I just read Seth Godin's blog post entitled "Hope and the Magic Lottery." In it, he advises entrepreneurs not to put any eggs in the basket of "hope and the magic lottery ticket." In other words, he writes, don't expect that your elevator pitch is going to land a $2 million venture capital investment. Instead, focus on growing revenue and delighting the people who are already your audience.
The same advice applies to nonprofits seeking grant funding. While it's possible that your organization will get a multi-million dollar grant from Gates or Ford, for most nonprofits, that's a magic lottery ticket. Focus instead on:
- Delivering great services and telling good stories about your work to your current donors (and use your service recipients, when you can, to help tell those stories);
- Build on existing relationships with the funders you already have;
- Do your grant research and find those foundations and other funders that are specifically interested in finding our what your organization does and what makes it gre at. Foundation staff generally don't like to receive proposals that don't meet the foundation's guidelines, and your odds of getting that kind of prop osal funded are slim to none.
Hope is important, but hard work, good research, and knowing your audience (the foundation staff and trustees who will be reading your proposal) will win the day.
(image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/denverjeffrey/202431834/