Nonprofit Grant Funding During the COVID-19 Pandemicby Shelly Spencer on 05/07/20
Many nonprofit organizations are wondering what the odds are right now to raise funding for their causes. More agencies are seeing a large increase in need within their communities, especially in hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, and other social services. Normal donation and fundraising channels are greatly reduced with more people out of work and struggling themselves and social distancing canceling events for the foreseeable future.
Is it worth it right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, to continue (or start) fundraising with corporate and foundation grants?
What are the chances of getting that funding? Competition is strong even under the best circumstances, so is it worth spending the time and money to apply when your organization’s resources might already be limited?
No one knows from day to day, week to week, what will happen during this critical time. There is no precedence in our recent history that helps us understand what to expect when this is all over.
Already some of my nonprofit clients have seen letters from potential funders come in saying they were suspending grant funding cycles due to the pandemic. Others are redirecting their funding away from normally supported programs to address issues related to COVID-19 and the aftermath.
Yes, these are uncertain times. No one knows what will happen. But, rest assured, nonprofits are and will be at the forefront of this crisis. Nonprofit services and programs across all service sectors will be important to recovery. Which means, there is and will continue to be grant funding available. It’s still a very viable fundraising channel that can help nonprofits through the hardest of times.
Here are 7 tips to remember as you look for and apply for grant funding:
1. As you always should, carefully read the guidelines of each and every funder you research and plan on applying to. These guidelines and their funding focus can change quickly and you might find that one funder who originally funded programs you offer has refocused their efforts elsewhere.
2. Right now, many funders have shorter deadlines to better address the pandemic. Keep good track of potential funders and check back often for changing deadlines, funding priorities, and even increasing or decreasing funding amounts they have available.
3. Understand funding can be more limited during this time. Before spending your time and resources applying for grants, really look at the likelihood of being approved for funding from certain funders and the potential competition for those funds.
4. Consider repurposing or refocusing your agency’s programs during this time. Is there a way you can change parts of your program to better fit in with needed services that address or help during COVID-19? Are there new programs your agency can start that compliment your mission and address what is currently happening in the world? This might be the perfect time to start new programs you’ve been thinking about and haven’t gotten around to.
5. Look into new foundation and corporate funders you might not ordinarily be a fit with. During this time, funders are starting new funding programs to help with the pandemic. Others are refocusing their funding efforts and opening guidelines up to organizations and social issues they haven’t normally given to in the past.
6. Remember that most funding doesn’t happen overnight. Your services and programs may be more needed at this time and an influx of grant money may be desperately needed right now. However, funding, if approved, normally takes minimum weeks to months to receive.
7. Find new ways of diversifying your funding through local fundraisers, letters to donors, online auctions and fundraisers, etc. Doing this might help reduce your competition for the limited grant money out there and give you the funding you need faster. Also, apply for local grants and even consider grants you normally wouldn’t go for due to the amount of funding you might receive. Getting more local money of only a couple thousand is still better than trying for the $100,000 in funding from a national foundation that has less chance of approval during these times.