Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What Is A Well Run Non Profit Agency? I'll Tell You...

Clientele, community members, donors, non profit volunteers and staff, and agency leadership, you may ask:

"What is a well run non profit?"

A well run non profit will garner community and donor support; but more importantly it will meet a need in the community successfully in an efficient and honest manner. A well run non profit agency is one in which:

10. 75% - 80% (or more) of a non profit's revenues are dedicated to core programs.

9. The board of directors, (or volunteer leadership), are educated (about their role as leadership, know the agency's ratified policies, their legal responsibilities (i.e. Sarbanes Oxley) and know what is expected of them and everyone else in the non profit agency), and actively overseeing: that the agency's ratified policies are being followed, that all laws (federal, state, and city) are being followed, that all agency accounting is accurate, honest, and legal (including making sure that annual independent audits occur), communicating with the staff and anyone in the public wanting information (this is agency transparency), fundraising (they must be actively raising funds and talking with their colleagues and friends in the community about why the agency is an asset and its work is necessary), evenhandedly oversees and works with the leadership staff (listening to them, working with them, but overseeing them and their effectiveness per the agency's mission), and volunteering for the agency's needs (i.e. folding letters and stuffing them, working at fundraising events, helping in the office on the phones, or whatever may be needed).

8. The staff is excellent at their respective jobs, honest, well trained; supported by leadership staff and volunteers; is given fair wages, benefits, vacation time, continuing education support, an opportunity to move upward in the agency; and is given a human resources policy that is an agreement between them and their employer (as to benefits, grievance policies, etc.).

7. Volunteers are appreciated and considered valuable assets who are not to be taken for granted. They are well trained, asked what work that they want to do based on their skills, and the lines of communication are open with them (after all, they are often major donors, invested in the agency's mission, and telling their friends and families their reasons for supporting your organization. They are boosters).

6. The mission statement is THE prime directive and it is meeting its community's needs successfully (per the agency fundraising plan, ratified agency policies, and all public laws). All fundraising, recruiting, hiring, public relations, contracts, programs, research, policies, etc are related to and based in the agency's mission statement. Otherwise, you're out of your scope and frankly, can't afford the work beyond your mission. There must be agency-wide buy-in into the mission statement. No one at the agency is working for or volunteering for any person at the non profit - everyone is working for the mission statement and its (clear) goal. IF the mission statement or its goal is not clear - hire an excellent non profit operations consultant and clarify that mission statement. It is everything.

5. Everyone that works for the non profit (staff and volunteers) are honest with, and open to: donors and potential donors, the bank, lenders, the general public, the press, other potential volunteers, agency leadership, and report issues as appropriate. Communication is open (top-down, laterally, intra- and inter- agency, using prudence as appropriate) and agency financials, annual reports, service stats or research, and all other results are available as requested (or as the law requires).

4. Job-related fatigue is taken very seriously. If burn-out or fatigue is noted in any of the volunteers or staff there is a policy in place to address with that team member the burn out, and assist in relieving the valued member of the agency of their fatigue. No one's job should be in jeopardy over burn-out issues, alone. Many people work in the non profit sector for altruistic reasons but may be challenged by repeatedly seeing pain, death, danger, or sadness. It is an understandable outcome of too much repetitive exposure to tough stuff. A proactive agency policy will benefit everyone. Burn out or fatigue puts the agency's integrity, the staff or volunteer's job success, and the clientele or population being served in danger. Fatigue and burn out are not addressed enough in the non profit sector but it should be. It is deadly important.  [For more information see: Compassion Fatigue Strikes Family, Even Animal Caregivers]

3. Being willing to listen and hear others (clients or the served populations' advocates, volunteers, staff, the community at large, colleagues at other agencies, donors, government representatives, financial institutions, legal advisers, etc.) is critical. It is not enough to 'listen'. A non profit must take a comment, request, or question into consideration and give it attention. Respond and with respect, appreciation, and professionalism. Do not ever not respond.

2. An agency-culture of professionalism, knowing the latest in your field, openness, forthrightness, efficiency, honesty, friendliness, legal complicity, transparency, responsibility, communicativeness, integrity, humanity, fun, and other assets.

1. Putting the clientele or the cause first in all considerations for their/its benefit and welfare.

Please add what you believe I've missed or share your disagreements with me and my readers. Post a comment, below.

Grants Available for Schools & Youth Non Profits Creating Sun-Safe Outdoor Areas

From The Foundation Center...

American Academy of Dermatology Announces 2008 Shade Structure Grant Program

Deadline: March 5, 2008

To assist organizations in creating sun-safe outdoor areas, the American Academy of Dermatology ( http://www.aad.org/ ) has announced the availability of grant applications for its Shade Structure Program.

The program is open to United States nonprofit organizations or educational institutions for permanent shade structures over outdoor locations which are not protected from the sun, such as playgrounds, pools, eating areas, and other locations.

The 2008 program will have a longer grant cycle in order to allow AAD members to work with local schools and organizations to develop sun-safety programs and initiatives, one of the criteria for application.

Also please note, the 2008 program is only open to schools and organizations that serve children and teenagers, ages 18 and younger.

Visit the AAD Web site for complete program guidelines, an application form, and information on locating a member dermatologist in your area. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007453/aad

Grants Available to Floridians Researching, Educating, or Conserving Sea Turtles and Their Habitats

From The Foundation Center...

Florida Sea Turtle Grants Program Offers Funding for Research, Conservation, and Education Programs

Deadline: November 16, 2007

Funded by a portion of the revenues from Florida's Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate and administered by the nonprofit Caribbean Conservation Corporation ( http://www.cccturtle.org/ ).

The Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes funds each year to support sea turtle research, conservation, and education programs that benefit Florida sea turtles. Competitive grant funding can be requested for projects in one of three categories:

Conservation: Protection of marine turtles, their nests, and hatchlings from harmful activities on the nesting beach. Also includes the care and rehabilitation of sick or injured sea turtles.

Education: The development, production, and distribution of educational materials and programs that promote the understanding of the biology, health, life history, and habitat needs of Florida's marine turtles and the protection and conservation of these species.

Research: Research directly related to the conservation of marine turtles. Such research should provide information for the improvement of strategies to protect marine turtles and may include assessments of coastal lighting; beach nourishment; coastal armoring and other shoreline protection structures; in-water distributions; developmental habitats; migration patterns; rehabilitation of injured or diseased marine turtles; epidemic diseases, including fibropapillomatosis; fishing gear; and general life history information.

Local Florida governments, Florida-based nonprofit organizations, and education and research institutions that actively participate in marine turtle research, conservation, and educational activities within the state of Florida are eligible to apply for funds. Grant expenditures will be made based on the funds collected.

Visit the program's Web site for complete grant guidelines, research ideas, and a list of previously funded projects. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007452/seaturtles

Gift Certificates and In Kind Donations for School and Youth Garden Programs Using Gardening to Relate to Nutrition and Hunger in the U.S.

From The Foundation Center...

National Gardening Association's Healthy Sprouts Awards to Support School and Youth Garden Programs

Deadline: October 15, 2007

As a way to encourage the growth of health-focused youth gardens, the National Gardening Association ( http://assoc.garden.org/ ) (NGA) recognizes outstanding programs via the Healthy Sprouts Awards, sponsored by Gardener's Supply.

The awards support school and youth garden programs that teach about nutrition and the issue of hunger in the United States. To be eligible for the 2007 Healthy Sprouts Awards, a school or organization must plan to garden in 2008 with at least fifteen children between the ages of 3 and 18. The selection of winners is based on the demonstrated relationship between the garden program and nutrition and hunger issues in the U.S. This year, NGA will present Healthy Sprouts Awards to twenty schools or organizations. Each program will receive gift certificates toward the purchase of gardening materials from Gardener's Supply, with the top five each receiving a certificate valued at $500, and fifteen more receiving gift certificates valued at $200. Awardees will also receive educational materials related to gardening and nutrition, twenty-five packets of seeds, and NGA Supporter benefits for one year.

Program guidelines and application materials are available at the NGA Kids Gardening Web site. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007448/kidsgardening

Advocacy and Facilities Grants for Organizations "Putting People on Bikes More Often"

From The Foundation Center...

Bikes Belong Offers Funding for Bicycle Advocacy and Facilities

Deadline: Quarterly (see website). Upcoming application deadlines are August 27, 2007; and November 26, 2007.

Bikes Belong ( http://bikesbelong.org/ ) is a national coalition of bicycle suppliers and retailers working together to put more people on bicycles more often. Bikes Belong welcomes grant applications from organizations and agencies within the United States that are committed to "putting more people on bicycles more often."

The Bikes Belong Grants Program funds projects in two categories: 1) facilities; and 2) advocacy. For the facility category, Bikes Belong will accept applications from nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and departments at the national, state, regional, and local levels. For the advocacy category, Bikes Belong will only fund organizations whose mission is expressly related to bicycle advocacy.

New organizations that are not yet legally nonprofit organizations may submit an application with the assistance of another nonprofit that has agreed to serve as fiscal agent. Bikes Belong will not fund individuals.

Because of the program's limited funds, it rarely awards grants to organizations and communities that have received Bikes Belong funding within the last three years. Applicants can request up to $10,000. In very limited cases, Bikes Belong will consider amounts over $10,000. The organization awards an average of fifteen grants per year. Bikes Belong reviews applications on a quarterly cycle. Applications must be postmarked by the due date to receive consideration for the ensuing decision date.

Upcoming application deadlines are August 27, 2007; and November 26, 2007.

Visit the program's Web site for complete application information. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007447/bikesbelong

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Attention Seattle Non Profits: KEXP.org's 2008 Community Partnerships

From Seattle's Non Profit Networking Yahoo Groups List Serve:

KEXP.org, in Seattle, is a non profit radio station that began as KCMU on the University of Washington campus (also, then, a non profit radio station). Paul Allen donated a large sum of money to KCMU, renamed it, and moved it to a larger more modern facility under the Space Needle. KEXP is known, today, for it's independent, "listener-driven", and non-pop radio programming. It features many different shows and each show features different types of music and a regular host.

For 2008 they are offering, through the Audioasis radio show, on KEXP, the Community Partnership program, again.

All information is available at: http://www.kexp.org/about/partnership.asp

Applications must arrive by or on: August 15, 2007 [July 23 update - KEXP announced yesterday that the deadline has been extended to August 31, 2007]

KEXP is now accepting applications for the 2008 calendar year of the Community Partnerships Initiative. Since we began the program in 2006, we have raised over $20,000 for local non-profit organizations. KEXP will highlight one charity per month through on-air promotions, a live interview, and culminate the promotions with a live local music showcase. Door proceeds from the live event will go to the designated charity.

As part of the Community Partnership Initiative, organizations chosen by KEXP will receive:
One month of online and on-air promotions.
100% of the door proceeds from a local music showcase at the High Dive in Fremont.
Small table at High Dive night of event to promote organization.
Live on-air spot for agency representative and/or client during The Morning Show with John Richards, The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, and the Audioasis live broadcast from the High Dive. Organization name attached to all promotions for event done by KEXP and High Dive.

Decisions will be made by a KEXP employee review team led by John Richards, host of the Morning Show and Associate Program Director, and Melissa Collett, Community Partnerships Coordinator. The 2008 community partners will be announced in October 2007.

Preference will be given to:
Music-related organizations
Organizations who serve the Puget Sound region
Organizations with proposals that will spark engagement between the community and the organization

KEXP will not consider:
Government agencies
Political organizations
Organizations that discriminate against race, color, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, creed, religion, heritage, or sensory, mental or physical ability.
Religious organizations will only be considered if the services and programs offered do not discriminate against race, color, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, creed, religion, heritage, or sensory, mental or physical ability.

Your packet should include one copy all of the following:
Application Sheet (MS Word file - see link for it) [July 23 update - KEXP announced yesterday that is is no longer required for the application]
Letter of Inquiry (up to 3 pages and should include needs statement, organization/program description which includes who the program serves and how many, geographical area and population served, any connections you feel the KEXP audience has with your mission, and how you hope this awareness will impact the organization.)
Optional: Letter of support from someone currently involved with KEXP (examples of involvement are: staff member, board or advisory board member, intern, volunteer, vendor, etc.)
A copy of your current 501(c)3 status. (If you are not a 501(c)3, please list what your tax status is and provide verification.)
Operating Budget
Program Budget (if applying for program)
Optional: One copy of Organization Fact Sheet, or small brochure, or small annual report
Please do not send videos or booklets.

Applications will only be accepted through the mail, or at the KEXP front desk Monday through Friday 9:30am — 4:30pm. Please follow the link to get the address.

Update as of July 23, 2007:
"I'm writing to announce two changes to the applications for the KEXP Community Partnerships Application.

In the application packet, the letter of support that supplements the application is now listed as optional. Second, the deadline has been extended to August 31, 2007.

But nothing else in the application has changed.

The full application packet is available online at
http://www.kexp. org/about/ partnership. asp

-Melissa Collett, KEXP.org"

The link to the information on this Partnership can be found at: http://www.kexp.org/about/partnership.asp

Monday, May 21, 2007

Current and Future Non Profit Success Strategies

[The link to the original editorial written for The Foundation Center's "Philanthropy News Digest" (dated May 18, 2007) by Heinz Endowments President, Maxwell King is located at:
http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/commentary/co_item.jhtml?id=178600023 ]

Maxwell King and I agree, as evident in many posts in this blog. I quote Heinz Endowments President and Council on Foundations Chair, Maxwell King here, who states of philanthropy that a "sharp strategic focus can produce transformative change". In his May 18th article for The Foundation Center's "Philanthropy News Digest" (the link is above), King considers American philanthropy's current and future climates.

King says of American philanthropy today, "In our nation's capital, Congress has served notice that it will continue to closely examine its regulatory role with regard to the nonprofit sector. It is our job to work skillfully with members of Congress to ensure that proper oversight does not turn into over-regulation of the sort that could strangle philanthropy's promise." This is the first time in American history that Congress' has laid down stronger expectations of the non profit world. It is a benefit to the donor, to the non profit field, and to our communities.

King goes further, "Indeed, questions of good governance, accountability, and strong ethics are central to our mission and success. We all must become expert in managing these public-trust issues, as well as skilled in collaboration and communication, in order to ensure that the public and its representatives fully understand our work and the requirements for its success."

King expects that the future threshold for non profits will be how effectively we use our resources to effect change. Effectiveness will be the next lens through which future donors, our communities, colleagues at other non profits, and others will consider our work and reputation, alongside strong management.

Us volunteers, staff, and donors can heed the message now to our agencies' directives' benefits! Effectiveness, transparency, strong management, communication, collaboration, and efficiency will need to be our new agency viability metrics, if they aren't already!

Grants for Drug Policy Reform Programs, and Public Education to Curb Drug War Initiatives

From The Foundation Center...

Drug Policy Alliance Accepting Applications for Advocacy Grants Program

Deadline: There are two initiatives to this grant RFP. For public education programs working to stem drug war initiatives proposals are due on the first business day of the month, and will be allocated until this portion of the fund is spent. The deadline for Promoting Policy Change program grants, specifically, is June 18, 2007. Contact The Drug Policy Alliance for more specific due date information.

The Drug Policy Alliance ( http://www.drugpolicy.org/ ) has announced that it will allocate another $1.4 million to its Advocacy Grants Program. The program seeks to promote policy change and advance drug- policy reform at the local, state, and national levels by strategically funding smaller, geographically limited, or single-issue organizations and projects.

The program works to raise awareness and promote change through two vehicles:

1) Promoting Policy Change: This general funding cycle targets organizations working to advance drug-policy reform at the local, state, and national levels through advocacy, grassroots organizing, and education. Generally, the cap on grants awarded during the Promoting Policy Change cycle is $50,000 each, with an approximate allocation in total funding of $1.2 million. The deadline for Promoting Policy Change program grants is June 18, 2007.

2) Rapid Response/Special Opportunities: This monthly funding cycle is for time-sensitive projects to respond or take advantage of strategic public education and campaigns to block drug-war initiatives or advance drug-policy reform. Grants will be made on an ongoing basis until funding is exhausted. The approximate allocation in total funding is $200,000. Proposals are due on the first business day of the month.

Complete program guidelines and application materials are available at the Drug Policy Alliance Web site. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007375/drugpolicy

Small Grants for American Public School Libraries

From The Foundation Center...

Ezra Jack Keats Accepting Applications From Public Schools and Public Libraries for Minigrant Program

Deadline: September 15, 2007

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation ( http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/ ), created by the children's book author and illustrator, is accepting applications from public schools and libraries anywhere in the United States and its protectorates for program or event mini-grants of $500 each.

Funds will not be granted for general operating costs, adminis- trative costs, transportation, or the purchase of books, tapes, software, or equipment unrelated to a specific program described. Only one application will be considered from each library or school. Applications for programs being held in any type of private or parochial school or library will not be considered.

Visit the foundation's Web site for program guidelines and an application form. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007367/ezra-jack-keats

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Grants to Teach Nanotechnology in the Classroom, ala the National Science Foundation

From U.S. Senator Ron Wyden's office, and his "Wyden News Now May, 2007" dated May 14, 2007:

National Science Foundation Grants to Educate Students About Nanotechnology

"Late last month, Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and I successfully added an important provision regarding nanotechnology to a U.S. competitiveness bill. The provision would authorize the use of National Science Foundation grant funds to acquire nanotechnology equipment and software for teachers and students learning about nanotechnology. With the inclusion of this provision, partnerships between low-income school districts, colleges and universities and businesses will be able to secure funds to purchase classroom versions of scanning electron microscopes and other tools that are fundamental to the study of nanotechnology. As the co-chairman of the congressional Nanotechnology Caucus, I believe that nanotechnology will have a significant impact on the future of many different fields, including information technology, medicine, and energy production."

The link to the full press release on Senator Wyden's website is:
http://wyden.senate.gov/media/2007/04262007_Nanotech.html

If you have any questions, call his office in WA, DC at (202) 224-5244

Monday, May 14, 2007

Creating Model Programs And Their Effect on Getting Grants

You may have read about model programs, or model projects and how important they are to potential grant donors. You might wonder...what is this all about?

If your non profit organization creates a program, project, method, study, educational program, or even an innovative item, or any other new way to deal with, perceive, treat, educate, study, etc. in order to fulfill your group's mission - you may very likely have a model on your hands. A model is any innovation that can be replicated. If the innovation is something that should be replicated, because maybe it lowers the cost of doing something that is a standard today, or it is more effective, etc; it is a very likely candidate for grant support.

Grant donors love innovation and anything that can be replicated in your field because it makes your field's work easier or better. Models are very important and so donors support them.

For instance, let's say that you and I are scientists at a cancer research non profit; a medical university. Let's say, too, that we are working on a cure for leukemia. Let's also say that you and I developed a new research method that we are wanting to attempt in the 2008 - 2009 school year. We've found strong indications from other research we've recently completed that our new method could allow us to access red blood cells quicker and more accurately than any known methods. We realized that if this new method is accurate and as effective as we think it is, it would revolutionize our research but also other sciences who work with red blood cells!

This program would be very important. The method that we've developed would be something that we'd use in our future work, if it is successful, but it could also be replicated by other organizations and companies all over the world. It would benefit our whole field and other industries. The benefits, if it turns out that our new method works, are that scientists will be able to access red blood cell quicker and more accurately. These goals are undeniably a benefit to science and medicine. Lastly, our research on our proposed new method has indicated that there's a high likelihood that we are correct and that we can actually do what we are attempting to.

All of these attributes of this proposed new research program make this method a good model candidate. This method, if it is found to be successful and accurate, can be taught to other scientists, doctors, and to students in appropriate fields. It would save money, time, and lives. It is an innovation that can be replicated to the benefit of many other causes. This is an excellent example of what a model is.

Grant donors like supporting innovations because it moves many fields and causes forward in their work and effectiveness. As I wrote in the blog entry, "A Shift In Giving: Proactive Philanthropists Instead of Passive Donors" http://thegrantplant.blogspot.com/2007/03/shift-in-giving-proactive.html , today's donors are not passively handing over checks, blindly, anymore. Today's donor is savvy, researched, very passionate about the causes that they support, results - driven, and involved. As today's donor is interested in results, meeting needs, and working with informed organizations - funding innovations are an excellent fit.

Programs, projects, and other work that create new ways of doing something; or faster, cheaper, better methods have a high likelihood of being a model program or project. This innovation could help others in their work and could be replicated. Models are a win win scenario for non profits and their investors, some of which are grant donors.

For more information on what grant donors typically like, and don't like read my posts:

What Campaigns, Programs, or Items Get Grants? http://thegrantplant.blogspot.com/2006/11/what-programs-campaigns-or-items-get.html

What Does Not Get Funded Well By Grant Money? http://thegrantplant.blogspot.com/2006/12/what-does-not-get-funded-well-by-grant.html

Grants for Post Katrina Research; Impact on People, Places, & Reconstruction

From The Foundation Center:

Social Science Research Council Offers Grants for Katrina Research

Deadline: Contact funder

The Social Science Research Council ( http://www.ssrc.org/ ) is offering small grants of up to $5,000 each (in rare cases up to $7,500) to enable researchers to complete projects bearing on Hurricane Katrina, its impacts on people and places, and the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast.

Grants may supplement funds from other sources. Preference will be given to students completing dissertation projects and to younger researchers, but applications are welcome from others. The awards are intended to enable people to bring to fruition research they have already begun. See the SSRC Web site for further information and contact details.

RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007271/ssrc

Hurricane Katrina Relocation, Education, Curriculum Grants Available

From The Foundation Center...

Grants Available From Katrina Education Fund

Deadline: May 31, 2007

Responding to the continuing needs of students impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation ( http://www.braf.org/ ) is offering another grant cycle of its Hurricane Katrina Education Fund.

The fund supports educational projects and organizations that address the academic needs of children who were displaced by the hurricanes. In this funding round, BRAF will give preference to organizations that provide summer remediation and enrichment opportunities.

Proposed projects should be clearly defined, non-duplicative, well-managed, and closely monitored for measurable results. They should also feature a high probability of changing the system to improve the quality of education.

In reviewing programs, the grants review committee will focus on applications that 1) assist displaced students in improving their standardized test scores; 2) help these students progress in their core curriculums while also addressing their emotional and social needs; and/or 3) improve the way schools are organized and managed, especially by emphasizing developmental needs such as boosting parental involvement and accountability.

Grants are available in amounts up to $50,000 each. Visit the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Web site for additional information.

RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007262/braf

Grant for Cultural Organizations' Capital Improvements Available Worldwide

From The Foundation Center...

Tourism Cares Offers Worldwide Grant Program

Deadline: June 1, 2007; and October 1, 2007 (Letters of Inquiry Packets)

Tourism Cares ( http://www.tourismcares.org/ ), a nonprofit charity supported by the tourism industry, administers the Worldwide Grant Program to support worthy tourism-related nonprofit organizations working to preserve, conserve, and restore the world's natural, cultural, and historic treasures.

Primary consideration is to fund projects and programs whose goal is capital improvements that serve to protect, restore, or conserve sites of exceptional cultural, historic, or natural sig- nificance; or the education of local host communities and the traveling public about conservation and preservation of sites of exceptional cultural, historical, or natural significance.

The 2007 Worldwide Grant Program goals for grantmaking call for a balanced distribution to U.S. and non-U.S. recipients. Based on merit and availability of funds, grants of up to $100,000 each will be considered.

To be eligible, U.S.-based organizations must have nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status; non-U.S.-based organizations must have status equivalent to the U.S. 501(c)(3). Visit the Tourism Cares Web site for complete program information.

RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007258/tourismcares

Monday, May 07, 2007

About Grant Guidelines...

[This post is not, and no post in this blog, is legal or financial advice. If you seek either you should contact either a lawyer or a Certified Public Accountant. The information, herein, is simply information, not legal or financial advice.]

Every grant donor has preferences, requirements, and an application process. Grant donors who are public institutions must tell you how to apply for their grants. They do not have to tell you their preferences (though it helps, when they do -as those non profits who do not fit their preferences should not apply - thus saving everyone time). Often, it is a really good idea to speak with fundraising colleagues at other non profits who you know successfully raised grants from a foundation that you're approaching, just to ask for their suggestions or insights.

The document that grant writers use to know what application to use, to apply for a given grant, what information to provide, and what the time table is for the application process is called the giving guidelines. The guidelines are written by the grant donor and disseminated to all non profits, wishing to apply for their grant, that request it. Every grant donor has different grant guidelines because they're each different organizations with different goals, interests, experience, etc. Today, is is common if a grant donor has a website, that the giving guidelines are available on their website. If it is not, simply call their main number and request them. They are also required, if filing an IRS tax form 990, that they state the grant application process for their organization, on the form. To understand the IRS tax form 990's function in grant writing read the following post: http://thegrantplant.blogspot.com/2007/03/grant-writers-little-helper-irs-tax.html Often, though, (unfortunately) the description on the form 990 is scant, and frankly, it's likely filled in on form 990 by a bookkeeper and overseen by an accountant. These folks are not necessarily familiar with the grant application process and may not give all the necessary details to successfully apply for their grant.

Guidelines will state what kind of organization the grant donor gives grants to (and don't give to, sometimes). They will explain what causes (specifically) that they support and if your cause is not listed you are really and truly not likely to receive a grant if you apply for one, anyway. They will also describe where organizations must be located. If your non profit is not in the region that they prefer to support, do not just submit your application, anyway. If you believe that there is a strong fit for your organization to partner with this grant donor, but aren't a clear fit according to their grant giving guidelines, do not just submit a proposal. Call and ask to speak to one of their program managers, first, and explain why you think that there's a good fit. You're likely not going to be asked to apply, but you never know, you may be right!

Small grant donors, such as start up family foundations, my simply tell you over the phone how they prefer that you apply for their grant, the deadlines, and when to expect a response as to whether you've received the grant. You'll need to know what application form to submit, whether they prefer receiving a letter of inquiry (LOI) before receiving a full proposal, and what attachments they want with your application and proposal. Smaller grant donors will also, probably, use your local community foundation's grant application form, rather than creating their own. They will let you know if they do, and where to locate it (often it is available on the community foundation's website).

For instance, some grant donors request that non profits applying for a grant only submit a two page letter of inquiry (LOI), first in the process. After they receive and review it, they will let you know as to whether they want you to go ahead a submit a full proposal applying for their grant. Upfront, it may seem 'cut throat' or tough, but it's a nice process, because if you submit the two page summary (LOI) and they find that your project/program is not a good fit for what they're looking to fund, they decline your interest and you can spend your energy on other applications that have much better chances of acceptance. They've done you a favor.

Some grant donors want specific information in the grant proposal, itself. Often guidelines for many different donors will require that the non profit's mission statement, service statistics, current services/programs being provided, etc. Every now and then a grant donor may require that a non profit submitting a grant request include a statement about the organization's discrimination avoidance policy in its proposal. Or, I've written proposals where I had to state what the disability persons' access was like in our office.

Grant donors will often require specific attachments with the grant proposal. The most common are: a copy of the non profit's IRS letter of 501 (c)(3) status, the list of the board of directors, financial statements, list of staff and their professional experience, a copy of a proposed program's budget, etc.

As I've said before, no legitimate grant donor will request, nor do they need, any of your bank account numbers, investment account numbers, or any kind of asset down payment in order to get a grant. If you are ever asked to give any financial access or assets - back away from the exchange and research the organization with your state, the Better Business Bureau, colleagues at other organizations, and Guidestar.org before proceeding at all with them. As you know, if a situation tells your gut that something is wrong - listen to your gut; something is likely wrong.

Having stated this caveat, a potential grant donor (like any of your organization's donors) are investing in your organization's future and capabilities. So, they do have a right to know how financial stable and healthy your non profit is, to know that your group is a legal 501 (c) (3) non profit according to the IRS, that your staff and board are experienced and upstanding, etc. As I always state, transparency is a tremendous asset to the healthy, strong, successful, well managed non profit. Donors, like investors, have a right to know who they're partnering with to benefit your community. If you are an excellent non profit, market that! You're upping all of your fundraising if you do. Don't make it difficult for them to figure this out! This is your organization's best asset!! Be proud of your excellence.

Don't submit more than the particular grant donor asks of you, for a specific grant application. The grant donors receive tens if not hundreds of applications for a given grant. The less work that you create for them (i.e. having to recycle extra papers that they didn't ask for from you) the better off you'll be with them - and grant raising is all about relationship building. Follow their directions. If, though, you have an update to your application, or you've recently received great press after submitting your application, you can send in a short note or a clear copy of an article; referencing your organization and your recent application.

After prospecting for likely grants, and you've culled a list of grant donors in your geographic region, start to collect the giving guidelines for each grant donor that you seriously intend to apply to for a grant. To understand how to look for grants for your organization read my prospecting 'how to' post at: http://thegrantplant.blogspot.com/2004/08/how-do-i-prepare-to-find-foundations.html

Here are some examples of real giving guidelines for many different kinds of grant donors. Look them over, get a feel for the norm and what is unique to each of them. These are just some random examples.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's basic giving guidelines (Each mandate has its own guidelines. Click on the links below this basic giving guideline to get specific.) http://www.gatesfoundation.org/ForGrantSeekers/

Home Depot's Community Impact Grants giving guidelines
http://corporate.homedepot.com/wps/portal/!ut/p/.cmd/cs/.ce/7_0_A/.s/7_0_121/_s.7_0_A/7_0_121

Satterberg Foundation note that this is a smaller to medium sized family foundation that does not accept unsolicited requests for grants. In other words, you may only apply if they invite you to. http://www.satterberg.org/invitational_grants/guidelines

Bullitt Family Foundation calls their giving guidelines their "Grant Eligibility Checklist"
http://www.bullitt.org/grants/grantseeking/granteligibility
This is an interesting and informative guide. They explain to you how they evaluate each grant application which tells you what they are specifically looking for.

If any of these links fail, please email me, via this blog, and let me know. Thank you so much.

Friday, May 04, 2007

New IRS Reporting Requirements for Non Profits, Or What Does the Pension Protection Act of 2006 Require of Non Profits Starting In 2008?

[This blog in no way now, or ever, suggests itself to be a legal or financial reference. The information provided in this blog is always intended to simply be information. For legal or financial advice talk with your lawyer or Certified Public Accountant.]

From Guidestar.org the below article is located at http://www.guidestar.org/DisplayArticle.do?articleId=1125

"IRS Updates, May 2007

"Note: The following discussion is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice. For specific information about Form 990-N and provisions of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 mandating the revocation of exempt status, consult your attorney or tax advisor.

"The IRS has announced the next round of changes required by the Pension Protection Act of 2006:

" Smaller nonprofits will be required to file Form 990-N starting in 2008. Organizations that fail to file Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, or 990-N for three consecutive years will lose their tax exemptions.

"Smaller Organizations and Form 990-N

"Starting next year, an organization that does not file IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ because its income is $25,000 or less will have to file Form 990-N, the "Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ." Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches; nonprofits included in a group return; private foundations required to file Form 990-PF; and section 509(a)(3) supporting organizations required to file Form 990 or 990-EZ will not be required to file Form 990-N.

"The Forms 990-N will cover tax periods beginning after December 31, 2006, and will be due on the 15th day of the 5th month after a nonprofit's fiscal year ends. No extensions will be granted. Although there will be no financial penalty for filing late or failure to file, the ultimate penalty for not filing will be severe: nonprofits that do not file for three consecutive years will lose their tax exemptions. (See the next section of this article for more information on the revoking of exempt status.)

"Organizations that file Form 990-N will be required to provide the following information:
Organization name
Any other names the organization uses
Mailing address
Web site address (if applicable)
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Name and address of a principal officer for the organization
Annual tax period
A statement that the organization's gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less
Indication that the organization is going out of business (if applicable)

"A nonprofit can opt to file Form 990 or 990-EZ instead of Form 990-N. Any organization that chooses to do so, however, must complete the full return; partially completing the return will not fulfill the filing requirement.

"Form 990-N will be filed electronically through the Internet; no paper returns will be filed. The IRS anticipates that Form 990-N filers will not need to purchase additional software, and that organizations that do not have computer or Internet access will be able to complete the e-Postcard at places such as their local libraries.

"What should future Form 990-N filers do before 2008? Watch the mail this summer for an educational letter from the IRS providing more information. The IRS will begin sending out the letters in July. The service will also release information on filing procedures when the e-postcard filing system is ready for use.

"And, of course, update your information on GuideStar. Updating is free and is an immediate way to let people know about your organization's good works. For more information on updating, click here.

"Death to Organizations That Fail to File
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 requires the IRS to revoke the tax exemption of any nonprofit that fails to file a return for three years in a row for tax years beginning January 1, 2007. Thus, in May 2010, nonprofits that have failed to file Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, or 990-N for three consecutive years will begin losing their tax-exempt status. To regain their exemptions, such organizations will have to apply using Form 1023, "Application for Recognition of Exemption," or Form 1024, "Application for Exemption under Section 501(a)."
More Information on Form 990-N

""New Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Tax-Exempt Organizations—Annual Electronic Notice—e-Postcard (Form 990-N)," http://www.guidestar.org/DisplayArticle.do?articleId=1125#1
"Frequently Asked Questions: New Annual Electronic Notice—e-Postcard (Form 990-N)," www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/epostcard_faqs_final.pdf

"More Information on the Pension Protection Act of 2006
"August 2006 Charity Reform Update: House Approves Charitable Giving Incentives and Reforms"
"A Brief Overview of Supporting Organizations"
"New Requirements for Some Form 990 Filers"
"New Rules Affecting Donor-Advised Funds: December 2006 Question of the Month Results"

"How useful did you find this article? Click here to let us know.
Suzanne E. Coffman, May 2007© 2007, Philanthropic Research, Inc. (GuideStar)
Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar's director of communications and editor of the Newsletter."

Why Grant Writers Need to Work for Transparent Non Profits, Or Guidestar.org's Beefy New Charity Check for Grant Donors

Very important recent news from Guidestar.org

This page, below, is located at http://www.guidestar.org/DisplayArticle.do?articleId=1129

"From the Guidestar.org President's Office, May 2007

"Dear Friend:
Nothing makes me madder than hearing about phony charities or those unscrupulous actors who take advantage of the nonprofit sector for personal gain. They hurt all of the hard-working nonprofits doing amazing good work and lessen the public’s—including well-meaning donors’—confidence in the entire sector. But it’s not always easy to determine what is a legitimate charity. With more than 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the United States and the number growing at nearly 5 percent a year, there’s a lot to research and consider.

"In an effort to streamline this important responsibility, GuideStar created Charity Check, an on-line service that enables grantmakers to perform their due diligence quickly and efficiently by providing instant access to different kinds of IRS data in a single report. Due diligence—determining whether a nonprofit qualifies to receive a grant or contribution—has always been an essential part of grantmaking. Like all donors, grantmakers want to ensure that their organizations’ funds are going to nonprofits that will make good use of them. Grantors also must ensure that recipients qualify to receive grants under the law and according to each grantor’s guidelines.

"Last summer, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 added a new wrinkle to grantmaking due diligence: private foundations and sponsors of donor-advised funds must now determine whether potential recipients of grants and contributions are supporting organizations under section 509(a)(3) of the tax code. Grantmakers who make a grant or contribution without doing this research may have to pay excise taxes.

"The IRS has advised grantmakers that they can rely on Business Master File (BMF) data to determine whether or not a charity is a supporting organization. (Click here for more information.) In late March, the IRS issued guidance allowing grantmakers to rely on a third-party source of BMF data, as long as it meets certain criteria. (Click here to read the guidance.)

Although Charity Check already met most of the criteria for a third-party source of BMF data, we needed to change how the information displayed and to add the date of the most recent BMF update to every Charity Check report. The IRS guidance on obtaining BMF data through a third-party source was posted March 23; we launched the Charity Check upgrade April 6. The upgrades were provided to all Charity Check subscribers at no additional cost. For more information on Charity Check, click here.

"It was an intense two weeks for GuideStar’s staff, but the results were worth it. The changes made a valuable, time-saving tool even more useful. Grantmakers can use Charity Check with full confidence that it meets all IRS criteria for a third-party source of BMF data.
Charity Check is a simple solution for an increasingly complex process. As 2007 continues, we will refine other services and introduce new ones. Some of these tools will be available at no cost to users; others, like Charity Check, will be subscription services. All will share one goal: to make it easier for you to find the information you need, when you need it.

"Sincerely,
Bob Ottenhoff
President and CEO
president@guidestar.org"

Once again, here is verification for one of the most repeated grant writing paradigms in this blog; non profits can raise support (including grants) only to the extent that they are transparent, well managed, honest, effective, successful, and their work is needed in our community. Those 'non profits' attempting to raise money who are not legitimate, not honest, not well managed, or who are simply running a scam eventually do get found out. Word then travels, about them, and they become very well known for their ruse or dishonesty.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Grants for Refugees' and Immigrants' Health Improvements

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Invites Proposals to Improve the Health of Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Deadline: July 13, 2007

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's ( http://www.rwjf.org/ ) Vulnerable Populations Portfolio is accepting grant proposals for new community-based approaches to health and healthcare problems faced by immigrants and refugees in the United States. The program seeks projects that address how health and social systems can accommodate the unique needs of different and changing immigrant and refugee populations; how communities can engage in helping immigrants and refugees maintain and improve their health; and what strategies can overcome barriers that immigrants and refugees face when trying to access health and social services.

To be considered, proposals must address ways for improving the health of new residents by linking social factors -- language skills, significant cultural differences, education, and poverty -- to health outcomes. The foundation is interested in projects that focus on helping new populations integrate into their com- munities, and is especially interested in providing support to organizations outside the formal network of healthcare providers such as grassroots organizations, faith-based organizations, and advocacy organizations. Applicants may be either public entities or nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. Grants of up to $300,000 (maximum grant award) for up to three years will be available. The program will fund eight to ten projects for 2007.

Visit the RWJF Web site for program guidelines, application procedures, and examples of projects that have received funding in the past. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007106/rwjf

$10,000 Grant for Non Profits Teaching English to Immigrants

From The Foundation Center...

Ray Solem Foundation Announces Grant Program to Help Immigrants Learn English in Innovative Ways

Deadline: July 31, 2007

In keeping with the wishes of its benefactor to help poor immigrants advance within the United States and become productive citizens, the Ray Solem Foundation ( http://www.raysolemfund.org/ ) is offering one-time grants of up to $10,000 each to nonprofit organizations that have found creative ways to help immigrants in the U.S. further their verbal English language skills.

Applications will be evaluated on the basis of the degree of creativity, imaginativeness, innovation, and success shown in the organization's approach to learning verbal English. Funding will be awarded to continue ongoing work performed by the recipient organization; there are no restrictions on the use of foundation grants.

Visit the foundation's Web site for grant program guidelines and application instructions. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10007104/raysolemfund

Yes, Grant Writers Should Schmooze Amongst Themselves - "Discuss!"

In keeping with the theme of the previous post, which was asking whether grant seeking is a competitive effort, I am going to take our discussion one step further. Grant writers who work for effective, honest, well run, successful, and open non profits have the best chance to raise the most grant money now and in the future. They also do well for their organization and themselves to network amongst themselves.

As with any other field, grant writers who keep up on the latest paradigms within their business, keep up with local grant donors' preferences, and strive to improve their work are great staff finds. It is actually about the potential that the grant writer has to raise the most relationships and donations possible.

In order to know what is going on with local grant donors, or know what the latest changes are in the community foundation's application process, or to hear who has had difficulties with a promised grant, and other local information that may not be well disseminated among your community - you do well for your organization and your career to stay in touch with each other.

Any and all grant writers who come together and talk amongst themselves are improving each and all of their organizations' chances for getting any grant. How? You find information out when you listen to others. Like I said above, some of the information that you will gain is sometimes not something you'd hear through traditional channels such as websites, foundation program managers, non profit list serves, or other means of gaining information on donors. A lot of these sources of information are written by the organization you want to know more about. Sometimes there are things that they don't want you to know, that it would be a benefit to your organization to know. You're not going to get it from them, though.

Besides gaining information on grant donors, grant writers who come together to talk shop also gain tricks of the trade that colleagues have tried and found successful. Latest paradigms in grant writing and fundraising are also discussed and if they're controversial the debate that can arise may be VERY worth listening to. Lastly, if one of your colleagues working for another non profit, at the meeting, shares that they just received a major three year capital campaign grant, for instance, and you know that your organization is going to apply to the same grant donor in six months, for an upcoming capital campaign at your organization - take him or her out to lunch! You have a ton to ask this colleague!!

For each of our organizations looking for grant money, there are one to ten (or more) grants available to us any time. While other organizations are looking for grant money for the same thing at the same time, we are not ALL competing with each other, daily, for the SAME EXACT grants. We all work for different kinds of organizations, work for different causes, and are looking for grants for many different needs. There is enough out there for all of our organizations. I'll temper this point by stating the obvious; if you know that another grant writer is working for another non profit that your organization is competing with, for a given grant - you won't want to give away all of your strategies in getting that grant. But you two can certainly sit down and share what you do know or what you have heard. If your organization is a strong one and you're a competent grant writer - what is the damage?

Once again, grant writers are not necessarily competing with one another. As in the example above, if you know a grant writer with another organization who successfully raised a grant that you're going to apply for in the near-ish future - your two organizations are not competing for that grant (they already received it and your org will hopefully receive it in the future). Yet, if you can talk with their grant writer about how they went about their success - you've upped your chances of getting that grant. In other words, it is truly a benefit to non profits if their grant writers talk, organization to organization. It is a benefit to grant writers if they do not see each other as competitors. Why? Because if we build relationships amongst ourselves, and see that we're simply in the same business we can open lines of communication to share what works, to share where there have been difficulties, and what's new.

If we talk amongst ourselves our organizations win. I am not advocating giving potential grants, that your organization is going after, away. Grant writing doesn't have to be a profession where we can not talk professional to professional, amongst ourselves. Grant writers coming together to talk know that there is enough for all of our organizations, that we all benefit from professional dialogue, and that open lines of communication are never a detriment. If you believe that open communication is a detriment, your grant writing program was already failing before you read this post. Yup, really.