Monday, December 31, 2007

Grants for Emerging Artitsts' Avante-Garde Art Projects

From The Foundation Center...

Franklin Furnace Announces Open Call for Artists Deadline: April 1, 2008 The mission of the Franklin Furnace Archive ( http://franklinfurnace.org/ ) is to present, preserve, interpret, proselytize, and advocate on behalf of avant-garde art, especially forms that may be vulnerable due to institutional neglect, their ephemeral nature, or politically unpopular content.

As part of that mission, Franklin Furnace annually awards project-based grants to emerging artists, allowing them to produce major works in New York. Works may engage the Internet as an art medium and/or venue. Artists from all areas of the world are encouraged to apply. Full-time students are ineligible. Grants will range between $2,000 and $5,000 each.

Visit the Franklin Furnace Web site for complete program information and examples of previously funded projects. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10010421/franklinfurnace

Grants for Post Production of Documentary Films About Jewish Life

From The Foundation Center...

Foundation for Jewish Culture Invites Applications for Fund for Jewish Documentary Film

Deadline: March 7, 2008

The Foundation for Jewish Culture (formerly the National Foundation for Jewish Culture) ( http://www2.jewishculture.org/ ) invests in creative individuals in order to nurture a vibrant and enduring Jewish identity, culture, and community.

The foundation's Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film provides grants for the completion of original documentary films and videos that promote thoughtful consideration of Jewish history, culture, and identity.

The priority of the fund is to support projects in the final stages of post-production that address significant subjects; offer fresh, challenging perspectives; engage audiences across cultural lines; and expand the understanding of Jewish experience.

Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (director or producer); be in post-production at the time of application; be an individual, a nonprofit organization with federal tax- exempt status, or have a fiscal conduit that agrees to receive and administer an award on behalf of the project; have creative, editorial, and budgetary control of the proposed project; and own the copyright of the completed film.

Funding will not be provided for research, script development, or other pre-production expenses. While applications from emerging artists and first time film- makers are welcome, all applicants must submit either one of their own completed films or a film they worked on, preferably, in some major capacity. Grants from the fund must be used for projects in post-production at the time of the application.

Fund awards generally range in size from $15,000 to $35,000 each and are awarded to up to six filmmakers. No grant will exceed $50,000, or 50 percent of the total project budget, whichever is less.

Visit the Foundation for Jewish Culture Web site for complete program guidelines. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10010420/jewishculture

Grants for HIV AIDS Prevention Programs

From The Foundation Center...

United States Conference of Mayors Accepting Proposals for HIV/AIDS Prevention Grants Program

Deadline: February 25, 2008

The United States Conference of Mayors ( http://usmayors.org/), in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention ( http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp ), has issued a Request for Proposals for the HIV/AIDS Prevention Grants Program to strengthen local capacities to carry out effective HIV/AIDS prevention activities.

Proposals will be accepted for the following funding priority: Implementation of HIV/AIDS Prevention Services Targeting Women of Color at High Risk of HIV Infection. USCM plans to award grants totaling approximately $420,000 to local health departments, nonprofit community-based 501(c)(3) organizations, and Native American tribes for the implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention projects targeting high-risk women of color.

Applicants must propose to conduct an individual- or community-level intervention that has been or can be shown to increase the adoption of safer behaviors and/or reduce the risk of HIV transmission. All proposals will be judged by an external panel of experts solely on merit; membership in USCM is not required. No proposal will be selected for funding unless it provides clear evidence of the participation of the target population in developing the proposal and a clear role for the target population in conducting the proposed program. Grants are restricted to projects whose intent is to provide direct prevention services to the target community; research projects will not be funded. Funding will be divided into six grants of approximately $70,000 each.

See the USCM Web site to download the complete Request for Proposals. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10010367/usmayors

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays - A Gift For You: Alton Brown's Fudge Recipe...

For the holidays I am giving you fudge!

Below is a fudge recipe from Alton Brown, cook and cooking science guru of the show, "Good Eats" over on the Food Network. I printed the recipe from their website last year and was not very happy with how the fudge turned out (admittedly, that could be due to cook error).

Today, I watched Alton's fudge episode and took notes. The recipe and directions on the site are very different than his directions on the show. These are Alton's directions as noted by me (all errors are mine)...

Alton Brown's Fudge

Food Network Difficulty: Medium
Yield: 64 one inch squares
Temperatures: Fahrenheit

Warning: cooking any candy is dangerous as sugar is heated to the point of liquefying. If it gets onto your skin (e.g. boil splatter, falling onto you, touching it accidentally, etc.) the liquid sugar will potentially severely burn you or others. Use caution while making this. Keep a close eye on the mixture during the entire process. Do not leave it unattended. Keep children and pets away from it. Use extreme caution while making this.

The whole key with making good fudge is the texture which is about the crystals you create in your fudge. 234 – 240 degrees is the softball candy stage and this is the perfect stage to make fudge. Professional fudge makers get the fudge to 236 degrees before cutting heat and leaving it to cool.

Utensils:
heavy bottomed 2 quart sauce pan [Note: I just made this fudge yesterday morning and if you use an aluminum sauce pan the fudge cools too fast when you're stirring fast, at the end of the process. Use a stainless steel sauce pan!]
wooden spoon (must be wooden so that it does not conduct heat and burn you)
digital candy thermometer (others are not as easy to read or use)
rubber or plastic spatula
8x8 inch glass dish
parchment paper cut to three inches larger on all sides than the 8x8 glass dish

Ingredients:
2 ¾ cup regular white table sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus extra to grease 8x8 dish and spatula)
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

If desired:
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped roasted nuts (must be roasted)

Directions:
1. Grease the 8x8 inch glass dish and the spatula with unsalted butter. Tear a piece of parchment paper that is 3 inches larger than the glass dish on all four sides. Place the glass dish in the center of the piece of parchment paper and cut the paper, from each of the four corners of the dish, to the tip of the paper’s corners. After all four corners of the paper are scored, fit the parchment paper into the greased dish snugly.

2. If it is humid (raining out) when you make the fudge, cook the fudge to a higher than normal softball candy stage. Cook it to above 234 degrees (as directed, below). It will finish with a grainy texture but the fudge will then soften within a day or two.

3. In the heavy bottom saucepan, combine the sugar, chocolate, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, half and half, and light corn syrup.

4. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved and the chocolate is melted.

5. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.

6. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low medium and cover (so that the condensation, inside, rolls the sugar that accumulated on the sides down into the mixture) for three minutes. The mixture will simmer inside the covered saucepan.

7. After three minutes remove the lid and attach the digital candy thermometer into the mix and onto the pan. Set the digital candy thermometer to go off when the mixture reaches the softball candy stage (234 degrees). Cook the mixture until it reaches 234 degrees. You can cut the heat when the thermometer reaches 232 degrees and leave the pan on the turned off burner. It will coast to 234 degrees on its own.

8. At 234 degrees (or 232), turn the heat off and do not touch the pan or its contents. Do not bump, move, stir, or shake the pan. If you do, a seed crystal could form and this would crystallize your fudge and make it grainy. Let the fudge cool to 110 degrees.

9. After it cools, add one tablespoon unsalted butter to the top of the fudge (do not stir, let it melt into the top of the fudge) to keep it from drying out and stir it like crazy (fast). As you’re quickly stirring the fudge, watch for the fudge to turn from shiny to a matte (dull) finish.

10. When it goes dull, slow your stirring and test the fudge by lifting the spoon a bit in the bowl and watching the fudge fall off of it. If it falls thick (slow and thick fall), then now is the time to add the roasted nuts and vanilla if you are adding these. If you do want to add roasted nuts and vanilla, do so now. These will rapidly cool the fudge, so quickly get the fudge into the greased and parchment paper lined 8x8in dish after adding vanilla and roasted nuts.

11. Pour the fudge into the greased and parchment paper lined dish (roasted nuts and vanilla added or not). Smooth the top of the poured fudge in the dish, down with the greased spatula.

12. Let the dish of fudge sit in a cool dry place and cool down for at least 2 hours before cutting or eating it. Do not put it into the fridge to cool the fudge because it is too wet in your fridge for this kind of fudge.

13. Cut the fudge into 1 inch pieces and store it in an airtight container for up to a week.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The IRS to Reveal the New Non Profit Tax Form Today - Small Revenue Organizations Will Have to File, Too

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting that today the IRS is going to share its new tax reporting form for American non profits.

Beginning in 2008, the IRS is going to require more American non profit organizations file a tax report, whether your non profit is a multi-million dollar operation, or not. It used to be (prior to 2008) that if your organization received less than $25,000 in a given year, the organization did not need to report to the IRS. Even if your non profit receives less than $25,000, as of 2008, you will need to file a tax report to the IRS. Those non profits who will have to begin reporting, i.e. received less than $25,000 in revenue will file an electronic (or real) "E Post Card".

To understand why the IRS is implementing these new reporting rules, and what the goals are, read my post, "New IRS Reporting Requirements for Non Profits, Or What Does the Pension Protection Act of 2006 Require of Non Profits Starting In 2008?"

The tax form that most American non profits file is the IRS tax form 990. Not only is the form a tool for the IRS to monitor American non profits' accounting, work, viability, commerce, and transparency - it is also a very helpful tool to those of us who are grant writers. To learn more about how this public document can assist you in getting grants read my posts, "The Grant Writer's Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 Post 1 of 2" and "The Grant Writer's Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 Post 2 of 2".

To retain your federal non profit status, your organization is going to have to complete its federal tax due diligence, so be sure that you understand the new form and its changes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nonprofit Management's Effects on Operations and Dealing With the Negatives...No Sweat!

Come join us and share your response. Christopher Scott, our host for the December Giving Carnival, asks "How much does the leadership of an Executive Director or C.E.O. effect fundraising?" Christopher writes the "Nonprofit Leadership, Innovation, and Change" blog. Email him with a link to your post, responding to his question; or email him your written response at mailto:Christopher.Lynn.Scott@gmail.com by this Wednesday, December 20th. Be sure to check back the day after to read our colleagues' responses!

I am getting back to Christopher, here. Let me know your response to my response!

My answer is "it depends". 'No duh?', right?

The effect that an executive director or C.E.O. has on fundraising depends upon many of the nonprofit organization's attributes. How much a leader effects the fundraising depends upon:
__ what the needs are of the constituency that the organization's mission serves
__ what the organization's goals are to meet those needs
__ what the plan is to implement programs, etc.
__ the nonprofit's mission
__ its' by laws
__ what the organization's donors prefer
__ the nonprofit's Development Plan
__ how the nonprofit executes its Development Plan
__ its' operations
__ how it is staffed and how much experience/talent the staff has
__ the leadership's experience (from volunteers, to staff, including the board of directors)
__ how much the board is a working board
__ how much oversight and leadership the board retains
__ the C.E.O. or executive director's experience, confidence, and interest in fundraising
__ the organization's office culture
__ many other of a myriad of possible variables, such as the economy, etc.

A nonprofit is overseen by a group of volunteers, typically known as the board of directors or the board of trustees, and beneath them is an executive director or C.E.O. that runs the day to day operations. Beneath the C.E.O. are the volunteers or staff, or both. At each tier there are opportunities, hopefully, for volunteers to contact board members with concerns, for staff to talk with the executive director easily, and for the board to ask volunteers and staff how the executive director is doing. How well a nonprofit is run depends upon how much the volunteers, staff, and leadership know about modern nonprofit operations and management. It also depends upon successful policy, operations, and successful implementation of policies and goals. If our organization is being operated by people who know what 'should' be done for effective success, and they're being honest and communicative about where the organization should be growing, how, and when (and if there are quorums, information is shared, and all parties listen, share, and are willing to compromise (all involved parties have equal weight during talks)) - then the organization is probably setting priorities based on the needs of the mission statement and the clientele or whatever/whomever your organization is serving. The organization is operating as a mission-focused organization. This is the ideal.

We all, no matter how professional, well-meaning, seasoned, how good we are at communicating, planning, and implementing, have limits. The goal is to, in effect, dilute leadership's faults across the entire organization, such that no one person's traits, limits, access, etc. can weaken or hurt the organization, its' goals, or its' operations. The healthy nonprofit needs effective, capable, good leadership, and no one is perfect. So, you acknowledge everyone's imperfection or humanity and get proactive. You don't want the leader's foibles to become the limits to the nonprofit's capabilities. And this does happen...

Let's say that you and I work for a reputable nonprofit that runs smoothly (achieves budgetary benchmarks, meets the community's need, achieves mission success and growth, has healthy cash flow, etc.) and the volunteers, board, and staff work well with our executive director (she communicates well, cares about the mission statement, is a natural leader amongst the volunteers and staff, works well with others, succeeds at various goals, etc.), then we're probably, generally, happy because all seems to be going well. Christopher's question forces us to consider more about our executive director, though. The question, in this scenario, is 'is this all we want?' The executive director usually manages and oversees day to day operations. If our executive director loves to talk with our clients, with our vendors, with the staff and the board, but is not comfortable asking our major donors, for instance, where they connect with our organization, and if they can support the new program; then our nonprofit runs well, day to day, but is not really going after major donors' money. Specifically, a major donor should be approached peer to peer, meaning our organization's leadership (not the staff) should be asking for money and fostering the relationship. Since our particular leader is not pushing themsevles and meeting with major donors, that potential revenue stream is left on the table which may be unfortunate if we need more cash flow for that new program. Now, if our board of directors is a working board, and they're out there developing our major donors because they're happy with our executive director but also see, AND OPENLY ACKNOWLEDGE that she does not develop major donors - then it does not matter that our executive director is less of a face to face fundraiser. The executive director is mostly focusing on the day to day management of the office and its goings on, and the board is fine with that. The board's chosen to take on the major donor fundraising work, themselves. If, though, our board is a young board or a new board - then the major donors and their potential investment into our organization is null.

If our organization's leadership does not properly oversee our executive director or does not understand what modern fundraising, nonprofit operations, or current laws require - how will our organization continuely succeed and grow to meet the need? Our mission statement and our organization's interview or studies' findings that indicate our cause's constituency's needs, should be driving the what, where, when, how, and why that our organization does (or doesn't do). Our leader's personality limits, lesser confidence, or restricted abilities should not be restricting our organization.

It is everyone's responsibility to watch for what is falling through the cracks.

If a leader demonstrates strengths in all but one or two aspects of all of the operations (which is normal) that's fine - but the organization's volunteers, staff, or leadership SHOULD be honest, recognize these reasonable deficits, weigh them against the needs of those your mission serves, and deal with the deficits. Do what is not being done, if it is needed.

Never allow one person's humanity; their limits, become the organization's limits. Your organization's growth, capacity, abilities, and goals are everyone's responsibility.

Grants for Communities Sustaining Local Natural Resources Such As Wetland, Riparian, and Coastal Habitat Restoration

From The Foundation Center...

Proposals Invited for Five-Star Habitat Restoration Matching Grants

Program Deadline: February 15, 2008

The Five Star Restoration Challenge Grant Program seeks to develop community capacity to sustain local natural resources for future generations by providing modest financial assistance to diverse local partnerships for wetland, riparian, and coastal habitat restoration.

The National Association of Counties ( http://www.naco.org/ ), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation ( http://www.nfwf.org/ ), and the Wildlife Habitat Council ( http://www.wildlifehc.org/ ), in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( http://www.epa.gov/ ), Southern Company ( http://www.southerncompany.com/ ), and Pacific Gas and Electric Company ( http://www.pge.com/ ), are accepting applications for the program.

Currently, funding is available from the program's two corporate sponsors in the Southeast states and most of northern and central California. Five Star Program partners are also soliciting proposals nationwide because additional funding from EPA is expected to be available later this year to support projects throughout the U.S. and its territories.

Five Star Projects must include on-the-ground restoration efforts; an environmental education component; partnerships (involving at least five organizations); and measurable results. The grant program is open to any public or private entity. Projects should be completed within one to two years of the award. Requests must be for $10,000 to $40,000 each.

For more information on the Five Star Restoration Program, visit the NFWF Web site. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10010209/nfwf

Grants for Community Revitalization Via Production, Preservation, Or Financing of Low to Moderate Income Housing Units

Home Depot Foundation Offers Support for Affordable Housing Programs

Deadline: March 1, 2008 (Letter of Inquiry)

The Home Depot Foundation ( http://www.homedepotfoundation.org/ ) is dedicated to creating healthy, livable communities through the integration of affordable housing built responsibly, as well as the preservation and restoration of community trees.

The foundation makes grants to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charities in the United States and to charitable organizations in Canada. The foundation awards most of its grants by directly soliciting proposals from high-performing nonprofit organizations with the demonstrated ability to create strong partnerships, impact multiple communities, and leverage grant resources. In order to identify potential future nonprofit partners and/or respond to unique community revitalization opportunities, a limited amount of funding is set aside to be awarded through a competitive process. Preference is given to proposals that include community engagement resulting in the production, preservation, or financing of housing units for low- to moderate-income families that address as many of the following considerations as possible: resource efficiency in design, construction, and operations; minimization of the depletion of natural resources, including timber and water; landscape features such as trees and shrubs that minimize demand for water and synthetic chemicals and reduce the "heat island" effect; reduction of maintenance costs through the use of innovative and durable materials; the use of environmentally friendly building materials; site planning with minimal environmental impact; use of energy-efficient and renewable technologies; improvement of indoor air quality, including moisture control and proper ventilation; and smart site planning and land use.

Complete program information, an FAQ, and an eligibility test are available at the foundation's Web site. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10010205/homedepotfound

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Greatnonprofits.org Launches - A Site for the Public to Review and Share Their Non Profit Experiences

We have the first "Zagats-like" Guide to nonprofits, GreatNonprofits launched a new site with consumer reviews about nonprofits to help people find worthy nonprofits.

(Dec 10)San Francisco, CA- This season, donors who are looking for worthy non profits to give to or volunteer for have a new site where they can checkout reviews of the nonprofits by people who have had a direct experience with it.

The site, www.greatnonprofits.org, harnesses the Internet's ability to aggregate user-generated content and follows the model of restaurant, movie and product reviews made popular by Zagats, Amazon and Epinions.

"People interested in giving or volunteering can now read reviews of non profits submitted by real people who have seen first hand the results. This will help people make giving or volunteering decisions," says Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits.

"It is a bold step forward for philanthropy."Users on the site can browse hundreds of profiles and reviews of nonprofits and write their own reviews of nonprofits they have interacted with."The consumer review sites have helped tens of millions of shoppers make better buying decisions. Informed consumers shop more in aggregate," says Naval Ravikant, GreatNonprofits advisory board member and founder of Epinions.

"Similarly, GreatNonprofits, by giving authentic, unbiased reviews will create greater trust and faith in charities, and increase the level of giving overall."At GreatNonprofits.org, donors can read personal stories, see photos, and videos showing how people have volunteered with, worked with, donated to, or benefited from the work of nonprofits. Pittsburgh is the first city to participate in the pilot.

Through the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, over 300 nonprofits are participating. Reviews of nonprofits have been written by people who have volunteered, who have donated or who have benefited from a non profit's services.

Says Vivien Luk of The Forbes Funds, "We see GreatNonprofits as a way to connect the public with services provided by our local nonprofits and to better connect nonprofits with each other. This is also a great way to increase donations and volunteerism for our local nonprofits.

Ni says that GreatNonprofits complements other sites where people go to research nonprofits, such as Guidestar. "GreatNonprofits provides people with subjective, personal reviews– it's a complement to sites which publish data about nonprofits."

For Further Information: Contact GreatNonprofits.org 415-902-2659 or
perlani at greatnonprofits dot org

Monday, December 10, 2007

Want to Spend Less on Your Non Profit's Fundraising? Here's How...

As I always, I want you to do a few things. The up shot? This particular post will probably help your organization keep some money in the bank, that it would otherwise spend.

What do I want you to do?

1. Track some specific information.
2. Analyze that information.
3. Review findings. Make changes based on findings.

I describe each step, below.

You can use the following method to reduce your organization's fundraising costs for each fundraising method that your organization currently does or is planning to implement.

If you are making a certain amount of money, annually, from a given fundraising method you are probably pleased to just be able to add the revenue to your organization's financials' "Income" line, year to year. I understand. We all feel that way when we raise money for our causes. I've even been known to yell, "Hallelujah!" With the current economy, though, we're all feeling the squeeze. Like you, the organization that I work for needs more cash flow right about now.

Let me show you how you can spend less on each of your fundraising methods, thereby keeping more of the organization's money in the bank.

To demonstrate, let's say, hypothetically, that your non profit writes and mails an annual appeal each year to your donors. Let's take a look at your 2007 annual appeal mailing (and this could be done for any of your fundraising methods, so if you raise money mostly by grant writing or instead use donation envelopes in a quarterly newsletter, etc. - whatever - this recommendation applies).

Let's say that you just mailed your annual appeal letter to 300 folks who've donated to your non profit, before. You've included a donation remittance envelope with each letter. Here are the real expenses for this particular project:

Expenses:
Letterhead paper - $1,500
Letterhead window envelopes - $1,500
Donation remittance envelopes - $500
Postage - non profit bulk rate sending mailing out - $105
Postage - non profit bulk rate to receive donation remittance envelopes - $20
Mailing labels - $15
Printing mailing labels and letters - professional printers or wear and tear on your printer - $30
Executive Director's time - proof reading annual appeal letter, analyzing results - $50
Fundraising Manager's time - writing annual appeal letter, organizing project, analyzing results - $100
Fundraising Associate's time - printing mailing labels, updating donor database w/returned letters, receiving and processing donations - $100
Bookkeeper - accounting for donations and delivering checks to the bank - $60
Volunteers' time folding, stuffing, sealing envelopes, and bundling mailing -$0
Mileage reimbursement - delivering mailing to post office, delivering checks to the bank - $7.00
Total Expense: $3,997

Now, for each of these expenses there are ways to bring your costs down. For instance, be sure that your non profit has a federal non profit bulk mailing rate for large mailings. Go to the post office to apply for one, if you haven't. Do not spend the regular postage rate on your larger mass mailings. Also, compare local printers, office supplies, and letterhead costs. Consider whether one of your regular donors is a print shop owner? If so, ask them if they'll donate printing, letterhead, etc. (these are in kind donations). Buy paper, etc. in bulk to get a reduced price for your purchase volume, or form a co-op with other local non profits and buy your supplies together, getting an even bigger large volume purchase discount to share amongst your organizations. Lastly, use volunteers as much as is possible.

For this post, though, I'm going a step further to show you how to keep more money in the bank. I'm asking you to do the three steps that I listed, above. This analysis can be done many different ways. Do what works best for your organization. Here are my suggestions:

1. Track some specific information:
Before you mail them, and after the envelopes have been labeled, break the annual appeal letters down into three distinct groups based on the recipients' giving history: large amount donors, medium amount donors, smaller amount donors. For your internal use get three different colored pens, give each group a color, and mark each remittance envelope according to how the donor has given in the past. For instance, let's say that Mr. Frank Paul has given $100 to each of your requests and that's a larger donation amount for the typical amounts your organization receives. Then, place a small line on his remittance envelope in the color that you've assigned to your larger amount donors. Do this for each of the three groups. Your letter recipients won't know what a little color dash on the remittance envelope means, but it will allow your group to gather some information. When you receive donations, keep track of how many of each color responds to the annual appeal letter, and keep track of how much each envelope, for each color, donated. You will learn how many people are giving at the same amount level year to year, how many donations you received from each of the giving level groups, and how many of your donors responded to the annual appeal letter, overall.

2. Analyze the information:
In American professional fundraising, it is estimated that it takes 3-5 years (depending on the fundraising method) to make money on a given fundraising method. In other words, you need to expect to lose money on a new fundraising methods for at least three years after you establish it, before you will begin to make money on it (cover your expenses plus raise more money). This varies, of course, because older organizations with established donor bases could expect immediate net earnings on a new event or method. Keeping this in mind, look over the amounts received, donor history vs. how much they gave to this letter, and overall response to your mailing. If this is a brand new fundraiser you should expect only a 3-5% total response (and that's OK if your organization can afford it (or budgeted for it) because a new fundraiser is an investment in future funds). Otherwise, ask your self some questions: did the donors who've given at higher amounts to the annual appeal in the past, give at that same high level again this year? Did you receive many responses from the volunteers and smaller amount donors? Overall, did you receive at least a 10% response (i.e. for 300 letters mailed, you'd receive 30 letters)?

3. Review findings and make changes:
Let's say that from your mailing above you received 100 donations. For 300 sent, that's a great response. One finding, then, is that your donors respond well to annual appeal letters, as a fundraising method, and seem to like them. If, though, your organization only received 5 donations, total, from the mailing; you need to find out why and make changes. Call up a few donors that you know, personally, who did not donate and if they're comfortable doing so, ask them 'was the letter well written?', 'were they just too inundated by donation requests from several non profits at the same time of year?', 'would they rather give to your organization through another way such as a special event or a quarterly newsletter's envelope?' Ask them what they didn't like about the letter. Listen to them! Make changes. Perhaps you need someone who's a better writer to write next year's annual appeal? Maybe they wish they'd receive your letter in late October instead of December, when most people get many donation requests, etc. Listen and make changes. If you notice that donors who gave in larger increments last year are given a little less (i.e. Frank Paul only gave $75 this year instead of his usual $100) you can surmise that your donors are feeling the economic downturn and forecast for your organization's next fiscal operating budget accordingly. Lastly, let's say you see, from the results, that 95% of the smaller donors and volunteers did not give at all. Next year - either do not include them in the annual appeal request or only include those small donors who gave.

It's not that you want to remove those who did not give, from your donor list. What you want to do is take note, for each donor, when, how, where, and why they have given to your group, before; and then you want to reach out to them that way annually. Don't waste money on trying to get donations from them in ways that they've demonstrated to your organization that they do not care for. Do not spend money where you are just wasting it. To know where that is, you need to gather some information.

Be sure to compare apples to apples. Compare donor giving trends to the same events, year to year. Also, follow through. If you've taken the time to begin this analysis process, see it through all the way to learning from your finding and implementing changes. There are many questions about your donors' preferences or giving trends that you can research if you set your organization up to be able to gather that specific information. First, determine what the question is that you want to know (i.e. How many of our major donors are also giving to the non profit down the road whose mission is similar to ours'?). Second, ask yourself what information or resources you'd need to answer this question (i.e. Get the other organization's donations roster from perhaps their newsletter, website, or annual report which are all available to the public, usually). Lastly, analyze your information, review your findings, and make necessary changes (For example, perhaps 80% of your major donors are giving to the other non profit and you've found from the roster that they're giving the other group more money. That's fine, but make a move. Contact a few of them and ask them what their connection is to your organization (Do not mention the other organization. They haven't done a thing wrong. Make the conversation about them and your organization. Through your questions, remind them why they give to your group at all), and ask them for a higher amount donation for this or next year because you've found that they give at higher levels).

Cut the unnecessary spending and keep a little extra dough in the bank. It will add up.

Grants for Local Or State Affordable Housing

From The Foundation Center...

MacArthur Foundation Announces Awards Program for Public Sector Housing Preservation Leaders

Deadline: January 29, 2008 (Letters of Interest)

Through its awards for State and Local Housing Preservation Leaders, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ( http://www.macfound.org/ ) intends to provide $35 million in total new funding for innovative public-sector initiatives designed to preserve and improve the existing stock of privately owned affordable rental homes across the United States.

These new awards are part of the foundation's expanded commitment to Window of Opportunity ( http://windowofopportunity.macfound.org/ ), a national initiative dedicated to the preservation and improvement of affordable rental homes.

The foundation expects to select up to ten states and localities to receive awards in 2008. These awards are likely to include grants and/or program-related investments ranging from $250,000 to a maximum of $5 million. All funds must be used to design, demonstrate, or scale up a significant preservation initiative. Only the following entities can apply for funding through these awards: city, county, or state governmental body, or a formal collaboration among several governmental units operating in a common geographic region. The applicant should oversee key sources of funding and subsidy for developers and owners of affordable rental housing, including but not limited to Community Development Block Grants, local affordable housing trust funds, and proceeds from tax increment financing districts. State agencies applying for these awards should be responsible for allocating Low Income Housing Tax Credits and private activity bonds, in addition to major state-funded resources for affordable housing. In general, public housing authorities will not be eligible.

Visit the foundation's Web site for complete program guidelines and instructions for submitting a Letter of Interest. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10010114/macfound

Grant for Exploratory Field Studies and Cultural or Natural Sciences

From The Foundation Center...

American Philosophical Society Accepting Applications for Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research

Deadline: February 15, 2008

The American Philosophical Society's ( http://www.amphilsoc.org/ ) Lewis and Clark Fund encourages exploratory field studies for the collection of specimens and data and to provide the imaginative stimulus that accompanies direct observation.

Although applications are invited from disciplines with a large dependence on field studies, such as archeology, anthropology, biology, ecology, geography, geology, linguistics, and paleontology, grants will not be restricted to these fields. Grants will be available to doctoral students. Postdoctoral fellows, master's degree candidates, and undergraduates are not eligible. The competition is open to U.S. residents wishing to carry out research anywhere in the world. Foreign applicants must either be based at a U.S. institution or plan to carry out their work in the United States.

Grant amounts will depend on travel costs, but will ordinarily be in the range of several hundred dollars up to about $5,000 each. Grants are payable to the individual applicant. Budgets should be limited to travel and related expenses, including personal field equipment.

Visit the American Philosophical Society Web site for complete program guidelines. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10010109/amphilsoc

Friday, December 07, 2007

Great Quick Article On Getting Sponsorships

Danielle Sonnenberg wrote the following piece for The Street.com. It's a great quick synopsis on how the sponsorship relationship between companies and non profits works. Click on the following link to read the piece.

How to Get Sponsorship for Your Non Profit dated 12/4/07

Monday, December 03, 2007

Emergency Grants

[Note: As is true of each and all of my posts, this post is information for anyone working or volunteering for a non profit 501(c) 3, or 4, 5, etc. entity. This is not information for individuals, families, or for profit businesses - as there are extremely few legitimate grants for individuals out there (except artists for their work, doctors for their research). Be leery. Legitimate grants for individuals are usually only given by governments, municipalities, Tribes, etc. depending on their budget and that year's goals. If you are an individual needing emergency assistance, perhaps seek help from The United Way, The Salvation Army, or The Red Cross]

In terms of grant writing, fundraising, and overall non profit operations; emergency grants are really and truly for a non profit organization's emergent situations. If you hoped to raise the full budget for a project or program, but didn't, that isn't really an emergent situation in the eyes of most emergency grant donors. An example of a situation that would warrant needing an emergency grant is if your organization normally and historically runs well (meaning that cash flow is normally not problematic); but your agency was recently hit with an unforeseeable, understandable, new, high expense. Furthermore, your organization expected fee increases and budgeted accordingly for the coming year, but just this quarter - your organization is in trouble and doesn't have the cash flow to perhaps meet payroll, afford basic programs, etc. In other words, your organization is not in crisis (facing having to fold or close permanently); your organization has endured an unforeseeable expense that has drastically reduced your budget for the quarter (or time being); and the organization expects to recover (operate efficiently) after this hiccup. Emergency grants might be a viable solution for your problem.

Unfortunately, as you know, our economy has slowed down.

Economic downturns effect non profit organizations just as they effect for-profit businesses. One of many scenarios can hurt non profit cash flow. Non profits may receive less government funding which can be detrimental if they've been operating on a specific amount of government money, year to year. Foundations may have the cash flow to give more in this climate but most probably do not. Individual donors are paying more for gasoline, heating, and the dollar is waning in value. Individual donations may be down. Bequests, endowments, multi year grants, annual special events income, and other time-specific donation revenue streams may be guaranteed but if your non profit needs cash flow now; you and your organization's leadership are worried.

Help is out there!

As is true with all fundraising, if your non profit's mission statement meets an unmet need in your community, if your projects and programs are meeting needs and well, if your organization receives donations from individuals and companies, and if you operate your organization according to modern best non profit management practices, etc.; your non profit is probably in a great position to raise money and in this case, emergency funding.

Community foundations usually keep emergency grants in reserve for emergent situations. If you are not sure that there is a community foundation nearby, do some research. Contact your closest United Way, speak to their Development Manager, and ask. Look around on the Internet. If there is not a community foundation right in your city or town, look to see if one exists in your region. Often community foundations grant to non profits outside of their town, but within the geographic region. Once you locate your local community foundation, contact their program manager and ask if they offer emergency grants. If they do, ask what the giving guidelines are, including deadlines, available amounts, what they cover, etc. Some foundations also offer emergency grants. Research!

While regular (non emergency) grants are not a quick fix solution for cash flow needs, they do provide funds. Grant writing at the end of the year is a lesson in research, timing, and reading foundation's current budgets! Fiscal years vary from organization to organization. Some non profits may not be facing the end of their fiscal year right now, as they may not keep their fiscal year the same as the calendar year. Their fiscal year may be July 1 to June 30th, or otherwise. For those whose fiscal year match the calendar year, non profits must spend down their operating cash flow annually. Grant donors such as foundations are no exception. If, for instance, they have $500,000 budgeted to give in grants this fiscal year, they need to spend the amount to make their budget. If they've only given $450,000 as of today (December 3rd), they're looking for one or more good projects to fund, and spend their remaining $50,000 to meet their budget. Yes, this happens! If you talk with a foundation and they like the project that you're working to fund, and they mention that they are looking to spend down at the end of the year - apply! Your project may very well get funded even before the end of this year!

You could also write an honest, coherent, short, thorough, easy to scan (use bullet point lists, instead of requiring that they read sentences) letter to your constituency explaining your organization's current position. Demonstrate that your organization is merely experiencing a hiccup and not facing having to close. If you only need money to get through this quarter it is different (and more likely to garner support) than if you have very little money to continue operations at all. Share how this happened because donors are going to want to be sure that if they give now, you will and can manage their money to the benefit of your organization's mission statement. Explain where their support will go, how much you need, for what timeline, and why your organization has come to this point. It's OK. It happens. What's more, your constituency will know the whole truth and they will invest. You may not receive many $1,000 donations (because of the economy), but if you raise $10 from 1000 donors; you've just raised $10,000 dollars. Keep in mind that usually, a non profit with an established donor base, will receive about 10% response to letters. So, for instance, a 5,000 letter mailing could raise 500 responses (in various amounts unless you run a $10 request campaign, for instance), and if the letter is well written, if your constituency is invested in your cause and organization, etc.

For new non profits, the response to a letter will probably be slightly lower because you don't yet have an established constituency. Don't be discouraged. Again, if the letter is well written, the recipients likely to be interested in your organization's cause and to give (research those who will receive the letter), etc. - you can raise a 10% of the total mailing response, plus you have started to establish your donor base. This is invaluable as established individual become your organization's constituency and are your group's life blood.

Turning to the press to raise money is risky. Your organization may come off as poorly run; unable to neither run your operations well, nor be able to raise funds. This turns donors off. People give where their dollar will meet the need that they care about. They may wonder what you've done with the money you've had. If you do use the press to raise money in this emergent moment - invite potential donors to become a part of your organization's family. Clearly demonstrate that your organization is well run, conducting best practices, and does not anticipate regularly raising money through desperate moments or the press.

Call on major donors and ask them out to lunch. Pull together a clear, thorough, and honest accounting of what happened to put your organization in its current position, and demonstrate how your non profit will get out of it and run efficiently again. Ask them directly for a portion of the larger amount that your group needs. Do this with many major donors. Learn how to do this properly, but do it. Your organization needs you to rise to the occasion no matter how uncomfortable you may feel. You'll do well if you read about how to ask for donations face to face, and practice. Really.

If your organization does not currently have a major donor campaign, estimate of your current donors who gives in larger amounts and could afford to do so, now. Again, learn how to develop major donors.

Lastly, do all of these things. Your organization's future is in your group's leadership's hands. Do not despair. Learn some current fundraising and operations practices that will make cash flow and fundraising easier and more efficient. Also, use this pressure to strengthen your organization's relationship with major donors, foundations, and individual donors. Raise the money that you need now while strengthening their affiliation and investment for the future. Use this duress to tighten your organization's operations.