When trying to secure a grant, it can be easy to feel as though you have to bend and twist in order to be the nonprofit a foundation “wants” you to be. When significant dollars are within reach that could have a substantial, positive impact on a project or program that serves the cause you’ve invested in so heavily, development professionals occasionally feel compelled to compromise or change the way they present themselves in order to increase their chances of securing approval.
While it is always a wise practice to put your best foot forward, I find that one key truth is critical to the success of any nonprofit organization as they walk through the grant application process: Be yourself.
The simple fact is, if you have developed an organization that is in a position to apply for a grant from our foundation or from any of the many other potential donors that serve your sector, you’ve already demonstrated a few critical facts:
- You have defined a mission that resonates with a sizable number of supporters
- You have already secured funding through other sources
- There is a defined need that you are serving
- We are not your only source of potential funding
The truth is, every nonprofit donor – be it a private foundation like the Murdock Trust, a corporate giving initiative from a local business or an individual citizen – has a collection of parameters that they use to help guide their community investments. We can’t all give to every organization on the block, so we have to set guidelines to help us ensure our funds are having a positive impact.
If you try to please every potential donor by warping and changing your organization at its core, you will find yourself straying from that original mission that has already proven valuable. In a more unpleasant scenario, merely pretending to change on the surface while maintaining your original intent to appeal to a donor could have disastrous outcomes. Imagine the potential fallout if a donor believes they are giving for Project A only to find out their money was used for Project B.
All of this is not to say that nonprofits should not be flexible in their approach over time. As you work, you may come across new ideas that improve your approach to serve your defined need. But these sorts of changes should be made in a thoughtful, intentional way, not on a whim to make your organization appear more desirable to a prospective donor.
At the Murdock Trust, we believe in the valuable work underway in the thousands of nonprofits serving our region. We want to ensure that every nonprofit remains faithful to their core mission and we enjoy partnering with many of these groups over time. If you believe you have a project or proposal that aligns with our grantmaking efforts, we welcome you to contact us with an LOI.