10 Things We Learned About Grantmaking from 10,000 Grantees

Ask any executive director or first-time development manager among the organizations you fund who is trying to balance a budget, deliver programs, and build or diversify revenue, and they’ll tell you it’s is very difficult.  They are right.  Nonprofit organizations in the United States are being challenged by major demographic, economic, technological, and social factors outside their control. Consequently, most face significant financial hardship and an uncertain future – many don’t know what to do.

The Existing Approach to Sustainability Falls Short of Needed Outcomes

These same small nonprofits, with operating budgets of less than $2 million, spend roughly $33,000 each year on consultants, training, conferences, and software, hoping to raise more money.  Not only do 77% miss their budgeted revenue goals, they are actually raising less money than the previous year.  This means that even with all of the resources invested, the majority of organizations are actually losing ground – and they are asking foundations and their donors to make up the difference.

Every funder wants to see its grantees succeed. Foundations and donors hope their grantees raise enough revenue to create impact and sustain their programs. 

The inclination is to find a way to help.  However, in the final analysis, funding to bring on a development director, hire a consultant, or attend a conference too often falls short of the transformation envisioned.  We must do better, so Network for Good how.

The Research & Findings Illuminate a Path Forward

We surveyed 10,000 nonprofits to understand their attitudes towards grantmakers as it relates to fundraising capacity and their efforts to sustain funded programs. Their responses underscore a widening gap that Jumpstart directly fulfills, and from them, we also created a set of self-assessment questions for grantmakers to consider.

The study revealed that nonprofits need and look to their funders to help them sustain grant-funded programs – and few are truly prepared to “sustain the program after the grant period ends” as their application professes. The research indicates your grantees:

1.  Feel they should always seek grant funding, and it’s easy.

2.  Believe a single person can unilaterally prepare an effective grant proposal in lieu of organizational, cross-functional collaboration.

3.  Heavily rely on program staff to complete basic grant processes and have a high degree of anxiety and uncertainty around these processes.

4.  Don’t fully understand the program officer’s role. They are intimidated by them.

5.  Believe that simply following application guidelines result in funding.

6.  Don’t have credible plans to financially sustain programs after the grant period ends, nor do they understand why it’s important.

7.  Plan for follow-on grant funding, or don’t plan at all.

8.  Lack time to create, and do not understand the necessity of, written fundraising plans.

9.  Are looking to foundations to both fund and help sustain programs.

10.  Need ongoing and comprehensive fundraising assistance, not just workshops.

Are these findings consistent with your experience?  To read more, you can download the complete study, here.