Silos: Good for Cattle Feed—Terrible for Grants and Fundraising

Feb 22, 2024 | Grant Writing

Image of three grey silos

Silos are great for storing fermented hay or corn to feed cattle but make a terrible model for grants and fundraising success.

So why do so many nonprofit professionals insist on separating two key revenue-generating functions—rarely working together or even taking sides in some imaginary rivalry? Habit? Obsession with timeless agricultural techniques? Who knows?

In the latest episode of the Fundraising HayDay podcast Chief Development Officer Kara Mostowy shares real world advice and experience in breaking down those unnecessary and unhelpful silos that so often separate grant writers and fundraisers. Take a listen HERE.

She starts by calling out the similarities.

Fundraisers and grant writers both:

1. Approach their work as an opportunity to make things happen for nonprofits.
2. Share the need to see the agency’s overall strategy and mission, while understanding the specific needs and priorities of its programs and projects.
3. Require high levels of project management skills.
4. Depend on relationship-building whether through people making donations or program officers and trustees overseeing grant making.

Bridging the gaps of perception that still separate these two vital roles will bring in more money to better serve and transform communities for the better.

So, let’s break down those harmful stereotypes.

1. Grant writers seasoned in research can provide excellent, data-driven talking points for fact sheets and other donor communication.
2. Fundraisers can use their networks to connect grant writers to family foundations to better connect with foundation program officers or trustees.
3. Working together, grant writers and fundraisers can crack the code of how best to connect to people who establish donor-advised funds through community-based or issue/focus-based foundations.

If you work in a smaller agency, you may be the fundraiser and the grant writer. And while you may have a preference for one or the other, the overall skill set makes for a much stronger development strategy.

Let’s stop acting like all fundraisers are extroverted networking machines and all grant writers are timid scriveners tucked away in corner cubicles.

How have you bridged this harmful divide at your agency?

Kimberly Hays de Muga
Fundraising HayDay

A podcast about grants & such.

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