Monday, May 25, 2009

Be Familiar Wtih All Other Organizations Doing Similar Or Related Work To Your Nonprofit's...For Your Agency's Improved Grant Raising

When your organization applies for a grant whomever is writing the proposal will want to have a current list of all of the organizations that serve the same geographic region (city, county, state, Tribal region, country, or international) that your organization does, that also do work that is the same or similar to your nonprofit's work.

If, for instance, your nonprofit is Healthy Hounds, a nonprofit that provides food and medicine to low income families or people in need who own dogs; and it serves downtown Sacramento and the outlying suburban areas, the grant writer would want to gather a list of all nonprofits that also serve Sacramento and its greater outlying area that also provide food and medicine to low income households who own dogs. If there are none that do the exact same thing (and this is more often the case) then compile a list of other nonprofits who do similar or like work for the same geographic region. Our list may include The Humane Society, PAWS, and the ASPCA if they also operate here and do some work related to providing low income dog owners with food and medicine.

The reason that the grant writer compiles a list of like or related nonprofits serving the same region as your organization does is threefold:

__ In order to raise grants (or other money) you must be able to articulate why your organization is needed, in the community, today. All nonprofits must be current and relevant, meeting a real and as yet unmet need in the community that it serves.

__ Governments, foundations, and other grant donors, because they are passionate about the cause or issue that they fund and up to date about the issue, will often know which nonprofits are doing the same or similar work as your organization's in the region. If your organization is not making its name and successes known, or if it is not providing currently needed effective programs, or if it is not run professionally and ethically - you should assume that these other organizations are and do - and that donors know this about them. Step up your marketing and get your agency's name and successes made known. Operate your organization such that donors (who, today, are investor/stakeholders and should be seen as a partner in the organization's work) would want to support the organization. Be transparent in your reporting, be professional, be ethical and proactive, and achieve for the population or issue that your organization serves.

__ Grant donors (and other donors) appreciate nonprofits who collaborate. Collaboration creates programs with more and varied talent, lessens how often or to what degree 'the wheel is reinvented' thereby lessening overhead costs, and organizations who work together foster community rather than a competitive culture in the community which will only hurt the intended beneficiary population. Working together is always better than the risk that insecurity or a lack of cohesion amongst similar nonprofits breaking apart the community's sector that serves the same cause. Even if the program that you are currently applying for is a program that your organization is uniquely providing (and this is not a collaboration project) being able to say which other organization in the community that your agency serves is doing similar or related work and what niches they serve (in contrast to the hopefully unique niche that your organization serves) - it is good just to be able to demonstrate that your organization is aware of its place in the group of organizations working on the same cause, in the same community. It is also very powerful to simply state that even though the program you're applying for is not an intra-organization collaboration, you do work with these other organizations. For instance, it's powerful in the proposal to be able to say something like, "While we are the only organization providing food and medicine to low income dog owners in Sacramento, we are currently collaborating with PAWS and The Humane Society on two other programs; and we look forward to collaborating with the ASPCA on third separate program next year. We are proud of and have excellent working relations with each of these other major players in our community's animal welfare work." You do not ever want to disparage other organization, and you do not want to think of your organization as competing with other regional agencies because their mission is different from your organization's and therefore each of these nonprofit's are working on different pieces of the issue. This is how mission-focused work, determining upcoming programs on the beneficiary community's current and real needs, and using expected outcomes and evaluations benefits not just your organization but the beneficiary population of your organization's work. Each of your organizations (who work on the same cause) share the vision for the community (to eradicate it of the trigger causing the issue your organization is working on) and also share the interest in the best for the beneficiary population. These two shared attributes can bring any two or more organizations to a table to at least talk. Talk can lead to collaboration.

Keeping the list of similar or related organizations up to date will not just help your organization in its grant writing (and other fundraising). It will keep you in touch with what work is being done in your community in the same cause as your organization serves, it will keep you up to date on colleagues' work in the professional field, and it will provide your organization's leadership with a sense of what, in total, is being provided to your agency's beneficiary population. This kind of information is enabling for your nonprofit and empowering for the beneficiaries that your organization serves.

Grants for Science Or Technology Films Being Commercially Produced

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: July 6, 2009

Film Independent Accepting Applications for Sloan Foundation Producers Grant

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will award one participant of Film Independent's Producers Lab the second annual Sloan Producers Grant.

The winner will receive a $25,000 development grant, admission to Film Independent's 2009 Producers Lab, and year-round support from Film Independent. The grant is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which seeks to create and develop new scripts and films about science and technology and to see them into commercial production with national and international distribution.

To apply for the Sloan Producers Grant, the filmmaker must apply to the 2009 Producers Lab and indicate in their letter that they wish to be considered for the Sloan Grant. To be eligible for the Sloan grant the applicant must be attached as producer and possess the rights to the script with which they are applying. The screenplay should have a scientific, mathematical, and/or technological theme and storyline or have a leading character who is a scientist, engineer, or mathematician. The Producers Lab requires an application fee ($55 for Film Independent members, and $75 for non-members).

For further information, visit the Film Independent Web site.

Link to Complete RFP

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Newsletters Allow Noprofits Repeat Access to Donors and Volunteers...And More...

You may already think that you've fully tapped out all of the potential that a newsletter can do for your nonprofit. Perhaps you have! In case, though, you are looking for new ways to raise support, consider the following...

Nonprofit organizations are faced, today, with the question whether they should provide newsletters perhaps in a way they never have been, before. There is the question about whether or not it is prudent to print on paper anymore. Similarly, some organizations struggle with whether to create both a print edition of a given newsletter, or whether a newsletter should only be made available online to forgo printing and mailing costs.

There are ethical considerations such as whether or not the organization will allow advertising in their newsletter and if they will, is any type of advertiser allowed to advertise or should their be restrictions? For instance, some nonprofit boards of schools may be concerned with their students' health and decide against allowing soda makers, fast food makers, or other nutritionally questionable food makers' advertising. For more about this consideration read "Are There Really Grants Our Organization May Not (Want To) Take?"

Very simply put, these kinds of considerations (whether one option is better for your organization over the other) are only the decisions that a nonprofit's leadership can make because every organization is unique. One organization may have conducted a marketing study and determined that a newsletter in both a print and online edition will allow them to achieve their planned new donor campaign this coming year. Perhaps another nonprofit is so familiar with its constituency and supporters that it knows that most of them have daily access to the Internet, beyond any campus or work network constraints, and can regularly access a web-based newsletter online any time. It may make more sense for that organization, then, to end its print newsletter edition. My point, here, is do not make any drastic decisions (such as ending one version of a newsletter over another) without fully weighing all of the considerations. Can your nonprofit's supporters (volunteers, donors, community collaborators) or your agency's beneficiaries (clients, etc.) access the one (or both) version(s) of the newsletter that you currently provide? If they can, would any segment of these key stakeholders lose access to information about your organization's latest work and current goals if you removed one version of the newsletter? Would as yet untapped market that your organization wishes to access be able to get information about your organization easier if you provided both versions? If you answer 'yes' or 'no' to any of these questions - how do you know your answer is correct? Have you conducted a study? Have your constituents and clients been requesting something other than what your organization provides, today? Do not just make snap decisions from the hip. Give this kind of decision making some real substance to help your leaders make the best choice for the organization.

Keep in mind the following:
__ Newsletters do not have to be of any specific quality (e.g. ten printed pages on glossy high end paper in three colors). They do need, though, to be legible, relevant, well written, and of value to the recipients. Know who the recipients are, how each stakeholder that is a recipient connects with your agency and 'meet them there' (where they are, or what interests (connects) them to the organization) in each newsletter.

__ Creating both virtual (web based) and print newsletters takes having someone on staff or a consultant that has key skills and knows specific software and print requirements. If you do not currently offer a newsletter, but your organization is considering it, conduct a cost benefit analysis and gather current pricing for all services, steps, and needed supplies that are involved. Weigh those against the anticipated benefits (e.g. more donors, a more informed and connected community base, etc.).

__ In a newsletter your organization can acknowledge and thank recent donors, it can inform current donors (who receive the newsletters) what work is being planned out that they may want to give donations for, specifically, and it offers local businesses advertising or sponsorship options. Perhaps a local hardware store would love to advertise their new 'user friendly' line of tools to your elderly but active clientele? Similarly, besides letting community supporters know what work your organization is about to do, or what fundraisers they may attend or help with, you can list what specific office supplies, office equipment, or new and unused items your organization needs for itself or the beneficiaries of your nonprofit's work.

__ Volunteers can be informed, through a newsletter, what the organization's new volunteer needs are, thank the current volunteers, and help to recruit new volunteers by providing those who are considering volunteering with a succinct but clear 'snapshot' of what it is like to volunteer with your organization (perhaps through pictures of volunteers working at a recent event, or a 'meet this month's volunteer of the month' segment).

__ A newsletter is a terrific place to demonstrate community buy in and making sure that any companies who sponsor a fundraising event or volunteer their expertise or services are listed in the following newsletter isn't just good for their image in the community. It helps nonprofits demonstrate, particularly to major donors (e.g. grant donors), that the community very much believes in what the nonprofit is doing and financially supports it.

__ When your organization needs to recruit new talent such as new staff member or a new board member, a newsletter is an excellent way to get the word out to the people who are actively involved in one way, or another, with the organization.

__ In each newsletter always include a donation remittance envelope. Recipients should not be expected to give, after receiving a newsletter, but some may use it as a time indicator to give regularly. Others may give after being moved by a specific piece about the organization's beneficiaries and how lives are being improved.

__ Leftover newsletters are handy current 'brochures' or marketing materials that can be given to anyone who is considering becoming involved with the organization in any way (volunteer, donor, client, collaborator in the community, etc.). Include them, for instance, in staff or board recruitment packages.

__ A compiled notebook of each newsletter, over time, forms a tome of an organization's public-facing interaction and so, in this way, recent but past newsletters, are an excellent barometer for an organization to evaluate its own messaging and how it communicates with its community. Similarly, a nonprofit can try out new styles or messaging and compare these new features against the response the newsletter elicits in all of the different type of recipients (donors, clients, volunteers, etc.) and gauge which is more successful than others.

__ A newsletter is a regular way to put your organization's name and work in front of its supporters, donors, volunteers, etc. as often as your issue your newsletters. If you consider that most Americans do not like phone solicitations and that online fundraising, studies show, is not replacing traditional fundraising methods any time soon (such as appeal letters, face to face asks, donation remittance envelopes, etc.), then having a regular noninvasive way to access your organization's supporters is genius.

Some organizations also consider who should receive a newsletter and where is the line to decide who should and who shouldn't. That varies, again, from organization to organization. You must consider what the newsletter can raise in your current donors, your current volunteers, and potential new community collaborators or other stakeholders. Then, you must weigh this against how much it costs to create, fold, and mail one newsletter to one person. This kind of cost/benefit analysis can help your organization's executive director decide people who donate at a minimum of $10 a year or more can receive the newsletter for the year. Or, perhaps there is such a large number of recipients that the cost is so diluted that it is worth sending anyone who donates or volunteers with your organization a newsletter.

One of the best ways to keep your donors, volunteers, and other newsletter recipients happy is to have a certain way (that works) to be sure that those people who specifically request that they not receive a newsletter do not. You always want to work with the people who support your organization. Many donor/donation databases provide the option, for each donor or volunteer in the database, to include or cancel their inclusion in a mailing list for a newsletter. To understand better how to care for (or develop) donors read Your Nonprofit Needs Cash Flow. That Means Your Nonprofit Needs Its Individual Donors. Take Great Care of Each One

Award for Nonprofit Innovation

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: July 1, 2009

Drucker Institute Seeks Applications for Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation

The Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University has announced a call for applications for the 2009 Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation.

Administered annually since 1991, the Drucker Award is granted to a social-sector organization that demonstrates Peter F. Drucker's definition of innovation — change that creates a new dimension of performance. In addition, the judges look for programs that are highly effective and have made a difference in the lives of the people they serve.

Applicant organizations must have nonprofit 501(c)(3) status. The program submitted for consideration must have made a difference in the lives of people it serves, exemplify innovation by demonstrating a new dimension of performance, and have specific and measurable outcomes.

With support from the Coca-Cola Foundation, this year's first-place prize has been increased to $100,000, up from the $35,000 awarded in previous years. The second-place prize is $7,500, and the third-place prize is $5,000. The winners of this year's competition will also be recognized at a gala dinner in Los Angeles in the fall, preceded by a one-day conference on innovation in the social sector.

Complete program information and application are available at the Drucker Institute Web site.

Link to Complete RFP

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Community's Confidence in A Nonprofit Is the Ultimate Key to An Organization's Future

So much of any nonprofit's leader's work is envisioning what can be. Organizations' leaders, in the very nature of their work, envision what could be better for the community, they imagine what could get done through the work of the agencies that they work for, and they imagine what could improve the world. One person may say 'I wish things were better...' but the person who works for a nonprofit and believes in the organization's mission and capabilities is actually working to 'make things better'. It is this empowerment of what is possible that is both attractive to the community that would support this nonprofit, and the hope for the community's needs, sometime the needs of the most vulnerable, the least well represented, or those without a voice where voices are needed.

In this economy we all, who work for nonprofits, have besides the normal challenges in the work to enable our organizations' missions, the additional burden of successfully fully funding our missions' programs, projects, services, and products.

The fact is nonprofits that are meeting real current community needs, through excellent programs and projects, succeeding at achieving program goals and meeting those community needs, while running the organization ethically, transparently, professionally, as guided by the mission will raise support of all kinds, today (even in this economy), as it did, yesterday. This economy will force all of us nonprofit volunteers, staff, consultants, partners, supporters, etc. to consider our organizations. Is the organization's work meeting a real need (still) and if we think that it does, is our esteemed perception of our own work in line with the community's perception of our organization (as a community's support is how a nonprofit thrives or dies)? Are we listening to and hearing the beneficiaries of our organization's work? Is the mission of the agency our first consideration, in decision making, or do we, as an organization, tend to pad decisions based on comforting egos, playing politics, fears that we harbor, or avoiding talent that is offered to our agency due to disbelief in others' abilities to be successful, too, etc.?

This kind of self-reflection upon the nonprofits that we work for is healthy, good for the agency, and excellent for the beneficiaries of the organization's work; and should be done relatively often and regularly, anyway.

The economy is forcing self reflection, in the interest in survival. If we are not doing enough or not succeeding often or do not operate the organization a a high level of nonprofit professionalism, we are not deserving of a donor's donation, or of a sponsor's support, or other community buy in. Why would this lesser quality organization beat out a better driven and successful nonprofit when competing for a $80,000 grant, for instance? The same is true of a donor who has a few nonprofits to consider when going to their checkbook, but feels confidence in one or two nonprofits, above the others.

Perhaps in a good economy it is easier to lose track of what a nonprofit exists for (and it is not for the founder, it is not to pad the resumes of the board members, it is not to expect something simply because a group of people is providing for the community). A nonprofit exists because its mission statement has a goal. No insecurities among the agency's leaders or staff, and no personal need to over-control can co-exist with the need each and all nonprofits inherently retain for their community's support (and buy in). Community buy-in is earned and retained because a nonprofit is worthy of its community's support. Not the other way around. Eventually, when a nonprofit's staff, leaders, or other supporters lose sight of why the organization is operating, or how it will survive, the lack of the right perspective catches up with the agency and may lead to its closure if these unhealthy operations, organizational hubris, etc. aren't stopped.

Not all nonprofits that close are victims of major organizational operational failures, or its leaders' failures to put the mission first, truly - but many are.

Meanwhile, those nonprofits that retain the critical asset in their leaders and staff which is creating an organizational culture of only having one guiding concern (and one 'star' among its ranks) which is the mission statement - they are sailing through the storm, weathering some bumps, but they, despite this difficult period, confidently believe the organization will come out of the storm better for the experience. And they are probably correct. It is not lost on these nonprofits' leaders the lifeblood that they have in their community's confidence in the organization. Any nonprofit that goes into a difficulty economy supported by a community that is so confident about the agency's ability, that the community knows that the organization will be around tomorrow, also has leaders who have a reason to think the same about the organization; it will be around tomorrow. This mutual confidence is no luxury. It is developed by the nonprofits' leaders, over time, through organizational excellence and success. I mean, what donor or volunteer that is confident about the nonprofit it supports is not invaluable? Giving our communities reason to feel confident about our organizations is an excellent nonprofit survival method, for this tough economy, and anything else that may create storms in the years to come.

Grants for Programs Assisting Children Who Are Either Disabled Or Uninsured

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: June 15, 2009

CVS Caremark Charitable Trust Offers Grants to Help Children With Disabilities and the Uninsured

The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, a private foundation created by CVS Caremark Corporation, focuses primarily on supporting charitable organizations that are making a difference in the lives of children with disabilities. The trust also provides resources to support organizations focused on providing health care to the uninsured.

The trust will accept applications for 2009 grants from May 1 to June 15, 2009. Funding is offered to:

1) Programs serving children with disabilities under the age of 21 that address accessibility to physical activity, early intervention, and health and rehabilitative Services.

2) Healthcare organizations that are dedicated to improving the quality of health and well-being of uninsured seniors, adults, youth, and children in the areas of pre-natal care, screening and preventative programs, better health care outcomes, and general health programs.

Applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

Visit the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust Web site for complete application information.

Link to Complete RFP

Sunday, May 03, 2009

How to Raise Grant Money, Even In This Economy...

Any organizations that are successfully raising grants, during this tough economy, are creating programs that are needed and efficient, operating their organization professionally, and succeeding at their mission thinking about what any donor/investor would want (which is what the community wants, too); the needs in the community that the organization serves are being addressed in the best possible way that they can be.

Seeking grants in today's difficult economy may seem overwhelming if you think about all of the nonprofit organizations who are also stepping up their fundraising. If, though, you consider that your organization is the only one in the world with the achievements and potential that your organization has, and meets the need in the community, that it does - then you should go about raising any kinds of support (including grants) with an eye on your own organization's successes and abilities.

In order to seriously compete for a grant, today, keep confident about your organization's potential and review the following and consider each about your agency:

__ Are the nonprofit's programs, services, products, etc. current? When is the last time that you reviewed the latest needs among the population or community that your organization serves? Are the organization's projects serving the current need in the community? Hear the beneficiaries of your agency's work after regularly asking 'what need do you have today' and listen. For any of their unmet needs that are directly related to your mission, either create new programs or tailor existing programs to address and meet these current needs well.

__ Are all programs, services, and organizational operations conducted in a lean but sustainable fashion? Are all unnecessary expenses cut, savings implemented, and fundraising for each program and project stepped up, already? Are you reporting all bookkeeping and accounting thoroughly, honestly, and does your agency report on time and honestly? If a major donor or a grant donor requests financials or the agency's most recent annual report, does your staff follow through in a timely fashion and get that to them. Transparency is a great way for any nonprofit to demonstrate how well run and open a nonprofit operates itself. It creates confidence in the agency and community buy-in into the organization's leadership's capability and professionalism. These are powerful ways to raise community support of all kinds (partners for projects, donations, and volunteers).

__ Is the mission the foremost consideration in all decision making in your organization's leaders' work? Mission-based thinking and decision making clarifies the agency's vision, streamlines what work is conducted, how it's conducted, and what end-goals are set program to program, and for the year or two to three years to come ( anticipated outcomes, benchmarks, and goals for programs and services).

__ Have you been keeping service statistics? Are you recording all participants' attendance in all of your programs and projects, their feedback after their participation, and the participants' demographics, etc.? If you haven't, then how can you prove to major or grant donors what your agency's track record has been, program to program? Recording everything allows you to show to any potential community supporter what your organization truly does and for whom. Your marketing material could use this kind of information, too.

__ Does your organization's management plan out each program, service, fundraising method, etc., in advance? When they plan for each type of project, do they also include a project budget, plan out how the project will be funded and follow through to raise that funding? Do they include a project description, a timeline to set the project up and a timeline for the project, itself? Do they assign specific people to be in charge of specific aspects of the project, staffing it in full prior to the project's start with clear descriptions of the work expected and the benchmarks along the time lines when tasks should be completed? Are expected outcomes planned, in advance? Are goals set, for each project, with realistic expectations? Are evaluation methods created for each project, conducted after the end of each project (each year), and then reviewed to determine where improvements could be made for the next time the project's conducted? Are the attendees' feedback requested, after the project ends, and then reviewed and digested so that you can demonstrate that their needs were met, but also where improvements are needed? Does follow through occur, such as post-project review meetings with all key staff and volunteers who were involved in implementing the project, where feedback, achievements, and what improvements are needed are discussed? If so, what is done, afterward?

__ Does your nonprofit use public relations and marketing opportunities to share successes, achievements, and thank the community for its support; or is the media and press utilized when your agency is in crises and needing funding that was not raised fully or on time? What message (if any) is the community ultimately receiving about your nonprofit? Are your organization's leadership, beneficiaries, staff, and volunteers sharing information about their work with the agency, with their friends, colleagues, and family, and why they've chosen to become involved with it? If not, why not?

__ Are others, who work in your agency's professional field, but who work for other organizations, familiar with your agency's name, its work and achievements, and the leaders in the nonprofit? If so, is their impression favorable or not? If they don't know of your agency, why don't they?

__ Are there professionals with credentials (if needed in your industry), who are well known, well regarded in their fields, and talented operating your agency's programs, projects, and services?

These kinds of professional, polished, and beneficial organizational attributes earn confidence in capabilities, raise buy-in, set higher expectations of outcomes and efficiency, and generally engender a desire to support a nonprofit. Donors, like all other community partners in a nonprofit's work, support nonprofits that show potential for excellence. If your organization isn't operating professionally, others who are also applying for grants, are. When grant donors receive applications from nonprofits who operate in the above listed fashions (or more professional best practices); AND also share in an articulate manner in their grant application that this is how they conduct themselves - these are the nonprofits whose grant applications will be put into the "for serious consideration" pile, that goes before the foundation's board. The organizations under serious consideration by any grant donor are the organizations getting grants, today. Be sure that, even in this economy, your organization's grant application does, too.

185 Middle and Secondary School Teachers To Be Chosen to Attend New Science Teacher Academy

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: June 1, 2009

National Science Teachers Association Issues Call for Entries to the New Science Teacher Academy

The National Science Teachers Association has announced a call for entries for its 2009-10 New Science Teacher Academy.

Co-founded by the Amgen Foundation, the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy is a year-long professional development program that works to reduce the high attrition rate among science teachers new to the teaching profession. Intended for science educators entering their second or third year of teaching, the academy works to enhance teacher confidence and classroom excellence and improve teacher content knowledge.

NSTA Fellows selected for the program receive a comprehensive membership package, online mentoring with trained mentors who teach in the same discipline, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of Web-based professional development activities, including webinars. In addition, each NSTA Fellow will receive financial support to attend and participate in NSTA's 2010 National Conference on Science Education in Philadelphia.

One hundred and eighty-five middle- and secondary-school science teachers will be chosen for the 2009-10 class. Science teachers located throughout the United States who will be entering their second or third year of teaching and whose schedule is a minimum of 51 percent middle or high school science are invited to apply.

For more information about the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy or to learn how to apply to become a fellow, visit the NSTA Web site.

Link to Complete RFP