Leverage Current Funding To Acquire More
Some private funders are reluctant to back research that doesn’t already have support from other sources, says Tia Cavender, Principal at the grant consulting firm Chase Park Grants, LLC.
These “bandwagon” funders are smaller foundations and corporations that do not have the resources to thoroughly investigate you or your institution, she says. So they base their decision to fund you on whether other granting organizations are supporting your research or have in the past.
Get foundations and corporations to jump on board
Cavender recommends implementing a simple plan to nab support from these funders. Follow three steps to gain their financial backing:
- Plan ahead. Don’t wait to look into a bandwagon funder until after you’ve gotten other support. Research grant opportunities early. That way, you’ll be ready to apply for a grant from these smaller organizations as soon as you receive news of your other awards.
- Advertise your wins. Once you’ve landed a grant from another source, be sure to highlight it prominently in proposals you submit to other funders. This shows them that another organization substantiates your project and believes it is a viable investment.
- Include in-kind support and donations. You might forget about donations of materials or services needed for your research, but this type of support is important to highlight, according to Cavender.
Try for matching or challenge grants
The same strategy for snagging band-wagon funders can be applied to getting matching or challenge grants, Cavender says. You simply have to prove you have existing awards that meet the requirements for these grant types.
Challenge grants are funds foundations or corporations give when you meet a certain goal. For example, some funders won’t make an award until you have met the capital goals they’ve established.
Similarly, for a matching grant, a foundation or corporation may agree to match the funds you can scare up from other sources. The funder may agree to contribute the same dollar amount you raise or dispense only a portion of that amount. For example, a $1,000 grant with a 3:1 match would require you to raise $3,000 before the funder would provide the $1,000 grant.
Keep funders engaged to encourage recurring support
Once you win corporate or foundation funding, keep the organizations up to date on your project, Cavender recommends. She says this strategy will inspire them to grant you funding again and again.
Share your project’s progress, results and developments as much as possible. Think about your relationship with the funders and how you can initiate more contact. Here are some ideas on how to engage foundation and corporation representatives:
- Invite them to events or for a tour of your lab. This is typically a strategy for fundraising or donation gifts, but it also works for grantors and other stakeholders, Cavender says. Representatives from the funding organization might not accept the invitation, but sending it gives them the opportunity to actually see the impact their support has made.
- Send them updates. Throughout the year, send your funders detailed updates on your project’s development and the accomplishments your team has made. Explain how your research has progressed, the findings and any implementation efforts. You can also send them educational materials or handouts you created for outreach activities.
- Include funders in your organization’s newsletter mailing list. Cavender says you should let foundations and corporations know about your involvement in activities outside of your research project. If your institution sends out a regular newsletter, put your funders on the mailing list. That way, they can stay apprised of your entire organization, not just your project or program.
- Show your appreciation. When you’re communicating with your funders, don’t forget to thank them. A simple “thank you” lets them know you value their support and goes a long way toward securing future funding.
Don’t ignore possible limitations
The first limitation is timing. When you’re leveraging support to get more from bandwagon funders or obtain challenge or matching grants, timing is crucial, Cavender says. The problem here is that you may not find out about a second funding opportunity until after you’ve contacted another potential funder.
To remedy this, you can include in your proposal a list of grants you have applied for but whose results are still pending. Then, you can send the funder updates as you receive replies on the other grant proposals.
Another key limitation is competition, Cavender says. Funding processes are extremely competitive, regardless of the organization type. The only difference is that every funder has its own goals and preferences.
Think about these goals, and your competition, as you are applying for support. Be creative with your proposal and your project’s design to set yourself apart from the competition.