We often hear that nonprofits have limited resources; however, it is uncommon for us to acknowledge that foundations, too, have limited resources. So just as we ask nonprofits to be innovative in their strategies, we as grantmakers must do the same. Beyond writing checks, here are four ways you can support your grantees beyond the dollar.
- Offer Free Education
Nonprofit employees could participate in a training, webinar, class or conference every single day of the year. There are countless educational offerings to choose from, but most come with a big price tag that nonprofit budgets simply can’t support. Consider investing in local nonprofit trainings and educational opportunities for your partners and grantees.
This might include bringing in a national evaluation expert, or hosting your own workshop to teach applicants about your online grants system, application and review process. After doing something like this, you could flag organizations who attend trainings in your system and measure their proposal success rate against those who did not attend to understand the value-add of such offerings.
- Connect Your Applicants to Others
As a grantmaker, you likely have a network of other grantmakers in your community with whom you work. Another benefit you could provide applicants is connecting them with other funders in your community. Perhaps using a flagging system in your grants management database to track applicants that were denied funding in your program but may be a good fit for another funder.
Consider making smart connections like this between nonprofit partners and grantees. Your grants management system can help you track all of your grants and identify overlapping programs and opportunities for collaboration that help you and your community. Partners could benefit by sharing ideas and may even find opportunities to submit joint proposals in the future.
- Be Flexible
We ask a lot of our grantees. The rules are different for every grant application and sometimes a nonprofit doesn’t have the capacity to fulfill all of these requirements – but they may be the exact organization we should be funding. Do your best to be flexible and meet grantees where they are. This might mean writing goals and objectives in new ways, tracking and monitoring progress in new ways or measuring success in new ways. Your grants management system will allow you to carefully monitor these grantees and provide technical assistance and support as needed.
- Be Open and Honest
Without question, the best thing you can provide grantees beyond the dollar is your honest feedback. Intentionally providing open and honest feedback to your grantees and applicants will not only benefit them in their future requests to you – and to other foundations – it will benefit you.
It will help you become clearer on the types of projects that your organization is funding. It will help you become a better coach so you can support strong proposal development. And it will help you build trust with your grantees and nonprofit partners. Your grants management system can help you capture reviewer comments and feedback which can be shared back with grantees and referenced when reviewing future proposals. And don’t forget to provide feedback to the organizations to which you are awarding grants.
The next time you have a pile of proposals on your desk requesting 3 or 4 times what you’ve got available, remember there are ways to support nonprofits beyond those dollars. These non-traditional investments may, in some ways, be more beneficial to those nonprofits in the long-term.