Groundhogs and Grant Experts Predict What’s Ahead in 2011

February 2, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

It’s that day of the year again – when Americans carry out the strange practice of letting a rodent portend the future.  And this morning, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, supposedly heralding an early spring. While many storm-pummeled communities and utilities around the country would love to believe Phil’s “prediction,” we all know that it’s silly. He honestly didn’t seem to be looking around for his shadow at all, and with all the media lights, how could anyone tell if he saw a real shadow or not anyway?

For important things like predicting the weather, you need real experts, like the professionals at NOAA. (As an aside, I had the pleasure of working with some of NOAA’s Acquisition & Grants Office staff in 2009 and 2010, and I admired their efforts to standardize and streamline their processes throughout the grant making lifecycle.)

A few weeks back, I asked nine grant experts for predictions on the biggest grant seeking, grant making and grants management challenges in 2011, plus tips and recommendations for dealing with them. The experts based their observations and predictions on decades of professional experience in the grants world – as grant writers, consultants, grant makers and government and nonprofit grant recipients.

Here are excerpts from four of the responses (subscribers to Thompson’s Local/State Funding Report can read all of the experts’ predictions in their entirety in our Jan. 31 issue):

Watch for a lot of federal RFPs coming out soon as agencies try to get ahead of rumored rescissions coming down the pike to funds already allocated but not spent.  Monitor agencies closely and fasten your seat belt!

– Glen Price, president, Glen Price Group

My big grant-related prediction (or fear) is the possible impact of shrinking budgets combined with increased accountability and transparency in reporting.

– Current federal government contractor and former federal employee

Grantees need to understand the increased level of competitiveness for funds and thoroughly understand grantmakers’ needs, funding limits and policies. They should also be more efficient and apply for funds that truly meet their mission and activities; don’t clog up the grantmaking pipeline with unnecessary applications.

– Donna L. Gassie, director of programs, Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth

I think one of the biggest grants challenges will be increased pressure from bosses and boards to find more grants as a response to decreases in other funding sources.  Continue to steward and strengthen existing relationships … undertake “smart” and targeted grant seeking … and continue your ongoing process of educating those in your organization about “the giving pie.”

– Cheryl Kester, owner and principal, Thomas-Forbes and Kester

How does it look from where you’re sitting?  What do you think will be your biggest grant-related challenges this year, and how are you preparing for them?

[Photo by wombat434/flickr]

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