by David Tandet

The most profound grant writing rule I ever learned is “the donut rule.”

A long time ago, an interviewer asked William Rosenberg, founder of Dunkin’ Donuts, the secret of his success. Rosenberg answered, “Give customers what they want, not what you want.”

Actually, that’s similar to an idea echoed by grant guru Jon O’Brien: remember that funders have a particular view of the world. The best way for your nonprofit to hook-up with the right funder is if the funder can fill in a few more pieces of its big puzzle by supporting your 501(c)(3). Make sure you’re the supplier who makes just the right puzzle pieces that funder is looking for.

The “not what you want” part of Rosenberg’s statement is even more important in the grant game, believe it or not.

That’s because it’s not nearly as obvious in grant writing as it is in donut sales. And that leads to the failure of many nonprofits that don’t get funded.

The point is, your nonprofit should already be on the right track – from the funder’s perspective – for a successful partnership to happen.

Unfortunately, many nonprofits are so eager for funding that they’ll jump through a zillion hoops and reshape themselves merely to look like how they think they’ll come out on top for a particular funder.

Well that might work for getting a grant one time.

But what happens when it turns out that the reshaped hoop-jumper is really not about putting forth an agenda that the funder is most interested in in the first place? Ever hear of EVALUATION?

If you’re a grant writer you sure have!

When a funder wants donuts, and you’re about making donuts, let that funder know you’ve got just the donuts they’re looking for.

If you’re about frozen yogurt, remember there are plenty of other funders that are all about frozen yogurt as well. You’ll have your chance. Just make sure you’re doing all you can to be the best frozen yogurt supplier out there.

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