Stay at home orders and a "new normal" have given many of us the opportunity to reassess how we have been doing things and how we want to proceed moving forward. This applies to organizations too, and for nonprofits, rethinking their grantmaking. While so much is shut down, it may be the perfect time to ramp up your approach and look for grant cycle improvements.
There isn’t a person or organization that hasn’t been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all in a period of reevaluation as we wait for this difficult period to pass and think of ways that we can withstand unexpected events in the future. A new grantmaking cycle is always a good opportunity to assess what is working and consider program refinement.
The COVID-19 crisis is an unfortunate reminder that we need to build processes and systems that can withstand disruptions, such as stay-at-home orders or dramatic increases in applications for funding. A streamlined grants management system can help fortify your organization against the unexpected, so that you can keep providing support to those who need it most and funding the work and research that will help clear the way to a better future.
Here are five ways that you can optimize your organization this grantmaking cycle:
Get Back to Grantmaking Basics
Has your organization’s mission changed because of the pandemic and the accompanying economic fallout? Even if it’s just a short-term refocusing, you want to make sure that your organization’s vision remains relevant to the crisis and sensitive to shifting financial situations. Here are some important questions to ask:
Could our organization’s mission be altered or expanded?
Which projects should we prioritize this grantmaking cycle?
What can we offer that is unique during this crisis?
Are we offering the support that applicants need right now?
How can we prepare for future disruptions?
Focusing on what’s most at stake can help you create the projects and gifts that have the most impact as we get through this crisis.
Streamline Your Grantmaking Workstream
This is a crucial time to streamline your grants or fellowship management process, for your applicants, stakeholders, and your employees. A modern grants management system provides a sturdy virtual backbone on which to build a flexible nonprofit organization. The pandemic has the potential to create a dramatic increase in applications, gifts, and stakeholder involvement as organization's pivot to responsive grantmaking — all while the majority of their employees are working from home. Smart nonprofit technology allows organizations to remain organized when capacity increases...and our office space shrinks to the size of the spare room.
Social distancing has taken many of our interactions online. From multi-participant Zoom meetings to old-fashioned phone calls, checking in has never been more important. Now that we’re all a bit more comfortable with the “virtual hang,” why not schedule a chat with a few co-workers, stakeholders, or applicants, to ask how the pandemic has affected them personally. You may gain valuable insight into your partners’ challenges, whether they are related to technology, time, or economic disruptions. Discovering these challenges — which are likely affecting many other people — is the first step for creating innovative solutions.
Modify Your Nonprofit Outreach Messaging
Although giving is more important than ever, and many people and entities are looking for more ways to help those who are out of work or underfunded, some of your funders, particularly individuals, may not be able to give at the capacity or frequency they have in the past. Ensure that your messaging aligns with this current reality. If you find that people aren’t responding to your outreach, start with one of these basic approaches:
Segment your recipients and write personalized messages that explain why you’re reaching out and how they can help.
Change the format: If you’re accustomed to email, pick up the phone.
Take a short break: People might be overwhelmed with communications right now!
Invest in Grants Management Software
It may seem counterintuitive to add to your organization’s overhead at this time, but smart nonprofit technology investment is always a worthwhile. Here’s what it can do:
Streamline your administrative process
Allow more work to be performed from home
Manage increased applications
Enable efficient gift distribution
Track your impact and create reports
Whether your organization is supporting front-line workers, providing assistance to those in need, or helping to build a better future for the next generation, a modern and efficient grants management software can help you weather the storm and even thrive during times of crisis.