Monday, July 27, 2009
The Nonprofit That Understands That Without A Strong Relationship With It's Community, It Stumbles - Is the Nonprofit That Succeeds
If a nonprofit does not provide a service or product (a real solution that works) for the community issue it is focused on (e.g. hunger prevention, elderly day care, animal welfare, clothing low income children and families, protecting the environment, etc.) in an efficient, ethical, honest, skilled, current, and effective manner - over time they will eventually languish (as an operation) if not altogether close.
Also, if a nonprofit does not actively get the word out about the nonprofit (its name, its mission, why its work is still need (how current the organization's effort is) and also share the organization's successes, accolades, and its potential; then potential (new) donors, volunteers, board members, etc. won't know about the organization and then can not support it. Do not assume everyone in the geographic region knows about your organization and its work. Proactively spend money on public relations and marketing (even if it's a small amount, annually, for each) and consider it overhead expense for any one of the organization's operations: fundraising, program development, board recruitment, etc. The money that any nonprofit spends on proactively getting the facts out about the organization is an investment not just in its growth and future - it can help raise more money (even if the PR or marketing is non-campaign specific); it will help make people who care about the cause that your agency serves become aware of the nonprofit and that will lead to new donors (remember, the key to donor base growth is to both retain the current donors, get them to donate again and again, and then raise new donors who become regular donors).
These two paragraphs, above, demonstrate some of the reasons why understanding that any nonprofit (even yours') is not an island unto itself, nor is it "self sufficient" (no nonprofit that operates well truly is). Every nonprofit works in partnership with its community because without donors (individuals, families, local businesses, local branches of national companies and stores, etc.), without volunteers (individuals, families, local companies' employees and retirees, etc.), without sponsors (who are donating donations), without community collaborations (with other separate organizations (non- or for- profit)) and community partners, or without basic services that any organization needs (e.g. banking, accounting, etc.) a nonprofit (any nonprofit) will not survive.
Donors, today, are not simply seen as 'the next someone that I need to drag a donation out of so then I can spend their money however I see fit'. Donations, today, are understood to be 'someone else's money who have a specific goal that they expect to achieve in the community, at large'. Donors, themselves, are seen today as 'partner investors' who (no matter who or what they are; individuals, families, community foundations, private foundations, corporate foundations, or any government) are first, and foremost, understood to be as concerned about the issue that your organization works for as anyone at your agency is. They donate, not because they have the money and need to blow through it willy-nilly, and they donate not just because of the tax break (studies show, again and again, even in this down economy); donors donate because they want to find solutions to problems in our communities, often they themselves have some relationship to the cause or issue (have worked professionally in that field, or have been effected by the issue, etc.), and have the resources to effect change as a donor. They, therefore, must find nonprofits who serve the cause or issue that they care about to make their dollars do the good that they seek. These intelligent concerned donors consider their donation dollars with the weight of gold by researching nonprofits working on the same issue to determine who they are willing to donate to. Which nonprofit operates: transparently (provides its financials to anyone who asks for them), that operates honestly (reports on the good and also lessons that the agency has learned with the goal to improve and achieve more), efficiently (the agency actively plans and weighs options so that no resources are wasted, etc.), has a volunteer base and staff that demonstrates the latest best professional thinking and methods in the professional field (demonstrating the potential for real success that this agency retains), works with like or related other organizations in the community to be sure it (itself) does not repeat methods' or theories' work already being done or work that has already been attempted but did not result in successes, etc. They are looking for the smartest, most efficient, most successful, and most talented nonprofit working on the cause to spend their money the most wisely. Donors, today, also want to see results. They expect to know where their donation dollar was spent (truthfully) and what was achieved (including lessons learned and where improvements will be made to insure more success the next time that the program is implemented, etc.). If, as a nonprofit, your agency embraces, nay expects, donors to behave in these manners and follows through to interact with the community it operates in to meet these community members at every step of the way then it is setting itself to increase income, increase the number of volunteers, improve the talent volunteering and working for the organization, lessen expenses, and improve programs.
See, professional nonprofit best practices, are really just the tried and true methods, thinking, and interactions between a nonprofit and its community that are not just thought of as 'better, so do them'. Professional nonprofit best practices are actually the methods, thinking, and interactions that have demonstrated again and again for thousands and millions of nonprofits (or donors) that these methods provide real efficient results for the better in the world.
Any nonprofit whose leadership sees themselves as elite compared to others, or are on the board to pad their resume's, or any nonprofit that can't interact with other organizations (nonprofit or for-profit) because it is regarded as a threat or is considered threatening - these antiquated modes of interacting in the community are red flags to donors, potential volunteers, and the community that this particular nonprofit doesn't get it. The nonprofit that understands that its only life-blood is the community it is working in and that they had better bet grateful, be gracious, be talented and effective, and operate efficiently will grow, succeed, and thrive.
Grants for Community Health Providing Low Income Communities with Early Breast Cancer Detection Programs
Deadline: August 28, 2009
Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund Invites Applications for Early Detection Programs
The Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund has released its 2010 Request for Applications.
Funding is awarded to organizations providing access to clinical breast exams, mammograms, and education for low-income, minority, under-served, under-insured, and uninsured women in the United States. All programs must utilize the three-part approach to breast cancer early detection that includes regular screening mammography, clinical breast examination, and breast self-examination. The primary objective of the fund is to ensure that medically under-served women receive annual breast screening and proper follow-up care.
This financial support will be provided to community and health care provider-based programs that link medically under-served women over 40 to breast cancer education and clinical screening services (mammography and clinical breast exams).
The fund seeks to support programs that recruit women for both first time screening and annual screening, develop partnerships between community-based outreach providers and local medical providers, work with health care providers to ensure proper clinical follow-up of abnormal screening results, and educate older women about Medicare coverage of annual screening mammograms and assist them in obtaining the service from providers who accept Medicare.
The complete RFA is available at the Avon Foundation Web site.
Link to Complete RFP
Monday, July 20, 2009
No matter what size nonprofit you work for; to improve your fundraising and grant writing:
__ Clarify and regularly state to the client, visitor, or whomever/whatever the beneficiary population of your organization's work is and the communit(ies) that your organization serves what your organization does, for whom, what issue it is working on, and any recent successes, accolades, and major achievements. Simply sharing this information regularly and keeping it simple, clear, factual, and up to date provides all donors, volunteers, clients, members, and potential donors and future board members clear about not only what your organization does, who it serves, but also why your organization is worthy of baring this work out for the community; it is successful. Donors, in particular, invest in not just talented and honest nonprofits that are well run - they invest in organizations who are meeting real current needs in a community that are also full of potential, talent, and are integrated into the community such that this organization can really provide real solutions today and tomorrow. Their potential is great. This is why having a talented, knowledgeable, connected, and visible team working on any nonprofit is powerful.
__ Keep track. Keep track of everything. This may sound tedious but once this protocol is initiated and then regularly conducted the information will be invaluable to not just your fundraising (grant writing and all fundraising). It will also assist all those people who are both charged with managing programming at your agency and envisioning new programming, too. Once your agency tracks and retains visitor numbers, numbers of attendees, participant numbers, or whatever users utilize your agency's work and also tracks their demographics (e.g. sex, age, home city, race, income level, etc.) your agency has the hard data sets to provide to potential donors demonstrating (truly proving) all claims of success, achievements, and to prove that all the populations that your agency says are being served by your organization, are being assisted. Ask volunteers to provide the correct numbers of hours that they worked, each time that they do, as well. Why? If, for instance, you are applying for a grant from ABC Corporation and 20 of your agency's regular volunteers work (or retired from) ABC Corporation - when you write the grant proposal it is very compelling to potential donors to state for instance, "Defenders of Double Digits nonprofit is proud to share that twenty full time and four retired ABC Corporation are regular volunteers improving our community through Defenders of Double Digits' mission and work. These twenty-four volunteers provided five thousand volunteer hours during the 2008 fiscal year in ten different programs and special event fundraisers; both serving over 200 people and also assisting to raise a total of $50,000, of which (as with all of our donations) 80% of each dollar went to our programs." After some regular interval, perhaps the first of each month, be certain that a competent, diligent, and organized volunteer is responsible to enter the data (correctly) to a database or Excel spreadsheet (whatever works for the agency), and checks it after. Then, anyone can access this very compelling and powerful information. The Marketing, Fundraising, Programs, Volunteer Management, Etc. Committees, staff, and also the organization's leadership can then access this information to create pamphlets, marketing materials, press releases, inform fundraising letters or materials, etc. including grant proposals.
__ Thank anyone and everyone. Always, without fail, send a thank you letter or e-mail to anyone who donates to your organization. Whether your thank you's are formal or simply letters intended to serve the donor as a tax deduction receipt - be certain to thank the people, local businesses, etc. that support the nonprofit that you work for. They are, whether you or your agency's leadership see them as such, part of the reason that the organization operates. Without them the agency is dead in the water. Keep them returning to donate again by communicating with them not only the nonprofit's thanks, but state that they are viewed as essential to the team creating the organization's success, share with them their value, and state clearly what their money will do. After, perhaps once a year, conduct an annual appeal letter fundraising campaign and in that letter state the organization's achievements for the year, indicate any increases in numbers served or new programs, and then share what the nonprofit's goals are for the new year and how the community can help (donate, give new needed items, volunteer, become a board member, etc.). Getting back to donors with the successes that their donations (given) did in the community will keep most connected to your organization's success and repeatedly supporting it. People give not just for a tax break, studies show repeatedly, but to help a cause that concerns them, and the community. If you can show donors that their money did X and if they give again they will be able to do Y - you've helped them feel accomplishment in their community regarding the issue that concerns them. Similarly, if your organization receives a grant from a grant donor that does not require an end of grant report (stating what the grant paid for and did via your agency), provide the grant donor with a one page end of grant report, anyway clearly stating the same. Thank those who are helping provide the agency's services (donors, volunteers, community partners, etc.) and report into them with information that clearly demonstrates what they have helped to accomplish in the community and what they are welcome to do for the agency in the community.
__ On the phone, in the press, face to face with anyone visiting your agency or at any community event where you (or others) are representing the nonprofit you work for - be polite, be courteous, listen to others (and hear them), clarify as needed any misconceptions or errors, and always put the agency's most professional face and position forward. NO matter what the situation - if your agency needs emergency funds, if your nonprofit has just gone through a major scandal or is heading to court, or if your agency is seen as a preeminant leader in its field - etc. The only way to behave in the office or publicly, is professionally. On this note, all nonprofits are operated by many people. They operate by teams of people. As such, conflict is a norm in nonprofit operations. Yes, it just is. Do not try to avoid conflict or dissuade conflict. Really. Instead, leaders (in particular) in your organization should be indoctrinated and expected to uphold open interpersonal interactions. Everyone can be listened to and everyone can share. This is fair. Everyone should attempt to really hear everyone - even those who differ from your opinion - but at a minimum the rule in the office, at the board meetings, and everywhere should be "reasonable people can disagree reasonably". The struggle is the 'thing' and struggles in any conflict are the mechanism by which any and each nonprofit grows.
__ Plan. If your agency has a single one goal or multiple goals (and all nonprofits do) then your leadership must take the time to educate itself in any new territory (e.g. maybe your organization is attempting grant writing as a fundraising method for the first time; or if a nonprofit is a start up the leadership must take the time to learn board roles, the laws they are charged by law to follow, fundraising, nonprofit operations, etc.) and then plan. There must be time given to get any new program, project, or effort learned, planned, implemented, and underway. Perhaps more than a year or two must be built into the cost to cover the time taken for most and any type of new project to get onto its legs, underway, and self-sustaining (e.g. financially). Planning saves pain, time, money, and the organization's reputation for ability and success, in the long run.
These professional nonprofit best practices are "best practices" not because all nonprofits "should" do them. They are "best practices" because many times, over and over, different nonprofits have used these methods and are better for it. These are tried and true ways to save all resources and to gain more. Give them a try!
Deadline: October 30, 2009
Applications Invited for NFL Youth Football Fund Grassroots Program
The NFL Youth Football Fund Grassroots Program is a partnership of the National Football League Youth Football Fund, which provides funding for the program, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which manages and provides technical assistance to the program. The goal of the program is to provide neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of local football fields.
In order to be eligible for a grant, projects must be sponsored by nonprofit community-based 501(c)(3) organizations or middle or high schools. In addition, all organizations applying for funds must be located specifically and exclusively within NFL Target Markets and serve low- to moderate-income areas within those markets. Applicant organizations must have at least one full-time staff person and must have been in existence for at least three years.
Grants are given only for capital expenditures. Strong preference will be given to proposals that seek to upgrade existing facilities that are in poor condition or otherwise underutilized, demonstrate active use of the fields, attract matching funds that exceed the minimum required match of 1:1, involve local partnerships with nonprofit community partners to promote youth and community programming on the fields, and provide for continuing maintenance and field safety.
Two levels of funding are available: grants of up to $50,000 for general field support (e.g., irrigation, bleachers, lights, etc.), and matching grants of up to $200,000 to help finance synthetic material resurfacing of a community, middle school, or high school football field. A smaller number of matching grants of up to $100,000 each will be available to help finance the resurfacing of a football field utilizing natural grass or sod surfaces.
Visit the LISC Web site for complete program guidelines and list of eligible target markets.
Link to Complete RFP
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
These informative webinars will be of crucial interest to any nonprofit or other entity applying for or planning to apply for American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 funds. These webinars will explain how grant recipients are required to track, report, etc. how the grant money is spent. The first webinar will be on July 20th. The next is to follow in August (they have yet to set that webinar's date, as of the date of this post). The post is very informative, so I recommend it.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
In the podcast, "Judith M. Jobbitt, of the consulting company Bentz Whaley Flessner, describes the fund-raising approaches that are getting results and offers advice for development offices as they work through the recession." (as quoted from the post - see link).
If you have any reactions, questions, or thoughts after listening to the podcast, please share them via "Comments", below.
Deadline: August 1, 2009 (Letter of Intent)
ASCAP Foundation Announces Grant Guidelines for New 2010 Funding
The ASCAP Foundation is a publicly supported charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs.
The ASCAP Foundation considers proposals from other nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations engaging in music education and talent development programs that are consistent with the mission and objectives of the ASCAP Foundation and which support music education programs for aspiring songwriters and composers.
The foundation's average grant is between $1,500 and $3,000 and is made on an annual one-time basis.
The foundation does not consider requests for general operating or administrative support or annual giving campaigns, capital purposes, endowments, deficit operations, recordings, marketing efforts, or performance and production funding. The foundation does not purchase advertisements, sponsor events, or donate equipment.
Grant applications for 2010 are by invitation only. Applicants must first submit a letter of intent and then be invited by the ASCAP Foundation to complete and submit a full grant application. Visit the foundation's Web site for complete grant guidelines and the Letter of Intent form.
Link to Complete RFP
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Donors who offer grants are doing so, now, because they are educated about (and even often work in or have retired from the industry related to) the cause that they most care about. They want to find solutions to issues in our communities but have the means to fund those solutions (unlike many of us) and have chosen to invest their wealth into partnerships. See, many grant donors go about donating grants (e.g. reviewing grant applications from nonprofits) as looking for partners in the community (nonprofit organizations, collaborating organizations, educators/researchers, etc.) who have the expertise and success rate to really create effective change that actually meets the real need that exists in the community (that as yet, is unmet). These partners (nonprofits who are doing the work to solve the solutions in innovative, potentially very successful, expert, and outcome-based ways) bring the talent, success rate, ethics, and even other community partners to the equation and the grant donor brings the capital (or, sometimes further expertise in addition to the organization's own talent pool, resources in addition to a fiscal grant, infrastructure, or more). These grant donors are not simply handing checks out, willy nilly. They are interested in real results that are demonstrable, efficient, innovative, and truly really helping. They are experts in the professional fields or industries that they decide to support and they are very knowledgeable about the issue or cause.
So...this means we will want to keep a few things when we sit down to write any nonprofit's grant proposal's main case. The "case" is the portion of the grant proposal that comprises most of what are today often considered 'standard' sections (or content) in the grant application (proposal) document. Most grant proposals, in a standard grant proposal,l include perhaps a cover letter, but most often an introduction, the request (or ask), an organizational description, a statement of need (describing the issue that the proposed program is going to better), beneficiary population description ( the demographics and description of the population that will benefit from the program), a project description, a budget narrative, and a closing. In each of these sections there is content, now, that is pretty standard to provide. For example, in the project description you will want to include the expected outcomes of the proposed program, the evaluation method and plan that will be used to self-check the program's success and where improvements are needed, and what outcomes the program is expected to generate for the community. The case, itself, is most often all standard grant proposal content except the cover letter, introduction, closing, and perhaps the ask, itself, and the budget narrative (but well written grant request documents are seamless and flow so these are arguably a part of the case; and this point is part of the reason why when anyone hires a professional grant writer. You are hiring expertise (in how to write and create a compelling case), knowledge (what should be in the documents and what can be omitted and how to create grant winning documents and processes), and skill writing well and knowing the grant seeking process are invaluable and time/resources saving for the organization).
Knowing that grant donors: are more often, today, experts themselves in the professional sector and cause(s) or issue(s) that they support, know what a well written grant proposal should include and inform them about, and are looking to work with (when they donate a grant) the recipient nonprofit that raises the grant (they do not just walk away with crossed fingers hoping that their grant is spent efficiently, that the organization is being run well and ethically, and that the proposed program that they just funded will actually achieve measurable successful results)...we nonprofits who apply for grants would be wise to create strong cases in our grant proposals.
A strong case will include...
__ Information that makes the case that the nonprofit that is applying is filing an as yet unmet niche in the community. If other organizations are doing what the organization is proposing to do (and assume that the grant donor is connected to your professional sector and the other organizations who work in this arena), then they are not going to grant for a second like program. They want to see innovation and achievements (successes) that really address as yet unmet community needs. This information can be culled (for the grant proposal documents) through recent studies conducted on the issue that are well designed and respected, demographics research, a needs assessment (study), a feasibility study (sometimes), or networking with colleagues in the professional sector working on the issue.
__ Clear descriptions of the beneficiary population, clear and thought out program designing (including creating the budget, funding the entire program, and ensuring that it isn't going to "die on the vine"), clearly stating why your organization is the organization to facilitate successfully addressing the issue that your organization is proposing to, etc. Be clear.
__ Getting the word out about your organization (and its excellence). This may seem contrary to writing grant proposal content but the fact is that anything and everything that will bolster each proposal that you submit to granting entities - the better. If a potential grant donor receives your grant proposal but has not heard of your organization, the talent working for it, and any (and all) of its major successes; but they have heard of another similar organization also applying for a grant at that time, they are likely to grant to the organization that they have heard excellent things about. Remember, they are investing in our communities - they are not bleeding hearts doling out money to any and every nonprofit. They must be viewed as investors, and as such, must be made comfortable giving your nonprofit large sums of money. It's just how it is.
__ Be compelling but do not go about writing a grant proposal that terrifies, horrifies, pains, or traumatizes its reader. Hitting them over the head (wth talk like 'if you do not give us this grant 50 children will die over the next year) is not compelling (or 'enough' when writing a proposal). Instead demonstrate the point you are making. In this example, I'd replace that sentence (and strategy) by providing recent well found study results (e.g. statistics or demographics) that demonstrate these children are extremely vulnerable. I'd give actual real examples of why death is considered eminent. I might also add a current innovative (but proven) theory in our profession (or method in our profession) that will avert this crisis giving them hope and shoeing them that there are real solutions that we are going to provide.
__ Assume nothing. Do not use jargon, do not think that they have read every recent professional study and their findings in the latest journals, do not discuss populations in purely derivative terms but, without being too flowery, include the passion and enthusiasm your organization feels about providing this program, etc. In the grant proposal documents share, open up, and without being condescending, express the 'who, what, when, why, where, how, etc.' in clear succinct terms.
__ Tie their own organization's work into the work that your nonprofit is proposing to do. Many grant donors, today, work in the very cause or issues that they are most concerned about. For instance, the Ford Foundation is known for pulling 'dream teams' together to conduct and then publish professional papers on studies aiming to assist any entities, in our communities, working on their causes. When applying to Ford, then, you will want to be sure that you communicate that you are aware of their work in the same field as your working in and tie their work to your own proposed project.
Making a strong, compelling, viable, honest, thorough, and well written case in any grant request document takes preparation, time, research, networking, current knowledge about the issue and the work currently being done on it, etc. Once, though, your nonprofit has these facts and findings for its own grant documents (and more importantly, knows where it located or received all of this case-bolstering data) the easier it is to write the next grant proposal! The initial leg work is worth its time in spades. Writing an excellent case in any grant proposal leads to raising grants.
Deadline: July 15, 2009
Ploughshares Fund Offers Support for Efforts Toward World Peace and Security
The Ploughshares Fund supports organizations and individuals "working to build a safe, secure, nuclear weapon-free world."
Ploughshares contributes policy expertise, engages in advocacy, and makes grants to initiatives that focus on the following areas of concern: nuclear weapons (grants to promote deep reductions in the world's nuclear stockpiles and prevent the emergence of new nuclear states, with the ultimate goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons); nuclear materials (grants to help prevent nuclear terrorism by keeping nuclear weapon-usable materials out of the hands of terrorists, curtailing the spread of fissile materials, and reducing global inventories of these materials); conflict and regional security (grants to support the transformation of conflicts in regions where nuclear weapons may be factors and promoting conflict resolution generally as a necessary approach to stability); and missiles and space (grants for programs designed to halt the development and deployment of unnecessary and unproven missile defense systems, and in those that promote a responsible space security policy aimed at preserving space as a shared, weapon-free sanctuary).
To achieve these policy goals, the fund supports strategies to build the body of knowledge and increase analytical capacity in nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and conflict prevention; build a bipartisan legislative consensus for eliminating nuclear weapons and preventing and resolving conflicts; and expand the public's knowledge and catalyze a public movement.
The fund places no geographical limitations on its grants, and makes grants to individuals as well as organizations. The fund does not provide grants for the production of films, videos, books, or the research and writing of academic dissertations.
The fund's board of directors meets three times each year to award grants. Ploughshares Fund staff may also consider requests for emergency funding on a discretionary basis. For the fund's Fall 2009 meeting, applications are due by July 15, 2009.
Visit the Ploughshares Fund Web site for complete grant guidelines.
Link to Complete RFP
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
President Obama spoke, yesterday, to the press, at the White House, about the nonprofit sector, federal funding, and what the private sector can do to assist the nonprofit sector, today. To read more, click on http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31671340/ns/us_news-giving/
For more about the Obama administration's work for the nonprofit sector see http://sic.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail4151.html
and listen to the podcast discussion.
Also, Blue Avocado wrote an excellent piece on new software being released to assist nonprofits with reporting correctly on the new IRS tax form 990 (annual tax return). Remember, all nonprofits - of all sizes (small, too) must report, now. See their piece at
We hope that you'll find these pieces relevant and helpful!