Last week, we examined how to read, understand, and respond to funding opportunities. In this final blog post on applying to funding opportunities, we explore how doing research and outreach can help your proposal succeed!
Research and outreach is a critical component of acquiring funding that should be done at every stage of the process. Research and outreach can help you identify future funding opportunities, build relationships with partners and donors, and strengthen your proposal.
While identifying funding opportunities, research your competitors and similar projects to see who they have acquired funding from in the past. Their donors can be potential sources of funding for your organization as well. You should also pay attention to trends in funding, but be careful not to go beyond the scope of your organization. If you notice that donors have a tendency to fund projects focusing on women farmers, than you may want to consider incorporating a stronger gender strategy into your organization in the long term.
Once you have identified a particular funding opportunity, research other successful projects and competitors that the donor has funded. You can even contact these projects or organizations with questions. Use these examples to identify what the strengths and weaknesses of the projects were, what parts of their structure the donor liked, and what the donor’s funding trends are. These insights can make your proposal more appealing to the donor.
You should use outreach to build a relationship with the donor by attending events, question and answer sessions, contacting the donor’s local office, and contacting the point of contact for funding proposals directly with questions. In addition to strengthening the relationship, you may also be able to acquire additional information. This networking should be an ongoing process, not just when a funding opportunity is released.
It is also important to make partnerships with other organizations early. If it is your first time seeking funding, it is especially valuable to make partnerships with organizations that have received funding in the past. For smaller business, these partnerships can also help solve problems of limited scope and capabilities.
Before you write the proposal, take field trips to the target country so you can meet with stakeholders and understand the unique context you will be working in. An important quality that donors look for is that your solution is tailored to meet the specific needs of the country and community you will be working with.
Finally, if you do not win a funding opportunity, you can still contact the donor to ask for connections or technical expertise. In many cases, the donor will refer you to other organizations or have experts on staff that can give you additional support. You should also apply multiple times to the same donor organization!
Now that you’ve finished our series on understanding funding opportunities, you can apply your new skills and find funding on the AgTechXChange!