Preparing for Prospecting (and then the management)
Updated: Oct 21
How do you know when you are ready to invest time, money, and resources into funder prospecting/management tools, tactics, and organization?
There’s not always a clear answer. For both small nonprofit organizations and new grant writing professionals, it’s hard to know what is worth the investment when it comes to searching for prospective grant funders...and then tracking it all along the way. Let’s be honest - grant funder databases and management tools can be costly, and they aren’t all created equally!
So, how do you know when and what is right for you?
1. Know why you are looking for funders. Your immediate thought might be, “So we can apply to their grants and bring money in, duh!”
But do you REALLY know why you are looking for funders? If you aren’t able to complete this sentence, you might not be ready to take the next step…
(Organization Name) is ready to partner with ________________ (type of best fit funders) to grow our impact in ___________________ (identified impact) because we know _________________ (population you are serving) needs ______________________ (evidence-based services you are providing). Our funding strategy is seeking to secure $___________ in grant funds for ____________, ______________ (general operating, program, capacity, building, etc.) for the next fiscal year. We are ready to build relationships and make a difference in our community ecosystem.
Jumping into prospecting before you are really ready to write the request only adds stress and unmeetable deadlines to your calendar. Take the time to be ready before you begin the search.
For freelance grant writers, make sure your clients can do something with the funder information you find and are ready to partner with you in developing new funder relationships and tackling more grant applications.
2. Get as familiar as you can with the tools you are looking to use. It can take time to track down what is out there and compare prices and services. Lucky for you, we have already done that and want to share it with you!
This Funder Prospecting and Grant Management information sheet will let you compare prices and features so you can make an informed decision for yourself or your organization.
3. Have a management system in place. Listen, it is ok if you just want to try something out. It might not work, but you will learn more of what you need as you go. Start simple and expand from there. There are many options from excel spreadsheets to cloud-based systems designed by grant writers. It all boils down to the preference of the person doing the tracking and the ease of others learning the process (and maybe the price). The most important thing is that you start with something so you aren't losing valuable information as you grow (and inevitably transition to something else). Here are a couple of questions you can ask yourself as you are deciding.
How easily can I input new information?
How easily can I see information over time?
Does this method link to calendars or internal communication systems?
Is the information accessible or shareable when I need to update others?
Bottom line: If you aren’t completely ready to write grants, you probably aren’t ready to invest in tools to find funders. If you aren’t sure if you are ready to write grants, we have a quick assessment form you can use to gauge where you are! If you are already writing grants, check out the information sheet and look into a couple options.
Before you commit to any tool or database, feel free to reach out and ask us your questions. We are happy to share our experiences!