Monday, October 26, 2009

For Current Insights Into What Is Motivating Major Donors To Give Large Donations, Now, See This Free Webinar Transcript

This past Thursday I sat in on The Chronicle of Philanthropy's free webinar, "What Makes A Donor Give A Fortune" (which, handily, only required that participants could log onto their website to participate). The speakers were two active philanthropists who have planned out their wealth and future wealth so that they could give before they passed and have been for years. They answered the participating audience's questions and the two moderators' questions. The benefit of listening to a panel of wealthy donors is to understand what motivates them to give, what they are looking for in the nonprofits that they donate to, and any other questions that are asked.

You, too, can read the transcript for free, now, at if you toggle down the page and in the "Conversation With A Major Donor..." text box at the bottom of the page, click on the right pointing sideways arrow ('play' arrow) in the box. This will prompt the text to appear and you can read from top to bottom.

This particular webinar was well attended and between the participants' and moderators' questions the topics covered ranged from how a start up nonprofit can get funded to what the passion is that causes people to organize their wealth and begin to give (either as individuals or even as a family foundation). Also, there are a wealth of great suggested web resources and their links included, too.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy
does a beautiful job of listing all of their previous webinars that anyone can access afterward, for free. To read down the list of conversations that they have held before, and to also see what discussions are coming next (which you could certainly participate in for free, if you wish), go to

The Chronicle of Philanthropy's next free webinars are listed to happen on October 27, October 29, November 3, and November 12. As more follow these dates, they will be listed, too, at the "live" URL above. Not only are these a great opportunity to get current happenings, thoughts, and best practices; they are a terrific free tool to learn; and they allow any participant to ask questions. I can't recommend them enough.

Grants for American Museums

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: April 1, annually (Letters of Inquiry)

Luce Fund in American Art Offers Support for Scholarly Exhibitions and Publications

A program of the New York City-based Henry Luce Foundation, the Luce Fund in American Art seeks to support scholarly exhibitions and their related publications that contribute significantly to the study of American art.

Each proposed project must result in a tangible product that can be added to the body of scholarship in the field of American art. Applicants must be the originator of the exhibition project, not a subsequent venue. All periods and genres of American art history are included. Intellectual merit and potential contribution to scholarship are the most important criteria for evaluating proposals. Demonstrable impact of the artist or subject must be substantiated. The program is aesthetically and object-based and does not include projects that are primarily historical, documentary, sociological, or that concern private collections. Museum permanent collection projects are not included in this category.

Any American museum evincing a commitment to American art is eligible to apply for a grant. Museums outside of the United States may submit appropriate projects for consideration only if they have proof of valid nonprofit status provided by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Proposals are not accepted from individuals.

A prior Letter of Inquiry is required to ascertain the foundation's interest. Inquiry letters may be submitted at any time, but must be received no later than April 1 for possible acceptance to the annual summer review of approximately 20 proposals. The annual deadline for receipt of proposals is June 15. It is recommended to inquire at least 18 months in advance of an exhibition's opening date.

See the Luce Foundation Web site for complete guidelines and examples of museums and projects that have been supported through the fund in the past.

Link to Complete RFP

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We Nonprofits Must Rise to The Economic Occasion

As nonprofit organizations, we are always struggling for resources, excellence, successes, and to grow. It's a great burden on a nonprofit organization at any time, to move forward and grow, but in this kind of economy it is especially difficult.

Nonprofits can do the following:

__ Determine current unmet organizational staffing needs and upcoming organizational staffing needs and then create job descriptions for those positions - and begin to actively recruit volunteers for some of these positions, still looking for only the most accomplished, successful, and talented people. After successfully acquiring any talent for your agency, proactively retain them with excellent human resource management, a good work environment, etc.

__ Cut costs, increase fundraising, and save more. For example, does your organization's board contribute annual amounts? This could be a new additional annual fundraising mechanism! To know more read What Are Leadership Donations?

__ Reduce numbers of days that the office is open, set up a new sliding fee scale for services that your organization provides and ask those who can to contribute a fee, increase value for dollar spent (e.g. be sure that each donor who gives $20 or more this year understands exactly what their dollar will do in the community, etc. Fore more read Save Your Nonprofit Money...

Most of us nonprofits have already implemented the above or some variations of these survival steps. The real question becomes, ultimately, 'can our nonprofit raise more?'

There seems to be a common set of misconceptions that nonprofits use as 'outs':

__ 'our community is already donating as much as it can', or 'this market (speaking of a local geographic region) is already tapped out';

__ 'we don't have the people, resources, or skills to successfully raise enough to survive this economy';


__ 'we've done everything that we can, so it's time to close shop'

If your nonprofit is clearly defining for community members (potential donors) what your organization does, that it is unique in providing this for the community, that it meets a current and as yet unmet need, and does all of this successfully while operating in an ethical and transparent manner: then your agency won't have such a difficult time raising new money. All nonprofits must make their names, achievements, services, and reason for providing them known to the communities that they are raising funds in - otherwise the potential to raise money (even new money) is only limited to those people who already know about the organization. These people who've already bought in may indeed be giving everything that they're going to for the year, already - so your agency must be bringing in and retaining new donors. For more on this read The Nonprofit That...

If a donor wishes to support your nonprofit it is not at the expense of another nearby nonprofit, doing other work, necessarily. Donors who wish to support nonprofits support the causes and issues that are dear to them. They do not tell themselves 'well, I care about these multiple number of causes but I will only give to one of them' if they've budgeted for the year choosing to give what they can. Help your donors to plan. Inform them and make it clear what your nonprofit does, that no other does, and that their money will reach the community and what it will do. That's what any donor wishes to do successfully through the organizations that they contribute to. For more read How To Raise Money Better In Your Region

If you do not have the skills or if a board member or two do not have the time or willingness to contribute: move them or yourself out of the way. The importance of any nonprofit is its mission statement and its ability to successfully provide the services or products of that mission statement. You or any other person can take the time to learn, implement new policies or campaigns, and contribute in a new direction on behalf of the mission - but if someone is unwilling to change the old routine, won't expand their knowledge or expertise, or won't contribute during a difficult time then they are standing in the way of the nonprofit's success and its ability to deliver its mission to the communities it serves - and this is wrong. Get those who are stalwart and hopeless out of the community's way of getting the benefits of the nonprofits. Keep in mind - just because you can't do what may be needed to be done for the organization to survive this economy doesn't mean that you can't learn it or get someone else into the agency, in your position, who can. Don't make keeping the nonprofit open or closing it in this recession about you or anyone else.

Like all decisions, any decision made for the nonprofit is (by law) supposed to be made in the best interest of the nonprofit and the entities it serves.

Grants for American School Libraries Looking to Update, Extend, and Diversify Their Collections

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: December 31, 2009

Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries Accepting Applications From School Libraries

In order to promote a love of reading, the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries works to provide books to the school libraries and students that most need them.

The foundation makes grants of up to $6,000 each to update, extend, and diversify the book collections of school libraries. All LBF grants are made to individual schools rather than to school districts, county systems, private organizations, foundations, or other entities. LBF gives selection preference to schools in which 90 percent or more of the students receive free or reduced lunches and are likely to have the fewest books at home.

Foundation funds are available only for library books and magazine/serial copies and subscriptions. The Laura Bush Foundation is unable to honor requests for staffing, shelving, furniture, equipment, software, videos, classroom book sets or any kind of book guides, tests, or exams. Only one application per school is allowed per year.

Libraries at public and private schools are eligible to apply.

Visit the LBF Web site for complete program information and application instructions.

Link to Complete RFP

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Here Are Some Tips To Get Your Board Behind Your Agency's Grant Writing

Any nonprofit's board of directors are an important part of its potential to raise money in all types of fundraising methods. The board are not just legally responsible for the quality of the organization's transparency and bookkeeping, for instance; they are not just responsible for finalizing all of the organization's goals, visions, and policies; the board are also important partners and active members in any nonprofit's fundraising.

As such, many people have asked us how they can either get their board of directors educated about how grant writing works and how they can get their board to assist their organization's success with it; or how they can get their board behind and excited about their grant writing. The following are suggestions for any fundraising committee members, fundraising staff, or executive director looking to get their board members informed on, supportive of, and ultimately to become a strength in the agency's potential to raise more and larger grants.

__ Never assume any organization's leadership and its respective individual members know what any new thing that any nonprofit is doing and how it's done. I'm not being smart or snide, here, but rather being very honest. Over and over again we have worked with nonprofits whose well meaning, involved, intelligent, and experienced board were thought to know or be skilled in some (or all) aspect(s) of grant writing work - only to discover that (of course) the board included people with various levels of grant writing knowledge, experience, and skills : from 'none' to 'a lot'. Clearly state which organizational member's role is and also a grant writing campaign persons chart (with the head grant writer and key organizational leader as 'day to day' decision makers and the board members as 'overseers' and also willing participants in the work). Provide a clear, succinct, but thorough grant writing board training that covers what grant writing is (and what it is not); how long most successful grant writing campaigns take; and at the finale, give a realistic and researched recommended one or two year plan including a time line, expected (realistic) outcomes, assignments per person, expected benchmarks, etc. Include clear roles and tasks per board committee (or member), their efforts' time lines, etc. Provide them with good, professional, ethical, current, but also clear and to-the-point basics and then trust them to do their jobs and do them well. The following of our posts may be helpful, Planning Your Organization's Grant Writing Expense; Descriptions of Different Grant Proposal Documents; Places, Resources, and Ways to Learn Everything From Fundraising to Other Nonprofit Operations; What Are Grant Donors Looking For and Funding Today; Considering Or Beginning A Grant Program? Here's Some Help; and Leadership's Role In Seeking Grants

__ Conduct bi-weekly updates with the board and the key grant writing team (over e-mail or over the phone in a group conference call) that tells them what progress has been made, what stage of work the campaign is in, what is going to be worked on next, what deadlines are pending, and ask each board and grant writing team member for updates in their respective work and what questions they have. Keep the lines of communication open. Also, be sure that everyone who promised to get back to anyone, after each meeting, does. To help the ongoing communication remain fruitful for the organization and everyone involved, the head grant writer and the executive director should be endowed with the power to direct the grant writing work and campaign success; the board or board president should be endowed with 'peer to peer' meeting interactions with potential grant donors' organizational leaders (to be scheduled and researched in tandem with the grant writing team) and also high-level fundraising goal objective concerns.

__ Keep expectations realistic. If, for instance, your nonprofit has never attempted grant writing before - expect that the first grant may not come in for at least three months but even up to a year from work start. Similarly, if a nonprofit has been grant writing for years, and very successfully - build the current economy and what expected grant donors are likely to do today into the year's expected fundraising goal outcomes. Research what the donors are doing given the economy. For help with realistic expectations read our posts, How To Raise Grant Money, Even In This Economy; Top Ten Tips To Raise Grants In A Down Economy

__ Keep at it. Grant writing is not a 'quick' fundraising method. It takes a lot of initial, up front work (research on how to do grant writing professionally today, campaign planning, prospecting or researching for potential viable donors, writing drafts of each letter involved in the grant seeking process, etc.) but once that work is completed it is often only something that needs to be edited, partially re-written, and updated over time. A good strong informed and well-researched and well-written initial foundation in grant writing work is a powerful way to raise more grants in larger increments sooner than later from work-start.

__ Keep a chin up, as the work begins and as time progresses, but no $1 million grants have rolled into the office, "yet". A lot of groundwork is necessary for any successful grant-raising. Some will simply not understand (or maybe even not trust) that the grant writing will result in success - but if it is conducted professionally, with skill, honestly, and in a thorough manner per each individual grant donor's requirements - success can come.

For more information on this process read our post, How to Coordinate the Executive Director, the Board, the Volunteers, and Staff to Successfully Raise Grants

Grants for Programs Fighting Teen Dating Abuse

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: November 15, 2009

Do Something Offers Grants to Support Youth-Led Projects Addressing Teen Dating Abuse

Do Something and Liz Claiborne, Inc. seek to support young people across the United States who are taking a stand against teen dating abuse.

Do Something will award ten grants of $250 each to help run projects started by young people that are fighting teen dating abuse. Programs may include activities such as holding an abuse awareness week at school, setting up a peer-counseling program, or posting fliers to alert people about dating abuse hotlines. Special consideration will be given to projects that include an event on It's Time to Talk Day (December 3, 2009), or culminate in some way on that day.

The applicant must be 25 or under and must be a U.S. or Canadian citizen.

Visit the Do Something Web site for complete program guidelines.

Link to Complete RFP

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A New Popular Fundraising Method Could Be Replicated By Your Nonprofit

A new type of fundraiser is becoming more popular very recently, and although not each American nonprofit could afford to replicate this fundraising method on the scale being conducted by some, the basic ideas could easily be replicated by any nonprofit to create a new, fresh, and entirely community-related fundraiser.

If you have looked through a fashion magazine or two during the past two months you likely read about major foundations asking either famous artists or children to create art that will be (in these two instances) used as the design for the canvas or leather exterior of limited edition women's totes or purses. Considering which fashion designers are involved, here, these bags are very affordable and the buzz that this specific fundraising method is generating (even in this economy) shows how smart and 'out of the box thinking' this fundraising method is to utilize fashion fads or trends to increase the number of people interested in purchasing a tote or purse. It's really quite brilliant.

Now known as an Italian fashion empire, the Versace name grew to fame in the 1980's through its visionary, Gianni Versace. Tragically, on July 15, 1997 was killed as he left his Miami Beach mansion. Bravely his siblings took over operations and continued their brother's vision. His sister, Donatella Versace has since furthered her brother's styles while invigorating the House of Versace with her own. Ever involved in community (especially per her notorious love and active involvement in the art world), she began the Versace One Foundation. Under its Art Unites program, along with the Starlight Foundations. Versace provided art supplies to 1,400 children (that each foundation serves) and gathered their creations. From the press release, "Each child’s work of art will be fashioned into a one-of-a-kind Versace canvas tote bag which will be sold worldwide at Versace boutiques and the Gilt Groupe, a member’s only ecommerce site this October. The bags are expected to retail for between $200 and $250, and 100% percent of the proceeds from the sale of the bags will be donated equally to Starlight and to One Foundation." The bags will be available for purchase both through the Gilt Groupe (a free online shopping portal that anyone can sign up for) and Versace boutiques. "

Similarly, Target has placed on 42nd Street, in Times Square, billboards featuring four New York artists' work through the end of October that, to quote the press release, will be converted, after, to fashion: "after their run on 42nd Street when the vinyl is restyled into 1,600 limited-edition, affordable tote bags, based on a design conceived exclusively for Target by fashion icon Anna Sui."..."The unique billboard bags are available for $29.99 at while supplies last.

"At the time of purchase, guests can further customize their tote by selecting which of the four artists' work will be restyled into their unique bag. The fashion-forward totes will be shipped to guests in January."

Not only does the billboard feature emerging artists' work, prominently in Times Square; the canvas that the billboard is printed onto will itself be turned into bags (which is recycling); and the number of available bags is limited by the size of the canvas which drives up the popularity and desire for donors to order their bags.

Though it easily could be, this particular program is not a fundraiser, per the press release, and at the time of this post' writing, the Target website does not allow me to purchase a purse, so they may be sold out. You may check, yourself, at

The basic ideas of these two programs could easily be replicated by any nonprofit, though, and the original art could be scanned into a computer and then used to design mugs, calendars, or even limited edition lithographs or printed posters. The beneficiaries of the Versace One Foundation created the art that will be used to design the limited edition bags. Getting the word out about the bags, their pricing being low, limiting availability, and having a big name (fashion designers, in these cases) helped push the popularity, fad, and eagerness to order one. These are each pieces of a fundraising method that any nonprofit could pull together, themselves.

Award for Those Suffering From or Volunteering to Better Peoples Lives Who Suffer From Depression

From The Foundation Center...

Does your organization work with those suffering from depression? If so, and you have a really dedicated volunteer you could nominate for this should read more...

Deadline: November 16, 2009

Welcome Back Awards Program Seeks Nominations to Recognize Those Dedicated to the Depression Community

The Welcome Back Awards, a program established by Eli Lilly and Company to recognize outstanding achievements in the fight against depression and the stigma often associated with the illness, is accepting nominations to honor those who work in the depression community.

An independent panel of national mental health experts will select honorees in five categories: Lifetime Achievement, for an individual whose perseverance has helped him or her overcome clinical depression and resume a fulfilling life; Destigmatization, for an individual whose noteworthy public efforts have helped promote the understanding of depression and reduce the shame and guilt associated with the illness; Community Service, for an individual whose outstanding work has created and improved community programs that foster a supportive, caring environment for those suffering from depression; Primary Care, for a health care professional — psychologist, physician, social worker, or nurse — whose unique approach to identifying particular needs in depression diagnosis and treatment serves as an example to others; and Psychiatry, for a psychiatrist who transcends the profession through community work, innovative clinical programs, teaching, new research, and outstanding work with patients, or who makes a significant impact on the community or other medical disciplines.

Winners will share a total of $55,000, to be donated to the not-for-profit organizations of their choice. Each award recipient and one guest will receive complimentary airfare and accommodations to attend the ceremony in New Orleans, Louisiana, in May 2010.

Anyone, except Lilly employees, may apply or be nominated for a Welcome Back Award.

Complete program guidelines and nomination forms are available at the Lilly Web site.

Link to Complete RFP