Sunday, April 26, 2009

To Improve Your Nonprofit, Do What Nonprofits That Are Surviving This Economy Are Doing

Nonprofits who are needing and wanting to increase the services that they provide, improve those services, and increase community support (such as donations and numbers of volunteers) need to do exactly what those organizations who are surviving this down economy are doing. Successful nonprofits operate using professional nonprofit best practices.

Best practices are methods, findings after research studies, operations, and concepts that have both been used by one or more nonprofits and determined to be effective at their intended outcome. When I say that nonprofit methods, findings after studies, operations, or concepts are "determined to be effective at their intended outcome", what I mean is that the intention was to get from point A to point B and achieve or do something. The goal was to do that something (e.g. fundraise, design programs, recruit board members, etc.) in the most effective, efficient, proactive, support-inducing way possible. Why? All of the following: the less money spent on overhead or operations, the more support that can be engendered in a community, the clearer the organization's vision is when expressed to the community the more that is done, by the nonprofit, that will increase the organization's visibility and accessibility in the community, through this one single action, the better for the beneficiaries of the nonprofit's work. This amplified outcome of one action, conducted using today's best practices, increases the outcome (per the organization's goals) beyond the need to get from A to B, while costing less than' just doing things the way we've always done them just because that's how we do them'. That amplitude is a huge asset to a nonprofit because notoriously, nonprofits have less resources, liquidity, or boots on the ground. Yet, so much can be done beyond the one task, if best practices are utilized. Best practices are called such because they've been found to not just work better for one nonprofit, but for many, if not all nonprofits that have implemented them. Best practices are tried and repeated professional methods to conduct all of the different kinds of work that any nonprofit must do to operate (e.g. design programs, recruit board members and volunteers, raise community support and buy - in, etc.). Nonprofits of all ages, sizes, from start up to long established organizations benefit from operating through best practices. There is no minimum requirement for any organization to operate better, succeed more, and be more efficient!

Now, consider the last time that you donated. Think about the last time that you donated a donation to a nonprofit other than the nonprofit that you work with. It's important that you do this exercise thinking about a donor experience with another nonprofit. Take three minutes and do this exercise by answering the following 5 questions, on a piece of paper. After, reflect on your answers and ask yourself the final 2 questions, below.
Donor Experience Exercise:
1. Why did you give a donation to THAT specific nonprofit? List all of the reasons that you can think of.
2. What did you think or understand that your money would do and go to? Why did you think that? Again, list all of the reasons that you can.
3. After you donated did you get a thank you and confirmation that your donation was received AND spent or used?
4. If so, was the donation used or spent as you thought it would be?
5. Based on this one donor experience, will you give to that nonprofit, again? If yes, why? If no, why not? Again, list all reasons.

Now that you've finished these five questions of this exercise, ask yourself the following two, based on the answers to the above five questions.
1. Do you still see the nonprofit, now, the same was as you did before you donated? This next question is extremely important - if yes, why? Or, if no, why? The lesson in answering this question is to learn that every time anyone outside a nonprofit interacts with a nonprofit - it is an opportunity to engender and retain some one's buy in who supports the organization's work, sees that the need in the community that the nonprofit serves is real and unmet, and is willing to give. This kind of community support CAN NOT be squandered. No nonprofit can afford to take their donors' (or volunteers') contributions lightly or without thanks. Without community a nonprofit will fail because no nonprofit can survive in a void. A nonprofit organization's successes, therefore, are also its' donors', volunteers', and community partners' successes.

2. Did your donation go where you thought it would go? Was it used to do what you thought it would be used for? Again, if yes, how were you made aware of that? If no, is it because you were never told how your contribution was used or is it because it was not used how you thought it would be? The lesson to garner, here, is that anyone who contributes anything is offering their support with an assumption that it will be used towards the goal of the organization's work for the mission statement. If you are spending most money on overhead expense, you're alienating contributors. Or, if you are not letting donors, volunteers, and community partners know what their assistance does or has done - you are not ensuring confidence, further interest in supporting your group again, or community buy in. These could be engendered by simply sending a clear, thoughtful, and explanatory note or letter; or even placing a 'thank you' ad in the local paper or your newsletter. The one time support but also the likelihood for further support, in the future, is invaluable to any nonprofit. [End of the Donor Exercise]

The following is the Top 10 ways to conduct your organization according to best practices. This kind of operation leads to more success more often, and helps nonprofits weather down economies better than other nonprofits, not using best practices.

10. Contact the press and media within the community each and every time your organization meets a benchmark in the organization's work, achieves programmatic successes, or raises unprecedented support. Tooting your horn when your organization succeeds engenders confidence in the organization's leadership, confidence that the agency is succeeding at its work and meeting the need in the community that it exists to, and that the nonprofit isn't failing or closing any time soon. No one wants to donate to a nonprofit that has operations, fundraising, or programs problems. Communities support success.
9. Share your organization's name, work, and recent achievements and successes every chance that you have the floor in front of folks outside of the agency. Make sure that you staff, board, and other representatives know their personal elevator speeches about your organization and use them often and regularly. It's the best free PR and marketing that there is.
8. Succeed at and regularly evaluate and improve your agency's programs and services.
7. Listen to the beneficiaries of your nonprofit's work. If there is a new or recently new need in their world that is related to your nonprofit's mission but you aren't taking note or hearing them - your nonprofit and its work are already outdated and that is potentially lethal for any organization that needs its community's support to survive. Make sure that your agency is meeting a real unmet need in the community. Be current and relevant. Take note of reputable and recent studies' findings in your agency's profession. Note what recent articles are stating about the beneficiaries. Finally, always ask for the beneficiaries' feedback and don't just "listen" to them; HEAR them.
6. There is no "me" or "mine" in the word "nonprofit". Be sure that as a leader or as the executive running the organization, you have separated yourself from the nonprofit. Each legal nonprofit is its own stand-alone entity (as the IRS has given it its official nonprofit designation, its own tax identification number, and as it is a legal employer as any for-profit company is). You, and no one owns, is entitled to, or is due any 'ownership' or entitlement because they may have founded or because they run the organization. Each nonprofit is the 'property' of no one and exists in its own right, with its own future, only beholden to achieve success in the community by succeeding at its mission statement. It's leadership should be singularly focused on mission success and what is in the best interest of the nonprofit per its mission statement, and not on any one or few people. Entitled leadership must get out of their own way so that they can conduct the nonprofit professionally, ethically, and such that the organization is instead all about the community that empowers the nonprofit to succeed (it isn't about you or your friend or family).
5. Recruit the best and provide for them and empower them so that they stay. Recruitment and retention of excellent board members, volunteers, and staff is one of the best ways to strengthen a nonprofit's future. With talent, experience, credentials, connections, and potential - any nonprofit (again, of any size or age) can grow and achieve successes in all aspects of its operations. In any economy, but especially during a down economy, a nonprofit's credibility, mission success, and ability to engender confidence is EVERYTHING. These three attributes, when obtained, are invaluable to raise more and better support, volunteers, access, and more.
4. Operate the organization transparently. Provide truth in accounting and share financials and tax returns to allow potential donors and community collaborators that your organization is honest, efficient, professional, and open. No one wants to invest or support a shady nonprofit. Transparency provides an opportunity to engender confidence in how your agency is run.
3. See the volunteers, donors, staff, clientele or beneficiaries, and board members of a whole community. Each nonprofit forms a community of its own. The community that causes the nonprofit to exist, operate, and succeed is, actually, a team. Without the team (or community) no nonprofit can succeed. You need them to operate and grow, and the community needs the nonprofit's successes and achievements to meet the unmet need in the community that it serves.
2. Get out of the office. As the executive director, board or head staff member of a nonprofit's department - it is important that you give the nonprofit's name, work, and achievements a voice within the community. Network, consider potential co-collaborators or partners in your work, provide potential donors with information and answer their questions, listen to others so that you are aware of what other nonprofits are doing (for example, to survive this economy), and make sure that others have your card.
1. Succeed. If your agency is not succeeding at the work of its mission it may be time for training, re-evaluating the need in the community, re-evaluating the organization's work, or to fire and hire new talent, or more. Know the mission. Foster a culture of mission-based decision making (not decision making based on insecurities, limits, unwillingness to try new things, ego, personal agendas, entitlement, etc.). Be sure that the leadership has provided a clear and current mission-based vision for the organization. Plan ahead, staff and implement, review expected outcomes to compare them against participants' feedback, evaluate results, and make improvements and repeat. The only thing that a nonprofit exists to do is to provide real excellent solutions to unmet problems.

To learn best practices, read this post to get leads on what reputable good resources exist Some Free Resources...

Funding for Organizations Accelerating Developing Non- or Minimally Invasive for Monitoring Brain Tumors' Responses to Therapies

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: June 15, 2009

Brain Tumor Funders' Collaborative Announces New Funding Opportunity

The eight North American private funding organizations comprising the Brain Tumor Funders' Collaborative have announced a new initiative aimed at accelerating development of non- or minimally-invasive methods for monitoring if, when, and how human brain tumors respond to investigational therapies.

BTFC's primary goal is bridging the "translational gap" that can prevent promising laboratory findings from yielding new medical treatments.

BTFC will provide up to ten one-year grants of up to $100,000 to facilitate projects working to design, develop, test, and validate non- or minimally-invasive response markers. Following review of each funded project's progress, the BTFC may provide additional support as warranted to projects demonstrating the greatest likelihood of continued success in bringing new tools into widespread use.

BTFC anticipates that proposals submitted in response to this RFP may comprise a broad span across the research spectrum. The program is willing to consider promising but as of yet completely novel and untested approaches as well as proposals requesting funding for more developed approaches requiring final feasibility testing, or validation in brain tumor patients, or demonstrations of generalizability across sites.

Proposals can be initiated by either researchers or clinicians. Grant contracts will be negotiated with a single U.S.-based 501(c)(3) institution or equivalent Canadian institution identified as the sponsoring institution.

Complete program details are available at the Brain Tumor Funders Web site.

Link to Complete RFP

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Are Leadership Donations?

There are various kinds of leadership donations. They are each very helpful not in just raising larger amounts at one time, in and of the leader donation, but also helpful in raising others' donations. This is why these are referred to as leadership donations.

One kind of leadership donation is given by a nonprofit's board of directors or board of trustees. Often it is the case that anyone who joins the board must either raise or give, themselves, some specific amount, each year. Usually, this required amount is beyond or outside of any fundraising they do for annual fundraising events or major donor fundraising. These kinds of donations weather some economic difficulties better than others because typically, board members' level of dedication to an organization and its mission-based work, is high.

For example, perhaps you and I work for The Cloud Conservancy and work in the fundraising department. Each year, one of the various different fundraising methods that The Cloud Conservancy (TCC) includes in its fundraising or development plan is the board's leadership donations. TCC requires anyone who sits on the board to either raise or contribute, themselves, (or a combination of the two) $5,000 each year. Each board member's progress in their $5,000 annual contribution raised or donated is something that you and I, working in the fundraising department, monitor and report on throughout the year. We have 13 board members, at TCC, and that means that we have $65,000 in income built into the fiscal budget, year in and year out. It's built in, because the board is of course the nonprofit's leadership.

Getting to my point in the opening paragraph, more comes from board raised/contributed annual donations than just the amount that they raise. Our example organization has $65,000 in income, as a line item in its annual operating budget, because its 13 board members are expected to raise, contribute, or a combination of the two $5,000, beyond all other fundraising methods used, each year. The level of commitment, confidence, internal buy-in, and credibility that board contributions demonstrate are powerful when used in fundraising, outside of the nonprofit. In the budget of any program, project, or expense that the board contributions are directed to, annually, must include the portion of the board contributions that will be spent on that program in the "Income" section. If, for example, we are applying for grants for this particular program, we will include this program's budget in the grant proposal, and the grant donor will see in the budget that the organization isn't just asking them for a grant, it's asking the grant donor to contribute along with the organization's leadership's own contributions. When a nonprofit indicates to any potential donor (grant donor, major donor, potential sponsor, etc.) that the nonprofit's own leadership is so vested and confident that they are contributing, too, it gives the organization and the project (and the potential successful outcome of the organization's mission work and the project goals) credibility. Especially in a difficult economy, like ours' today, credibility is a major asset when fundraising. Make sure, if your organization requires leadership contributions from its board, that donors (especially potential donors asked to give in larger amounts) are made aware of your board's dedication and leadership in their own giving.

Another kind of leadership donation, which is similar to the board contribution, is a leadership donation when a nonprofit is conducting any one particular fundraiser and a donor gives to the fundraiser in a large amount. Let's say, for example, that while working at TCC we hold a college scholarship fundraiser, annually, called College for Cloud Lovers. The annual event that we use to raise money for the scholarship fund is a friendly matching funds 'competition'. [Leadership donations can come out of any kind of fundraising method - it is not limited to matching funds or matching funds competitions). We send letters to our donors, release press releases via various kinds of local media, notify people via our website and newsletter, and our organization's leaders (board and executive director) are talking with people face to face asking them to contribute with single larger donations which they then ask a colleague or friend to match (the amount) by a certain day (maybe six months away). So, let's say that we've begun this year's campaign and we have a contribution from Blue Skies Corporation of $5,000 and they asked their colleagues (and friendly competitors) Big Skies Guys to match their contribution and also give $5,000 to TCC, and Big Skies did! So, we've already raised $10,000 in matching contributions! Now, these were both leaders, in the community, because this year they were the first to contribute in larger amounts. Since we started we've had individual donors, local people, families, and small business also contributing and challenging their friends to match their contributions. From individual donors, for this campaign, we've already raised $8,000. This is all equally as appreciated, donation by donation that comes in, too. But, the exceptionally larger amounts that Blue Skies Corp. and Big Skies Guys gave were leaders in the community to give at that increment. Similar to the credibility that a larger contribution from the board brings to a nonprofit, when entities outside of the nonprofit give in larger, one time; large donations in response to fundraising campaigns give the nonprofit credibility because the donation indicates community buy-in, but community buy-in from one local donor brings the nonprofit the opportunity to leverage the leadership donation. Once a donor steps up and says 'here' s a large contribution', in effect, 'because we know that this organization's work is really needed in the community and we think that this is the organization to do the best work on this issue' - you and I should be making sure that all of the other potential donors in our community know about their leadership, that we value it, and that this is the kind of community buy-in our scholarship (program) and organization has. Again...this is credibility.

Leadership donations are truly specifically leaders' tools in our nonprofits' communities. Leadership donations do not come from a vacuum. Marketing a nonprofit's successes, achievements, having credentialed accomplished people involved, and the need in the community that the organization is serving, and serving very well is a way to make it easier for potential donors to learn about your agency, consider giving, but, most importantly, then decided to give. Who wouldn't invest (with their contribution) in an organization that local major donors believe in, also? Leadership donations are powerful for the organization, beyond the amount given.

Grants for Arts, Reading, and Family Violence Prevention Community Programs from Target

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: May 31, 2009

Target Stores Accepting Applications for Arts, Literacy, and Family Violence Prevention Grants

Target offers store grants to support nonprofit programs that impact the arts, early childhood reading, and family violence prevention in the locations where the company does business.

Arts Grants are awarded to programs that bring the arts to schools or make the arts accessible to children and families, such as school touring programs, field trips to the theater or symphony, or artist's residencies and workshops in schools. Programs that make the arts accessible to school children are of particular interest.

Early Childhood Reading Grants support programs that foster a love of reading and encourage children, from birth through age nine, to read together with their families.

Family Violence Prevention Grants support programs that strengthen families and communities by keeping them safe. Target store grants support nonprofit programs that help prevent family violence, such as parenting classes and family counseling. Grants may also provide assistance for support groups and abuse shelters.

Most grants average between $1,000 and $3,000 each. Applicants may be 501(c)(3) organizations or schools, libraries, or public agencies.

Target only accepts grant applications online. Visit the company's Web site for complete program guidelines and application.

Link to Complete RFP

Sunday, April 12, 2009

How to Write the Organizational Description In A Grant Application

For each grant donor (foundation, government, etc.) that you apply for - always be sure to locate and read over the donor's giving guidelines, website (if they have one), and their most recent IRS tax form 990 (which can be located on to understand what the donor accepts grant applications to fund (which cause(s) they are funding, what kinds of programs and projects they fund, and in what geographic regions do they fund organizations' work). If any of their interests, or what or where they fund do not match up with what your organization is proposing to do in the location it will do it - you are not finished prospecting and should perhaps find a grant donor that is more closely aligned (in its interests in what types of organizations it grants to) with what your nonprpofit is doing.

If, in any of the potential donor's literature they request specific information be included in or omitted from the grant proposals submitted to them, always follow their direction. Each foundation is different from the next and each grant donor will want something different from the next grant donor during the application process. Streamline, tailor, and form each grant application, individually, according to each potential grant donor's requests, recent giving history, and requirements.

In general, when writing about your nonprofit's organizational history, it is best to include the following:
__ How the organization came to be
__ What the organization's mission is
__ Why your organization, specifically, is needed right now to address the need in the community that it does
__ What programs, services, research, (etc.) your organization provides, how this offering is key to your organization's mission statement (demonstrating how your agency's mission statement is provided to the community)
__ What the beneficiary population's demographics are (demonstrating the real current need in the community that your organization serves). At another place in the grant proposal you will fully discuss the beneficiary population - so do not go into detail, here, about it. Here, do make it clear what is so necessary about serving this population right now).
__ Provide (do not go into great detail, though,) any recent awards, officially granted accolades, achievements, organizational successes above and beyond, etc.
__ Provide the credentials, expertise, and longevity of experience any and all of the key leaders or the organization's programs designer(s) have
__ You may choose to finish this section of the grant proposal with a clear but short description of the agency's current vision, its new goals, and where its heading (and why).

For each of the suggested contents, above, always be concise, clear, and compelling. Never lie, exaggerate, or leave the truth. Be confident, instead, in the work that the organization is doing, has done, and why it is needed today. To do so - make it clear and easy to understand: why anyone would be wise to invest in your nonprofit by sharing its potential, successes, and achievements by providing achievements, listing your expert and credentialed professionals running the programs, demonstrating your agency's regular and ongoing successes, and the best way to demonstrate to any potential donor (including a grant donor) that your agency is run professionally, ethically, and according to best practices is through the financials, recent audit, the list of your current board members, etc. which won't have to spell out all of the excellence, but rather demonstrate it through the picture they, combined, create of your agency. For more grant proposal writing tips read my post, Grant Proposal Writing Tips

Keep in mind, when writing the organizational description section of the grant proposal, that some content that goes into that section will also be written about in other sections of the grant proposal and there they will probably be more expanded and fleshed out in more detail. For each and every section of the grant proposal - only include information and write about that included information in a way that is to the point of the section it is included in (be concise). In other words - be sure you're clear, before you describe the organization you know why any and all of the content that will be included in that section of the document must be included in that section and how and why it speaks to the description of the organization. Stick, in this section, to the relevant content that you develop.

This segment of the grant proposal may also be an opportunity for you to include how your nonprofit's work ties into the current granting goals of the grant donor organization's mission statement. Again, be short, to the point, but relevant, and compelling.

As you should in all content in the proposal, be sure to write a few drafts. Ask a friend who is also a good writer to read, mark up, and return the most recent draft. Take time, write, give yourself a break, re-read, edit, and then write another draft. Be sure to give yourself enough time to do all of this, prior to the proposal due date. Make sure that it is not a difficult document to read, everything that the potential donor requests is included, extraneous information has been cut, the document is pleasant to read, it is formatted clearly and again according to the grant donor's giving guidelines.

Take writing about the organization, itself, as an opportunity to demonstrate the quality, success, potential your organization offers to anyone in the community who is considering supporting it. Demonstrate these strong and enticing qualities through your organization's doings, goals, and strengths.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Award for Researchers Working On New Directions In Water Quality

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: June 1, 2009

Water Environment Research Foundation Offers Funding for Water Quality Research

The Water Environment Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization that manages independent scientific research on water quality concerns affecting the environment and human health, is offering $100,000 through the Paul L. Busch Award to encourage researchers working in waste water, water reuse, bio-solids, storm water, watersheds, and other areas to use their imagination, take risks, and explore new directions for addressing ongoing water quality issues.

Recent award recipients have addressed concerns such as maintaining healthy community waters in which people fish, swim, and play; and improving energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gasses and improve air quality. Past awards are supporting research on the effective removal of endocrine disrupting compounds in waste streams, the creation of self-sustaining microbial fuel cell-based waste water treatment facilities, and the fate of nanomaterials in waste water treatment systems.

The WERF Endowment for Innovation in Applied Water Quality Research grants the award to an individual or team. Utilities, universities, environmental firms, and others conducting water quality research or engineering work are encouraged to apply. Applicants may self-nominate or be nominated by a third party.

Interested individuals or teams should visit the WERF Web site for complete program information.

Link to Complete RFP

Sunday, April 05, 2009

What Does A Nonprofit Do When A Foundation Only Accepts Grant Applications By Invitation? I'll Tell You...

Today, grant donors such as foundations (community, public, and private) are equally effected by our slowed economy. As such, they are attempting different survival tactics designed to either keep their foundation operating or to be able to pay debts after it folds. Some foundations have become programs of other foundations. Other foundations have merged, and still others closed.

One tactic that is unfortunately more prevalent right now among foundations (perhaps more than ever before) is foundations that use to accept funding inquiries from any nonprofit organization, during any giving cycle, are now accepting letters of inquiry or grant applications only from those nonprofits that they have either given grants to, before, or from nonprofits that they have recently invited to apply for a grant. In other words, right now, it is unfortunately common for foundations to only allow those nonprofits who they know to apply for their grant. This is a difficult turn of events for nonprofits that these foundations are not yet aware of, and also for start up nonprofits. It would seem to be a closed door in the way of raising grant money.

For nonprofits who are new to grant writing this is a tough economy to begin grant writing (and organizations new to grant writing may be start up nonprofits, in age, but can also include organizations of any age - not all well established nonprofits conduct grant writing, or have ever tried it). This apparent closed door, though, is not impossible to get beyond.

Keep in mind that foundations are in the 'business' of donating grants because they are passionate about the issue or cause that they support, they are interested in being a part of the solution and want to partner with strong nonprofits who are successful, and foundations have resources such that they are in the unique position to be able to provide funding (grants). Foundations are staffed with volunteers, founders, and employees who are not simply sitting 'on high' doling out funds. These foundations are sources of resources, research, expertise, and as such, are staffed by people very knowledgeable not just about the issue or cause that they work for, but are usually professionals in the issue/cause's professional field, connected in the professional field, and aware of which institutions, professionals, professional media, nonprofit organizations, and researchers who are players in the profession, outside of their foundation. Donors, today, are not usually passive check writers; rather they are often savvy about the cause they support and the professional field surrounding it. They have to be this diligent, even more so now, because there is such an exceptional demand for grants, today.

Donors have really modernized into a position of 'investor' (grant donors, included), today. As such, donors want to connect with real solution providers to real current problems, in our communities today. They want to give, and will donate, but only to those nonprofits who are worthy of their donation (or investment). How do they determine who is "worthy"?

Every foundation is different from the next one, and each operates (beyond legal requirements) in their own way. In general, though, like all other kinds of donors - foundations want to donate grants to nonprofits who are working on a real issue, that currently exists, by providing successful solutions that are achieving, and who operate according to professional best practices. A nonprofit that operates professionally, ethically, continually fundraises well, and that succeeds at the work of its mission statement is obviously not as risky an investment as a nonprofit that maybe fails at one or another of these attributes. Put another way, which nonprofit would you rather give a grant to? You'd want to give a grant to the nonprofit who you know is honest, run well, efficient, successful, staffed with experts, isn't going to fade away in a year, and is actually working hard on the issue it serves.

But, if after prospecting for potential grant donors your organization finds that there are a lot of foundations that you would apply to but now seem beyond your reach because they do not accept applications from just any nonprofit, you may ask how does a nonprofit apply for a grant from a foundation that is not accepting grant applications from just any nonprofit? There are several things that a nonprofit can do because all nonprofits want to expand the potential pool of donors available to them, not accept restrictions to that pool, if it can. And yes, you can.

__ Be certain that your nonprofit is regularly informing professionals, other institutions, and professional media in your organization's professional field about your nonprofit, its work, and its goals. Regularly share your organization's successes, good news, and achievements not just in your geographic community (the general public), but also with your nonprofit's professional field's colleagues. Get press releases out to both communities. Foundations' staff and volunteers network in their professional fields (like any other professionals). If local foundations haven't heard of your organization, they may ask their and your colleagues if they have, or if their colleagues know of a new or previously unknown nonprofit doing important work . If they haven't heard of your agency, either, your organization is missing on many important professional radars. These potential donors can't miss hearing about your group. Don't let this happen. To reach seemingly unreachable potential donors (of all kinds):

__ Ask your organization's board, volunteers, and staff if they have any colleagues, friends, or family working for the foundations that your agency is interested. Whether or not these foundation are restricting grant applications, you should always ask your agency if anyone knows anyone at the foundation you're considering applying to. Personal connections are invaluable. If you locate a person who works for your nonprofit that has a relationship with someone working for the foundation you're applying to, ask them to contact their contact at the foundation (preferably face to face, or over the phone), and tell them to simply share that your organization is about to apply for a grant from them, what the application will request and for what project, and make sure that the connection is made aware of your organization's name, what it does, and recent successes. There shouldn't be any pressure applied, or sales tactics used. Making sure that the connection with the potential donor knows why your organization is an excellent investment for their grant is a great initial contact conversation. Your organization stands on its own two feet, with any potential donor, when people are made aware of the unique need in the community that it serves. its ability, expertise, and achievements.

__ Market your organization from the standpoint that there is no other organization with your nonprofit's unique attributes, strengths, abilities, and successes in the cause that it works towards. Conduct regular proactive positive public relations. Make it clear that a solution can be found and delivered. Never bang potential donors or volunteers over the head with fear or painful messages to 'brutalize' them into donating or volunteering with your agency. These are emotional marketing tools, that do pack a wallop (and often we hear that the best marketing is touching people emotionally), but these emotions, in particular, do not engender a sense of ability, potential for success, or hope about your organization. These are much more effective emotions to market through because they encourage buy-in to your nonprofit, instead of leaving potential donors and volunteers, in your community, feeling hopeless, fear, or despair about the cause and any nonprofit's ability to provide a real solution for it.

__ Do not solicit any foundation by placing them onto your nonprofit's mailing list. You're more likely to tick the staff off than introduce your organization through this regular 'junk mail' barrage because they already receive a lot of mail that has to be processed. They don't need more mail. They'll just 'round file' it. Also, if a foundation only accepts grant application by invitation, do not send a letter of inquiry or grant proposal.

__ To reach the seemingly unreachable potential grant donor, call their office and ask how they learn about nonprofits that they invite to apply for grants. Depending on what the foundation's representative says, either follow through with how they prefer to be made aware of nonprofits; or do not send them anything.

__ Your agency's leadership needs to be talking with friends, family, and colleagues about your organization always. Also, your nonprofit's leadership needs to get out of the office, regularly, to network in the community. Why? Another way to reach the seemingly unreachable potential grant donor is to find out where the foundation is active in the community (e.g. annual professional conferences, local United Way meetings, local professional nonprofit affiliation's meetings, etc.), when they will be at these public gatherings, and make sure that either your agency's executive director or a board member will be there, too. Do not stock the foundation's representative(s), don't thrust a grant application into their hands, understand that many nonprofits are eager to get the foundation's staff and volunteers' attention, and imagine a professional, comfortable, unassuming way to connect with them. At any of these meetings' social mixers, your executive director or board member may simply go up, introduce themselves and your nonprofit, share its recent work and successes, and give them a card. Your nonprofit's leadership should then politely move on, perhaps follow up with an e-mail or phone call a week later, and then leave the contact alone. Again, do not stalk them. Just make sure that local donors of all kinds hear your leadership's elevator speech about your nonprofit, its work/successes, and why they think the organization is much needed. This foundation has now heard of your nonprofit! Networking of this kind, is very effective, when conducted often and perhaps tied in with current organizational marketing or public relations. Let the word about your nonprofit spread, but keep getting the word out.

__ Public Relations and Marketing do not just reach foundation staffs' ears. It reaches the entire community. Imagine the potential donors (of all kinds), potential future board members, potential volunteers, and potential community partners or collaborators this outreach reaches. It is ultimately probably going to recoup its cost but also going to be invaluable.

Don't get discouraged when you perceive a 'shut door' as you work on fundraising. Find, instead, confidence in your organization's credentials, potential, successes, and need in the community. Leave anyone who learns about your organization with a strong positive impression. Find the professional, thoughtful, non-aggressive, reasonably persistent, respectful way to get your organization's name, work, and successes in front of everyone in your agency's community. You'll reach the seemingly unreachable.

Grants for Preservation Or Conservation of Nationally Significant Artifacts, Historic Structures, or Sites

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: May 22, 2009

Applications Available for 2009 Save America's Treasures Program

The Federal Save America's Treasures program offers grants for preservation and/or conservation work on nationally significant intellectual and cultural artifacts and historic structures and sites. Intellectual and cultural artifacts include objects, collections, documents, sculpture, and works of art. Historic structures and sites include districts, buildings, areas, and structures.

Grants are awarded to federal, state, local, and tribal governments as well as nonprofit organizations through a competitive matching grant program. The program is administered by the National Park Service (NPS) in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, (IMLS) and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

In 2009, grant amounts will range from $25,000 to $700,000 each for collections, and from $125,000 to $700,000 each for historic property and sites projects. All awards must be matched on a 1:1 basis. Last year, IMLS and its partners awarded forty grants totaling $10.5 million.

Visit the NPS Web site for complete program information.

Link to Complete RFP