Ensuring Mission Alignment before Applying
The mission of a public, private, or nonprofit sector organization is the ultimate driver of their actions. To translate often lofty and theoretical missions into specific actions, organizations set goals to direct their organization’s activities toward accomplishing the mission.
When it comes to federal grants, no one works alone. Government grants involve at least two parties—the federal awarding agency and the award recipient. So, to promote the public good and to accomplish the goal of the grant program, it is critical that the award recipient and federal agency share the same mission and goals.
With synergy in missions and goals, both the awarding agency and the award recipient can work together to accomplish the public good as defined in a grant program’s authorizing legislation.
Paradigm Shift—‘Should We?’ Not Just ‘Can We?’
In the first entry in the Grant Writing Basics series, we encouraged you as prospective applicants to first answer the question of whether you are even eligible to receive the grant. This is the “Can we get this grant?” question. If that answer is yes, one of the next questions to consider is, “Should we invest our limited resources to do the specific work required by the grant?”
To be sure, this is a complicated question to answer; you need to consider your mission, qualifications, capabilities, strategy, available resources, and many other factors.
First in that list is assessing whether your mission aligns with the mission of the federal awarding agency. This also includes assessing whether your goals sufficiently align with the goals of the grant program.
Ultimately, you must answer this for yourself. If you believe the answer is yes to the ‘should we?’ question, then please apply! Federal agencies want as many quality, public-serving applicants as possible.
Practical Implications—Mission Misalignment Can Lead to Problems
If your mission and goals do not align with the federal agency and its grant program, it may lead to the following problems:
- Wasted Resources Applying—Federal agencies also consider the alignment questions as part of the review process. Insufficient alignment may contribute to a rejected application.
- Poor Performance—No matter how awesome and effective your organization may be, if you get a grant but do not pursue the grant program goals then you may fail to accomplish the public-serving mission of the federal agency.
- Suspension and Debarment—If you receive a grant, then spend the funds according to your own goals rather than those specified in the grant documents, then you risk committing fraud or abuse of federal funds. Please take steps to avoid the suspension and debarment list, which includes not applying for a grant with which you may not have sufficient mission alignment.
How Do I find the Mission and Goals of the Grant?
1) Review the federal awarding agencies’ missions and grant programs to identify those you should apply for.
2) Read the official funding opportunity announcement (FOA), which will define the overall purpose and more specific grant program goals. Please read this document carefully, then honestly assess whether your mission and goals sufficiently align.