Grant Research: Make Better Strategic Decisions with a Decision Matrix

In the first article in this blog series, we identified a process to streamline your grant research. But how do you find the right grants for your specific needs? Enter the decision matrix.

No, this is not a new blockbuster sci-fi thriller. A decision matrix is a method you can use to evaluate a list of possible options. And it can be an important part of your grantseeking efforts.

When applied to grantseeking, a decision matrix provides a simple way to consider the various factors in play so you can determine which funding opportunities best fit your needs.

drawing of a man standing on a cloud watching a woman with a laptop working on GrantStation's decision matrix

The approach we outline is a two-step process. To start, you'll establish a set of criteria to evaluate your list of potential funders. Then, you'll “weigh” the different criteria based on your situation.

Creating Your Criteria

In this initial step, you'll ask yourself a series of questions to help you determine whether a funding opportunity is appropriate for your organization. The questions you ask yourself can vary depending on your needs, but if you've never performed this kind of evaluation before, here are some questions to get you started.

These first two questions will serve as a “first cut.” If these answers are “no,” the funding opportunity would not be a good fit for your project:

  • Do we meet their eligibility requirements?
  • Is this funding opportunity consistent with our mission?

These next questions are first-glance considerations you could evaluate:

  • Are we in the funder's geographic giving area?
  • Do we address the funder's areas of interest?
  • Do we serve their target population?
  • Does the funder provide the type and amount of support we need?

Next, here are some questions that may apply to your organization’s credibility and readiness:

  • What is our credibility with this funder?
  • Do we have the subject matter expertise for the project?
  • Do we have fiscal expertise to manage this award?
  • Are the project plan and budget already developed?
  • Do we have support from the board, staff, and partners?

At this point, you might want to evaluate the effort required and whether the timing is right. This will help you ensure that the funding opportunity is a good fit for your resources and that you won't be stretched too thin. With that in mind, consider the following:

  • How complex are their application guidelines?
  • Is there adequate time to write this proposal?
  • Does the funder require a copy of our latest financial audit?
  • Does the funder require a match?
  • Does the award date fit the project timeline?
  • How complex are their project evaluation requirements?

As you customize your decision-making matrix, add additional questions that make sense to your organization and project.

Evaluating Your Criteria

Next, it's time to determine the “weight” of the criteria by creating a numbering system. For example, you might evaluate each question or all criteria on a scale of one to five, or you could weigh some criteria higher or lower. Again, the idea is to make it relevant to your organization and situation to find the best funding opportunities for you.

The last step in creating the decision-making matrix is to identify your cutoff points. Establish the range amounts to decide if the funding opportunity

  • Should move forward to the strategy list
  • Needs further research or follow-up with the funder
  • Should not move forward

More at GrantStation, a TechSoup Partner

To amplify your grantseeking efficiency and effectiveness, we at GrantStation offer our members a range of resources. Our members gain access to the Decision Matrix, plus a personalized dashboard that allows you to preserve, assess, and monitor grantmakers on your journey toward securing crucial funding.

GrantStation members also get access to a database of U.S. charitable, federal, and state government funders that are actively accepting proposals and letters of inquiry.

TechSoup members can get a one-year GrantStation membership for just $99 on February 13 and 14, 2024.


Additional Resources

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