The nonprofit grant landscape is shifting rapidly. Major changes are on the horizon that could make or break your organization's funding.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk through 5 grant funding trends you need to know for 2024 so you can position your nonprofit for success. Master these trends and your nonprofit will be primed for big grant wins!
1. Government Grants Are Declining
Let's start with the bad news first. Due to budget deficits and shrinking discretionary spending, government grants are becoming more scarce. Federal and state grant programs that nonprofits relied on in the past are drying up. In many African countries, for example, Nigeria and Kenya, the government has been experiencing certain issues as regards its budget in recent years, and this has impacted funding for grants. However, some grant programs, such as those focused on agriculture, entrepreneurship, health, and education are still operational.
With less government money available, competition over remaining funds is intensified. Nonprofits like food banks, clinics, and housing agencies that counted on renewable government grants now face uncertain futures. Grant sizes are shrinking, so nonprofits must cobble together funding from multiple sources to make up for shortfalls.
You can't depend on predictable government funding the way you used to. Diversifying income streams is now an urgent imperative. A free health clinic can no longer rely on a government grant for 75% of its budget. It now must court corporate and private donors to fill growing gaps.
Explore corporate sponsors and partner with a foundation on a matching grant to make up for shortfalls. Don't put all your eggs into the government basket. And get proactive communicating with grant officers and program managers at target government agencies. Ask how budget cuts are impacting priorities and grant cycles. Use this intel to mold proposals accordingly.
2. Philanthropy Is Taking A Bigger Role
As government funding declines, philanthropy is stepping in to fill the void. Foundation and individual giving now account for a larger share of nonprofit revenue. Studies show that African philanthropy is snowballing. The African Philanthropy Forum estimates that individual giving in Africa doubled between 2010 and 2020. There's also increased participation from high-net-worth individuals and corporate foundations in Africa. More international foundations and wealthy individuals are directing their resources towards Africa. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The MacArthur Foundation have significant projects in Africa.
With government funding drying up, nonprofit groups are now turning more to foundations and donors, which means more grant applicants chasing fewer dollars. Amidst this, you must ensure to get noticed.
Getting noticed entails crafting proposals specifically tailored to what motivates philanthropists. You must convince donors your cause aligns with their values and funding priorities. For example, highlighting how nutrition programs address a donor’s interest in supporting low-income families’ health increases your chances of securing the grant. It’s no longer just about tugging heartstrings. Concrete impact data is crucial.
Cultivating relationships with philanthropists and foundations is critical. For instance, a charity focused on animal welfare that connects with pet lovers among successful musicians or Nollywood actors is more likely to get funding for its well-designed project or program. These individuals often have a public image they care about and might be more inclined to support a cause they believe in.
Here’s what to do:
- Identify foundations funding similar work and get on their radar.
- Network with wealthy donors in your community.
- Pitch to individual donors how monthly gifts of even $10 or $20 can make a difference.
- Share beneficiary success stories with a human touch.
- Report back often to retain donors by showing them the impact they enable.
In the new philanthropy-driven era, nonprofits must master the art of connecting donor passions with community needs for win-win grant relationships.
3. Metrics and Results Rule the Day
Gone are the days when worthy causes automatically qualified for grants. Today, grant funders demand proof that funding makes an impact. Grantmakers use measurements to see how well the grants are working. This helps them decide if the grants are good, saves them time and money, and lets them look at more options. Tracking how well grants work helps make giving grants better overall.
Grant proposals must demonstrate concrete results through data collection and evaluation. Simply asserting your program works isn't enough.
You must define key performance indicators, gather baseline data, and track progress. This enables you to quantify outcomes like students tutored, jobs created, and emergency room visits reduced. No metrics? No money!
You must present funders with a clear logic model for how program activities link to measurable outputs and outcomes. Collect plenty of pre- and post-program data to showcase change over time. Use surveys, interviews, assessments, and other evaluation tools. Translating your mission into measurable objectives shows funders you take accountability seriously. It also helps you improve programs.
Don't be intimidated by "metrics" and "data." Start simple by regularly collecting participant numbers, test scores, or other goals. Over time, you refine data techniques.
4. Collaboration Trumps Competition
Siloed nonprofits are losing funding to integrated, collaborative ventures. Grantmakers want to see organizations team up for greater community impact vs compete for scarce resources. Many funders prefer to fund collaborations versus individual nonprofits. Only a few grants go to organizations working independently. Funders see joint programming, and alliances as more sustainable.
In the past, nonprofits could get away with narrowly focused, duplicative efforts. Now they are pushed to break down walls. Funders favour collective impact networks addressing complex issues holistically. For example, an alliance improving high school graduation rates could include nonprofits focused on tutoring, mentoring, family support, and job training. Collaboratives allow nonprofits to pool resources, reduce duplication, and provide coordinated services.
Seek out mutually beneficial partnerships with nonprofits providing complementary services. Brainstorm creative ways to pool efforts for deeper community impact. Share funding, facilities, data, or staff expertise. Joint programming brings together each organization's strengths while reducing costs. Moving from isolation to integration positions your nonprofit to gain a share of collaborative funding dollars.
5. Innovation Is In
Tired old programs won't cut it anymore. To win grants, you need to pioneer trailblazing solutions with fresh approaches to chronic social problems. Top grant priorities include new program models, technologies, evaluation techniques, and processes. Funders increasingly support advocacy in addition to programs.
The days of sticking to rigid program templates are over. Grantmakers want to fund experimentation and even bold failures over business as usual. This means crafting programs personalized to community needs vs generic models. It means leveraging new technologies like telehealth and data analytics. And thinking completely outside the box. Proposing bold interventions - even if untested - shows the ambition funders want to get behind.
Don't be afraid to take calculated risks and push boundaries. Ask:
- How could we disrupt our field to multiply impact?
- What unconventional approaches could drive breakthrough results?
- How might we leverage technology or communications for greater reach?
- What advocacy could help tackle the root causes of social problems?
Draft some "imagine if" ideas to jolt stagnant thinking and try them out as pilots. Testing bold concepts positions you for larger implementation dollars.
The Future Is Yours to Shape
Major grant funding shifts are underway. But by understanding these key trends for 2024, your nonprofit can adapt and seize funding opportunities.
Rather than become discouraged, get excited about the future. Lean into these funding changes and craft an ambitious vision for how your nonprofit will drive change. With strategic positioning and creative thinking, your organization can chart a thriving funding course in 2024 and beyond! Start now by hiring a grant writer here.