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Myth: A grant can solve any problem.

Reality: Grants are not panaceas.


This post is part of a series on Myths in Grant Seeking.


Some organizations pursue grants on the premise that if they only had more funding then all of their problems would be solved. When they chase grants without first closely examining their needs and building a plan to resolve them, they are adhering to the Myth of Singularity. One variant of this myth turns up as: ‘We have money problems so we need a grant.’ A second variant surfaces as: ‘If we only had a grant, it would solve all of our money problems.’


In reality, a lack of funding may signal other needs, such as a need to diversify funding sources or a need to intensify efforts to obtain them. The same lack of funding may signal a need to organize the applicant on a more formal basis, a need for a strategic plan, a need for improved governance or leadership, a need for more extensive public engagement, or a need for better financial management. All of these needs, in turn, may indicate a more general lack of grant readiness.


Adherence to the Myth of Singularity imperils an applicant’s long-term viability. Applicants that rely heavily or exclusively on grants for funding may implode or fail entirely when grant funding periods end or when funders change priorities or cease to award grants.


Grants serve applicants better if they form only one part of a blend of several funding types and are not the sole type of support. Other types of support may include fees for service, gifts, endowments, investments, and volunteer support, among many others. Grants are more apt to help in solving an organization’s problems if they advance its vision and strategic plan than if they are sought reactively in panic over a looming crisis in finances.


The next post in this series on Myths in Grant Seeking will address the Myth of Relationships.


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