Measuring Your Grant Seeking Success in 2016

The new calendar year is here. If you haven’t already taken time to finalize your 2016 grant calendar or prepare your 2016 grant seeking strategy as I suggested at the end of the year, it is never too late to get your pre-planning and strategy in order

By Diane H. Leonard, GPC


The new calendar year is here. If you haven’t already taken time to finalize your 2016 grant calendar or prepare your 2016 grant seeking strategy as I suggested at the end of the year, it is never too late to get your pre-planning and strategy in order.

As you work to implement your 2016 strategy, you may start to ask yourself, or members of your grant team may start to ask themselves, how do we measure our success this year?

Is it is the number of funded proposals?

The total dollar amount funded?

The increase in grant revenue from one year to the next?

There are a variety of ways that you and your grant team can consider as measurements of success for your grant seeking strategy including, but not limited to:

Award Rates

The most traditional of all grant success related metrics, award rates are influenced by numerous factors outside of the control of the grant writer or grant professional. Award rates vary by type of funder. Therefore, the mix of funder types that you are seeking funding from each year will also influence what an appropriate expected award rate could be in an organization. For example, exclusively applying to NIH would mean that an award rate higher than 13% would be excellent. Other private foundations, the award rate might be 5% or on the other end, 25%. It is hard to apply one universal award rate to all grant seeking.

Grant Professional Competencies

Making individual or team advancements on the nine (9) competencies that are tested for those seeking to earn their Grant Professional Certification to become a GPC is another important mark of grant seeking success and improvement each year. These competencies encompass all grant seeking best practices which are key to your overall success – strong research, focusing on grant maker relationships, and understanding program design. Increasing knowledge, understanding and utilization of these competencies and related skills increases your likelihood of grant seeking success.

Organization Capacity

Increasing the overall capacity of a grant seeking organization, regardless of grant revenue raised, strengthens the competiveness of each future grant application. Measuring your grant readiness using the proprietary GRASP Tool is one way to provide a grant specific metric for your organizational capacity to measure improvement on each year.

Program Pre-Planning

Facilitating a program pre-planning process to prepare for a future large government application, especially when a collaborative application, is a significant undertaking for a grant professional. This process often takes three to six months and managing the pre-planning process in the short term is not able to be reflected in your short-term grant revenue.

Grant Management

Successfully managing current grant funding, regardless of any pending or current grant applications is a huge success in all grant seeking organizations. Establishing your organization as a strong grantee with excellent grant management sets the stage for future success with continued funding from the current grant maker and also from future grant makers that inquire about previously implemented grant fund projects.

Grant Professional Return On Investment (ROI)

If you have wondered how to measure your own individual return on investment as a grant professional, the proprietary “Blitch-Broussard Return on Investment Calculator” is a wonderful free tool to help you measure “the value of grant professionals” and “incorporates the value of investments, of course, and also the outputs and intrinsic value grant professionals bring to organizations.” The difficulty of applications, the variety of funding sources and other key factors are taken into account in this calculator to help put formal metrics to ROI to share with colleagues, grant team members and organization leadership.


Best Approach to Measuring Grant Seeking Success

Using a combination of the measurement tools and concepts above will provide the strongest idea of overall grant seeking success for your organization rather than relying exclusively on one measurement. The next time your grant team gets together, talk about what your current definitions of grant seeking success are and which measurement tools or ideas above you are currently using. What other measurement tools or concepts could you add that would expand your definition for your organization’s grant seeking success? Set baselines for each and goals for 2016. Best wishes for an incredibly successful grant seeking year in 2016!

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