Breaking Down Grant Silos

How Do ‘Grant Silos’ Impact Our Grant Success?

This past week we talked about Grant Silos on #Grantchat – you  can find the full chat archive here or here.

What is silo mentality? The Business Dictionary defines the silo mentality as a mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same organization. This type of mentality will reduce efficiency in the overall operation, reduce morale and may contribute to the demise of a productive organization culture.

What comes to mind for you when you hear the phrase “Grant Silos”?

We think of barriers, convoluted language and a lack of transparency – @ShinemanFound

Silos indicate non-communication. Working in a vacuum. Having blinders on to needs and resources around you. – @NonprofitBecky

For me, grant silos evokes how project-based funding can suck the air from an organization’s larger mission.- @lindenchariot


Silos are not unique to our profession or our organizations.  It is not a trendy term.  ‘Silo’ is a term that has been used in business, government and nonprofits for over 30 years.  It seeps into our organizations and destroys progress, communication and vision. What are the largest ‘silo’ issues we experience as grant professionals?

We face a disconnect between what development and fundraising staff want to raise money for, and what the program staff truly need. – @CharlisaGarg

Silos create lack of time to focus on the project and think through best practices, outcomes, sustainability and perpetuate an attitude of ‘just give us the grant design’. @GPA_SETC

Silos impact our grant seeking and grant success by reducing the our ability to partner and your ability compete for grants. Silos reduce visibility and credibility of a program or organization. Silos increase duplication of efforts and reduce an organization’s’ efficiency, effectiveness and growth.

How does an organization identify the source of a ‘silo mindset’? With most organizations, silos are the result of inconsistent and opposing leadership. Therefore, preventing or breaking down silos and changing the silo mentality is a responsibility of leaders within the organization. Leaders have a role in understanding where the silos in an organization exist, to identify barriers created by silos and address the silo mentality within the organization.

Organizational leaders affect the whole culture of the organization. If they start breaking down silos, others will follow. @turner_bethany

You may be thinking, “I am not a leader in my organization! I am frustrated and I have no power to make organizational changes. I don’t have a title or position that could breakdown these organizational barriers!”

As Grant Professionals, we can be leaders in our organizations. Certainly, we expect managers, directors and top level executives to be strong leaders for our organizations. However, the true act of leadership isn’t limited to people with certain titles.

True leadership is an activity, not a position.

As a grant professional, we have an opportunity to take a grant application and use it as a tool to increase cross-functional solutions, to include a cross-section of stakeholders in the project design, and to build a sense of  interconnectedness around a unified vision.

I believe the grant process as a team approach naturally breaks down silos – gives team members tools to connect with others. Plus grants themselves encourage and require collaboration and leveraging of resources – which we can emphasize.- @GaylaRawlinson

Grant professionals are in a unique position to see all parts of an organization – from administration to program and support. Grant Professionals should be key silo killers. @NonprofitBecky

As grant professionals, we are uniquely positioned and tasked with developing grant applications – similar to business plans – based upon an understanding of the organizations we work with, their partners and the needs of the communities and people we serve – and, to see all of this as an interconnected and interdependent ecosystem. When we work with this mindset we can see silos and begin to break the silos down. When we educate leadership about the requirements for partnerships, community engagement and leveraging diverse funding streams – we begin to break down silos.  Our role in creating strong Grant Teams that include cross-department stakeholders who can use cloud-based tools to cooperatively develop their vision, budgets and workplans breaks down silos.

Are you experiencing ‘Grant Silos’ in your organization or with your clients? How do you break down silos within the organizations you serve?  Please leave your comments, ideas and links to posts that are relevant to this topic in our comments section.



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