Many nonprofit organizations depend on grants. And it’s probably true that such grants determine their programming.
In the case of the organization I work for, we come up with projects first and then try to find funds to support them. Luckily, we have a publisher (we’re a university press journal) that has made it possible for us to earn revenue through online publication. Institutions around the world subscribe to our journal through two digital repositories (I hope that is the right word), thus making it possible for us to earn enough to fund production. Interestingly enough, about two-thirds of our subscribers are outside the U.S.; some of these are African countries that get a subsidy to cover subscription.
We apply for grants mainly to support our staff and pay our contributors. Because we are an international journal, we occasionally apply for funding from foreign agencies, which adds another layer of complexity to our operations.
On a few occasions, we have modified a project to fit the requirements of a grant, it’s true. For the most part, though, I can say we are editorially driven–not driven by fiscal or marketing requirements.