12 Strategies for Spreading Your Small Grant Further


Water RippleDo you want to make a big splash with grant dollars, but you can only make a small gift? Not a problem! Some of the most effective change starts with a small grant. Follow a few simple strategies to create a ripple effect with a small gift. Here are 12 ideas to help you make a big impact.

  1. Educate yourself. Who else is funding your issue? What’s needed and what can you do? Devote a day to researching your topic, and identify relevant experts and foundation program officers. Call or e-mail them to learn more.
  2. Invest in a great leader. Identify leaders you believe in, then support them. For example, provide executive coaching or management training so they can build a more effective team.
  3. Invest in a great organization. Identify a nonprofit that is creating social change and provide help. Your funds for strategic planning, a feasibility study, communications activities, or management information systems will be cherished more than you know.
  4. Focus your giving. Choose a single issue, region or affected population. Identify proven organizations in that area and support their most promising projects.
  5. Provide multiyear funding. When you support an organization over several successive years, you ensure that the staff can spend more time on programs and less on fund-raising. Your gift also tells other potential funders that this organization is worth serious commitment.
  6. Leverage your resources. Can you pool resources with other grantmakers who share your passion? Join existing funding collaboratives, giving circles, donor networks, or community foundations.
  7. Convene nonprofit leaders. You can play a critical role by simply bringing people together. Provide a conference room, reimburse meal or travel expenses, or help plan the meeting agenda. If you can’t host, cover the costs for a nonprofit staffer who couldn’t attend a conference otherwise.
  8. Fund an evaluation. Nonprofits know they need a thorough evaluation of their programs, but they also often lack the time, resources, and expertise. Even a modest grant can help organizations determine their impact by conducting surveys, interviews, or focus groups.
  9. Fund policy change. Local, state, and national policies can have far-reaching impact on people and communities. Support policy change by funding research on critical issues. Fund media advocacy, policy advocacy organizations, and advocacy training for grassroots leaders.
  10. Provide program-related investments. A PRI is a good investment if a nonprofit can generate income to repay your gift. Or make a below-market or no-interest loan, or pledge your credit as security for an organization’s bank loan.
  11. Fund globally. Small grants go far when you send them across the world. For example, make a donation to a community that is rebuilding after a tragedy (such as the typhoon in the Philippines), or support a local foundation there.
  12. Offer challenge grants. Jump-start an organization’s development efforts by offering a matching grant. Challenge grants have helped organizations raise money that exceeds their goals, inspiring entire communities to get involved.

With each gift you make, no matter the size, you empower others, encouraging new partnerships and laying the groundwork for future accomplishments. Make a list of three ways to make big change with small grants. Then choose just one small grant within the next two months to start your own ripple in the pond.

To learn more about increasing the impact of your grants and donations, read our article series including Do Your Homework To Increase Grantmaking Success and Who is Your Customer? Improve Your Grantmaking By Improving Your Focus.


Kris Putnam-Walkerly is a philanthropy expert and consultant. If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2014.

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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