Create a Winning Funding Strategy!
Even though most NYS agencies accept grant requests through the annual Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process, municipalities must remain proactive throughout the calendar year if they want to compete successfully for limited resources.
It takes consistent effort to navigate the universe of grant funding. Knowledge and experience are equally essential. Most importantly, for a local government to gain a competitive advantage, focus must be given to creating a “Grant Funding Strategy.”
According to the SmarterLocalGov team at MRB Group, a Grant Funding Strategy must contain the following key components:
- A big picture view of the community’s long-term goals, best achieved through a formal Comprehensive Plan process. If your community has a documented plan in place, you’re already part-way there! Learn more about the value of community planning here.
- A list of projects, including those in progress, as well as those planned for the future and on the community’s “wish list.” This compilation should span all municipal departments and all segments of the community, giving important context to decision-making about pursuit of funding. If there’s a companion local government within your jurisdiction, make their list of projects a noted addendum. Collaborative projects can often gain significant bonus points in funding competitions!
- Documented prioritization of projects. A project’s priority is not always based on mere preference. Sometimes projects, and their successful implementation, are inter-dependent. Prioritization helps to maintain important perspective, and will serve as a go-to reminder, helping to avoid impulsive decisions – easily made in the face of impatient developers, or fly-by-night “opportunities.” Note that this must be a dynamic list, as it could change in accordance with shifts in circumstances.
- Partnerships – “No man is an island” and no municipal administration has ever lifted major projects without coordinated effort. Developing relationships with community members, businesses, lenders, officials from other municipalities, professionals in economic development and planning, and state officials can create a network of partners who share and communicate your vision. Probably your greatest resource, this group is your “go-team.” Their readiness equates with instant responsiveness when an opportunity arises, and their involvement demonstrates a powerful coordination of influence and effort that state and federal funders are far more likely to support.
All of the above should be prepared well in advance of the “grant season.” This kind of planning serves many valuable purposes. Not only will you be better prepared when a grant opportunity comes along, but far more importantly, you won’t have to sort out opposing viewpoints and misunderstandings among community members and stakeholders, while attempting to write a narrative before the application deadline. In addition, as your community fields new ideas and proposed projects, there is a framework in place that ensures “the next shiny thing” doesn’t eclipse old, familiar, critical projects that may have lost some of their appeal over time.
Effective planning for projects and pursuit of grants to fund them will make your community more competitive. Your grant writing team will be better prepared to create a compelling and award-winning application narrative. Those who review grant requests and must choose among them will notice your effort. Why? Because your strategy for winning grants also demonstrates a powerful, proactive strategy for creating a successful community. This is precisely what funders are looking for, and where investors want to “buy in.”
Communicating your strategy provides strong indicators to potential funders:
- Your Comprehensive Plan describes a long-term community vision – and focus on success. Your plan supports – and is supported by – the project;
- Your public engagement shows that community members are behind the project, which fits in “the big picture.”
- Your priority list conveys a context of success. If this project is a catalyst for the next project on the list, funders will sense they get even more impact for their money. This is compelling!
- Your network of partners offers meaningful, collaborative professional support, often seen as the key to opening doors to greater financial investment. The larger and more influential your network, the greater the effect of its magnetism.
If you need help creating a Grants and Resource Strategy, MRB Group’s SmarterLocalGov team can help. Our work in communities is planning focused, providing local leaders with the tools they need to succeed. For community leaders with limited human resources, our team becomes an extension of their municipal staff.
To amplify your grants strategy, MRB Group’s grant writers constantly research new funding programs, and are well informed when there are updates. They understand the objectives behind rules and requirements, to better match available funding programs with coordinated community projects. They help communities leverage local financial commitments, magnifying their impact and making them attract attention.
To date, MRB Group team members have secured hundreds of millions of dollars for communities to fund infrastructure and public facility improvements, economic development activities, and community development. From small studies to $10M Downtown Revitalization Initiative awards, we’ve worked on critical projects that transform communities.
Our team members have direct experience in both competing for grants and reviewing/judging submissions for agencies selecting awardees, gaining perspective that is invaluable to municipal leaders seeking a competitive edge. They can help you create a winning grants strategy, and prepare grant proposals that compel significant investment in your community — rather than someone else’s.
Find out more at www.mrbgroup.com.