are starting to come out with more frequency, and private funders are publishing their 2019 deadlines. Just like spring planting, good grantseeking requires planning, which is best done before there is an RFP with a short deadline on the table.
Consider what grant applications you will “plant” this spring, and what can you do now to prepare. Do you have or are you able to create the optimal conditions needed to increase the chances that your application seedlings will thrive and bear “funding fruit?” Some strategies include:
- Assess your grant readiness and address gaps (try out the DH Leonard Consulting *free* GRASP Tool to do this).
- Reach out to funders as appropriate per their contact preferences to start building relationships. You may receive valuable feedback on your project before you even develop your application. If applying for government funding, you may also want to reach out to politicians, regional council members, or anyone else who may be involved in funding decisions.
- Research which government grant opportunities useful to your organization may be coming down the pipeline. If available, review the RFPs and grantee lists from previous rounds.
- If you intend to apply for a capital grant, invest in the professional services needed to lay the groundwork for the project.
- If you need to engage a consultant to help prepare your grant application, start your selection process early so that you have someone lined up and ready hit the ground running when the RFP opens (contact the DH Leonard Consulting team to schedule your free consultation).
Granted (no pun intended), things happen that are outside of your control. Blossom end rot ruins your first round of Roma tomatoes, or your well-written grant application for an amazing project is competing against hundreds of other well-written applications for amazing projects and only a fraction of them will be funded. However, with some planning and preparation, you can start sprint “grant planting” season strong and give your grant seeking garden what it needs to thrive.
What are you doing now to help plant the seeds for a strong grant seeking strategy the balance of this year?