Sunday, February 22, 2009

Each and All Nonprofits Must Comply With the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002

[Note: In no way is this or any post, in Seeking Grant Money Today, legal, fiscal, or policy advice for any entity. This post is simply intended to give an overarching general picture of how successful nonprofits achieve their success and meant to provide examples, reasoning, and suggestions. Consult with your organization's lawyer, CPA, or other accredited professional before making any fiscal, legal, or policy setting decisions, if you have any questions, or if you need information.]

In our local paper, this weekend, there was an article about another local nonprofit's legal difficulties. In it, the president of the board claimed that the issue stemmed from the former executive director failing to bring the organization's money problems to the board's attention.

Over and over again, across the United States, board volunteers repeat his legal error.

According to the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (federal law) all corporations (which includes nonprofit organizations, in the United States) must have board fiscal oversight. The board of directors, for 'for profit' and nonprofit entities in the United States must oversee and are responsible for the bookkeeping, accounting, and fiscal reporting of the corporate organization that they work or volunteer for.

So, the board president who expected his executive director to tell him about the nonprofit's financial woes was failing his legal duty, according to Sarbanes Oxley. Instead of expecting his executive director to guide him, he should have been proactive and learned the nonprofit-sepcific skills and knowledge that he didn't have, when he became a volunteer (board member), including what the law expects of him. Further, he should have been proactively overseeing the accounting, and fiscal actions of the nonprofit that he was a board member of. The law expects it of him.

You've heard the word "transparency" used over and over again in the past election season and during President Obama's first month in office. This word is a buzz word, today, that comes out of the effort behind the Sarbanes Oxley law. In effect, the law creates a requirement. Corporations (again, both for- and non - profit organizations) must comply with the law's fiscal accountability requirements that are intended to lead to more fiscal transparency (for donors, stock owners, other supporters, the federal government, and the public).

How many people who volunteer with nonprofits by becoming board members know this? I don't know. The fact is, though, as I reiterate in this blog in post after post, professional nonprofit best practices aren't optional anymore, or "just for large nonprofits". All organizations that have official federal recognition (including nonprofits that received their IRS 501(c)(3), or (4),... etc. designation when they were officially granted a charity by the IRS) must comply with the laws of the jurisdictions that they reside in (e.g. city, county, parish, state, federal, Tribal, etc.).

When anyone has a great concept that they want to turn into a nonprofit, in reality, it is not enough to simply have a generous idea to provide a specific type of nonprofit for the community. While the passion and goodwill behind the starting up of a nonprofit is admirable, selfless, and generous without a doubt; there truly is much more to operating a nonprofit. At least of half of any nonprofit's work (beyond the work of its mission statement) is fundraising. Why? If an organization wishes to exist, grow, and be successful it must be able to pay its bills and grow. The only way to do this is to raise support. Even having mentioned the amount of fundraising required to be a successful nonprofit, there's still more work beyond the programs or services dedicated to the mission statement. Any American nonprofit, today, must operate as a professional organization (from start up to long standing larger organizations). What does this mean? It means:

__ A nonprofit must focus on its mission statement and use it as the litmus to base and compare all decision making against and to (all decisions: including any and all decisions made by the executive director, the board, staff, or volunteers each and every day).

__ A nonprofit must, by law, operate according to each individual nonprofit's own bylaws. They are not just some document that someone needs to create in order for a nonprofit to receive it's official 501(c)(3), etc., designation from the IRS. The bylaws, like the mission, must evolve as the organization grows and changes (usually as envisioned by the board's strategic planning, then voted upon, and finally ratified). The bylaws must be adhered to, always.

__ A nonprofit must, by law (Sarbanes Oxley Act) be accountable for it's bookkeeping, fiscal reporting, and transparency. This responsibility is the board of director's for each and all nonprofits.

__ A nonprofit's volunteers, board members, trustees, staff, must be responsible for the duties of the roles that they have taken on behalf of the organization. Volunteering is admirable, always, too. Gone, though, are the days when volunteering for a nonprofit was like joining up with a high school club or extra curricular activity. Even volunteering is no longer simply a resume' bullet point for any Jane or Joe. Volunteering for a nonprofit, especially as a board member, carries with it certain legal responsibilities. It's O.K., of course, if someone is new to the nonprofit sector, when beginning their first ever volunteer work. What is not O.K. (or legal), though, it to just assume that your only responsibility is to show up to a meeting or two. The volunteer position, because it's a board position, carries certain legal responsibilities.

__ Boards (Directors, Trustees, etc.) are traditionally, today, supposed to provide oversight, provide the future vision for the organization, set policy, and oversee the work of the executive director. They are typically also good support-generators for the organization using their connections in the community, are donors of regular and larger amounts, and are excellent fundraisers. They are responsible for the mission and first and foremost to the beneficiary(ies) of the work of the organization, and responsible to all of those who are trusting the nonprofit to do its work professionally, honestly, transparently, efficiently, and in a current/modern manner.

__ Executive Directors are traditionally, today, supposed to provide day to day management of all organizational work. They usually handle the implementation of board policy, future vision, and conduct all staff management. They are typically also good fundraisers for the organization. They are responsible for their job description work, to the board, the constituents, the donors, and to the mission statement.

__ Staff (if there are staff members) are hired, individually, to carry out and succeed at their individual job title's job description. They are responsible for their work, to the executive director, the constituents, and responsible to the mission statement.

__ Volunteers may carry out office, programmatic, or other duties. They are responsible to their direct report (whomever they are working with in the nonprofit), to the volunteer manager (if there is one), and to the constituency of the nonprofit. They usually believe in the mission statement and are responsible to it, too.

__ There are many other professional nonprofit best practices that are strongly recommended or even expected, today. Some have to do with the treatment, reporting to, and relationship that the nonprofit has with its donors. Others have to do with nonprofits partnering with one another to be more effective, efficient, and to avoid reinventing the wheel. The available professional nonprofit best practices have no limits. Today, anyone doing any operation, work, or planning for a nonprofit can research the modern professional best practices for that work or task and find out what is recommended, why, and save their organization heart ache, extra costs, and loss of time.

It is not enough to point fingers. Nonprofits succeed when anyone and everyone working for them hold themselves accountable. This means that when anyone takes on a role for a nonprofit that they perceive it as a professional role (whether they are being paid for their services, or not). All work for nonprofits, today, is conducted (when successful) in a professional manner. If you are working in the nonprofit sector, for the first time, welcome, thank you, and congratulations. It will be a lot of hard but rewarding work, I bet. The thing is, if you don't know how to do this new role you've accepted, or if you don't know about how nonprofits work - it's OK. I still say "welcome, thank you, and enjoy it". The other thing that I say to you, though, is learn. Learn how to do what you are going to do, and how nonprofits work, from current, professional, reputable, and excellent resources. Where can you locate these reputable resources? Read my post (which includes that information) Basic...Information And Other Ideas... and be sure to read the first link, listed in this post.

Grants for Various Type of Music Compositions

From The Foundation Center...

Meet The Composer Invites Grant Applications for Commis-
sioning Music/USA

Deadline: March 13, 2009

Meet The Composer ( ) offers
support through its Commissioning Music/USA program to ensure
that composers and their commissioners have the knowledge and
resources to successfully complete their shared goals. This
support takes the form of subsidized commissioning fees as well
as technical assistance in managing the entire life-cycle of a
commissioning project.

The 2009 round of Commissioning Music/USA will consider applica-
tions for concert works (i.e., stand-alone musical works created
by single or collaborating composers and performable in a concert
setting) in the following genres: chamber, jazz, orchestral,
chorus, and solo works. Proposed works can be in any style and
may be notated, improvised, electronic, or any combination.

Applications may be submitted by a single commissioner or consor-
tium of commissioning organizations. If selected to participate
in the program, Commissioning Music/USA offers between $10,000
and $20,000 in support of the composer's commissioning fee and
copying expenses.

Visit the Meet The Composer Web site for complete program guide-

RFP Link:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Evaluation Methods - How Can A Nonprofit Use Them To Raise More Money More Often

Many nonprofits, today, must learn about evaluation methods. They are most commonly requested when a nonprofit applies for a grant. The foundation (or whatever entity is offering the grant) may require, in their giving guidelines for instance, that any nonprofit that applies for a grant from them build a standard or professionally accepted evaluation method into their proposed program or project (that the nonprofit is seeking a grant for).

What are evaluation methods? An evaluation method is a way to check whether a nonprofit's program or project's intended goals, outcomes, successes, etc. are achieved, and if they aren't achieved (or achieved fully) why they weren't and what can be changed or improved to improve that program or project. Evaluation methods may be any one of many ways to follow through, and check in with the beneficiaries of a program or project that attended, or was served by, or in some way was involved purposefully in the program or project. The intended program or project beneficiaries may be asked to fill out a survey or may be studied to determine what they experienced in the program or project and whether there was a benefit. These are two different evaluation methods. There are many. Evaluation methods vary, from industry to industry, and often there are many to select from that are professionally accepted by a nonprofit's professional field of expertise.

Evaluation methods are built into a project or program, during its design stage, and it is the final form of the evaluation method that is described in the application for a grant. Evaluation methods are a guarantee for donors (investors in the program/project), and a guarantee for the beneficiaries of the program and project because they potentially lead to better programs; but most especially having evaluation methods built into all of your programs and projects is insurance for your organization's mission statement. If your organization has repeated successes to point at, it will grow and you should achieve greater and larger fundraising achievements. How can evaluation methods do this?

Donors, today, often request (especially when donating grants) that a program or project, that its funding, be designed by professionals in the field or industry that the organization works; that all aspects of the program or project be fully planned out (e.g. budget, fundraising, contingency planning, who the attendees or beneficiaries will be (according to demographics, etc.), anticipated outcomes and benefits, a time line, tasking jobs, and evaluating whether the program or project was a success). Donors, today, want to give their donations to organizations who will be successful, follow through, and share both the successes and lessons learned (and how those lessons learned will be used to better the next instance of the project or program). To understand what today's donors are seeking, read my post, A Shift In Giving: Proactive Philanthropists Instead of Passive Donors

Donors, today, including entities that donate grants are looking to solve issues or provide solutions to problems. They are 'donor investors', no longer handing donations over willy nilly just to get a tax deduction (if donors ever really did this). Donors, today, are understood better by the nonprofit sector to be people looking to solve our communities' issues but are doing it by providing resources (money, expertise, paying expenses for us, etc.) instead of by starting up or operating a nonprofit to address the issue. Their work, from where they sit, is to locate the best potential recipient of their donation. They ask themselves 'which nonprofit is working on the cause that is near and dear to my heart?', from this question, more questions are asked to narrow down to potential recipients. Following questions probably include: 'of these nonprofits, who is working on the issue that concerns me the most?', 'then...of these candidates, which nonprofits are doing excellent work: succeeding at their mission work, achieving the nonprofit's own benchmarks and goals?', and finally, 'which of these few nonprofits, that I've narrowed my selection down to, is providing services in the geographic region(s) that I care most about and which organization do I know is operating honestly (transparently) and which will I be able to trust to communicate thoroughly and honestly?'. These are the concerns of the modern donor, today.

Donors may give many grants in a single year, for instance, and while they may wish they could just drop by and have a nice chat with the grant recipient nonprofit's executive director or board president; many do not have the time to do so. (Some grant donors do, though!) So, in order to get information about how and where their grant donation was spent, and what that investment (donation) did for the community - they use standardized, or professionally accepted evaluation methods. It is critical for nonprofit leadership to understand that grant donors (like other kinds of donors) do not want to hear back (from the evaluation) that everything was perfect and everything went exactly as hoped. While it would be nice to hear this, it is suspect because as we know; no one is perfect and that is OK with most donors. What they want or hope to get from the evaluation method is the truth. Even better, still, donors want to come to know the nonprofit (grant recipient) by seeing what the nonprofit does with the feedback or evaluation method's results that they get back (after the program or project has finished). If, for instance, the program or project is going to be conducted again same time next year - it is really powerful for a nonprofit to demonstrate its professionalism, willingness to learn, and transparency by sharing with its donor(s) the (true, of course) results of the evaluation by sharing where there were successes and also which benchmarks that were not achieved, while stating clearly what the nonprofit is going to do with the feedback or evaluation method's results. If, for instance, we conducted an invasive weed specie eradication program on a land preserve and 70% of the invasive weed species were successfully eradicated, but the remaining 20% were not effected; the nonprofit should share this result with it's donor(s) (investor(s)) and also describe what they learned and how they will improve the same program, the next time it's conducted, to ideally eradicate more than 70% of the invasive species. No donor expects any recipient of their funds to do everything correctly the first time around and be completely successful. Not even the third time around. What a donor wants to see, over time, is that a nonprofit is not only operating professionally, ethically, and transparently; but it is not repeating its mistakes, but rather improving its work and the benefit of the nonprofit's work on the community.

And this is the key.

The nonprofit that understands that its donors (including its grant donors) are truly partners in its mission's work (and they are), and that they can keep those partners happy (willing to give again and to give more) by being inclusive, informative, honest, and thorough in communicating with donors about the nonprofit's own successes and where it knows it can improve - this is the nonprofit that will acquire a deeper relationship with its donors - and that is invaluable. Once a donor understands how valued, respected, and included it is in a nonrpofit's work (what is really going on where the donation went) - that donor then understands that a bond has been formed with the nonprofit, and it is not difficult for that donor to give again, to a previous nonprofit grant recipient; and to give more, this time.

I recommend the following resources to learn more about evaluation methods, how to build one, and options for various fields of industry (e.g. medical, education, child welfare, animal welfare, etc. nonprofits' work):

Free Management Library's provides a wealth of free professionally accepted best practices' information in the nonprofit sector's work. Their Basic Guide To Outcomes-Based Evaluation For Nonprofit Organizations With Very Limited Resources offers a beautiful free resource to learn about nonprofit evaluation methods.

The February 2000, Volume 9 issue of Snapshots , the Aspen Institute's free PDF newsletter provides a short but good summation about nonprofit evaluations.

Fataneh Zarinpoush's free 98 page Project Evaluation Guide For Nonprofit Organization's is also available from the Imagine Canada Nonprofit Library Commons

Many excellent books have also been written on the topic. On the left hand side of this blog's template there is a link to the best resource for books about all aspects of professional nonprofit work (everything from fundraising, to starting a nonprofit, to working with a board well, etc.). Click on the Amazon store to the right for a link to their books. I had picked the books, there, and they are the best of the best in the nonprofit professional sector and accepted as standards.

Grants for Local Governments Collaborations With School Aged Children Providing Local History and Preservation Projects

From The Foundation Center...

Save Our History Invites Applications for Community Education
and Preservation Projects

Deadline: June 5, 2009

Save Our History ( ), a program of
the History Channel ( ) and the American
Association for State and Local History (,
is a national initiative that supports local history education
and historic preservation efforts in communities across the
United States.

Each year, Save Our History awards a total of $250,000 to history
organizations that partner with schools or youth groups on pre-
servation projects that engage students in learning about, docu-
menting, and preserving the history of their communities.

Eligible applicants must be nonprofit 501(c)(3) history organiza-
tions (e.g., museums, historical societies, preservation organi-
zations, historic sites, libraries, or archives). Other eligible
applicants include local government agencies such as parks and
recreation commissions, historic commissions, departments of
local history, or other local government agencies that own and/or
operate a historic site or property. Applicants must be located
in one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia.

Applicants must partner with a local elementary, middle, or high
school(s), or organization(s) that provides educational program-
ming for children of similar ages to design a historic education
and preservation project. Organizations that have received a Save
Our History grant in the last three years are not eligible to

For complete program information and descriptions of previously
funded projects, visit the Save Our History Web site.

RFP Link:

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Do Not Chase Grants, Instead - Raise Them Again and Again

When you hear about a grant that's currently available, do you knee-jerk react by imagining how you could tweak your organization's message, or provide a program, so that your organization could win that grant? Are you constantly trying to form or contort your agency into whatever the grant donors seem to want?

Let's say that right now a grant is available to child welfare nonprofits that are feeding low income hungry kids. Hypothetically, let's say that you and I work for a child welfare nonprofit that clothes low income children. Let's say, too, that the grant is $50,000 and it would do a lot of good for us. What if I turned to you, and with a twinkle in my eye asked, "Is there a way that we could give each child who we feed, a coat, this month?" How would you respond?

It probably depends. If, to further our fictitious situation, the mission of the organization that we work for is " connect caretakers of low income primary and secondary school aged children with safe, healthy, and effective ways to feed their children", then this is a very clear and specific mission statement. Most nonprofits' bylaws clearly state (in some manner) that all decisions (and these are typically ratified if not also made by the board) must be made in the best interest of whomever or whatever is being served by the organization, and in the best interest of the organization's growth and success. Let's say, hypothetically, that our nonprofit's bylaws state this.

Then, after I said what I did to you (in the second paragraph, here), you would turn to me and say, "Arlene, that doesn't make sense. We need to be going after grants whose donors match three of our nonprofit's specific traits. We need to find grant donors that are clearly interested in child welfare, that also fund organizations serving the people in the geographic region that we do (let's say St. Paul, Minnesota), and that are, third, also concerned with feeding low income children,"

You would be 100% correct.

In this kind of economy (but truly, in any economy) there is no nonprofit that can afford to conduct it's work willy nilly. No one means to do work like this, of course. If, though, a well meaning but unaware executive director at a great nonprofit hears of a grant that is available to nonprofits that do work that could be 'construed' as similar to their organization's but not for exactly what they do - it may very likely be a waste of time and money (resources) to apply for that grant. Meaning well, is fine; but meaning well while working smart is effective, efficient, and working smart lends to success. Instead, the executive director could learn how to prospect for grants. Prospecting is a specific step in grant seeking/raising work and it's some of the most important work. If a nonprofit does not locate grant opportunities that they may really and truly get funded, and instead spends its resources on applying for anything and everything - it WILL have wasted time, talent, and money and also, it won't have raised much, if any, grants.

Perhaps you are needing to locate some grants that your organization is more likely to receive, than not? I understand. It is really important to take the time to learn how to prospect well. You can have whomever is going to do the grant writing for your agency, learn it. You could learn it even if that person isn't you. You could also hire a grant writer or consulting firm to do your prospecting. Taking the time, though, to prospect right (however it may be done) by people who know how to do prospect and locate what I call 'grant donors who are more likely to give to YOUR organization, than not' - then you're spending time, money, talent, and your organization's name and reputation well. You're also MUCH more likely to actually get a grant.


You know that there are all kinds of nonprofits. Some work on causes, some work on issues, others conduct research, and still others focus on diseases, and we could go on and on. All nonprofits serve people or things. These people and things live and exist somewhere. All nonprofits also provide specific programs or services. For instance, some nonprofits provide assistance, others provide education, and still others offer shelter, etc. The way to start any grant seeking and head towards success is: to be clear about what your nonprofit truly and ultimately works towards, to know clearly who or what it serves (who benefits, or what is the benefactor of the organization's work), and to know clearly what services, products, or programs does it provide to succeed at its mission.

The reason that prospecting can be so powerful in raising grants is that all donors give grants because of a specific cause or issue that they are passionate about. Often they are concerned for a community or population that they value (for whatever reason: maybe they grew up there, or they loved Hawaiian bottle nosed dolphins from childhood, etc.). And, many times grant donors are educated about the issue or problem they're passionate about enough to know which programs, services, or products that they perhaps believe work best to serve the cause; or maybe the service method has been more successfully, historically, than other methods; or they just like education and feel that is the way to solve the issue a nonprofit is focused on. Donors give grants (or donate anything that they do) because they care about population or place, are passionate about a cause or issue, and they connect with the solution by donating, or granting. They may be right or wrong - but it's what they believe.

What is critical is that a nonprofit know its work and who it serves. That nonprofit must also be confident in its successes, capabilities, and future. It must also be an expert in its cause or issue. If a nonprofit knows itself, believes in its abilities, and looks for donors interested in funding them - they are on the 'right' path to succeed at raising grants. This organization should be yours' and mine.

It is really important that a nonprofit's executive director, its board (and in our hypothetical, that I) understand that there are millions of donors and tens if not hundreds of thousands of foundations in the United States. Each and all nonprofits' leaders, in order to raise funds (including grants) successfully, must come to understand sooner than later that for every cause, for every type of service or program, and for every community being served (geographic location) THERE IS A DONOR WHO WANTS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR ORGANIZATION BY GIVING TO IT. There is. There really and truly is. And I bet...or, it's more often the case than not, that there are more than a few grant donors (foundations, governments, corporations, etc.) who want to grant to an organization doing exactly what your very nonprofit is doing. Really. In other words, I don't know you and I don't know what organization you work for but I'm pretty confident that right now there is someone who wants to and can give a grant to your nonprofit.

The trick is to find those grant donors who are most likely to give to your specific nonprofit by finding the grant donor(s) who are interested in nonprofits doing the work that your nonprofit is doing (mission statement), serving the very benefactor that your organization is working on behalf (population or thing served), and who wants to fund nonprofits serving the people or things located exactly where your benefactor lives or exists (e.g. Oregon, New Hampshire, Iowa, etc.).

Locating grant donors interested in nonprofits meeting all three of these specific attributes of your nonprofit ups the chances that your organization will actually get the grants that it applies for, today, and tomorrow.

To learn how to do prospecting work read the following posts:

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

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

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

Top Ten Ways To Find A Grant Donor Who Will Give To Your Nonprofit

These four posts will get you on your way and to read and learn from them is free. What do you have to lose? The nonprofit that you work for, and the work that it does, can only gain.

Grants for Organizations Serving Those With Paralysis

From The Foundation Center...

Reeve Foundation Offers Quality of Life Grants for Organiza-

tions Serving Individuals With Paralysis

Deadline: March 1 and September 1, annually

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation ( ) Quality of Life Grants Program awards grants to nonprofit organizations that provide services to individuals with paralysis.

Quality of Life grants of up to $25,000 are awarded to programs or projects that improve the daily lives of people with paralysis, with some emphasis on, but not limited to, paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries. Since 1999, the program has provided almost 1,500 grants totaling nearly $12 million to organizations worldwide working to improve opportunities, access, and day-to-day quality of life for individuals living with paralysis and their families. The program recognizes the unique and numerous needs of these individuals and the importance of providing ser- vices and programs that enable them to participate in all areas of life.

Funding is awarding twice yearly to programs in three broad


1) Actively Achieving projects enable people with paralysis to get out and live -- ride a bike, compete in sports, climb a mountain, hike a trail, train for a job, play with friends on a totally accessible playground, work out in a fitness pro- gram, and more.

2) Bridging Barriers projects help people with paralysis over-come obstacles to full participation in society -- operate voice-activated computer technology, modify homes and buildings to make them wheelchair accessible, help with legal problems, access transportation services, and more.

3) Caring and Coping projects help take care of both individuals with paralysis and the people who care for them -- projects may include caregiver support and respite, peer networks, support groups, counseling, consumer and healthcare professional edu- cational conferences, specialized training for healthcare professionals, and more.

Some Quality of Life grants are funded through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( ). These grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations that address that needs of people living with paralysis caused by spinal cord and other injuries, diseases, and birth conditions, including, but not limited to, stroke, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and amyotro- phic lateral sclerosis.

The Reeve Foundation also gives special consideration to orga- nizations that serve returning wounded military and their fam- ilies, as well as to those that provide targeted services to diverse cultural communities.

As a general rule, grants are not awarded for operating costs (i.e., rent, utilities, etc.), nor are they awarded for start- up organizations. Multiple-year grants are not awarded. Grants are not awarded to individuals. Quality of Life grants are most often awarded to nonprofit organizations that have 501(c)(3) status, but may also be awarded to community parks, schools, veteran's hospitals, tribal entities, etc. Most Quality of Life grants are awarded within the United States, although the Reeve Foundation does award a small number of grants to nonprofit organizations based outside the U.S.

Grants are awarded in two cycles per year. The first cycle opens on or about January 2 and the second cycle opens on or about July 1. The application deadlines are March 1 and September 1, respectively.

Application submission periods and deadlines are subject to change when necessary. Check the foundation Web site for com- plete program information and updates.

RFP Link:

Sunday, February 01, 2009

How To Plan Out This Year's Grant Seeking...

Especially due to this economy, create a plan now for your grant seeking for this and next fiscal year.

Before your write up the plan, talk with the program manager at your nearest community foundation and ask them what they are hearing from grant donors. Are grant donors concerned that they won't be able to grant much during this year, or are some smaller foundations even wondering if they'll be able to continue donating grants, at all? Talk to colleagues working at other nonprofits, in the geographic region that your organization serves, and ask them what their organization is planning to expect in this year's economy. If you have established relationships (or if one of your board members has a relationship) with a foundation or other grant donor who's given to your agency, recently, call and ask one of their program managers what they are doing in this economy and if they have any advice for grant recipients.

Then do some research. Call your nearest United Way and ask them if they have a report on grants giving trends in the region for the past year. You could also ask the librarian at your public library's reference desk for the most recent philanthropy, nonprofit, donations, etc. studies. You do not need to find the giving trends for organizations who do similar work as yours', only. Looking at the overall granting trend for your geographic region will be informative on a high level so that you can see the general giving trend (up, down, or the same). Local and national professional nonprofit affiliations, such as The Foundation Center, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Association of Fundraising Professionals, etc. often conduct their own studies for both national trends, but also trends in specific regions of the United States. If you are having a difficult time finding local studies or information, in your region, research the information with one of these organizations. If the most recent information that you can locate is for 2007, that's OK. Use it for now, but be sure to add the 2008 granting trend for your region, to your grant seeking planning for this year, when it comes out (maybe a few to six months from now). If you want, you can include statistics of granting in your region from 2006 to give a truer snapshot of the trend locally, in your region.

Talk with the people who are designing and managing the programs or services that your nonprofit provides per its mission. Ask what their needs are this year. What funds do they still need to raise to pay for these programs? How much of that are they hoping to raise from grants? [Hopefully, they have already developed the budgets for any new programs or projects and have also determined a few different methods they'll use to raise all the necessary money].

Finally, talk with the fundraising volunteers and staff. Make sure that they are aware of the programs and service managers' plans, needs, and goals. Also, discuss your research findings with them. Tell them what you've heard from colleagues working for other nonprofits, foundations, recent grant donors, etc. Tell them, too, what trending you are seeing in the rate (or amounts) given in grants, to nonprofits in your region, over the past two or three years. Sit down with them and sketch out a realistic (based on your research, your organization's own receipts trends over the past two years, how much in grants the organization will need to raise this year, etc.).

Review who you've applied to before (whether they donated a grant or not). Then review whether those grant donors are still potential possible grant donors to your organization (by reviewing each grant donor's current giving guidelines and comparing those to where your organization serves, what it provides, and deadlines, etc.). Also, look for new potential grant avenues. Is there a new foundation in the area that your organization may apply to (again, depending upon whether their giving guidelines indicate they'd be interested in giving to your group). To understand how to locate grant donors who will give to your nonprofit read, How Do I Prepare To Find Foundations Who Will Fund Us?

Also read Top 10 Ways To Find A Grant Donor Who Will Give To Your Nonprofit

Plan out which foundation your organization will apply to this year. Plan out how many applications your agency will submit, this year, to raise whatever amount it needs (default to sending more than less, this year). Determine which grant donor you will approach for which funding need (do not apply to one foundation twice at one time). Strategize, here. For instance, if a foundation gives in larger amounts, generally, and you have one program that requires a larger amount and another program that requires a comparatively smaller amount, apply to that donor for the larger need - base your decision on whom to apply to, for what, on their recent giving. In order to learn how to find out any grant donor's recent giving practices read, The Grant Writers Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 Post 1 of 2
Click on the link to part 2 of this post, at the bottom of Post 1.

Set your grant seeking plan into motion. Dedicate a calendar that sits on the wall in the fundraising office to grant seeking, only. Write down each grant donor's deadline on the calendar. Figure how much time it will take to mail, e-mail, or overnight deliver your application to each foundation and back up that many days or weeks, before, and set deadlines, for each grant donor, indicating when you must have that grant donor's application package done and ready to be sent. Stick to those deadlines! Get everything that any potential donor requires or requests, and do not give them more than what they request.

Build contingency plans into your grant seeking plan. For instance, if you need $5,000 to provide parkas to low income children, don't just apply to one potential grant donor for $5,000. Apply to several grant donors who indicate in their giving guidelines that they would be interested in funding that type of program, serving the geographic region that your agency does, and for the cause or issue that your mission serves. If a potential donor doesn't indicate, in their giving guidelines, these three basic requirements it is probably not worth your organization's time, money, and resources to apply to them. Be sure that you spend money, in this economy, where the likelihood for positive results is highest.

Grants for the Arts; Film, Dance, and Theatre

[Please help us. We at The Grant Plant, LLC want to understand what nonprofits need from the services that they hire, today, given the economy; so please take our short survey. We will use the results to retool how we work with organizations and also publish a white paper with the results. Click on: Nonprofit Needs Survey. We are grateful for your time. Thank you.]

From The Foundation Center...

href=The Princess Grace Foundation-USA ( ) has announced the availability of applications for the 2009 Princess Grace Awards in Theater, Playwriting, Dance Performance, Chore- ography, and Film. Founded in 1982, the foundation is dedicated to identifying and assisting emerging artists in theater, dance, and film, and has awarded grants totaling over $5 million to nearly five hundred individuals across the United States.

Theater Awards take the form of scholarships, apprenticeships, and fellowships. Grants are awarded based on the quality of the emerging artists' past work, their potential for future excel- lence, and the impact the collaboration between the nominating organization and the artist will have on the individual's artis- tic growth. The Playwriting Award includes a residency at New Dramatists, Inc. in New York City. Individuals may submit an unproduced, unpublished full-length play for consideration.

(Deadline: March 31, 2009.)

Dance Performance Awards take the form of scholarships and fel- lowships. Awards are based on the applicant's artistic merit, significance of the award to her/his current artistic develop- ment, and the potential for future excellence and impact on the field. Choreography Fellowships offer emerging choreographers the opportunity to create a new work with a company with which they have little experience. (Deadline: April 30, 2009.)

Film Scholarships, awarded to both undergraduate and graduate students, are by invitation only. Universities, colleges, and schools are invited to recommend applicants via their Department Chairs or Deans. Film scholarships provide funding toward the filmmaker's thesis film. A complete list of accepted schools is in the FAQs of the Grants Program section at the foundation's Web site. (Deadline: June 1, 2009.)

Award amounts generally range from $5,000 to $25,000 each, based on expenses for annual salary or artistic fee, tuition, or thesis project costs. All award applicants must be U.S. citizens or have permanent resident status at the time of application. Additionally, all applicants (except playwriting) must be nominated by a non- profit organization (school or company) with which they will be affiliated during the grant period (September 2009 to August 2010).

For further information and applications, visit the foundation's Web site.

RFP Link: