Networking + Grants = Success

Apr 09, 2024

by Aliess Kingsley, COO of Granted

Symbiotic relationships are those where each party benefits from the association with the other. You can see these relationships in many spaces, but especially in nature. In the gardening world, we call this companion planting—the art of growing plants near each other—because of their ability to enhance or complement each other. For instance, the tribes of North America historically planted corn, beans, and squash in the same area, calling it the “Three Sisters.” These three plants work together to make each one stronger than it would be on its own. Beans are known to fix and continually supply nitrogen to the soil; corn offers its tall stalks for the beans to climb; and squash provides a living mulch with its broad leaves shading the soil, reducing evaporation, and decreasing weed competition. Remove one, and the entire ecosystem becomes a little weaker. 

Nonprofits, like nature, need to diversify the species in their gardens in order to be successful. Relying on just one crop (grants) limits the abilities of the nonprofit to reach its objectives and outcomes. Grants need a companion (or two or three) to truly thrive. So what’s the perfect companion to grants in the world of fundraising? I’m so glad you asked. 

It's your network. 

"My network," you say? "What does that even mean?" 

The power of networking offers a transformative pathway to amplify the reach and impact of your nonprofit. The best part? You don’t even have to hire any additional staff to grow your network. You already have your board, stakeholders, and the community members you serve. 

Remember that your board isn’t just there for governance. You asked them to join because of their community connections and passion for your mission, but all too often, nonprofit leaders guide board members to focus exclusively on the administrative portion of board meetings. Your board is a powerhouse of networks and potential introductions. More often than not, they have the corporate ties or connections you’ve been looking for to kickstart a partnership or even future funding options. These connections could lead to grants, major gifts, volunteer opportunities, and more! Reserving time at each board meeting to cultivate board members’ networks is essential to your success. 

Diversifying your nonprofit’s support is less about casting a wide unknown net, and more about leveraging the powerful networks you already have. Networking and grants work together to amplify your mission, diversify your support, and broaden your reach. When these elements come together, you’re building a well organized and symbiotic foundation from which you can grow your fundraising garden.