Expert Insight: Why Grantseeking Strategy Matters in Fund Development

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Josh Jacobson is Managing Director of NextStage Consulting, a firm dedicated to providing strategy and implementation support for nonprofit organizations. A firm believer in providing practical ways for organizations to bridge their gaps in strategy and sustainability, Jacobson spoke with Hanover Research about the many ways grantseeking can, and should, complement fund development initiatives.

Hanover Research: Why is it important to establish a grantseeking strategy, and why do some organizations shy away from doing so?

Josh Jacobson: A grantseeking strategy is a critical component to a fund development plan that is too often missing or an afterthought.  Some leaders of development offices see grantseeking as too technically challenging, overly-focused on outcomes that may not be a strength of the case for support, or too risky and competitive to allocate precious department budget to staff appropriately.

HR: How can philanthropy offices and grants offices work together to maximize funding streams?

JJ: Strong grant efforts beget philanthropy, and vice versa.  Individual donors are becoming increasingly savvy, looking for institutional giving as a sign of “moving the needle” on a cause.  Grantmakers are similarly looking at the percentage of individual giving as an indicator of vitality and sustainability.  These two offices should work together on messaging and strategy, finding opportunities to positively impact both efforts.

HR: In your experience, what is the best way to engage the board when it comes to grantseeking?

JJ: It is a misnomer to see grantseeking as wholly different than other forms of fundraising.  Relationships remain a key ingredient to securing investment, and an organization’s board members are likely to be an important part of the equation for prospect research.  Grantmakers look for engaged boards with strong executive leadership.  Involving key board members in the cultivation and solicitation process shows a grantmaker that accountability on project aims is a shared role.

HR: How can grant consultants advance the strategic aims of an organization?

JJ: One of the truest manifestations of the planning process is the pursuit of grant funding with the strategic roadmap as a platform.  Unlike many individual donors who may be more passionate about the work your organization is doing right this minute, grantmakers are typically as interested in long-range goal setting. Grant consultants can help translate ambition into action, informing the goal-setting process and making implementation possible with much-needed financial resources.

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About Josh Jacobson

JoshJosh specializes in strategic positioning and tactical implementation, helping nonprofits develop the platform and tools necessary to support effective operations and fundraising activities.  He proudly works with clients in the arts, health, human services, education and environmental sectors. Josh’s expertise is in strategic planning, the creation of annual and capital development plans, project management, case strategy, prospect research, grant writing and data flow. Prior to establishing Next Stage Consulting, Josh served as Managing Director of Patton McDowell & Associates where he led more than 50 client engagements with organizations throughout the Carolinas. Before relocating to NC, Josh worked in NYC – first as Senior Officer at The Juilliard School where he worked on the $150 million Campaign for Juilliard, and later as a Senior Resource Development Director with Manhattan Theatre Club on Broadway. Josh is an active member of the Charlotte chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he serves on the board of directors. A graduate of Flagler College, Josh and his wife Adara are proud parents of a corgi named Miyagi.

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