Friday, August 31, 2007

Predicting the Future of Fundraising: We're On Our Way, But Who's At the Helm?

Gayle Roberts, author of the Fundraising for Nonprofits blog, kindly invited me to write this post for her September 2007 Giving Carnival . If you blog about fundraising, Gayle invites you to also post using The Future of Fundraising as the topic. You must submit your post to her, at gayle[at]gayleroberts[dot]com, by September 4th. The details are available at:

I am going to follow her suggested outline...

I see a Democrat replacing the current White House administration. As the Dems are now the party of responsible budgetary management; ten years from now, I predict that the economy will be stable and stronger. So, American donations will continue to grow from year to year, annually, as it used to in the United States, prior to 9/11. Public needs programs, that the current federal government has cut from budgets, will be re-infused with attention and tax dollars. Social Security, health care, and public education are among the top concerns in the United States, today, besides the economy. If we want public programs we have to pay for them. With these public programs and our infrastructure fracturing from age, the United States will have to assess itself in a fundamental way; are we going to fund public needs in this country. If we are; how will we dedicate appropriate consistent funding, from presidential administration to presidential administration, guaranteeing Americans' continued safety, best quality of life, and health?

This dialogue may create permanent dedicated public funding. Even if this doesn't happen, public foundations and other grant donors will continue to strengthen the American 501(c)... organizations, as they already are, by providing partnerships and donations that the government doesn't. Grant donors, for example, bolster government giving by uniquely supporting seed money, pilot programs, and most importantly, the non profit sector's strength; innovation. For further discussion on this point, please see my post about The Rockefeller Foundation's President, Judith Rodin at Grant Writers, Get an Inside Peak at Where Our Foundation Donors' Heads Are

We non profit organizations and our donors are beginning to learn best practices. In ten years, donors will be seen as partners and investors in our non profit mission goals. Impact, performance, and track record will be everything, so transparency will have increased on both the non profit and donor sides. In ten years I hope we're more accepting of the effective methods of setting short term goals, setting measurable outcomes, checking progress as the program occurs, making appropriate adjustments if needed, and ultimately changing the root causes of our modern day problems that non profits (and their donor partners) want to solve.

You and I know that the Internet has increased the ability for those in need and for those who work to effect change to communicate. What's more is donors can speak to one another and non profit organizations can easily partner and form alliances in their programs, no matter where they are each based. But, non profits must move into the technology sector and keep up with it for this to happen. Funding is often the excuse why a given office isn't online, but many computers, networks, software packages, etc. ARE available at drastically lower or no cost to non profits. I've utilized 'Web 2.0', blogging about grant writing for years. Two years ago, though, I moved to a state where they weren't thinking about Web 2.0 as a business advantage, yet. I belong to a professional non profit list serve, here in Oregon, that I noticed edited out my blog web address in my business contact information-signature, if I sent an email to the list serve! Finally, after enough times experiencing this censorship, I emailed the webmaster explaining that blogs are considered a legitimate means of business contact, and in fact major non profit professional affiliations and publications (i.e. The Foundation Center) encourage non profits to use blogs to reach their constituency. After, my posts were posted in full, uncensored. I followed up with a 'thank you', and a link to a recent article that The Foundation Center published encouraging the very same technology. There is a learning curve, which is fine.

Economic changes such as globalization will help grow the third world's middle class, but may separate the American middle class from the American wealthy even more. If NAFTA, WTO, and other globalization treaties that the United States is involved with do not redefine and address protecting American jobs, markets, and imports (for American consumers' safety), globalization's effect on the American middle class may become an issue for grantmakers and non profits to address.

Ben Casselman demonstrated why social entrepreneurism is not effective fundraising. In ten years social entrepreneurism will either be revamped or gone. In large part, no organization (non or for profit) can operate two businesses (a non profit office and say, a store) with one staff or one work day. See my post: As Casselman Points Out; Social Enterprise Fundraising is Not All Kittens, Chocolates, or Roses

Congress wants to be able to better see what American 501(c)... non profit organizations are doing (or not doing). In 2009, the IRS will require that the American non profits that raise $25,000 or more, from the 2008 fiscal year on, fill out a new IRS tax form 990. The hope is that the government will get better reporting on not just fiscal operations, but the Congress wants to see what percentage of donations received is going towards the non profit's programs. See my post, How Often Do You Hear This?! IRS Wants Your Input On Your New Required Tax Document! New IRS Tax Form 990 Wants Your Two Cents! Our donors, let alone Congress, are tired of giving only to learn of scandals such as the one that has, in recent years, rocked The Smithsonian Institute. See my post, Transparency; Four Letter Word or Wave of the Future?

Many donor discussions, and even public policy discussions, center today around the idea that the world now lacks leaders. Per chance John Whitehead, the man famous for multiplying Goldman Sachs' financials; and Bill George, former Chair and CEO of Medtronic were on "Charlie Rose" (PBS) on August 27, 2007 discussing this very issue. Whitehead described today's leader as needing to be someone who can bring people to a certain value and get them to agree to work towards goals to obtain that value. He isn't sure where these leaders are, world round, anymore. In the non profit sector, Congressional oversight is not leadership. Donors' requiring mission-success and transparency are help create sector goals; but again they are not leaders. Executive directors and boards are traditionally the non profit leadership, but being one or the other of these does not endow the person with natural leadership abilities. Perhaps right now we don't have any clear leadership among us? I think leadership occurs organically, in organizations, as someone demonstrates their abilities to give control over to others, to be open, to work with people, to rise to difficult occasions, to really rally people, and to land important successes. Arguably the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a leader among donors, programs, and successes. But that is an organization. Are today's philanthropic or non profit/NGO leaders people such as Bono; Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the man who successfully implemented the microcredit program in India; Lou Dobbs; and Jon Stewart? I'll take my leaders where I can get them, but with the exception of Yunus, above, they're all famous for other reasons. I think we're in a leader drought. The impact is that the religious right has gained ground, but are they really our leaders today? Don't they have their own politics, scandals, and agendas? Do they work well with others who are different from them? I think that they choose to judge and condemn others who are different, despite that being the job of 'someone' (insert Deity of choice, here) bigger than any of us. Non profit sector leadership is up for grabs, people.

Sorry to end on a sour note, but maybe this concern will kick our collective non profit asses?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Grant Writers, Get an Inside Peek On Where Our Foundation Donors' Heads Are

This past Wednesday, Charlie Rose on PBS aired the "Joel Klein; philanthropy panel" episode, dated August 22, 2007.

It is really important that as a grant writer, I take time to listen to grant donors. It's good to know what concerns them and where their work is heading today. This specific knowledge helps me, as a grant writer, position the organizations that I work for to more likely receive grants. This kind of knowledge also helps me, as a fundraiser, understand what donors' goals are now, and how they want to achieve their goals. I don't suggest that the non profits that I write grant proposals for shape their programs or projects into what the grant donor wants. Rather, I look at where the non profit organization's needs and goals are. I then match them with the foundation or grant donor that is interested in the same work and cause; but also assist the non profit to lay out their project or program in a thought out, measurable, short term goal-oriented plan. Donors today want their money to make an impact that solves problems' underlying root causes.

Charlie Rose's August 22 panel included Matthew Bishop, Chief Business Writer for The Economist, and global philanthropy expert; Joel Fleishman, Duke University professor, and author of "The Foundation: A Great American Secret"; and Judith Rodin, former University of Pennsylvania President, and current President of The Rockefeller Foundation.

The Rockefeller Foundation is arguably the grandfather of American foundation work (where Carnegie may be the great grandfather of American foundations). So, when The Rockefeller Foundation's President discusses how they measure their donations' success, what modern philanthropy is, what it should do, how the best foundations view themselves, and what the current difficulty is in operating today's major foundation is; I listen.

In this post I am going to focus on Rodin's comments, not because they are more important than Fleishman's or Bishop's; but because her opinion is an example of modern donors' opinions. The following is my reiteration of her comments in the interview. Any errors in quoting or paraphrasing her are mine, and I apologize in advance for them. If any corrections are needed, I will gladly make them.

Like you, I want to raise more and higher dollar grants. If I know what is going on with my potential grant donor, I'm ahead of others who are also going to apply to them for the same grant money.

As I've written grant donors are doing again and again in this blog, Rodin explained that she measures Rockefeller's success in giving by looking at impact. She explains that if donors define the problem that they are aiming to alleviate properly, then they can ask after donating, 'have we made a difference; have the beneficiaries been effected?'

Donors want to be involved in our non profit's mission statement's goals. This is why they give.

Rodin explained further that donors should set intermediate goals. She warns that it's common for new philanthropists (new wealth) to want to "fix" (end) problems, but this isn't a real goal. She urges that donors are more effective by setting short term goals. Long term goals are too far off and you can't determine if you made an impact. To set short term goals, you set measurable goals in the program planning and measure along the way to see the impact, as the program progresses, but also to make mid-course corrections in the program, if necessary.

By the way, if you ever wonder why grant donors like to get in on your projects at the ground level and hope to be a part of the program designing, here's one reason why. This is a great example of what grant donors can offer your mission goal (programs' work). Modern foundations often have experience in designing effective results-based projects and programs. Their expertise benefits your non profit organization in three ways. This is great for your relationship with this grant donor. It's wonderful for your cause's constituency (as they benefit). Lastly, this effective project designing helps you raise more money next time around (as your organization can demonstrate positive collaboration relations, effective mission-based success, and strong management).

Given today's economy, for instance, Rodin sees foundations as venture capitalists who do not replace governments' contributions, but rather provide funding for pilot programs, seed money, and more innovation.

Rodin feels responsible to her board of directors, but to the public, too. She says of donations, "these are tax privileged dollars"..."we owe the people transparency and impact". She explains that foundations will be judged, ultimately, by what they did. Performance is everything. She continues to say that if foundations find root causes, rather than giving money to the issues the root problems cause, then they can define the problem, measure impact, and make a difference.

Foundation failure can often be attributed to leadership's lack of management experience. Failing organizations often need better bolstering, better capacity building and these are critical for successful grantees. The issue that surprised Rodin when she joined the world of foundations is what she calls the "entitlement culture", inside. Foundation fund managers are always appreciated or complemented and if they believe this to the point of blowing their ego out of bounds, they can be difficult to work with.

Rodin finishes by explaining that the best foundations do not view themselves as charities. This is right in line with modern fundraising's paradigm that all non profits need money - so that's not enough of a reason to give potential donors when attempting to raise funds. Rodin explains that the best foundations are trying to look for the root causes and make "systemic fundamental change." She explains that this is why foundations' donating is long term work.

Getting that donors want "systemic fundamental change" for today's issues is why modern non profit fundraisers see potential donors as investors. Ultimately, non profits are partners with their donors, so non profits must demonstrate to potential donors their mission-based successes, strong track records, the ability to effectively collaborate, and ultimately show that they are effectively meeting the need that their mission addresses.

Grants for Veterans' Entrepreneurial Education

From The Foundation Center...

Veterans Corporation Seeks Applications for Veteran Entrepreneurship Support Grant

Program Deadline: Open

The Veterans Corporation ( ) is seeking applications for the first year of its Veteran Entrepreneurship Support grant initiative. This initiative will support educational projects and organizations that address the entrepreneurial needs of veterans, including service-disabled veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve forces, who are starting, growing, or preparing a small business for deployment.

Grants will be awarded in three program categories: 1) Education; 2) Veteran Outreach; and 3) Service-Disabled Veteran Assistance. Proposed projects should be proactive and collaborative endeavors that leverage additional support and serve as catalysts for long- term changes in the veteran entrepreneurial community. Grants will not be awarded to individuals. Applications will only be accepted from organizations that propose activities to directly promote and advance veteran entrepreneurship in the United States. Grants will be made in six-month or twelve-month periods. Multi- year grants will not be accepted. The maximum grant amount is $50,000. Organizations can apply for multiple grants. Currently, the grant deadline for general program grants is open. TVC's Board of Directors meets quarterly to review grant applications.

Visit the TVC Web site for complete grant guidelines and application. RFP Link:

Grant for Wildlife Refuges Incorporating History and Historic Sites in Programs

From The Foundation Center...

Applications Invited for National Wildlife Refuge System Preserve America Grant Program

Deadline: November 1, 2007

The Fish and Wildlife Service ( ) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation ( ) are requesting proposals to help foster interpretive, education, and visitor initiatives that incorporate history and historic sites into the National Wildlife Refuge System's ( ) mission.

The National Wildlife Refuge System Preserve America Grant program seeks to protect historic sites, integrate history into refuge interpretive and education programs, and build partnerships with communities and organizations interested in supporting refuge programs.

The grant program provides competitive grants of $10,000 to $15,000 each to help fund national wildlife refuge interpretive and education projects focusing on history and historic sites and how they contribute to conservation and understanding of natural resources.

Grant proposals must demonstrate national, state, or local partnerships to qualify. Eligible applicants are nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations or organizations that have applied for nonprofit status, including Refuge "Friends" organizations, cooperative and interpretive associations, local historical societies, academic institutions, or other citizen support organizations interested in assisting a Refuge or group of Refuges and the Refuge System as a whole. State, county, and local government agencies are not eligible.

Please visit the NFWF Web site for complete program information and application procedures. RFP Link:

Grant for Library's Exemplary Outreach to Under Served Childrens' Populations

From The Foundation Center...

Association for Library Service to Children Offers Under Served Populations Outreach Grant

Deadline: December 3, 2007

The Association for Library Service to Children ( ), a division of the American Library Association ( ), and Candlewick Press ( ) have announced "Light the Way: Outreach to the Under served," a one-time grant of $5,000 for a library conducting exemplary outreach to under served populations.

The ALSC Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee will select the winner and may name up to three Honorable Mentions.

Special population children may include those who have learning or physical differences, speak English as a second language, are in a non-traditional school environment or a non-traditional family setting (such as teen parents, foster children, children in the juvenile justice system, and children in gay and lesbian families), and those who need accommodation service to meet their needs.

Criteria and an application for the grant are available at the ALSC Web site.

RFP Link:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fundraising Isn't Optional, Non Profits..."...Put[ing] the Word Out and Bow[ing Your] Heads"...Is Not Fundraising, BendFilm

Here's another example of non profit management expecting donations and putting the responsibility for the organization's fiscal health on others' shoulders - not their own.

In this week's The Source Weekly I read another article about another American non profit organization that doesn't mind demonstrating that it has no idea that for the organization's mission to be successful...heck, for the organization's existence, they have to fundraise.

If they do understand that they need to fundraise, they definitely have no idea what modern-day fundraising is or how to go about it. Most frightening is this organization is more than three years old and has a board of directors and an executive director. It appears as though none of these organizational managers, in their years of experience, have taken it upon themselves to learn about fundraising.

To quote Eric Flower's article, "The Last Picture Show BendFilm needs another last-minute cash injection" in the August 16, 2007 issue of Bend, Oregon's The Source Weekly , "For the third year in a row the festival is looking for a late-stage cash infusion that will help pay for parties, lectures and travel expenses for filmmakers as well as the other costs of associated with the four-day film festival set for October."

BendFilm is a local non profit organization that puts an annual film festival on in Bend, Oregon. In recent years they've featured some prominent Hollywood actors' and directors' films. The annual film fest is one of Central Oregon's cultural highlights. For as appreciated, and frankly needed, as this cultural happening is in Bend - the organization's management (both the executive director and its board members) do not seem to understand how to manage non profit operations.

The article describes the executive director as flatly stating that rumors that the film festival may not happen is "...unwarranted". Yet, he and the organization's founder seem to warn the Bend community that "...without some additional money BendFilm will have to scale back some of its signature activities,..." in the article.

I wonder if the executive director, founder, and board of directors understand this point, themselves?

Is it the public's responsibility to, in effect, manage their organization correctly so that they have the money that they need for the organization's budget - or is it the current organization's management's responsibility? It is the organization's management's responsibility. Putting an article in the local weekly at the eleventh hour, asking for $80,000 by warning that the festival may not happen at the higher level that the organization (and community) would prefer, is not non profit management. It is especially not professional fundraising.

How are all of the donors (local individuals, families, businesses, foundations, and others) supposed to feel who have given to the festival? Are they supposed to think, 'hmmm...I gave to an organization whose mission I believe in, but is not run well enough to budget, fundraise over the year to meet the budget's needs, and maintain and grow ongoing regular in kind and fiscal support (over the course of the year)?' That is probably exactly what their donors are thinking. This is not how to keep donors.

What a mess.

To further this point, I met in December 2006 with a local fundraising professional, who moved here two years prior from a large California city. She and I lamented not understanding how the non profit sector works, here in Bend (despite each having successful fundraising careers, prior). She confided in me that the corporate management that she met with, during her fundraising work in Bend, didn't understand how the local non profits expected to survive and exist in two, five, or ten years. More than a few local business managers asked her why they would invest their business' money into local non profit organizations that do not invest in themselves enough to take the responsibility to grow regular repeat consistent donors. They wondered if these non profits will even exist a year or two down the road.

BendFilm's founder is quoted in the article as then placing the 'burden 'of the missing funding for this year's film fest on the City of Bend! To quote the article, "Last year at this time, had the city not granted us the $85,000, the festival wouldn't have happened, and people don't know that...and here we are again and the city is not in a position to contribute. What do we do? We put the word out and bow our heads,"..."

What do you do?! You manage the non profit organization that you are working for (volunteer or paid staffer). Here...I'll suggest some things to do...

1. Create overall organizational, and program by program budgets. Fundraise throughout the year, and raise the money needed, while gearing up for the next year's budget.

2. You take responsibility for the mission statement, its goal, and all the folks who have invested their donations in the organization; you learn about modern fundraising and the 'how to's'.

3. You take responsibility for the organization's operations. If you do not know enough about fundraising, that's fine. But admit it and research, network, and hire an excellent professional fundraiser. You and the other non profit management work with them to begin a good Development (Fundraising) Plan and a Development Program. This is an investment that guarantees donors' confidence in your organization's future. If done well, it guarantees your organization's future.

4. You learn about the federal government's expectation that 501(c)(3) management and board volunteers are overseeing a non profit's articles of incorporation's intentions and its rules, and the organization's fiscal operations and health. Annual, independent, professional accountant audits of 501(c)(3)'s financials are going to become much more routine for even small non profits (to the benefit of these organization's donors).

5. You realize that in 2008 the United States IRS is going to require that all non profit 501(c)(3) organizations who raise $25,000 or more file income and programs' spending reporting. Congress wants to get a better picture of how much of a given American non profit is spending on it's programming. In professional non profit management it is generally accepted that well run organizations spend 80% or more of a non profit's 'income' on mission-based programs. Congress, let alone individual, major, and foundation donors, are all tired of giving without seeing professional, effective, mission-based results.

The executive director is actually incredulous when he "...hear[s] people say the festival isn't happening. It's ridiculous!"  What he's not hearing when he hears people saying this repeatedly is that people are worried that the organization is not being run or managed well enough to know if it will be around this year, let alone the next! Again, whose responsibility is the organization's health? His.

Later in the article a former board member is quoted as saying that the organization really just needs "a major national sponsor that can give the organizers some security."! What non profit doesn't need that, the world over?!! When you find that donor - let the rest of us know. What the organization really needs is management and leadership that understands that no non profit should expect support. Each well run non profit must learn from the best, plan, work throughout the year, operating a fundraising program.

The former board member actually goes on to say of the film fest, "It can't survive on a local and regional diet,"..."It's too good for that. The festival and the quality of films are just too good for that."! She's really pulling for the proposed mystical-somewhere-else-other-than-here-ATM-type sponsor for the film fest. As she demonstrates that she doesn't know much about non profit fundraising, she's actually insulting the organization's best possible constituency that the organization could develop into regular annual donors (at all levels through many different types of donations; from individual checks, to major donors, from local businesses, to foundations and those who give through annual fundraising events for the festival)! Astounding.

Want to know what else is really astounding about her comment? There is a lot of individual wealth in the region. A lot.

The article closes by describing the fundraising "philosophy" that the executive director espouses, which is; attract big time filmmakers. He and the board focus on the care of the filmmaker, the article reiterates. They, and BendFilm, "treat them like gods." About these famous film makers the executive director is quoted as saying, "When they come to BendFilm it's like a retreat. It's just that filmmakers happen to like alcohol instead of mineral water,"..."

I'm sorry that the executive director and BendFilm's board members don't see developing regular donors as the real lifeblood for the organization's success, let alone existence. If they thought of their donors as they think of Hollywood directors, and treated local major donors as they purport to treat lead movie directors, they'd have the funding that they need to put on the film festival this year, and they'd be forging the strong relationships locally that will likely lead to funding next year and the year after.

Yet Another Example of Donors Expecting Results; Non Profits, You Can't Just Take the Money and Cross Your Fingers Anymore

While this study is very specific to a certain Maine county, this study and how its findings are being used by a grant donor is a great example of how today's donors are researching how to make the greatest impact in our communities with their donations. If your mission statement's goal is relevant, if your organization's reputation is sound and your organization's well run, and if the programs and projects that your organization proposes are needed and well'll likely receive good funding. If you're organization and your proposed projects are not measuring up, though...fundraising will become more and more difficult. Want to know what donors who are doing research before granting are considering before donating? See the link to the most recent survey results Adobe PDF document, below.

From The Foundation Center's "Philanthropy News Digest"'s August 15, 2007 "PND Connections"...

"The Maine Community Foundation's social capital initiative is a collaborative effort with Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government to assess relationships, trust, and civic engagement in Maine's twin cities of Lewiston-Auburn. The first survey of area residents was completed in 2000, and the foundation is using the results of the latest survey, Social Capital: Cultivating Community Connections (34 pages, PDF), to inform its grantmaking in Androscoggin County. The survey provides a summary of the foundation's work with social capital and identifies questions to consider when assessing the potential of a particular project to build social capital in communities. "

Two Year Seed Money Grants Available to Programs Promoting Education and Equity for Women and Girls

American Association of University Women Accepting Applications for Community Action Grants

Deadline: January 15, 2008

The American Association of University Women ( ) Community Action Grants provide seed money to individual women, AAUW branches, and AAUW state organizations, as well as local community-based nonprofit organizations for innovative programs or non-degree research projects that promote education and equity for women and girls.

Applicants must be U.S citizens or permanent residents. The program offers one-year grants ($2,000-$7,000 each over one year) to provide seed money for new projects. Topic areas are unrestricted but should include a clearly defined activity that promotes education and equity for women and girls.

The program offers two-year grants ($5,000-$10,000 each over two years) to provide start-up funds for longer-term programs that address the particular needs of the community and develop girls' sense of efficacy through leadership or advocacy opportunities. Topic areas are unrestricted but should include a clearly defined activity that promotes education and equity for women and girls. Applicants must be women who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Grant projects must have direct public impact, be nonpartisan, and take place within the United States or its territories.

Visit the AAUW Web site for complete program information. RFP Link:

Grants Available to Those Studying Measuring Equity and Patient-Centered Care to Promote Quality

From The Foundation Center...

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Seeks Proposals to Advance Measurement of Equity and Patient-Centered Care

Deadline: September 25, 2007 (Brief Proposals)

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ( is seeking proposals through a special solicitation for projects that will improve the understanding of how to measure equity and patient-centered care and the role of both in promoting quality.

For the three topic areas below, approximately $3 million in total funding will be available starting in 2008. Three topics have been identified to address specific knowledge gaps needed to advance the foundation's regional quality strategy: Topic 1 - Performance Measurement; Topic 2 - Patients' Experience with Care and Survey Instruments; and Topic 3 - Shared Decision-making and Diverse Populations.

Interdisciplinary research teams that include investigators focused on racial and ethnic disparities or quality are encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to those applicants that may be either public entities or nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. Applicant organizations must be based in the United States or U.S. Territories. Grants between $100,000 to $300,000 each, depending on the topic, will be available for policy relevant research grants.

Visit the RWJF for complete program information. RFP Link:

Graduate Studies Fellowship Available to American Resident Alien, Naturalized, or First American Generation

From The Foundation Center...

Applications Invited for Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

Deadline: November 1, 2007

The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans ( ) provides opportunities for continuing generations of able and accomplished New Americans to achieve leadership in their chosen fields.

The fellowships are grants for up to two years of graduate study in the United States.

A "New American" is an individual who 1) is a resident alien (i.e., holds a Green Card); or 2) has been naturalized as a U.S. citizen; or 3) is the child of two parents who are both naturalized citizens. The applicant must either have a bachelor's degree or be in her/his final year of undergraduate study. Those who have a bachelor's degree may already be pursuing graduate study and may receive fellowship support to continue that study. Individuals who are in the third, or subsequent, year of study in the same graduate program are not, however, eligible for the competition. Students who have received a master's degree in a program and are studying for a doctoral degree in the same program are considered to have been in the same program from the time they began their work on their master's degree.

To be eligible, applicant must not be older than thirty years of age as of November 1, 2007. A successful candidate will give evidence of at least two of the following three attributes or criteria for selection: 1) creativity, originality, and initiative demonstrated in any area of her/his life; 2) a capacity for accomplishment, demonstrated through activity that has required drive and sustained effort; and 3) a commitment to the values expressed in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Thirty fellowships will be awarded each year.

For each year of the program, the fellow receives a maintenance grant of $20,000 and a tuition grant of one-half the tuition cost of the U.S. graduate program attended by the fellow (up to a maximum of $16,000 per academic year). A fellow may pursue a graduate degree in any professional field (e.g., engineering, medicine, law, social work, etc.) or scholarly discipline in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The fine and performing arts are included.

Visit the programs Web site for complete application guidelines. RFP Link:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

IRS Provides New Tool for Non Profit's Management: Forms and Information from Start Up to Major Org Events

The IRS has a new tool on its website designed to provide non profit managers with the information and forms necessary from the start up of a new non profit to major events in its existence.

From: Marshall KayDel, IRS; E-Mail:

Life Cycle of an Exempt Organization

Organizations that meet the requirements of Internal Revenue Code section 501(a) are exempt from federal income taxation.

Charitable contributions made to some section 501(a) organizations by individuals and corporations are deductible under Code section 170.

Life Cycle of an Exempt Organization provides information about points of intersection between organizations and the IRS. The content includes explanatory information, and links to forms that an organization may need to file with the IRS.

The materials cover five stages in an organization's life cycle:

1. Starting Out: Creating an organization under state law, acquiring an employer identification number, and identifying the appropriate federal tax classification.

2. Applying for Exemption: Acquiring, completing, and submitting application forms; how the IRS processes applications; and getting help from the IRS during the application process.

3. Required Filings: Annual exempt organization returns, unrelated business income tax filings, and other returns and reports that an organization may have to file.

4. Ongoing Compliance: How an organization can avoid jeopardizing its tax-exempt status, disclosure requirements, employment taxes, and other ongoing compliance issues.

5. Significant Events: Audits, private letter rulings, and termination procedures. Life Cycle pages are available for the following types of organizations:

Charitable organizations
(Code section 501(c)(3))
Public charities
Private foundations
Social welfare organizations
(section 501(c)(4))
Labor organizations
(section 501(c)(5))
Business leagues (trade associations)
(section 501(c)(6))
Agricultural/horticultural organizations
(section 501(c)(5)) Provides New Web Tool: Volunteer Management Resource Center!

Introducing's Volunteer Management Resource Center


In the Volunteer Management Resource Center, funded by a Volunteer IMPACT Fund grant from The UPS Foundation and the National Human Services Assembly, you can locate geographic or service-specific networks and professional development opportunities as well as access best practices and resources on topics like:

* Accessibility, Diversity, and Barriers to Volunteering
* Board Service and Skilled Volunteerism
* Communications and Conflict Resolution
* Developing a Volunteer Program
* Disaster Response Volunteering
* Engaging Generations of Volunteers (i.e. Baby Boomers, Older Volunteers,
Youth Volunteers)
* Episodic, Informal, Mandated, and Residential Volunteering
* Finding, Screening, Training, Supervising, and Recognizing Volunteers
* Risk Management, Legal Issues, and Ethics
* Organizational Readiness
* Research and Trends in Volunteerism
* Volunteer Program Tracking and Evaluation

There is also a space dedicated to informing job seekers about the volunteer management profession, including why it matters and how professionals can advocate for the field.
The section titled Volunteer Managers' + Human Resource Managers' Common Ground is designed to foster collaboration between human resources and volunteer management professionals by sharing information and best practices and promoting opportunities for partnership.

To learn more about nonprofit HR best practices and resources, visit Idealist's Nonprofit Human Resources Center.

The Volunteer Management Resource Center is intended to be a dynamic tool for volunteer management professionals, so if you have feedback, suggestions, or resources to add, please don't hesitate to contact us. Also, please help us support the professional community by sharing the site with your peers and/or providing a link on your organizations website.

Thank you in advance for your support we sincerely hope you find the Volunteer Management Resource Center to be a valuable asset to your work.

Erin Barnhart
Manager, Volunteer Management Program
Action Without Borders /

Monday, August 13, 2007

Healthy Non Profits Know That Customer Service Is Required...Relationships Are Everything

Last winter I went through our closets, pulled together some lamps, and bagged other household items that worked but we weren't using anymore.

I decided to donate them to my favorite cause, locally. I drove them to the non profit's for-profit store and I was met by a volunteer. She walked around to my trunk and I opened it. She looked over our donations. She said that she wasn't going to go through all of the bags that I'd brought. They only had two people working and they had received many donations that day. She said that the organization didn't need anymore donations. She ended by telling me to take them to the Salvation Army.

I was floored.

I did take the donations to the Salvation Army and they were both helpful and appreciative. Meanwhile, they had a 'semi' sized truck full of donations, but they were still happy to accommodate me.

I was shocked by how exceedingly rude the volunteer was. All I could think was that the volunteer took it upon herself to get between me and that cause in our community.

You and I know how she should have properly dealt with this situation. If this volunteer had been professional she would have greeted me initially explaining that they have had a lot of donations, at the outset without seeing what I had (or didn't have) to donate. She would have further said that they were short staffed. Then she would have APOLOGIZED. She would've understood that her organization operates because of people in our community who care about the issue. I had taken the time to pull the donations together. I had decided to give the donation to them, of all of our local non profits. She would've said that they greatly appreciate my support. If I asked if she knows of another organization taking donations right then, she could share with me which other organizations need in kind donations. She put that non profit in a terribly risky spot. If I worked at the community foundation, a major grant source, she might have stopped potential funding.

In either the non profit or for profit sectors customer service makes or breaks relationships and everything is relationships in the non profit sector, including fundraising.

The answers to these questions are really really important:

Do your volunteers and staff always thank donors (grant donors, or otherwise) within 48 hours of receiving their donation?

Do your volunteers and staff always respond to clientele, constituents', or donors' questions or requests within 24 hours?

Does your organization's volunteers and staff always say 'please', 'thank you', and 'we appreciate your interest' or 'your support' to donors or potential donors?

Do all of your various faces with the public (your volunteers, clientele, and staff) know how your organization views its donors, or how your organization wants all donors (or potential donors) treated? Clientele should be treated this way, as well.

The only way that everyone in your organization is going to treat your donors or potential donors well is if you train them, and they must all be told the same thing.

I know that your staff and volunteers are professional. But, neither you nor I know how they interact with donors, especially under stress. Training everyone in your agency who deals with the public, and telling them what is expected of them will be a great first step to insure the best.

Do not risk your organization's relationship with its community by putting untrained people out there who do not know customer service skills. I will not give anymore donations to that organization.

Financial Award for Outstanding Partnership Between Research Org & Community Org Working on Caregiving

From The Foundation Center...

Rosalynn Carter Caregiving Award to Recognize Partnership Between Research and Community Organizations

Deadline: August 30, 2007

A program of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving ( ) at Georgia Southwestern State University, the 2007 Rosalynn Carter Caregiving Award will provide $20,000 to continue the work of an outstanding partnership between a research organization and a community-based organization that have come together to implement an evidence-based caregiver intervention.

Winning partnerships shall have clearly demonstrated one or more of the following: dedication to developing effective evidence- based caregiver interventions that improve the health and well-being of caregivers; encouragement of collaboration and partnerships between all stakeholders in the caregiving process; potential for developing or more effectively using financial, educational, and human resources to support caregivers' effective reach into the target population; and potential to serve as a model for other individuals, groups, organizations, or communities in efforts to better serve the needs of caregivers.

Visit the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving Web site for program information and nomination form. RFP Link:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Findings: Rural Non Profits Have More Difficulties Raising Foundation Support; Foundations Focus on More Urban Type Results

With the following findings perhaps rural non profits and foundations can find ways to bridge the difficulties they face in forming strong relationships.

From The Foundation Center's August 7, 2007; Volume 13; Issue 32 Edition of Philanthropy News Digest...

Rural Nonprofits Must Overcome Significant Hurdles to Attract Funding, Study Finds (8/03/07)

Grantmakers' perceptions of rural life, geographical isolation, and capacity-building needs greatly reduce the ability of rural nonprofits to secure funding, a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy ( ) finds.

Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the report, Rural Philanthropy: Building Dialogue From Within, highlights the desire of foundations to target densely populated areas as well as "weak nonprofit infrastructures" found in most rural areas, which it defines as having a population density of fewer than five hundred people per square mile.

The study also found that grantmakers often require capacity-related benchmarks that are difficult for rural nonprofits to achieve without having sufficient funding for staff and technical assistance.

In addition, the report finds that geographic isolation greatly reduces opportunities for rural organizations to gain exposure to major funders, which are usually located in urban areas.

The study, which expands on a 2004 NCRP report, Beyond City Limits: The Philanthropic Needs of Rural America, offers substantive recommendations designed to make philanthropy more responsive to rural America, such as expanding the use of flexible, multi year grants to reduce the disparity in charitable giving between rural and urban organizations. "Many perceive rural America as a place where tight-knit communities work together to overcome adversity; others see the region as resistant to change," said NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman. "But generalities have the effect of masking contemporary issues affecting rural America, making it harder for rural nonprofits to attract grant money." "Rural Nonprofits Must Overcome Significant Hurdles to Attract Funding." National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy Press Release 8/02/07.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Top 10 Grant Money Myths: Do You Think You Know What You're Doing While Looking for Grant Money? Or, Do You Know That You Don't?!

Top ten myths about grant money: The myths are in red font. (I'm going to stretch this to twenty...)

20. Grants are free Nope. Grants are given because your mission statement is fulfilling a specific need in your community that the grant donor believes is important. You are investing your organization's capital, staff, volunteers, and resources in your mission statement's goal. Also, grant writing, like all fundraising requires investments. Time, money, research, planning, team work, writing, etc. are needed. For further information read my post, "Why Do Donors Give Grants At All?"

19. Our organization needs to just go get a grant, or two, and we'll be set Uh uh. Grant writing must be a part of a diversified, long term, supported fundraising (or development) plan. For example, your fundraising could include grant writing, an annual appeal, bequest planning, envelopes in your monthly newsletter, a major donor program, and a walk-a-thon special event. This takes experience, committment, and work. A new fundraising method takes at least three years to make money and advanced committee planning. Your fundraising must be ongoing and enough to cover annual expenses. For more discussion read my post, "Bring In Donations From Many Different Kinds of Sources"

18. There are grants for individuals If I had a dollar for every time I'm asked to help raise money for an individual (I could donate a lot of money to a good cause). Yes, I've seen them...there are ads and books offering "grants to individuals". I know. You must be very leery of these kinds of 'grants'. Many are wolves in sheep's' clothing trying to get you to, in fact, sign up for a high interest rate loan or bilk you out of money. Legit grants for individuals come from municipalities (governments, Tribes, etc.) and are usually granted for a specific cause (i.e. arts, domestic violence recovery, etc.). The availability of grants may depend on a government's budget. Legitimate grants for individuals are tough to come by. For further discussion read my post, "Are There Grants for an Individual?"

17. Grant donors are just the wealthy giving their money away so that they can feel good Wrong. Today's grant donors are savvy. They do not just sign away checks. They select causes that they're passionate (and informed) about to effect change in our world. They research which non profit organizations are mission driven, healthy organizations, successful at their mission statement's goal, and good to work with. They expect reporting, program success, and results. Grant donors talk to one another and share information about bad apples. Really. Read my post about today's donors, "A Shift In Giving: Proactive Philanthropists Instead of Passive Donors"

16. We can just dive in and apply for a grant Successfully raising grants takes planning, learning what to do and how to do it well, professional know how, commitments to the process from leadership and staff, time, research, writing drafts and re-writing, patience, relationship building, communication, public relations, and more. See my post, "Soliciting Grant Money 101"

15. We can pay a grant writer part of a grant, if they get any grants for us This is called contingency pay and it is unethical among professional grant writers, professional non profit organizations, and many American professional fundraising affiliations such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Puget Sound Grantwriters Association for instance. Why? Grant donors are not providing funding so that your organization can pay for its fundraising. Well run non profits pay for their overhead costs and plan out their fundraising accordingly. Also, grant donors expect that their money is going where your grant application requested the money for. If they discover that you spent any portion of their grant donation other than where you stated you would - they aren't going to donate to you again (as your organization is dishonest and not well run) and they'll share with other grant donors in your field/region that your organization did this to them. Your fundraising will become difficult as your organization's name will be muddied. Grant writers who do this are not professional and do not understand that the goal of grant writing is not simply to raise money, but to help develop strong long lasting relationships between non profit organizations and grant donors; so that the non profit receives grant money now and in the future. Relationships forge this likelihood and they should not be between the grant writer and the grant donor, but between the grant donor and the non profit. Professional grant writers are either hired as staff with hourly pay or a salary; or consult at a pre-arranged rate and fee schedule. To properly hire and afford a grant writer read my post, "How Do We Afford Grant Writing?"

14. There aren't any grants out there for our organization Unless your organization is trying to help E.T. "go home" most every cause has support. If your cause is having a tough time raising support - perhaps you need to develop educational materials about your cause and how your community can help. Otherwise research who are the grant donors interested in your cause. Read my post, "How Do I Prepare to Find Foundations Who Will Fund Us?" It describes how to locate grants for your organization.

13. Once we receive the grant we're 'home free' Nah. Seeking grant money is part of a fundraising strategy - it is not a short term venture. No organization dedicated to its mission can do all its cause needs through the funding of one grant (unless the grant is ongoing and open-ended, and then arguably your organization really has a major donor or benefactor more than a grant donor). Also, see numbers 16 and 19, above. Read my post, "Reporting To Grant Donor After End of Project"

12. Whether or not we receive a grant depends on how good our grant writer is This is a common assumption, but really wrong. Raising grant money is a team effort. A professional grant writer must be reputable, successful, and knowledgeable about your potential funders. They have to be very good at what they do. BUT they do not work in a vacuum. Staff, leadership, and even volunteers must be dedicated to the grant writing process as it often requires proof reading, fact-checking, research, pulling necessary agency documents, feedback, draft mark ups, etc. Also, a grant writer must provide a great grant application but the agency's reputation, track record, relevance, effectiveness at its mission work, health, etc. are more important factors to the grant donor. Grants are awarded based on many attributes, 99% of which are the organization's - not the grant writer's. The grant donor is giving to the non profit organization - not the grant writer - so their interests are there. Read my post, "What Is A Well Run Non Profit Agency? Well, I'll Tell You..."

11. Grant writers work on their own See number 10.

10. The board or executive director do not need to be involved in obtaining grants See number 10, AND grant donors who choose to meet with perspective grant recipients (some do, some don't) should be meeting with the highest level representation from your organization, such as board members and the executive director. This is called peer-to-peer relations. Treat any potential donor with respect and interest. This should come from your leadership to demonstrate your care for the relationship with them. They should not be meeting with your grant writer; they're likely not leadership. For further information read my post, "Leadership's Role In Seeking Grants"

9. Some professional fundraisers can raise grant money guaranteed ANYONE who guarantees that they can raise your organization grants had better be speaking in colloquial terms. If someone sits down and pitches to your organization that they can actually guarantee raising your organization money - be very leery. While most strong non profits have excellent chances at raising grant money - THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES. This is why any fundraising process must be long-term. An organizational investment in the process must be made.

8. Grants are just for start up non profit organizations No. Do not leave potential donations on the table. If your organization is raising money in many methods but not grant writing - ask yourselves 'why' and learn about it. Consider doing it! Grant writing's cost/benefit ratio, when the program is well managed, is excellent. Read, "Don't Leave Money On the Table"

7. Start up non profit organizations should only try to raise grant donations See number 19, above, and understand that any support that you raise at this stage of the organization will pay off in spades if you maintain it well - into the organization's future. Go from thinking 'start up' to thinking 'long term'. Diversified fundraising provides more safety and security to your organization's financial future. Read my post, "Seeking Grants for New Programs or Start Up Non Profits" for more information.

6. Public relations isn't important to our raising grant money Control what others are saying about your organization by disseminating your strong track record, successes, and more yourself. Be sure that your board is telling friends and colleagues why they volunteer with your organization. Provide clients, constituents, and potential donors with information. Call the press after a big success or when you launch or ground break a new innovative initiative. Grant donors are just like any other kind of donor. They invest in successful organizations working for causes that they're passionate about. Get the word about your organization out there. For further information read my post, "Why Is Marketing Important In Grant Writing?"

5. Our reputation and track record are not important to raising grant money See 17, 12, and 6, above. Like 'the truth', in the poster above Mulder's desk, "Your Track Record Is Out There"

4. We board members and/or I, the executive director can just take a leadership non profit position without being responsible/proactive about learning the latest in non profit governance, without understanding my legal and fiscal responsibilities to the organization, and without learning about fundraising and its latest paradigms Anyone working for a non profit whose leadership acts this way - be warned. You are not working for a well run or healthy organization - guaranteed. See my post "Wow, What A Shock...Another Example of Piss Poor Fundraising..."

3. Non profits are meek organizations that are lesser than 'for profits', an opportunity for people to contribute to their community, and hardly receive federal or other municipalities' oversight; we can be lax, and get away with stuff Oh boy. If you're affiliated with non profits in ANY way and think this - whoa to the organization. See the link, above. Also, read the latest press on Congress' new initiative to increase American non profits' reporting to the federal government. In particular they want to oversee what percentage of funds raised is going to your mission's programs; and whether you're legally and professionally accounting for your receipts and costs. Meanwhile, donors are smarter today. They aren't passive, either. Get it together or hire someone who can. Read my post, "New IRS Reporting Requirements..."

2. Straying from our mission statement (or the scope of its work) is OK - nobody will know or care - and we can still raise donations (including grants) Non profits succeed with community support - not in a vacuum. Your reputation is everything in fundraising, let alone grant writing. If you aren't on your mission statement's message - why are you still operating? Either correct the scope of your work, close shop, or reorganize as a new agency with a new mission statement. For example, read what happened to one non profit who may be thinking this way at, "Burn Out and Its Effect On Your Fundraising..."

1. It's OK to spend even just a little bit of a grant that we received on something other than what we told the grant donor that we were going to spend it on Your honesty, integrity, ability to raise funds, and ability to run a strong non profit agency are everything when raising any donations. If it gets out that you don't spend money where you've told donors that you will - you're thought of as less than honest, in the least, and as patent liars, at the worst. In either case - you're going to lose donors.

As you can see after reading this list of commong assumptions about grant writing, all of these misunderstanding are really more indicative of being out of touch with the latest paradigms or not learning modern grant writing practices. Being proactive, you'll strengthen your grant writing for your organization's mission's benefit.

Fellowships for Advanced Degree Holding Professionals Working On Foreign Policy Studies

From The Foundation Center...

Council on Foreign Relations Offers International Affairs Fellowship Program

Deadline: September 19, 2007

The Council on Foreign Relations ( ), an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing America's understanding of the world and contributing ideas to U.S. foreign policy, offers the International Affairs Fellowship Program to advance the professional development of outstanding young Americans. The fellowships for individuals from the academic, business, professional, government (federal, state, and local levels), religious and congregational communities seek to bridge the gap between analysis and action in foreign policy by supporting a variety of policy studies and active experiences in policy- making.

There are two programs:

Academic and other professionals from the private sector spend fellowship tenures in public service or in a policy making setting, while government officials have the opportunity for systematic assessment of foreign policy issues in a research environment. The one-year fellowship program is open to U.S. citizens between the ages of 27 and 35 (inclusive). The competition is multi disciplinary; past recipients have included practitioners and scholars in the fields of political science, economics, history, philosophy, law, journalism, business, and government. While a Ph.D. is not a requirement, successful candidates generally hold advanced degrees and possess a solid record of work experience. The program supports approximately a dozen fellows each year. The fellow's stipend is determined according to individual budget statements in consultation with the program administration, up to a fixed maximum of $65,000 for twelve months. The program does not provide support for research assistance, and fellows are responsible for arranging their own housing, insurance, benefits, and travel.

In 1997, the council established a new International Affairs Fellowship in Japan to enable a number of outstanding young American leaders and thinkers to expand their intellectual and professional horizons by working and living in Japan. Fellowships are intended for U.S. citizens between the ages of 27 and 45. Fellows are drawn from academia, government, business, or the media. The program is generally intended for non-specialists in Japan. The basic term of the fellowship is one year, with a minimum of three months to pursue a program of the fellows' own design consisting of policy-oriented research or related professional activity. Fellowships cover living expenses in Japan plus international transportation, health and travel insurance, and necessary research expenses.

For both programs visit the council's Web site for complete program information and application procedures. RFP Link:

Fiscal Award for Innovative Domestic Violence Programs That Can Be Replicated Elsewhere in the U.S.

From The Foundation Center...

Mary Byron Foundation Invites Nominations for Domestic Violence Program Awards

Deadline: October 5, 2007

The Mary Byron Foundation ( ), which funds programs throughout the United States that are working to stop domestic violence, created the Celebrating Solutions Awards to showcase and applaud local innovations that demonstrate promise in breaking the cycle of domestic violence.

The foundation selects programs that can serve as models and offers $10,000 cash awards in recognition of those pioneering efforts. To be eligible, both the nominated program and the institution must be U.S.-based, be part of a nonprofit 501(c)(3) or government agency, have been operating for a minimum of three years, and address the issue of domestic violence. The program also should be replicable, or if it is national in scope, the program should have applications for individual communities, regardless of their size or ethnic population.

Program information and a nomination form are available at the foundation's Web site. RFP Link:

Another Great Tool for the Grant Writer's Research or Prospecting

The Foundation Center's August 2, 2007, "PND Connections" announced a new feature on their website. The Foundation Center now offers an Events Archive "that provides free access to center events and other resources recorded in a variety of formats. Grantseekers, nonprofits, and the general public can view videos and webcasts, download audio recordings, read transcripts of events such as Coffee and Conversation With a Grantmaker, or view a presentation on branding strategies for socially responsible organizations. The Symposium on the Future of Philanthropy, part of the center's year-long fiftieth anniversary celebration in 2006, is also available in both video and print versions."

If you're researching a potential grant donor for your organization who recently spoke with The Foundation Center you can download the interview. You'll hear the latest from the horse's mouth. What a great resource! Other non profit professional affiliations who host grant donor conversations or presentations for its members should provide these kinds of archives, at least to members, as well.

Go to the The Foundation Center's Events Archive by click this link.'s August Newsletter Includes Two GREAT Articles: The Future of Fundraising, and Questions for Potential Board Members

I strongly recommend these two articles from 's August, 2007 Newsletter. is a respected, reliable, diverse tool that grant writers can use to research potential grant donors and their histories. Kay Sprinkel Grace, author of the second article, is an author who I've read and respect. Her fundraising books are well regarded. For more on good grant writing resources see my post, "Top Ten Grant Writing Tools"'s "The Future of Fundraising" by John Murphy, Vice President, Professional Services, Kintera Inc. (August 6, 2007 article in August 2007 edition of the Newsletter; Copyright 2007, Kintera Inc.)'s "What To Ask Every Prospective Board Member" by Kay Sprinkel Grace, Author of Over Goal! What You Must Know to Excel at Fundraising Today (August 6, 2007 article in August 2007 edition of the Newsletter; Copyright 2006, Emerson & Church, Publishers)