For municipalities, counties, and boards of education, the start of a new year can serve as a great time to engage in a strategic planning process. Strategic planning can provide an organization with a mechanism to identify their guiding principles, lay out their goals for the year ahead, and outline a plan for how they will achieve them. One key element that should always be included in any strategic planning process is the development of a strategy for procuring public and private sector grant opportunities.
Millennium Strategies has decades of experience helping our municipal, county, and board of education clients develop annual grant procurement strategies and has experienced firsthand the positive impact that they can have. While there is no set format that an organization should follow when developing their strategy, below are several key elements that we would recommend any organization incorporate into their planning process.
- Identify Potential Funding Streams. Develop a list of grant opportunities that are applicable to your organization. This list should include grant opportunities from both the public and private sector sources as well as those that are classified as being non-competitive (i.e. non-technical, locally focused, and routinely funded) and competitive (i.e. highly technical, regionally/nationally focused, and less routinely funded) in nature.
- Convene Key Stakeholders. Gather administrators, department heads, and other key staff from within your organization to gain valuable insight into what key projects and programs they are seeking funding for. Members of your organization should be prepared to demonstrate the significance of and need for the projects and programs they are proposing.
- Align Funding Streams with Key Projects/Programs: Analyze the focus of each grant opportunity identified (e.g. STEM education, transportation, open space, etc.) and determine which ones best align with the key projects and programs identified by the members within your organization (e.g. science club program, resurfacing of roadways, constructing new turf fields, etc.).
- Delegate Responsibility: Ensure that all staff within your organization understand which grants they are responsible for. This includes who is responsible for monitoring when grant application periods open, preparing and filling the applications, and tracking the status of applications once they have been submitted.
- Start Planning: Begin preparing and/or gathering key documentation that will be needed to support the applications being prepared for key projects (i.e. engineering cost estimates, conceptual plans, etc.) and programs (i.e. program budget, staff resumes, etc.).
- Centralize Information: Create a consolidated repository for all pertinent information. Having a centralized location where your grant strategy and other key documentation can be stored will ensure that all members of your team have access to this information when they need it.
- Review Regularly: It is almost impossible to plan for every situation and priorities may often shift or change throughout the course of the year. Make it a point to review your strategy on a regular basis to ensure that it remains up to date.
By taking these steps at the beginning of each year, your organization will continuously be several steps ahead of the competition as grants become available throughout the course of the year. If you would like to learn more about how we have helped guide our clients through the strategic planning process, please feel free to contact us today.