Foundation & Corporate Grants Alert:
|Funding Q&A provides readers the opportunity to ask experts questions about a variety of funding activities. This month, Tony Silbert, President of Silbert Consulting Services, Inc., addresses the issue of grants goal development. Founded in 1996, Silbert Consulting Services is a Los Angeles, CA-based firm that provides grant development, research, strategy and evaluation services for nonprofit organizations of all shapes and sizes.|
|Question: I am a grant writer at a university that is about to start a capital campaign. The school has hired an outside consultant to manage the process, but do you have any suggestions as to how, as a grant writer, I can continue my role without confusing donors with what is happening with the campaign?|
|Answer: It’s a big adjustment to have an away team set up camp on your home field. But having worked as a staff grant writer and a consultant, I would recommend that you get involved early and work with all the players to the benefit of everyone—especially you.
As a staff guy, I know your concerns about donor confusion are valid and should be addressed as soon as you hear about a new project. Timing is critical to the success of a capital campaign and it will take your organizational knowledge to coordinate fundraising efforts.
For example, you may have numerous program grants in various stages of funding. Today’s funders—even those considered friends of your organization—don’t generally fund more than one project at a time. If you are in a 2nd year of funding for a program, with one more year to go, your funder may not be able to accommodate your campaign until your current program grant is finished. Ask for the additional money before then, and you risk confusing the donor and derailing the campaign with an unnecessary rejection. Remember to:
As the campaign guy, I can tell you how uncomfortable it can feel to walk into an agency where the development staff is more concerned about turf than the actual campaign.
It’s important to remember that both sides bring unique attributes to the field. Capital campaigns may be considered bigger and glossier than year-round development, and the hired hands may possess a broader range of knowledge, but your institutional memory is critical to the project’s success.
When the new team is introduced:
And don’t be afraid to ask the campaign leadership about a “comprehensive” campaign, which would combine your annual giving and program grants with the capital campaign. This gives everyone the opportunity to “feel like they are playing in the big game.”
Get involved early and be heard. Learn to work together—for two sides to try to beat each other out does no one any good and would be a case where everyone would lose.