Identifying Discriminators

Identifying the Discriminators

As Warren Yerks explains in your textbook, discriminators are not the things that discriminate YOU from the competition, but the things that the customer feels are of critical importance. By now you should have some answers to those critical questions we discussed in the last chapter. If you've got good information, you should be able to begin the job of defining the grantor's discriminators.

The Three Types of Discriminators
Discriminators, like influences, tend to be of three types: financial, technical, and altruistic.

Financial Discriminators
Nearly every funding source has a limited amount of funds. This generally breaks down into a concern for one of two kinds of discriminators: the "bang for the buck" and the "return on investment."

Technical Discriminators
These are discriminators which focus on your ability to be precise, to meet goals, and to comply with the grantor's specifications. The grantor who is concerned with these matters is often an agency under scrutiny. For example, a local funding agency which is "under the gun" from community activists or groups may need reassurances that your program or project is going to satisfy the interests of those groups. Your ability to communicate this will be of paramount importance. In fact, how well you can illustrate that you're "on top of things" may be more important than the actual concept of your project or program.

Altruistic Discriminators
In some cases, the ability to achieve the altruistic goals of the grantor may be what they're looking for. It all depends upon credibility. If you can show that you've achieved similar goals in the past or that they have people who will be working with you who have experience with these things, you may be what they're looking for. Unfortunately, simply believing in a cause or a goal usually isn't enough. Ralph Nader was an activist for a long time before he was able to get funding for his work. It wasn't until he took on the automobile industry and won, that granting agencies started to respond favorably to his efforts because he had proven he could do it. You may not have the credibility of a Ralph Nader, but you can look for ways to establish it.

The Discriminator Session
Yerks suggests that you sit down with your team and brainstorm a list of discriminators. That's good if you have a team, but if you're working on your own, it's not practical; however, you can do the next best thing. If at all possible, find at least one other person willing to work with you on the proposal (at least on this part of it) who has some knowledge of the grantor. Ask him or her to sit down with you and, using the textbook and these lectures as a guide, work up a list of discriminators. Don't worry about how it looks, whether it's in complete sentences or not. And don't worry about length.

Once your list is complete, take a break. This can even be an entire day long. Then, when you return to the list your job is to cull it down to the top five. These are the ones you believe to be the most important to the grantor. To the best of your ability, you should have come up with a list of the five things that your grantor values the most from those to whom a grant is given. Having done that, you'll be ready to generate a theme. And that's what we'll explain in the next lecture.

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