Post by Kim Patton, Training Coordinator
Trying to raise money for your nonprofit can sometimes feel like a gamble, but it doesn’t have to. Recently, I presented one of our free training courses, Nonprofit Sustainability: Building Blocks to Organizational Success, for a workshop hosted by U.S. Senator Harry Reid in Las Vegas. It was held at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library (one of our more than 460 Cooperating Collections) and was attended by over 100 nonprofits.
While walking among the many casinos, I realized that whether you’re hitting the blackjack table or looking for funding to support your nonprofit, there are a few good strategies that can help increase your odds of winning:
- Have a strong hand and know how to play it—For nonprofits, knowing your strengths and assets is your best “hand.” Identify your strong suits and put your best foot forward when approaching funders. Be confident and never let them see you sweat!
- Don’t give up after the first loss (or disappointment) –Think long term. Winners know that even if they lose a few hands, their luck will eventually turn around if they stay focused and keep their eye on the prize. Whether that’s hitting the jackpot or finally getting that grant, your patience and persistence will pay off (Ed. note: this may not always be true when actually gambling, but is true for grantseeking).
- Make sure the odds are in your favor—Looking for grants, especially these days, is very competitive. First, know who your competition is. Who is out there doing what you’re trying to do and what makes you different? In other words, identify the competitive edge that sets you apart from others. What is distinctive about what you do and how you do it? Knowing the answers to these questions will increase your chances of beating the odds.
- Sharpen Your Skills—In order to gain and keep your competitive edge, make sure that you are the best at what you do. Offer highly effective programs with measurable results. Evaluate what you’re doing to make sure that you are constantly improving upon your strengths and addressing your challenges. Show how what you’re doing is changing lives and making a difference in a way that no one else does. In doing so, you will be better able to justify your funding needs and stay competitive.
While there are some similarities, getting a grant is more like an investment than a gamble. Funders don’t like to take chances, so make sure your organization is positioned to be a winner- check out our training opportunities today!