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Innovation sells — whether it’s business software, consumer products, or charitable ventures. You can ask almost any foundation representative in the country, and they’ll tell you that forward thinking projects with reasonable goals and well-defined objectives are going to be the favorites among the stacks of same-ol same-ol.
So how do you start an innovative grant writing initiatve? It’s not as simple splashing in some line-items for computers. Having access to a thought leader in technology is essential in the process. You can tap into a technology thought leader by recruiting a consultant, asking for in-kind assistance, or hiring a forward-thinking technology expert.
Ideally, the perfect grant writing strategy will include a 3-person team:
1) The thought leader.
This is the person who has been in the trenches in technology innovation. Either they’ve been in the venture-capital world or simply keep up with trends and hot tech that is new to market. They understand pie-in-the sky concepts but can boil these down to usable levels.
2) The technical-grant writer.
This is the person that can translate the thought-leaders vision into a grant with need statement, strategy, and outcomes. The writer doesn’t necessarily need to understand technology, but must have a good relationship through which he or she can communicate effectively with the thought leader. A good writer will strive to write a complete grant while minimizing the amount of involvement needed from the technical experts.
3) The forward-thinking executive.
Once the writer and thought leader have completed the grant, it needs executive buy-in. The leader must envision how the project will fit in to their organization and solicit top-down support within both the community and their own nonprofit.
Once you’ve got your team assemble, you might want to consider a starting project that is both of great value to your mission and also a continual revenue generator. These types of projects have modular components that can be scaled up in increments. When these projects hit their objectives with each expansion, they can become cash-cows for the organization and can propel the nonprofit to thought leadership status within their industry.