Charities and non profit organisations have so much competition when it comes to applying for grants that some times a professional is need to give you the edge over other applications. Several funding streams will not even consider applications that have even minor mistakes or miss non essential deadlines.
Grants should not be the main source of income for your organisation as you can't be 100% certain of success. Grants should be used when you have a project you want to do but you do not have the funds to get it going.
Including grants as part of your Income Generation strategy brings a new dynamic to your organisation. Applying for grants is risky and time consuming but even unsuccessful applications can be beneficial to your organisation. The high level of detail that is required in applications nowadays really makes you think long and hard about what you are trying to achieve. This in its self can invigorate an organisation and focus energy in to the key objectives. Unsuccessful applications are just a small bump in the road. If your are focused and have clear objectives you will get the resources even if it takes longer than planned or have to get them from a different place.
ACCOUNTING FOR GRANTS
Most organisations offering grants will expect you to be able to clearly identify in your accounts between project expenditure and normal expenditure of the charity. That means that your accounting system needs to be able to split out budget categories for certain projects. You must also make sure that the accounts team can easily access the documentation relating to the project expenditure as this will normally be required to draw down the actual money.
Income Generation often takes a long time as funding streams have to asses your application after you have submitted it. Often there are several different phases that you have to successfully get through to be able to go through to the next phase. To ensure you are able to keep a continuous process of projects getting funding and moving forward start working on the next project idea as soon as the initial project has been funded. This is were your five year plan can have a very useful influence. You may not know exactly what the next project will be, but from your five year plan you will be able to tell what sort of funding organisations your objectives might appeal to.
Charities use membership as a way of raising funds but also as a way of keeping there supporters more involved. It is easier to keep a wide base of support with membership as you will not need to constantly search for new supporters. Also remmeber that having an accounts team that can process payments and work closely with the administration department will help make having a membership easy.
For new charities and small charities one of the most effective ways of raising the money you need is by keeping an emailing list of supporters. This for small charities, is easier than a membership and it means that when you really need some extra funds yo can send every one on the list an email ask for support for a specific reason.
A mistake regularly made by businesses and charities is spending to much time and effort drawing in new supporters. This can lead to regular supporters becoming despondent and feeling left out. If long term supporters are leaving this is a bad sign and needs to be looked in to thouroughly.