This Couple Was Recognized By President Obama For Their Community Impact Work–Here Are Their Tips For Securing Funding For Your Mission Project

30 years ago, John & Pamela Gregory had $0 in funding when they set out to found an organization aimed at the advancement of underserved Black Americans. Today, they have raised millions in funding, assisted thousands in obtaining employment along with other sustaining resources typically unavailable in their communities.

Their early struggle with securing funding isn’t singular. A 2020 report found that Black-led organizations are less likely to win grant money than their white counterparts, and if they do the opportunity comes with more strings attached.

Social enterprise consultancy Bridgespan and Echoing Green released findings that showed white-led groups had grant budgets that were 24 percent larger than those led by people of color. It also found that groups led by black women received less money than those led by black men or white women.

This is a hurdle the Gregorys’ were keenly aware, but they forged ahead and built an impressive legacy that includes the following organizations: The National Center for Urban Solutions, The National African American Male Wellness Agency, Academy for Urban Solutions, and NCUS TEC. 

The couple sat down with Essence to share some key tips other non-profit leaders can use to secure funding and further their mission work. Here’s what they had to say.

Create A Marketing Plan That Speaks to Your Results 

“Corporations and individuals are looking for people that are making an impact and have proven that they can get results. Your marketing plan should get straight to the point of what results in you’re getting, the goals you’ve accomplished, and how many people you’ve reached. It should include who you’re targeting, the importance of why you’re targeting who you’re targeting and why you’ve been successful in your approach.” 

When You Think of Funding Don’t Always Think You Have to Go So Big 

“You can go for $5-$10k funding opportunities that can over time grow to $50k and then you can build from there. Often people think they have to go for the big bucks first versus starting smaller and building from there. Once you show you can deliver with smaller budgets you build trust and relationships so the next time around they’ll be confident in giving you more funding.”

Create Partnership and Relationships 

“Building relationships is more than 50% of the work that goes into getting funding. Set up meetings, and invite them to lunch and other events your organization is doing. Call them up on FaceTime and engage in Zoom calls so they get a better understanding of the services you’re providing. They need to see and hear your passion because the key is for them to believe in you. At the same time, you have to make sure you’re meeting their objective as well. It has to be mutually beneficial so it’s important to do your research and make sure your goals align.”

Offer Free or Discounted Services When Starting Off 

“When starting it’s important to be open to the idea of providing free services. One of the largest funding contracts we closed was a result of projects we did for free. They were so impressed that they brought us on board for some other projects. Don’t place yourself out of the market because your prices are too high compared to your competitors. You also have to sale them why they should choose you over other competitors. It’s important to ask yourself how your organization is different from other organizations and why.” 

Have A Strong, Professional, and Reliable Team 

“It’s important to have people on your team that make a great impression, that are organized, who exude professionalism, and who are as passionate as you. It’s also great to have a team of people that have different backgrounds than you and can offer different areas of expertise so that all bases are covered. If you can show an individual or company that you work great as a team then they’re more likely to want to work with you.”

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