Whether your organization is preparing its first grant proposal or you have been receiving grant funding for years, it is important to remember that it is not the intention of any funding source to provide grant funding forever. Preparing for the time when your organization is not receiving grant funding is essential in the grant development process.
Government funding is usually awarded to meet identified needs within our society. Foundations provide funds to make the communities they serve better places to live. However, no funding agency ever intends to support a program or service for the life of the organization. Community priorities change and new issues emerge; as these needs are identified, funding previously awarded for one issue may be re-allocated to support the new issue.
Today, most grant funding announcements and requests for proposals ask the organization to describe how the program or service will be sustained once funding ends. This section is frequently one of the most difficult to compose. Too often, organizations write something vague about looking for additional funding opportunities to support the project.
Instead, organizations (and the communities they serve) can benefit by developing a clear grants management system to make the transition away from grant funding.
First, analyze the need the program/service is fulfilling. Is this need a long-term concern or a short-term issue? Will the grant funding received alleviate the problem or will the program need to continue beyond the grant period?
If the need being fulfilled by the program or service is expected to continue beyond the grant period, begin now to seek alternative funding strategies. Will the corporate community see the benefit in supporting the project? Do opportunities exist for partnership expansion such as with a local community-based organization to “takeover” the program? Could a nominal fee be charged for participation to help offset the cost of providing the program or service? Could you enhance other fundraising activities within the organization? Is the program or service a core component of the organization? In other words, is the program essential to the existence of the organization—is it something that will always be done by the organization? If so, then the organization needs to begin to make plans to integrate the costs into its operational budget. Obviously, this will be difficult to do quickly; but with proper planning, the organization can make plans to fund the program or service in 3 to 5 years.
Grant funding is not meant to be long-term funding. An organization may have a number of grants at any given time to fund various projects, but it is always a good idea to begin planning for the time when grant funding is no longer available.