I'll confess — I am much closer to age 60 than I am to age 50, and my knees remind me of this daily. Our human infrastructure wears out as we grow older. For nonprofit organizations, it is usually the opposite — their strength and infrastructure increase in health as they grow older.
Younger organizations tend to find grantseeking much more challenging than do older organizations. This isn't because younger organizations are less worthy, less committed to their mission, or less able.
It's because they have smaller budgets. Those smaller budgets translate to smaller staff sizes or heavier reliance on volunteers for all facets of program management, which result in less consistency in grantseeking.
Ralph Waldo Emerson gave consistency a bad rap when he said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Successful grantseekers adore consistency, at least when it comes to developing a grant strategy, maintaining a grantseeking calendar, and gathering and polishing the basic documents for grant writing.
Now, we at GrantStation do suggest that you take a bold approach to your grantseeking. In fact, our founder and CEO, Cynthia Adams, has a free recorded webinar on how grantseeking has changed over the past several years. She states that funders are looking for those organizations that demonstrate intentional movement toward substantial and sustainable change. But — and this is important — we also espouse consistency in creating a grantseeking infrastructure.
So, what does this consistent but bold grant management strategy have to do with age? I'm glad you asked! Here are some interesting data points from our most recent State of Grantseeking™ Report:
As you can see, grantseeking activity increases after an organization's fifth birthday, and grantseeking success increases for organizations 26 years of age or older. This increase in success coincides with increases in staff members who can dedicate themselves to the process and have an annual budget sufficient to support them.
Here's another metric, which I think may prove useful to the grantseekers for younger organizations. When the source of the largest individual award is viewed through the lens of organizational age, variations in funding rates become apparent. Private foundations were the most frequent funder reported by organizations of any age.
But younger organizations shouldn't despair. Community foundations, corporations, and other grant sources tended to fund younger organizations. Those other grant sources include religious organizations, the United Way, donor advised funds, civic organizations, and tribal funds. So, for example, your local Moose, Elks, or Lions clubs may be more willing to invest locally in your younger organization.
Private Foundation Grants
Community Foundation Grants
Local Government Grants
Other Grant Sources
If you are interested in more benchmarks, we offer free State of Grantseeking Reports here. And of course, we'd be honored if you would take the time to participate in the Fall 2017 State of Grantseeking Survey, which ends on September 30.
If you want to use GrantStation as a tool in your organization's grant strategy, TechSoup is offering a full GrantStation membership for just $99 for three days this month: September 26 through 28.
Check out GrantStation
Plus, to say "thank you" for being part of the GrantStation community, you will receive a free download of Cynthia Adams' new book, Bold Is Gold: A Funding Research Primer. We hope that it will give you some new ideas and help you develop your own bold approach to identifying grantmakers for your good work.
We look forward to you joining us as a GrantStation member — and to GrantStation becoming one of your tools to fund your administrative costs and programs.
On September 20, learn how to get started with grantseeking and make your grant requests sparkle. This free 90-minute webinar for TechSoup's audience (normally $89!) will help you prepare the basic documents needed to write compelling letters of inquiry and grant proposals.
Make your grant proposals sparkle
On September 21, learn how to build a winning grants strategy. In this free webinar (normally $69), GrantStation CEO Cynthia Adams will lead you through creating a grants calendar for the next 12 to 18 months.
Build a winning grants strategy
On September 26, get a free tour of the GrantStation website. This tour will provide tips on the most effective way to use all of the valuable resources the website offers, including extensive funder databases that can help you identify the grantmakers most likely to fund your programs or projects.
Learn how to leverage GrantStation
On September 27, learn how to be bold when conducting your funding research. Grantseeking has changed over the past several years. Funders are looking for those organizations that demonstrate intentional movement toward substantial and sustainable change. "It is time for grantseekers to be bold in their requests," says GrantStation's CEO and founder Cynthia Adams.
Hone your research approach
ohhh thanks a lot for that
We are certainly a younger organization that is having trouble seeking grants. Our trouble is that we haven’t received nonprofit certification yet and are uncertain if fiscal sponsorship is something we should be examining. As a nonprofit technology service provider we’re interested in learning GrantStation for ourselves as well as our customers. We welcome hearing and learning from and about you. Hopefully you can lend us a helping hand.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Your feedback was helpful, timely, and valued!
Thank you very much! Very insightful!
This is some good information, thanks.
It is interesting that the very mature organizations received the highest percentages in federal and state grants. I wonder why that is. It could be the daunting application process, and the need for an experienced grant writer to complete it. I hope it is not because of some department bias or some leaning in the application criteria where younger organizations do not meet all of the criteria.
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