Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fundraising, Grant Writing, Mission-Success, Community Building; It's All the Same

Think back to the last donation that you gave. Some issue or cause concerned you. When you decided which organization, specifically, to give the donation to, what factors did you consider in choosing which organization would receive it? What motivated you to eventually give to the specific organization that you did?

To help you raise more money for your non profit in an ethical, professional, legal, and effective method, consider the following logic.

Each nonprofit organization's goal or work is informed by their mission statement, and this requires funding. This is variable A.

Every donor gives to effect a cause or issue that they care about. This is variable B.

American nonprofits are allowed by our government to raise tax free dollars to do work, at no profit, for the greater good. This is variable C.

If A is possible because of C then we professional 'fundraisers' must study, engage, listen to, and form an effective relationship with B; but we need to do this with the B's who are interested, and we must be honest in doing so.

You probably donated to the organization who, after researching many organizations doing work towards your pet cause or issue, was transparent in their spending, operations, management, and accounting. You probably picked the organization that was spending the most on its programs and least on its overhead. It was probably the agency that was the most effective at its work and had the best, most honest track record. It was a legal non profit; that is run professionally maintaining a board, accounting records, offering its annual report, providing programs statistics, is successful at its mission's work, admits errors made, strives to learn from its errors and listens to its clients, donors, and constituents. It offers an annual professional independent audit for review to the public, it shares its successes with the community, it's meeting a community need well, it is supported by its community, it collaborates with other effective organizations to save resources while getting more done, and more.

In order to raise money today and tomorrow you must:

1. ...clearly explain to potential donors (and potential future board members, staff, clients, collaborators, and volunteers) what your organization uniquely does for the community and what your successes have been. [In your grant applications be clear and succinct in this statement].

2. You need to demonstrate to potential constituents that your organization plans for growth, manages resources well, takes responsibility for its expenses by raising support in diverse ways (i.e. perhaps newsletter donor envelopes, major donor campaign, annual appeal, special events, grant writing, memorials, sponsorships, being a United Way agency, etc.), and spends money wisely.

3. Your organization must be transparent in its accounting, operations, legal agency documentation, programs statistics, and other agency results markers.

All of this information provides potential constituency with the reasons why someone can support your group as an investor. Investors buy into your success, they buy into your ability to operate well, they buy, ultimately, into your nonprofit's effectiveness and its willingness to have partners in its success (trust, communication, listening, openness, working well with others, professional collaborations, honesty, etc.).

Thinking of constituents as investors or your nonprofit's own community forces you, the development staff or volunteer, to not sell anyone. Development staff and volunteers must be honest with potential constituents always. If you receive a question from a potential donor and let's say your organization was lackluster in its doings, say so; but also explain that your agency leadership acknowledges that, addressed that, has learned, and has done X, Y, or Z to better the situation/operation. Or, if a potential constituent offers a donation but wants naming rights or something that your organization has decided is not in the nonprofit's best interest, respond professionally with 'no, but thank you, and here's why we have this policy...'. Any time you talk about or write about your organization it is an opportunity (no matter what the situation or context). It's an opportunity. You never want to pressure, guilt, shame, pain, or otherwise manipulate someone into supporting your group. If you do, they aren't giving as an investor. This doesn't develop a relationship. Also, these 'methods' are not professional. At best, it may get a one time donation - but you haven't raised ongoing support for your organization. Raise relationships, investors, and a constituency that really is the organization's family or community. Our goal is to develop these folks and then sustain them and well. We don't coerce, recruit, sell, pitch, beg, guilt, etc. As professionals, we develop. Research your potential donor. If they aren't donating to your cause - they may not be interested in it. Don't waste their time and yours'. Inform potential constituents about your agency, who are interested in your cause but aren't affiliated with you, yet. If they respond, speak honestly with any potential constituent about why you are a part of the organization and be sure to share your nonprofit's unique work for your cause or issue, and your organization's successes. People listen to honesty and they get on board with an effective organization. Listen to them, their concerns, their interest in your organization or your cause, and answer their questions.

You need not worry if your organization can raise support if your organization does the above best practices. By doing so, you've put the nonprofit in the best position to raise constituency and ultimately to create community around your organization's mission statement's goal that will grow. Don't worry about other organizations working on the same cause, because you've clarified what your organization does among all others, that no other organization does. You've demonstrated the need in our community that your group meets. Also having an effective agency track record, and professional auditable operations secures your organization's ability.

This is the formula for support today, and maintaining these described best practices furthers current and new constituents' support for more tomorrow.

Join the Virtual Discussion on Philanthropy - November, 2007 Giving Carnival!

Maya Norton, author of The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy, is hosting the November 2007 Giving Carnival group blog. Come join us in the virtual discussion.

This month's question is "What business practices should nonprofits adopt to maximize their resources?"

You don't have to write a blog to respond. Email your response to Maya at mnorton at by Monday, November 26th. If you do have a blog, email her the link to your response. She'll post all of the responses on her site shortly after. Be sure to check in on it to read what others interested in philanthropy think! Respond back to them and get some community and dialogue going!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Top 10 Reasons Any Nonprofit Should Begin Applying for Grants

First, read my post, Top 10 Grant Writing Myths to get you and I on the same page.

Next...the Top 10 Reasons Any Nonprofit Should Begin Applying for Grants:

10. The nonprofit that you work for addresses a real need in the community very well, and is not replicating another agency's work.

9. The nonprofit is a legal 501(c)(3) (or other legal non profit entity per the IRS); operates ethically, transparently, legally, professionally, and has a track record of successes; has all components operating that are required by law of a nonprofit, for example a professionally/legally functioning board; your organization conducts an annual, professional, independent financial audit; has all of its records and required paperwork filed and available.

8. This nonprofit successfully raises money from the community, demonstrating that many others (such as personal donors, companies, corporations, etc.) deem the organization's work as needed and successfully meeting a need.

7. 70% or more of the nonprofit's revenue goes to your organization's core programs. Eh hem...this is a professionally and ethically accepted standard in the American professional nonprofit world, today.

6. You understand that as your organization can afford it, you will need a marketing and public relations campaign (if you don't already have one going) to be certain that your organization's name, its mission, and its good work are well known by community members such as potential collaborators, clients, donors, future board members. Control the message that gets into the community about your organization. This will increase your fundraising, over time.

5. The nonprofit is conducting a diversified Development Plan that raises money, throughout the year, in various methods to assure ongoing cash flow, grow constituency, and raise money from different revenue streams; rather than relying on one. Grant donors want to see that you understand that they are only partners - not ongoing perpetual sponsors, in your work. Ongoing community support shows grant donors that the community supports your organization and literally has 'buy in'.

4. Begin a grants program if your organization has the time and human resources available to dedicate to the collaborative work that grant writing requires. You should not simply hand the grant writing task to someone and expect them to do it all on their own, especially if your organization is only beginning grant writing. It is collaborative because it requires proof reading, discussions about which programs should be funded by grant money, finding and copying agency documents for applications, etc. Often the executive director, development director or staff, bookkeeper, programs people, and others are necessary to the process.

3. Only begin a grants program after your agency's leadership and key staff have planned for it. You should have raised the now needed money to add to the organization's operating budget to pay for all aspects of the program. Perhaps your organization's begun a new annual fundraising event two years ago to pay for the grant program; knowing you'd begin the program three months from now. Do you want to hire a staff grant writer or do you want to hire a consulting grant writer? What are the going wages or fees in your region? Which local grant writers have successful, professional, and ethical reputations? Which programs, projects, or items do you want to support with grant money? How else are you going to afford them, as grant donors do not want to fund all of major costs? Etc. Read my post, How Do We Afford Grant Writing? if you aren't sure how to.

2. If your organization is a start up, does not yet have its 501(c)(3) status but has applied for and received a seed money grant, you can arrange with another nonprofit that does have its 501(c)(3) designation to receive the grant on behalf of your organization and pass all funds onto your group. These relationships do exist and to be safe require a legal agreement between your organization and the recipient. [I am not a lawyer and am not providing legal advice, here. If you need legal advice, seek professional counsel.]

1. If you are raising money in many different methods (i.e. major donors, newsletter envelopes, special events, annual appeal letter, memorials, etc.) throughout the course of the year, but haven't done much grant writing - why not add another method to your development program?

New Free Nonprofit Capacity Building Resource:!

From the Seattle based Non Profit Networking list serve, posted on October 23, 2007:

"If you haven't visited recently please come by. About
50,000 do each month, to take advantage of over over 2167 resources
in 120+ categories selected to support nonprofit capacity. There are
now over 2700 site members with the ability to add and reviewing

" recently added a new Fiscal Agency Section in the
Organizational Management & Development category to help socially
responsible projects that don't 501c3 status. Capaciteria also added
a couple of hundred new resources (links, articles and books) in
these categories:
- Performance, Metrics & Evaluation Category
- Community Stakeholder Management
- Volunteerism
- Marketing Research
- Revenue Generation & Sustainability
- Governance
- Advocacy
- Etc..

"There is more being added weekly in order to make Capaciteria that
much more useful to nonprofits...
As you all know Nonprofit capacity support is a critical issue, and
like all mission-based issues nonprofits deal with, resolving the
problem has two major components. One involves tangible resourcing.
The other involves useful *information* to help nonprofits make
better decisions just as they assist their own constituencies as part
of their mission work. Both solutions, resourcing and information,
are equally important -- Capaciteria is a *FREE* resource designed to
help nonprofits resolve the information aspect of the Nonprofit
capacity support issue.

"Please be sure your nonprofit constituents know about so they can benefit from it."

Posted by jpeizer at yahoo dot com. If you have questions, email the contact posted on or the poster's email address.

Career Development Grants for College Graduated Women

From The Foundation Center...

American Association of University Women Educational Foundation Accepting Applications for Career Development Grants

Deadline: December 15, 2007

One of the world's largest sources of funding exclusively for graduate women, the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation ( ) supports aspiring scholars around the globe, teachers and activists in local communities, women at critical stages of their careers, and those pursuing professions where women are underrepresented. The foundation's Career Development Grants support women who hold a bachelor's degree and are preparing to advance their careers, change careers, or re-enter the work force. Special consideration is given to AAUW members, women of color, and women pursuing their first advanced degree or credentials in non-traditional fields.

Grants provide support for course work beyond a bachelor's degree, including a master's degree, second bachelor's degree, or specialized training in technical or professional fields. Funds also are available for distance learning. Course work must be taken at an accredited two- or four-year college or university, or at a technical school that is fully licensed or accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Funds are not available for doctoral-level work.

For complete program information, visit the AAUW Web site. RFP Link:

Fellowships Available to Journalists Interested In Science and Environment

From The Foundation Center...

Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting Offers Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists

Deadline: January 28, 2008

The Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting ( ) is recruiting journalists for its tenth annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists (June 8-13, 2008).

The workshop offers ten fellowships for early to mid-career journalists to attend a week-long science immersion workshop at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography ( ).

Participants work in the field and lab, attend lectures and discussions by leading writers and researchers, and participate in journalism clinics. The program is open to journalists from all media who are interested in learning about science and the environment. Applicants should have a minimum of one to two years experience in journalism and a strong interest in science reporting. Each fellowship provides tuition, room and board, and limited travel reimbursement.

Additional information and applications are available at the Metcalf Institute Web site. RFP Link:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Yes, Apply Again for the Grant that You Did Not Receive! Why? Read On...

I have been there. Anyone who has spent time writing and submitting grant proposals has. Don't feel badly, misunderstood, judged harshly, or personally rejected. We all submit grant proposals that do not get funding.

The reason why you should research so well who your organization has the greatest chance of receiving funding from, is that your organization is not going to receive a grant from every grant proposal that you submit (even if they're perfect applications). If though, you've done your research and are applying only to those grant donors your organization is truly likely to receive grants from - in total, you'll receive more grants in response to your requests, and you'll submit less applications (less work!). By the way, this is how grant writers who are (honestly) really good at what they do can guarantee a certain amount of success in getting your organization grants. The thing about this is ferreting out who is telling you the truth, and who is not!

How do you research potential grant donors well? See my following posts:

The Grant Writer's Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 Post 1 of 2

The Grant Writer's Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 Post 2 of 2

How Many Grants Should We Apply For?

Top 10 Grant Writing Tools

Easy Resources for the Grant Writer

The Declined Grant Request

How Do I Prepare to Find Foundations Who Will Fund Us?

The above posts are really important reading if you're new to grant writing. If you spin your wheels applying to everyone and anyone for everything that your organization needs grant support for, you're waisting agency resources, waisting time, and demonstrating to potential donors that you don't know what you're doing.

If you submitted a really good grant proposal to a potential donor and they went through their entire grant consideration process with it, but then declined your request at the end; that is actually really important for you to note. If they received your letter of inquiry, responded to it by inviting you to apply for a grant, then they notified you that your grant request was under review after receiving it, and then declined it; this indicates that they were both interested in your organization and your proposed use of their donation. You must submit another grant request as soon as they allow applicants who are declined to do so. Some organizations limit applications to once a year, or only limit those applicants who receive funding. Check the giving guidelines for each grant donor that you apply to, to find out what your potential grant donor requires.

If you've submitted an excellent grant proposal, it was rejected, and you aren't sure why; call the grant donor and ask. IF they state that they do not want phone calls, then do not call them. Otherwise, call and ask. Why? First, they will look up your application and tell you why it was declined and they tell you specifically what you need to do when you reapply to them to be successful. Second, it creates dialogue between you and the grant donor and if there was an error on their part - they might give the grant to you, after all. This is unusual - but I've heard of it happening. Lastly, any dialogue with potential donors is good - it can lead to a relationship, which is the key to successful fundraising.

You must resubmit to the grant donors who decline your applications because some organizations want to see your group apply more than once (some, even want to see three applications before they'll consider donating a grant to a non profit). Why do they do this? First, it gives them time. Perhaps they want to talk to colleagues in your community about your group. (And this is why you want to be working a strong public relations and marketing campaign - you want to control your organization's message. Do not let someone else do it!) Second, it allows them to see that your staff can follow through, can commit, and can also operate well (you've asked for grants, in the past, didn't receive them, and you knew how to go about getting that funding that you needed, despite not receiving theirs').

Once you've received a grant from this kind of grant donor - you've established your organization with them; and having grant donor be familiar with your organization is the ultimate goal, here. Why? Because you can return to them again, and again, in the future with a higher likelihood of receiving a grant. Maintain that relationship over the years, in a manner that is effective but not overbearing or annoying!! It will be like an asset in the bank.

Once I applied to a well known foundation, during it's start, who declined a beautiful grant proposal. I called, spoke with the programs officer who managed our application, and she shared with me (very honestly) that they had received so many applications, that they weren't prepared for it. She said, 'honestly - we dropped the ball, here. Looking at your application - it's great. Please apply, again!'

Grants are not declined because you are a sloppy dresser, or because your organization's name isn't good enough, or because the stars were not properly aligned. Really. The reason that grants are not donated vary. Finding out why your proposal was declined gives you more ammo for the next time you apply.

Do not get discouraged. Do not. This is the kiss of death for your grant writing. Instead, take it in stride, expect this as a part of the grant process, and realize that while you may not have received a grant from them today, if you've done your homework (see my posts, above) you probably really will in the future.

Fellowships for Post Doctoral Scientists Researching Improving Biodiversity Conservation

From The Foundation Center...

Kathryn Fuller Fellowships to Support Biodiversity Conservation Projects

Deadline: November 15, 2007

A program of the World Wildlife Fund's ( ) Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Fund, Kathryn Fuller Fellowships will support early career scientists addressing research questions that will inform and improve the practice of biodiversity conservation.

All fields of natural and social science will be considered. Applicants may propose, for example, to investigate a general question in ecology, economics, hydrology, or other discipline that strongly affects conservation; or to develop a novel analytical tool that supports improved conservation decisions; or to test specific hypotheses in a particular field location. Research approaches may include comparative studies, synthetic analyses across sites, experimental or observational studies, applied modeling, or any combination.

In order to be eligible, applicants must: have earned their doctoral degree between January 31, 2003 and August 31, 2008; be proposing a research plan that is of fundamental and immediate importance to global biodiversity conservation, and is relevant to WWF's mission and programs; and have identified a scientist at an academic or research institution who will serve as co-sponsor. Research supported by the Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Fund may be conducted at any U.S. or foreign host institution, including any WWF office, that is willing to provide adequate space, basic services, and supplies for the individual and is amenable to the terms and overhead rates of the fellowship.

In 2008-2009, the Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Fund will support three post-doctoral research fellows. The fellowship tenure will generally be two years. Fellows will receive an annual stipend commensurate with their experience and costs. In addition, fellows may receive up to $15,000 per year for expenses directly related to the conduct of the research. The host institution may receive an allowance of up to $2,500 per year to assist with indirect costs incurred in support of the fellow.

Application materials are available at the WWF Web site. RFP Link:

Grants for U.S., Non Profit, Professional Theaters

From The Foundation Center...

Shubert Foundation Offers Funding for U.S. Professional Theaters

Deadline: December 3, 2007

The Shubert Foundation ( ) annually awards unrestricted grants for general operating support to not-for-profit, professional resident theaters in the United States.

Shubert Foundation grants are awarded exclusively to U.S. organizations, which must have current 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. The foundation provides grants only to organizations that have an established artistic and administrative track record, as well as a history of fiscal responsibility. Grants are awarded based on an assessment of each organization's operation and its contribution to the field. Artistic achievement, administrative strength, and fiscal stability are factored into each evaluation, as is the company's development of new work and other significant contributions to the field of professional theater in the U.S. Criteria for children's theater correspond to those for theater companies.

The foundation does not make grants to individuals, nor does it provide funds for project support, audience development, direct subsidy of reduced-price admissions, conduit organizations, renovation projects, loans, or capital or endowment campaigns.

Recent grants from the foundation range from $5,000 to $275,000 each; the larger grants are generally awarded to organizations that have been on the foundation roster for several years.

Visit the foundation's Web site for complete program information and application procedures. RFP Link:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Visit the October 2007 Giving Carnival! Click Here...

Read, respond to, and discuss what others who care about philanthropy think...

Thank you for joining in the October 2007 Giving Carnival! Thank you, too, to Sean Stannard-Stockton (Giving Carnival founder) and Gayle Roberts (September 2007 Giving Carnival host) for your help!

We need a host for the November 2007 Giving Carnival. Please let me know at aspencer at thegrantplant dot com if you are interested in hosting! [Oct. 22 UPDATE: We do have a host for November! Thank you, Maya Norton of The New Jew Philanthropy blog!]

This months question for discussion was " is often stated that 'relationships are everything' in philanthropy. The topic for this Giving Carnival is... Are relationships "everything" in philanthropy, today? Here are some questions to get you thinking: If philanthropic relationships are not everything, what is critical to philanthropy's modern success? Who do relationships in philanthropy form between today, compared to the past? Where is the innovation, in developing relationships in philanthropy? How do modern relationships in philanthropy begin; and how are they maintained? Who or what do they matter for? What are philanthropic relationships' effects on the causes they are supposed to serve? Is there oversight of relationships in philanthropy, and if so, what are the checks and balances on them? Are there times that relations should be broken, and if so, in what situations? Etc. etc. You do not have to follow my thread of questions. Feel free to respond in your own format."

Read, below, after all of the responses for more information.

[Congratulations to Myrlia Purcell and her family, author of Look to the Stars on their brand new family addition! We understand why you couldn't join us in this Giving Carnival!]

Here are the October 2007 Giving Carnival responses:

1. Jim Fruchterman, author of Beneblog, replied "Maybe I should respond to your 10/15 summary. I usually avoid open ended questions: easier to follow when people show what they're interested in."

Jim, Fair enough! If you want to respond further after reading my thoughts, and others', here; please do! - Arlene

2. Phil Cubeta, author of GiftHub, posted "Are Relationships Everything in Philanthropy"

3. Gayle Roberts, author of Fundraising for Nonprofits, posted "Be generous and raise money"

4. Holden Karnofsky, co-author of The GiveWell blog, posted "Great people"

5. Sean Stannard-Stockton, author of Tactical Philanthropy, posted "The Giving Carnival"

6. Jeff Brooks, author of Donorpowerblog, posted "The Differences Between Bad and Good Fundraising"

7. Jeremy Gregg, author of The Raiser's Razor, posted "Are relationships "everything" in philanthropy today?"

8. Trista Harris, Program Officer of The Saint Paul Foundation (Saint Paul, MN) and author of New Voices of Philanthropy, posted "How to be your Program Officer's BFF" (love the title)

9. Katya Andresen, author of Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog, posted "10 ways to win a corporate partner"

10. Andrea Learned, author of Learned On Women, responded...

From the women's market perspective, relationships are a very big part of philanthropy. Their process of giving will be very similar to their path to buying - in that it will not necessarily be linear: "ask for money, then get a check." Instead, their giving path will be more holistic and connection-seeking. Women will need to be drawn in, shown around and given time to decide. They may donate time or talent for years before finally getting to the financial end of things. Serve them in this way and you will not necessarily alienate the male donors - but you will more likely have raised the bar on donor experience for EVERYONE. I am admittedly not expert on philanthropy from all angles, but I am an expert on how women buy ( If women are core to your audience - what I've shared here may shed some light or start you on a path to thinking more about your particular women's market.

11. Carrie Rothburd, Principal of Grant Central Station, responded...

Are relationships "everything" in philanthropy, today?

I recently began to work with a new client, the founder of a community nonprofit dedicated to youth development through sports. This client is a well-known sports celebrity with charisma to burn. For the first four years of his nonprofit’s existence, from 2003 to 2007, my client took charge of writing grant proposals himself. He’d call and ask to meet with a foundation director, or he’d get to know the guy in the locker room of the local athletic club, and they’d chat. He’d then ask or be invited to submit a proposal. Most of his efforts, while technically a little rough or brief, received funding.

His experience has made me think again about what it means to talk about relationships and philanthropy. As a grant writer, I have spent years fussing over goals and objectives, plans of action, and evaluation plans intended to produce and measure change. I expect to write proposals that stand on their own merit—proposals that do not rely upon a prior relationship to convince someone to fund them.

So what does my client’s experience have to say about relationships and philanthropy? And what role, if any, do relationships play in proposal writing?

The funders that my client courted often promised him dollars before he’d even submitted a proposal. “Get something to me in writing that says what you need.” They’d formed their impression of his qualifications, the needs his nonprofit met, and the match between their mission and his. They didn’t want to know step-by-step how he would accomplish his plan or how he would measure for outcomes. They simply trusted him. He’d send the letter they’d asked for, and a check was in the mail.

My client hired me after being turned down for a larger capacity-building proposal. Yet sometimes he and I go head to head over my attempts to craft more thorough proposal requests for funding for his organization. He doesn’t understand why I need to include so much information or plan so far in advance when he has been able to walk in and sweep up funding all for a handshake. He doesn’t understand why we have to detail how he will spend every dollar.

I tell him it’s all about establishing trust, and that there’s more than one way to do this. Every solicitation is an attempt to initiate a relationship and succeeds or fails to the extent that it establishes a connection to its targeted funder. He has done a great job convincing others to believe in him so far. But in order to move his nonprofit beyond those handshake $5K, $10K, and even $25K gifts into the realm of the$100K-and-above grant, he will need to submit proposals that have the power to convince even an uninitiated and uncourted funder of the strengths of his organization and his proposed project.

Relationships still exist in the realm of bigger proposals, but in a more attenuated way than they do when grantor and grantee know each other. The funder must rely on my words on the page to assess qualifications, need, and fit. As the organization asks for more, it all must show more in terms of internal capacity, project plans, methods, projected outcomes, and measures. Good feelings alone or a shared social circle may not be sufficient to seal the deal.

12. Richard Marker, author of Wise Philanthropy, responded...


I have noticed that most of those who are involved in "the Giving Carnival"are fundraisers; I am exclusively on the other side - so my comments reflect that perspective.

1. Relationships do not take the place of content. When I was CEO of a large foundation, and now, when I advise funders on their giving strategies, I am often "cultivated" by those who want money. Nothing wrong with that, of course, since that is the job of fundraisers - except - that they often bypass the step to find out if I am interested or if the area they are looking for funding for fits within the focus of anyone I know. It is as if relationship is everything. So those who argue that relationship is everything are simply wrong.

2. That comment is particularly true for foundations and those funders who have an articulated set of priorities. It is less true with individual funders whose focus and priorities may be less established or rigorous and who therefore may be open to hearing about areas where they may never have funded before.

3. Even here, though, many younger funders are becoming more sophisticated and rigorous. Whatever accountability may mean, they want it; whatever transparency may mean, they want it; whatever outcomes may mean, they want it.

4. Therefore, the development of a trusting relationship does matter at the time when consideration is being given for funding. If relationship means trust, competence, transparency, reliability, and honesty, then it does matter. It is not the relationship of "cultivation", invitations, mailings, etc., but of demonstrated reliability. It means that the organization does not overreach or overstate; it means that the organization presents an appropriate informant when the funder wants information; it means that there is demonstrable reason why this potential gift is relevant from this donor at this time; it means that the difference between personal relationship and funding relationship is clear and not crossed. When that kind of relationship is genuinely established, it can mean a great deal over time.

5. Having said all of this, it should be clear that the responsibility for a trusting and responsible relationship goes both ways. Funders have a responsibility not to take advantage, mislead, lead-on, entice, or otherwise deal other than straight with those who want funds. In my work as an advisor and educator, I emphasize the ethics of being a responsible funder. Any relationship has, by definition, two sides. If we, as funders, demand that those who seek funds from us act appropriately, we can do no less in our dealings with them. But more about this in another posting.. or on my blog.

13. My response is...
I decided to devise an exercise for myself in the interest of creating a more diverse spectrum of answers to this month’s Giving Carnival question. Instead of responding to the question whether “relationships really are ‘everything’ in philanthropy” as a consulting grant writer; I’m responding to it as a donor.

My being a grant writer aside, I have and continue to involve myself with some causes as a donor; giving to non profit organizations that I determine are impacting the issues that concern me.

I grew up hiking and getting into the wilderness often. Our backyard was a greenbelt, and I got to know old growth cedar trees, coyotes, garter snakes, grey squirrels, and many various birds that coexisted with my family and me, in our neighborhood. It was transitioning, then, from rural to suburban. After seeing the Tutankhamen exhibit tour in the early ‘80’s I was so mystified by wondering who the person or people were that made his funerary mask, that the curiosity fueled my studying archaeology in college and graduate school. After college, one of my best friends was diagnosed at a young age with Stage IV endometrial cancer, and sadly lost her fight, three years later. I adopted one of my kitties from the King County Animal Control shelter, and my other kitty was adopted from a veterinarian nurse who saved him from raccoons.

All of these personal experiences and more have shaped my world view. They’ve also helped shape what concerns me within my community; the environment, urban development, culture, history, the fight against cancer, animal welfare and protection, and more.

So, my giving came from experiences with places, people, or things that I came to value; and experiences with loved ones, and these are relationships, for sure. These were relationships with things or people for the sake of the experience, friendship, or love – they were not random professional and autonomous relations with representatives of non profit organizations working on the cause or issue, as if I was aimlessly shooting checks out of my checking account mindlessly. And giving because a financial or estate planner suggests that I set aside 1% of my estate for their pet cause or non profit is mindless.

I care about these issues or causes and believe that the non profit sector can produce real solutions. This is the other reason that I donate.

For donors, a relationship with a non profit organization’s development staff member is not ‘everything’ in philanthropy. Donors’ relationships with their world can lead to success in philanthropy, if they believe that non profits exist that can help the issues or causes that they want to contribute towards.

My values, my experiences, my priorities, even my ethics are what direct my giving. They inform my philanthropy. Out of my concerns for my community, I research various organizations’ who are working on my favorite causes and issues. I consider their reputations, track records, and successes in managing themselves. Then, I donate based on what I think is important, and where I see my money will really effect change for the better. I like results.

More on the Giving Carnival...

The Giving Carnival is a group blog session that invites anyone interested in philanthropy to respond to a questions, monthly. Each month the Giving Carnival is hosted by someone new. All hosts and respondents are volunteers. The idea is to begin discussions, increase dialogue, and thereby building community among those who are interested in philanthropy and occasionally go online. Do you write a blog on a topic related to philanthropy? If so, you could host. You select and share the question for everyone to ponder and write about. Then, on the deadline that you choose, you post on your blog all of the comments, emails, and links that you receive in response. It increases the number of viewers who get to your site. (Can't blame me for selling the host position - we need hosts!) Also, as host, you 'meet' a lot of great people interested in philanthropy.

Want more details? The October 2007 Giving Carnival details are available at my Come Blog About Philanthropy With Us post. Check it out.

If you are reading this post after the October 2007 group blog session, and you'd like to know who is currently hosting and how to get the details for the current Giving Carnival group blog session (we'd love to have you); contact me by either posting your request as a comment, below, or email me; and I'll get you the information.

Deadline Is TODAY To Respond and Join the October Giving Carnival! Get Your Response to Me - Join Us!

Working in or interested in philanthropy? Well...

Either comment below, or email me at arlenes at thegrantplant dot com, or email me the link to your response posted on your blog about the following, please.

It is said that "relationships are everything" in philanthropy, today. Do you agree? What are your thoughts about this current paradigm? Good? Bad? What's really "everything" in philanthropy?

If you blog about philanthropy or if you are interested in philanthropy, join us by responding to this question via the methods, above.

Please get your responses to me by 6pm PST, TODAY, October 15th. Blogger will be down for ten minutes at 4pm, PST, today. Otherwise, we should have no interruptions.

Be sure to check back tomorrow or this week to read what your colleagues' responses are to this question. Respond to them. Let's get dialogue going and form a bit of community!

Monday, October 08, 2007

REMINDER: Join Us In Our Group Blog About Philanthropy! The Deadline Remains October 15th...

Read all of the information and details in my post, Come Blog About Philanthropy With Us

Do join us! We'd love to hear your thoughts!

You have a week left!

For the October, 2007 Giving Carnival (group blog session) I am considering that it is often stated that 'relationships are everything' in philanthropy. The topic for this Giving Carnival is... Are relationships "everything" in philanthropy, today?

By next Monday either post a response on your blog to this Giving Carnival question and email me the direct link, or post a Comment on my blog with your response, or email me a response to this question (at aspencer at thegrantplant dot com) and I will post your response along with all of the other respondents on October 15th. Be sure to check back to read others' responses. We want to generate dialogue and community online, amongst those working in philanthropy in different capacities.

Get back to me by next Monday!

New Free Grant Prospecting Tool for Grant Writers!

Seeking Grant Money Today reader, Carlo Espinoza, sent me the following email,

"I just read a post from the ResearchBuzz blog that there is a new free resource for grantwriters available at

"NOZA has just launched a database of 900,000 (give or take) grant records made to USnonprofits, and access to the database is free, no registration required. You can even export your results into excel.

"I thought you (and your readers) would want to know about it!"

It looks like a handy new resource. Thank you, Carlo!

Grants Available for Feline Medical Studies

From The Foundation Center...

Winn Feline Foundation to Support Research Related to Cat Health

Deadline: December 3, 2007

The Winn Feline Foundation ( ), a nonprofit organization founded by the Cat Fanciers' Association ( ) to support health-related studies about medical problems affecting cats, is accepting applications for its 2008 grants program.

During the fiscal year ending April 30, 2007, the foundation funded eight grants totaling $127,544 in areas such as feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, feline renal disease, infectious diseases, mammary cancer, feline genetics, and drug treatments.

Studies applicable to all cats are encouraged. The foundation is also interested in projects that address problems in individual breeds and has some dedicated funds for research into mediastinal lymphoma, feline infectious peritonitis, and inherited hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The foundation does not fund salaries of principal investigators, major equipment expenditures, travel, or indirect costs. Applicants may be faculty veterinarians, post-doctoral fellows, practicing veterinarians, or veterinary students. The maximum grant amount is $15,000. Multi-year proposals totaling more than $15,000 will not be considered. Continuation of grants awarded in 2007 will be considered.

Complete program guidelines and information on previously funded projects are available at the foundation's Web site.

RFP Link:

Grants for Multi-Disciplinary and Multi-Agency Breed-Specific or Golden Retriever-Specific Canine Cancer Research

From The Foundation Center...

Morris Animal Foundation Announces New Research Opportunity Targeting Canine Cancer

Deadline: January 1, 2008 The Morris Animal Foundation ( ) is the largest charitable nonprofit organization funding research to protect, treat, and cure animals worldwide -- including both companion animals and wildlife.

The foundation has announced a new Request for Proposals focused on canine cancer prevention. Thanks to a gift from the Golden Retriever Foundation ( ), MAF is especially interested in cancers involving Golden Retrievers. The foundation is also interested in studies that are able to train future researchers in cancer prevention. Important cancers are defined by MAF as those with high incidence and poor survival rates in dogs in general or in specific dog breeds. In this RFP, the cancer would need to have significance for Golden Retrievers. The proposed studies should be multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional in nature and utilize the collective expertise of basic scientists, epidemiologists, and clinicians. The principal investigator should be an established researcher with a proven track record of productivity in laboratory or population-based veterinary cancer or other relevant research that positions a team to develop novel approaches for cancer prevention. Each grant proposal will be funded for a period of up to five years, contingent on satisfactory progress. The total amount available for this five-year study is $500,000 to $1 million.

Visit the Morris Animal Foundation Web site for complete program information.

RFP Link:

Monday, October 01, 2007

That Program, Project, or Item: Writing In Your Proposal About What You Need the Grant For

When you sit down to write the paragraph or two about the program, project, or item that you are asking for a grant for, have a couple things handy for yourself:

__ Have answers to the basic questions' about the program or item, itself; who/what will it serve, who will provide the service, what, when, where, why do this, and how. Be sure that you get this information from the program/project manager; and confirm the details with both your bookkeeper and your executive director.

__ Have the timeline for the program, project, or item (from program design to the projected end of the program, for instance).

__ Have the program budget. If one is still needed and you aren't sure how to create a budget for your grant proposal, see my post, "The Word "Gets" Is In "Budgets" .

__ Have a list of every person and their official title that will contribute any hours to the program. Have a total list of each person (or peoples' positions) and estimated total time contribution. Include the planning stage.

__ Have a list of all of the partners, other organizations, or professionals (outside of your organization) in the community who are either involved in the whole program, or will collaborate during part of it.

__ Have the latest journal articles, recent local press investigations, scientific findings, or other reputable sources that demonstrate that this program/project or item is of the latest sound thinking in your field.

__ Have the latest journal articles, recent local press investigations, scientific findings, or other reputable sources that demonstrate that this program/project or item is relevant and needed in your community now. [You will include a Statement of Need in your grant proposal so this is not the place in your proposal where you should write a series of sentences about the need. In this section of the proposal you should only give a phrase in a sentence, or one sentence about need. Make sure that it is additional information to what you've written in your Statement of Need, and that it isn't repeated information. You want to maximize every word that you're allowed in the total word count limit.]

__ If your organization realized the need for the program/project or item that you're applying for a grant for, through strategic planning, a research study, or a professional investigation, etc. - have the findings report with you.

__ Any other pertinent information that is either the cause, a source, or informs the how, when, where, what, and why of what you are applying for a grant for.

The next step after you've compiled all of this information? Put all of this information into a file for this particular round of grant proposals and do not lose it. Place it where you can access it when you might need to, and where you're guaranteed to find it over and over again. Do not allow colleagues or others to take it. If they need the information that you've compiled, suggest that you make a copy for them to use.

The third step in writing this portion of your grant proposal is VERY important. All of your proposal content should be easy, quick, and extremely informative. Keep your sentences and paragraphs very informative but short. How? Write what you need the person who reads the proposal to know, and edit, re-edit, and edit some more. Take out what is truly and ultimately not crucial. Make it easy for the reader to get the meat or critical/important information. You will get the hang of this as you do it more and more. It is a skill, and one that we can all do. For more help with this method read my post, "Be Succinct In Your Grantwriting"

Now, sit down to write. Provide an EXTREMELY edited down, clear, almost bullet point (it can be a bullet point list in the final draft, sometimes, too) list, or shopping list, of all of the absolute points of the above documents and how they demonstrate what it is that requires the grant and the who, what, where, when, why, and how of it.

Your first stab at this section of the proposal may wind up creating four or five paragraphs. That's OK! Give yourself a break and then sit back down to re-read the source documents for their highlights, and then re-read what you wrote in your first draft. Cull the first draft down. Take out sentences that do not give information or details. They may seem really important at first glance, but for each sentence ask yourself 'is the information in this sentence providing data, history, resources, sources, etc?' If it isn't, take it out or just keep the key one or two words that do and connect that fragment to another sentence that is vital. Go back over the document in a few drafts of it. Give yourself some breaks, in between.

By the time that it is ready to be in the final draft, it should be no more than two paragraphs (depending on the amount of words allowed in the proposal, and what information the grant donor asks for. If they allow for a 20 page proposal, this section may be five paragraphs. If they only allow a two page proposal, it may only be four sentences). The paragraphs should be extremely informative in an easy to read and clear set of sentences.

You are now ready to move onto the next section of the grant proposal!

Grants for K - 12 Field Trips in Spring 2008

From The Foundation Center...

Target Corporation Expands Student Field Trip Grant

Program Deadline: November 1, 2007

A philanthropic program of Target Corporation ( ), the Target Field Trip Grant program will award grants to schools across the United States for field trips in the spring of 2008.

Grant-funded field trips may involve museum, environmental, or science projects; artistic and cultural experiences; and civics or community service projects. Grants may not be used for salaries or equipment. Education professionals, 18 years or older, who are employed by an accredited K-12 public, private, or charter school in the U.S. that maintain a 501(c)(3) or a 509(a)(1) tax-exempt status are eligible to apply. Educators, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, or classified staff of these institutions must be willing to plan and execute a field trip that will provide a demonstrable learning experience for students.

Previous recipients of a Target Field Trip Grant are not eligible to apply. Up to 1,600 grants of up to $1,000 each will be awarded in February 2008.

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

Grants and Scholarships for Middle and High School Students' Environmental Programs Benefiting Their Community

From The Foundation Center...

Lexus and Scholastic Announce Launch of Environmental Challenge Education

Program Deadline: Various

Automaker Lexus ( ) has announced the launch of the Lexus environmental challenge, a program designed to educate and empower students to take action to improve the environment. The program encourages middle and high school students across the united states to develop and implement environmental programs that positively impact their communities.

More than $1 million in total scholarships and grants will be awarded to students, teachers, and schools. Lexus has joined with scholastic ( ), the global children's publishing, education, and media company, to create the program. The Lexus Environmental Challenge has two distinct elements: standards-based supplementary educational materials and a contest to reward environmental action. The contest helps young people apply what they've learned in class through the program and empowers them to make improvements in their community by participating in any of the four environmental team challenges. Middle and high school teams comprised of five to ten students and one teacher advisor are invited to participate in four initial challenges, each addressing a different environmental element -- land, water, air, and climate. For each of the challenges, teams will define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report on the results. Teams are invited to participate in as many of the four challenges as they choose.

Submission Deadlines are: Challenge #1 (Land) -- October 5, 2007; Challenge #2 (Water) -- November 5, 2007; Challenge #3 (Air) -- December 5, 2007; and Challenge #4 (Climate) -- January 7, 2008.

There will be sixteen winning teams for each of the four challenges -- eight middle school and eight high school teams. The winning teams will each receive a total of $3,000 in scholarships and grants. The sixty-four winners of the first four challenges will be invited to participate in the Final Challenge, where teams will develop an environmental program with the potential to impact the world in a dramatic way. From the Final Challenge entries, fourteen finalists and two grand-prize-winning teams will be selected. Each of the fourteen finalists will receive a total of $50,000 in grants and scholarships, and the two grand-prize-winning teams will each receive $75,000. The money will be shared by the students, teacher advisor, and school.

Full program information, including rules and entry details, can be viewed at the Scholastic Web site. RFP Link: