by David Tandet
Are grants for operating expenses the new funding model?
Short answer: not by a longshot.
Long answer: In some instances.
The bottom line is that the funding agency is awarding a grant to the nonprofit that gives strong indications it can do what it says it’s going to do. And what it says it’s going to do had better be in line with the funding agency’s mission.
It doesn’t help anyone if the applicant tries to jump through hoops that have nothing to do with the organization’s purpose for existing.
Of course when a funding agency specifically says it’s granting money for operating expenses only, it means it. But why would foundations who have for so long valued original ways of successfully meeting a pressing need in a community suddenly say, “Sorry, we’re only here for operating expenses these days?”
Well – consider the state of the economy. So many community nonprofits that have for so long been doing good things for a lot of people are having a difficult time surviving. Funding agencies, naturally, want to make sure those experienced community efforts survive before replacing them with untried models.
Still, in these times, there’s a scenario which highlights original, outside-the-box efforts while keeping as a main objective exactly what the funding agency most highly values: efficient use of funds for real progress.
That type of model is exactly what collaboration, in its best application, is all about.
Where one formerly robust grassroots effort is finding it hard to find the economic support to keep going, isn’t it better to work as a team with a neighbor organization who wants the same good results for their community?
The simple answer is: of course.
The more in depth response is this: of course it’s better to work as a team. What’s absolutely essential, however, is that the collaborators have worked out the the most important details of their project.
The funding agency must be convinced that its financial support is being used in a way that harnesses full community involvement.
Collaborative efforts are in fact more necessary now than ever. But the proposed projects must be logical, well planned, and economically viable.
There is strength in numbers.
Just be certain that the numbers add up correctly.
The goal has to be the right goal. For everyone.