The Development Source
If you are a small nonprofit organization, you probably are wondering what the future holds for you in federal, state, and local government grants. The last couple of years have been uncertain ones for many organizations, large and small.
Don’t despair. There are concrete, practical, and realistic steps you can take now to prepare to submit competitive proposals to government agencies in response to grant opportunities.
Mark Amtower of Washington Technology has five recommendations that you should consider. I will apply them to the field of nonprofit proposal development.
If you are a large nonprofit, you can submit many proposals every year to many government agencies. However, small organizations do not have the time and resources to focus just on the “government.”
Instead, you should identify a few government agencies that need your services and concentrate your time and resources on them. By getting to know a few government agencies really well and by building partnerships with them, you are likely to submit more competitive grant proposals because you have a solid context for your bids. Knowledge and relationships can take you a long way.
Responding to grant guidelines is costly and time-consuming. Boost your prospects by developing long-term teaming arrangements with other nonprofits. This approach will help win you government grants as a sub-contractor and provide you with the experience and reputation to bid on your own.
Your proposal team should constantly be increasing its proposal skills. They should become members of the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) and read books and articles about business and proposal development.
You need to constantly enlarge your network. Join local associations, attend government conferences and briefing sessions, hand out plenty of your cards, and follow them with telephone calls and meetings. Other organizations need to know that you are a potential bidding partner.
To win government contracts, you cannot be a generalist. You must define your services very clearly and narrowly to respond to specific grant opportunities.
These approaches should all be part of a coherent strategy for your small nonprofit. Focus on what you do best, build partnerships with other organizations and with a few government agencies, and become more skilled at proposals, and you should win more government grants.