Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One Nonprofit Sues Another Nonprofit For Not Honoring Donor's Wishes - Great Lesson for Us Nonprofits!

As I've said many times in this blog, today, nonprofits can not simply take donations without considering the donor a partner, anymore. Donors research which nonprofit they give to, they are knowledgeable about the cause, and they are giving to be a part of the solution - they no longer give blindly with their fingers crossed. Donors, today, expect results; streamlined, ethical, fiscally sound, modern nonprofit operations and management; transparency; and to be a part of the organization's community (the nonprofit, today, is a whole community made of many partners - donors (investors), volunteers, staff, clientele, other nonprofits, municipalities, etc.).

The following story is another example of this fact.

Jonathan Saltzman wrote "Charity sues R.I. hospital over donation in 1912" for the February 23, 2008 issue of The Boston Globe, in which he describes how Children's Friend & Service of Providence, Rhode Island discovered a bequest agreement between Louisa G. Lippett's estate and Rhode Island Hospital, dated 1912. In the bequest, Lippett gifted $4,000 to be certain that a"Permanent Free Bed in Rhode Island Hospital." would always be available. It is believed that the hospital never set a free bed aside, nor set the money aside as allegedly, no bed was set aside. According to the article, if the donation had been invested conservatively, it would be worth approximately $1.5 million, today. Though the two sides attempted to come to an agreement regarding the request, they could not. Children's Friend & Service is suing Rhode Island Hospital in state court to get the donor's request honored.

To quote the article, ""There's a huge need," said David Caprio, executive director of Children's Friend. "I'm sure that we would have a waiting list of people that would be ready to use it.""

The quicker that nonprofits understand that to raise money and to insure future donations from their donors, they must provide success, results, and operate well; the quicker that the nonprofit will increase its donations, strengthen its relationships with its current donors, and increase its ability to raise more and larger donations. Really.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Your Nonprofit Needs Money During This Economic Pinch? Read On...

There are two ways for the nonprofit that you work for to have more money than it had at this point last year:
1. Save the money that it currently has (spend less and hold onto the money)
2. Make the same amount of income as this time last year, and then some (raise the money your organization needs for healthy cash flow, and then some).

Commit to raise money this year. There are many methods to raise money:
1. Individual donors (note anyone who donates to your organization including their name(s), address, phone number, email address, their donations, etc.).
2. Major donors (the donor to your organization who has amassed wealth who should be developed to give larger regular donations to your group).
3. Grants (private & public foundations, municipalities, Tribes, federal, etc. and emergency grants)
4. Special events (e.g. golf tournaments, balls, galas, raffles, auctions, etc.)
5. Bequests
6. Employers' matching donations
7. United Way membership (includes support)
8. Donation envelopes in newsletters
9. Direct mailing (appeal letters)
10. Annual appeal (the one letter, a year, requesting an annual donation or membership)
11. http://www.missionfish.org/ (Ebay's charity arm)
12. Real estate rebates
13. Board members' annual required contribution (either they raise it or they donate it out of their own pocket)
14. Memberships
15. Fees (for services rendered)
16. Sales (selling a product)
17. Reverse mortgages
18. In kind (the donation of needed items, rather than cash or legal tender)
19. Sponsorships
20. Advertising
21. Naming rights (e.g. naming a wing of a building after one's family, etc.)
22. Honorariums (donations in honor of the living)
23. Owning an asset over time, and earning its increase of value
24. Endowment
25. Seed money (start up nonprofits)
26. Pledges
27. Etc.

If your organization is only raising money one way - the existence of your organization depends on the money always coming through that fundraising method. Diversify how many revenue streams your organization gets money from and you can feel confident that if one fundraising method is earning less than last year - you have other revenue streams to rely on. Diversified income is a safety net.

Get strategic about your nonprofit's life blood:
1. Diversify how many revenue streams generate donations and revenue for your organization.
2. Plan out each revenue stream. For each revenue stream your organization is doing or going to do:
a. Research which methods are already overdone in your community and what your community will support and enjoy and go with those.
b. Learn 'how to' for each method your organization is doing and is going to do, from a professional or recommended/reputable resource that is successful at that specific income method.

It takes, on average, three years to earn net revenue on a special event for most organizations, so nonprofits must expect to hold the same special event, annually, at lest three times before making money. If it's a viable special event, do not do it once or twice and ditch it. Stick with it and plan for the initial deficit to make money three years from now and more, going forward.

c. Formulate a realistic timeline, including research, self-education, planning, implementation, occurrence, after the fact analysis of results and earnings, review, planning for next year including learning from this year's mistakes.
d. Create a team who will be responsible for the implementation and management of each revenue stream and assign specific tasks for each step of the entire process to specific person/people, require regular meetings amongst the team and to the board which include progress and benchmarks reporting. This team will also review what worked, what didn't, what needs to change, etc. after; to better it for next year.
e. Track the attendance and receipts; and record attendees' names and contact information (to invite them next year and to track who donates to your organization). The list of attendees will add to list of your organization's regular individual donors, and individual donors donate 70% of most American nonprofits, annually. These folks are your organization's constituency and should be treated as partners in your organization's work and as investors, because they are. They will also give regularly and repeatedly, you'll find. Learn modern methods explaining how to develop donors.
f. Ask attendees, at the end of the program or method, what they liked, what they didn't like, why they participated, what they'd change, and what they'd like to experience, see, or have at the next event/program/project, etc. Gather this feedback, tally it, AND HAVE THE PERTINENT TEAM REVIEW, DIGEST, DISCUSS, and UTILIZE it. Your organization will gain donors' trust and investment when you ask what they think/want but especially when your organization listens. Also, your income should increase, year to year, if you listen to feedback and take it seriously.
f. Review, year to year, if it is worth your organization doing the revenue method. If it's losing money after year three, year to year, or if it is not relevant anymore; research, review, update or replace it. Want to spend less on your nonprofit's fundraising?

Analyze:
1. Review how much each method is raising and compare that to how long your organization's been doing that fundraising method. Is it raising more money, annually, over time?
2. Compare cost of putting the fundraising method on, to how much is being raised. Is the net profit (if the method is over three years old) making a reasonable amount of net income?
3. Review what your organizations donors give to the most often and in the most amounts. Pay attention to what they like.
4. What regular or ongoing costs to your organization could you cut by acquiring a sponsor, in kind donor, or major donor to pay for? Keep the money that you'd spend on that in the bank! Remember, a their donation is a tax deductible break for them.

In review: have more money this year than you did last year:
Save
Commit to raise money
Diversify
Get Strategic
Analyze

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What Motivates Giving?

Jason Dick, blog author of A Small Change - Fundraising Blog, is hosting the February 2008 Giving Carnival (group blog session). Jason asks a great question of anyone who would like to either email a response to him or blog about it on their blog, and send Jason the link (he will post all of the responses that he receives on Monday, February 25th. Be sure to return and read others' responses and respond to them. Let's get a dialogue going!). You can join us and respond at infosmallchange at gmail dot com by January 21st.

If you can not join us this month, in the discussion, you can join the Giving Carnival group blogging sessions (once a month) to blog or simply email a response to various philanthropy questions. We always need hosts, too. Becoming a member of the Giving Carnival Google group by clicking the link. We would love to have you when you are able to contribute and respond.

Jason asks, "What motivates giving? Is it compassion, good fundraising, desire to make a difference in the community? What is it?"

As is often the response, I say, 'it depends'. Here's the dirt...

Individuals give because they are affected by a cause or issue, they believe that something can be done and that the nonprofit sector provides viable solutions, and because they have located a nonprofit providing a solution that they believe in, towards the issue, and the nonprofit is effective, reputable, successful, transparent in its operations and reporting, well run, and accessible. I wrote more about today's savvy, less whimsical, individual donors in my post A Shift In Giving: Proactive Philanthropists Instead of Passive Donors Nonprofits do not just get to pass GO while being handed donations for the year. Today, nonprofits must meet a real need in our community, address the need successfully, operate efficiently while reporting honestly, and must work with the community and its resources - rather than trying to be a lone agent. Results are everything today.

Families, trusts, community foundations and their members, and foundations give because they have amassed a lump sum to dedicate to the issue(s) that also concerns them. These entities exist to give. It is arguable that, as legal 501(c)(3)...etc. organizations, they give because it is federally mandated that they give a specific percentage of total holdings, annually. It is also sometimes the case that these kinds of philanthropists are set up for the tax benefit. I do not believe that these are the REASONS, though, that most charities are set up, or why they give. I think that families, trusts, community foundations, and individual foundations give because someone saw a need in our community and again, believed that the nonprofit sector, specifically, could provide effective solutions.

Private foundations give for very specific reasons. Often private foundations are set up to support a singular specific cause, organization, or the private foundation only accepts grant applications by invitation (and does not accept applications for grants from just anyone). For instance, some private foundations are set up to singularly fund one hospital. Or, other private foundations only give to organizations serving one religion and its work. Other private foundations may be set up to support a single private school.

Donors are researching how to make the greatest impact in our communities and this post links to a recent published study that discusses this phenomenon at: Yet Another Example of Donors Expecting Results; Non Profits, You Can't Just Take the Money and Cross Your Fingers Anymore

To determine what foundations are looking for and why they engage with nonprofits by donating read Grant Writers, Get an Inside Peek On Where Our Foundation Donors' Heads Are which highlights Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, interview on Charlie Rose in which she talks about what one of the most preeminent foundations in the world looks for when donating.

A more general, overarching discussion on why grant donors give is at Why Do Donors Give Grants At All?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Mission Statement and Why It's So Important

I've heard nonprofit colleagues refer to mission statements, in general, as b.s.

I'm of another mind.

I'm not a 'pie in the sky' or 'starry eyed' idealist about mission statements. I happen to believe that a well thought out, investigated, and hashed out mission statement can both inform clients, volunteers, the board, and staff; and it can direct the organization's work, growth, planning, PR/marketing, and fundraising, etc. Why do I think that mission statements can be this critical and valuable? Because I've seen the mission be just that; critical and invaluable to its organization.

As a few of my former colleagues do, some may think that mission statements are nothing more than something to post on the office wall, wishful thinking, or antiquated notions of a long-gone founder; you already have a need for a really good mission statement. You don't think so? Check this out...

__ To raise money well you need to set your organization apart from others in your field, or cause, who do the same kind of nonprofit work. There's plenty of room for various nonprofits to work on the same cause; it's imperative, though, that each nonprofit be meeting a unique need and not all doing the exact same work. Collaboration, by the way, is not doing the same work - it's uniting resources, experience, and effort to work towards a mutual goal. Collaboration is effective. Doing what others are already doing well is futile. Specialize by becoming really effective at your organization's niche!

__ You need your clients, volunteers, board, donors, and the potential donors or potential board members to understand quickly in clear language what your organization does for whom or what.

__ Your volunteers, board, and staff need to understand the clearly defined reason that your organization does what it does, who or what it does that for, and what it is here to do. Everyone has to be on or get onto the same page.

__ You have an organizational chart (e.g. the board oversees the executive director, the executive director oversees the staff and volunteers, and the staff oversees volunteers on specific tasks), BUT from the volunteers on up to the board - everyone in your organization, each and all, works for the mission. Your organization's real boss is the mission statement and its goal. You work for its intent, cause, and all of every one's effort should be focused and commanded by the mission. Everyone must work together but the reason that the mission should be the boss is everyone must be focusing their individual effort to the same (clear) goal. It makes your organization much more financially efficient, effective, successful, and cohesive. Having a chain of command helps to organize the people and the work - and it needs to, but THE CAUSE and THE MISSION STATEMENT GOAL are the only reason the organization exists. The organization is not about you, your career, your neuroses, your insecurities, or your resume'. It is its own legal entity per the United States government. If you don't understand this point, ask yourself what are you really doing working with this nonprofit, if you aren't there to work for the cause as directed by (its) your mission? Once you become a part of a nonprofit - you should be there to achieve its mission goal.

The key to the effective mission statement (e.g. in order for your staff and volunteers to buy into the work, for your community to 'get' your organization, etc.) is a mission statement that is modern, given where your cause is, today and the latest thinking in your field; very thought out; it should be clear and concise; and it should state why, what is being done, and for whom as clearly as possible.

This is a very important point; no mission statement should be thought up off the cuff and used after just one discussion considering it, nor after only a single person has accepted it. The mission statement should be discussed, revamped, left to sit for a day or a week, reviewed again shortly thereafter, discussed some more, a second and third draft should come to be; and all of this should be tested. Ask colleagues in your field if they understand it's meaning, ask potential clients if it's clear; ask staff and volunteers if they agree with its meaning and intent. Listen to people's responses. Consider the feedback and go rework the mission again with your organization's leadership.

Your organization could be brand new or twenty years old; you are allowed to review your mission at any time. You don't want to either reinvent the wheel, nor ignore the need to modernize or update. Having said this, it is imperative that the organization's leadership direct this review and eventually include key staff and volunteers. It is a process and many organization have gone through it (in effective variations) to great success (e.g. better fundraising). I strongly recommend either hiring a very reputable nonprofit consultant who has successful experience in mission update or strategic planning. Ask nonprofit colleagues who they've used, contact your local United Way or professional nonprofit affiliation if they know of a good consultant that they could recommend. Do research and investigate before hiring anyone.

Grants for Innovation in Teaching 1 st - 12 th Graders

From The Foundation Center...

Jordan Fundamentals Grant Programs Offers Funding for Public School Teachers

Deadline: March 30, 2008

The Jordan Fundamentals Grant Program awards $1 million annually to teachers across the United States who motivate and inspire students toward achieving excellence. The program is presented by the Jordan Brand, a division of Nike, Inc.

Applicants must be public school teachers or paraprofessionals working with students in grades one through twelve. At least 50 percent of the school's student population must be eligible for the free or reduced school-lunch program at the time of application. The program makes grants in two categories: 1) Innovation Grants: Grants averaging $2,500 each will be awarded to individual teachers for projects that will impact classroom innovation and improve instruction. 2) Inspiration Grants: Winners of Innovation Grants may apply for an Inspiration Grant. Grants totaling $10,000 will be awarded to teams of teachers in support of scaling-up implementation of approaches developed with Innovation Grants.

For complete information about the program, including eligibility requirements and application procedures, visit the Jordan Fundamentals Web site.

RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10011348/nike

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Scams Claiming to Be the IRS - Aim for Nonprofits

From IRS.gov...

The following IRS news wire story warns nonprofits that along with the tax rebate part of the United States economy stimulus package, comes news that scammers are aiming for those rebates:

IRS Warns of New E-Mail and Telephone Scams Using the IRS Name; Advance Payment Scams Starting

IR-2008-11, Jan. 30, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers to beware of several current e-mail and telephone scams that use the IRS name as a lure. The IRS expects such scams to continue through the end of tax return filing season and beyond.

The IRS cautioned taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams involving proposed advance payment checks. Although the government has not yet enacted an economic stimulus package in which the IRS would provide advance payments, known informally as rebates to many Americans, a scam which uses the proposed rebates as bait has already cropped up.

The goal of the scams is to trick people into revealing personal and financial information, such as Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers, which the scammers can use to commit identity theft.

Typically, identity thieves use a victim’s personal and financial data to empty the victim’s financial accounts, run up charges on the victim’s existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim’s name, file fraudulent tax returns or even commit crimes. Most of these fraudulent activities can be committed electronically from a remote location, including overseas. Committing these activities in cyberspace allows scammsters to act quickly and cover their tracks before the victim becomes aware of the theft.
People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years — and their hard-earned money — cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their reputations and credit records. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, may be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.

The most recent scams brought to IRS attention are described below.

Rebate Phone Call
At least one scheme using the word “rebate” as part of the lure has been identified. In that scam, consumers receive a phone call from someone identifying himself as an IRS employee. The caller tells the targeted victim that he is eligible for a sizable rebate for filing his taxes early. The caller then states that he needs the target’s bank account information for the direct deposit of the rebate. If the target refuses, he is told that he cannot receive the rebate.

This phone call is a scam. No legislation has yet been enacted that would allow the IRS to provide advance payments to taxpayers or that determines the details of those payments. Moreover, the IRS does not force taxpayers to use direct deposit. Those who opt for direct deposit do so by completing the appropriate section of their tax return, with bank routing and account information, when they file; the IRS does not gather the information by telephone.

Refund e-Mail
The IRS has seen several variations of a refund-related bogus e-mail which falsely claims to come from the IRS, tells the recipient that he or she is eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount, and instructs the recipient to click on a link in the e-mail to access a refund claim form. The form asks the recipient to enter personal information that the scammsters can then use to access the e-mail recipient’s bank or credit card account.

In a new wrinkle, the current version of the refund scam includes two paragraphs that appear to be directed toward tax-exempt organizations that distribute funds to other organizations or individuals. The e-mail contains the name and supposed signature of the Director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations business division.

This e-mail is a phony. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mail about tax account matters to individual, business, tax-exempt or other taxpayers.

Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund; there is no separate application form. Taxpayers who wish to find out if they are due a refund from their last annual tax return filing may use the “Where’s My Refund?” interactive application on this Web site, IRS.gov. The only official IRS Web site is located here at http://www.irs.gov/.

Audit e-Mail
Another new scam brought to IRS attention contains features not seen before by the IRS. Using a technique calculated to get almost anyone’s attention, the e-mail notifies the recipient that his or her tax return will be audited. This is the first scam of which the IRS is aware that uses this to get the victim to respond.

Unusual for a scam e-mail, it may contain a salutation in the body addressed to the specific recipient by name. Most scam e-mails seen by the IRS are sent using the same technique used by spammers, in which hundreds of thousands of messages are sent to potential victims based on Internet address. Because of the volume, the typical scam e-mail is not personalized.
This e-mail instructs the recipient to click on links to complete forms with personal and account information, which the scammers will use to commit identity theft.

This e-mail is a phony. The IRS does not send unsolicited, tax-account related e-mails to taxpayers.

Changes to Tax Law e-Mail
This bogus e-mail is addressed to businesses, accountants and “Treasury” managers. It instructs them to download information on tax law changes by clicking on a series of links to publications on businesses, estate taxes, excise taxes, exempt organizations and IRAs and other retirement plans. The IRS believes that clicking on a link downloads malware onto the recipient’s computer. Malware is malicious code that can take over the victim’s computer hard drive, giving someone remote access to the computer, or it could look for passwords and other information and send them to the scammster. There are other types of malware, as well.

The URLs contained in the link are not legitimate IRS Web addresses. All IRS.gov Web page addresses begin with http://www.irs.gov/.

Paper Check Phone Call
In a current telephone scam, a caller claims to be an IRS employee who is calling because the IRS sent a check to the individual being called. The caller states that because the check has not been cashed, the IRS wants to verify the individual’s bank account number. The caller may have a foreign accent.

In reality, the IRS leaves it entirely up to the individual to choose to cash or not cash a paper check. The IRS has no business need to know, and does not ask for, bank account or similar information, except when taxpayers indicate on their tax return that they are opting for the direct electronic deposit of their refund. In that case, however, it is the individual’s responsibility to provide the IRS with the correct bank routing and account numbers on the tax return; the IRS does not contact taxpayers to verify the information.

What to Do
Anyone wishing to access the IRS Web site should initiate contact by typing the IRS.gov address into their Internet address window, rather than clicking on a link in an e-mail or opening an attachment.

Those who have received a questionable e-mail claiming to come from the IRS may forward it to a mailbox the IRS has established to receive such e-mails, phishing@irs.gov, using instructions contained in an article titled “How to Protect Yourself from Suspicious E-Mails or Phishing Schemes.” Following the instructions will help the IRS track the suspicious e-mail to its origins and shut down the scam. Find the article by visiting IRS.gov and entering the words “suspicious e-mails” into the search box in the upper right corner of the front page.

Those who have received a questionable telephone call that claims to come from the IRS may also use the phishing@irs.gov mailbox to notify the IRS of the scam.

The IRS has issued previous warnings on scams that use the IRS to lure victims into believing the scam is legitimate. More information on identity theft, phishing and telephone scams using the IRS name, logo or spoofed (copied) Web site is available on this Web site. Enter the terms “phishing,” “identity theft” or “e-mail scams” into the search box in the upper right corner of the front page.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Planning Your Organization's Grant Writing Expenses

Let's say that you and I work at The United States Star Fish Society (TUSSFS). Let's say that our nonprofit has it's 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation, the board is proactive and seeking out the 'how to's' and basics, learning nonprofit oversight, management, operations, and fundraising. Let's say, too, that since its inception TUSSFS has solicited board contacts, previous individual donors, local businesses, and volunteers four times a year. We have a donor base that is growing.

Let's say that our board, during its training, learned how critical planning is for mission success. In TUSSFS' second year the board conducted four strategic planning sessions that resulted in a strategic plan. The strategic plan clearly defines what the organization's mission is, it's current work, the work it envisions itself doing in the future, and details action items, a list of who is responsible for what, deadlines, goals, and how and when outcomes review will occur.

Let's say, too, that during the second year TUSSFS' fundraising committee created a Development (or fundraising) Plan. The Development Plan lists the current fundraising work, the work it will do in the future BASED ON THE STRATEGIC PLAN'S GOALS FOR THE ORGANIZATION (e.g. new programs, hiring more staff, growing the organization's public relations and marketing, etc.), and details action items, a list of who is responsible for what, deadlines, goals, and how and when outcomes review will occur. Based on the Development Plan, TUSSFS began, during its second year, a new fundraising event, the annual Star Fish Gala Ball. We knew when we started the event that it would take a minimum of three consecutive years before this event would begin to gross revenue. The event was conceived, organized, and conducted each year (and will be in the future) to set money aside to pay for grant writing services.

We're in our fifth year, at TUSSFS. We've saved $10,000 from our Star Fish Gala Ball revenue, over the past three years, to be used for grant writing expenses. Now that we've implemented a method to raise money for our grant writing expense, and we have money in the bank - we need to know what we will expect to pay for, how much, and when.

A professional grant writer provides your organization with expertise, a developed skill, success, and leadership. Like when your organization consults with a CPA or a lawyer, you are receiving skilled services (raising grant donations), and your organization is paying a fee for those services. There are many reasons to hire a grant writer. Some nonprofits only need an expert grant writer to review a grant proposal that they've written for corrections, suggestions, and direction. Others need a grant writer to search for potential grant donors (prospecting). Most nonprofits hire grant writers to do all of the grant seeking work; research, prospecting, writing a proposal case, putting the applications together for each potential donor, managing potential grant donor interviews/visits, writing thank you letters, writing grant progress reports, and writing end of grant reports.

Here is a typical (and there are variations) consulting fee schedule for the entire grant writing process:

1. Initial free consultation to meet the grant writer, discuss the organization, determine if it's in a good position to raise grant money, discuss the organization's needs and goals, and discuss how the grant writer works and what the grant writing process is.

2. The grant writer provides the potential client with their resume', a copy of an actual proposal that they wrote and its budget (or a writing sample), letters of recommendation (or a list of professional references), and a clear and thorough proposal.

3. To begin work, many consulting grant writers will request a retainer be paid in order for them to begin work. The retainer can be 1/3 to 1/2 of the proposed total cost of the grant writing contract (in the proposal).

4. When the grant writer begins work, as billing begins, they post the retainer against their billing to your organization. You should receive regular detailed billing and you should also receive regular detailed project and schedule updates.

5. If you are hiring a grant writer to write a grant proposal (case) and you plan on them using the case for many different projects that your organization knows will require grant money - most of the total grant writing cost to your organization will be up front. For each program that your organization is going to raise grants for - the grant writer will have to prospect for potential donors, and the reporting, thank yous, and the grant program maintenance will be ongoing. The greatest amount of time will be spent writing the grant proposal. After it is written, it can be edited for each different need that your organization has for grants (and for each potential grant donor that your organization will apply to). In other words, after your grant proposal is done, most of your agency's grant program will be ongoing prospecting, filing potential donors' info, editing the grant proposal case and mailing out applications, reporting to donors, and managing what grant work is completed and what is on the horizon.

The grant writing expense is larger, upfront, usually. Maintenance is just as important, but usually does not require as much time as the initial work required to form a strong grant program.

Grants for HIV/AIDS Treatment And Prevention Programs

From The Foundation Center...

M·A·C AIDS Fund Accepting Applications for HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention Programs

Deadline: March 14, 2008; June 13, 2008; and September 15, 2008

Established in 1994 by M·A·C Cosmetics ( http://maccosmetics.com ), the M·A·C AIDS Fund supports men, women, and children affected by HIV/AIDS globally. Since its inception, M·A·C Cosmetics has provided more than $100 million for the M·A·C AIDS Fund.

The fund has identified the following four crucial areas of need affecting the epidemic: 1) Link Between Poverty and AIDS -- Funding for basic needs such as food and housing to those living with HIV/AIDS; 2) Models of Care -- Developing hospitals and increasing the number of doctors and nurses in countries that need it the most; 3) Treatment Adherence -- Developing peer- based programs to help people adhere to their treatment regimes; and 4) Prevention -- Programs with a specific focus on high risk populations such as youth, people over 50, and African Americans.

Grants are awarded to nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that are directly associated with HIV/AIDS. Typical grant size ranges between $5,000 and $25,000 each. All grants are considered one-time gifts as the fund does not consider multi-year granting. With the exception of North America- based charities, the M·A·C AIDS Fund does not accept unsolicited international grant proposals. Grant applications are accepted year-round and proposals are reviewed and awarded quarterly. The fund encourages organizations to apply in advance of application deadlines.

Visit the M·A·C AIDS Fund Web site for complete program information, funding restrictions, and application procedures. RFP Link: http://fconline.foundationcenter.org/pnd/10011206/macaidsfund

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How To Find General Operating Funds

Katie Krueger, professional grant writer, and Editor of Find Funding Magazine , is the first Seeking Grant Money Today guest writer. With her generous permission I am reposting, here, her January 2, 2007; article, "How To Find General Operating Funds". It's a great piece!

General operating money is certainly one of the more difficult categories of funding to secure, mostly because it’s a lot less appealing to the funder. Let’s face it, paying rent is not nearly as sexy as helping people fulfill their potential as human beings. However, there are unrestricted grants out there, if you know where to look.

My first suggestion would be to look at your current list of donors: they are always your best prospect list for future gifts. Look for those that have been consistent givers with whom you have built a relationship, who have a deep confidence in your programs already. Supporters who have granted your requests regularly and easily in the past may have the ability to give more if asked. Some of these supporters may already give general operating gifts; others may need a bit of gentle convincing. Do your homework and review their giving guidelines before making your request.

Secondly, you should always write operating costs into program grants when possible. Most foundations understand that extra programming leads to increased indirect costs (e.g. electricity, rent, computer use, etc) and expect to see this line in the budget. Depending on the funder, you may write anywhere from 2% - 20% of indirect costs into a program budget.

Thirdly, if you don’t already have a larger fundraising plan, now is the time to make one. Funding your organization with grants alone is very risky because their funding comes and goes with the whims of the economy. In the stock market slump between 2001-2003, many foundations cut back or eliminated grant gifts altogether. A good fundraising plan should be diversified and incorporate income from corporations, individuals, and income-generating projects as much as possible, as these funds are unrestricted.

Finally, if all else fails and you are still looking to grants for these funds, there are indeed foundations that grant such requests. They are limited in number, and the competition is stiff, so it’s a good idea to start with those in your local area.

A few examples:
Sobrato Family Foundation
Shubert Foundation

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Bit More For Individuals Looking for Grants

I've written one other post about individuals who are seeking grant money, "Are There Grants for Individuals?". It is without a doubt one of the most read posts on Seeking Grant Money Today.

I'm writing this post to offer even more suggestions to individuals seeking grants. Please keep in mind that you most likely do not need to be disabled, sick, low income, etc. to ask for assistance from any nonprofit. At one point or another, we all need help. Nonprofits exist to fulfill their mission.

Let me be clear that most grants are only available to legal nonprofit 501(c) 1, 2, 3...etc. entities, as recognized by the IRS. Be leery of grants offered to individuals unless they fall under the following scenarios. There are grants offered to individuals but most often these are offered to scientists, artists, or students attending school. Grants offered by governments or municipalities (e.g. United States federal government, State of Oregon, City of Bellevue, Dade County, or The Confederated Tribes of the Yakama Nation, etc.) may be offered to individuals (who are not scientists, artists, or students) - but they are most often dictated by that government's current year's budgetary goal (e.g. people returning to the workforce from rehabilitation, farmers using water-saving methods, getting veterans returning from combat settled back into their community, etc.). Notice that, while the above example grants are made up for the sake of this post, it does usually happen that grants legitimately offered to individuals by governments are based in recent societal (etc.) issues. The money has been directed to individuals because the government knows it is an issue in their community.

Perhaps due to our intimidating economy, my grant writing consulting business, when I wrote this blog post, received more inquiries, lately, from individuals (in contrast to nonprofits) who are contacting us because they are seeking grant money, as financial assistance.

I am going to share, here, some of the advice and suggestions that we've shared with them:

The Foundation Center does offer a resource that specifically lists grants currently available to individuals at Foundation Grants to Individuals. The Foundation Center is a standard in the American fundraising world, professional, and trustworthy.

Anyone considering attending a private school, technical school, college, or university who needs financial assistance (e.g. to pay for school, books, supplies, housing, etc.) should contact the Financial Aid office, of the school that you are considering, and ask what options you have.

It is not easy to admit you may need help, or to ask for it. You are not alone, though. If you are in need of financial assistance, seek it out from reputable, safe, effective sources so that your life, safety, or welfare are not placed into jeopardy. Coming from this point of view, contact each and all of the following organizations that you may be assisted by. Contact your local United Way if you are in need of basic needs (e.g. food, money, housing, warmth, clothing, etc.). If you are affiliated with a religion, contact that affiliation and ask a trustworthy confidant, there, for assistance. Also, there's a great list of money saving ideas for any household. Check out Elaine Appleman Grant's Extreme Savers Share Their Secrets for Bankrate.com, but is here located on Yahoo Finance. If your situation of need is based on a disaster, dislocation, asylum, etc. you could contact the American Red Cross. Research (Internet, phone book, word of mouth, etc.) nonprofit organizations in your local region that focus on the issues that you are facing (the issue(s) that has led to your financial difficulties for example, veterans organizations (besides the V.A.), mental health organizations, health insurance rights organizations, displaced Katrina refugee organizations, various diseases, etc.). Veterans can also go to Warrior Gateway which is an online website with resources for veterans for all kinds of different issues and care.  There are nonprofits to offer assistance for probably most any issue, illness, trauma, difficulty, etc. If you search in your local region and don't find the kind of assistance that you need search the nearest large city, search within your state, and always also be sure to search for national nonprofits who focus on the issue effecting you. Your regional United Way will be a 'nonprofit directory' for your region, besides offering assistance. Contact them if you aren't sure who may be available to assist you.

As nonprofits are usually the recipient of grants, receiving assistance from the appropriate nonprofit is the way that YOU can grab grant dollars and benefit, without having to apply for the grants, yourself!

If you are facing unemployment (or losing your income) because of a disability or a health circumstance, you may qualify for state or federal income/assistance (e.g.SSDI, or SSI; Medicare, Medicaid etc.). If you do need this kind of help, look for a nonprofit that deals with your specific circumstance, who also assists people in getting federal benefits. Successfully applying for and receiving financial assistance from any government requires expertise. Nonprofits dealing with the issue you're facing, who assist clients in receiving government aid, will have this expertise.

If you're having a tough time with utilities (phone, heating, water/sewer, etc.), you can call each utility and ask them about their low income program. You may qualify.

If you are having a tough time with groceries, you can look into signing up for state or federal food stamps.

Whatever your situation is, look into it through nonprofit organizations and each of your governments (city, county, state, federal, Tribe, etc.). There is good, safe, professional assistance available to you.

Good luck!