Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nonprofit Folks, Fun, Free, Holiday Distractions Follow, Here. We Thank You, Dear Readers!

Each year, now, I post a list of fun free websites for my nonprofit readers because I know a lot of you, during this week of holiday cheer, might get stranded at an airport and have only time on your hands, be bored to death with the televised Christmas parade, or just need a mindless break from the festive cheer; and sometimes, it's nice to be able to access a few distracting entertaining freebies, while Aunt Lil finishes the punch bowl, tells that same story one more time, and parked so close to the back of your car that you aren't able to go anywhere, anyway.

Keep in mind that we have this post on our blog's home page, all week this week, just in case you need to access it from a public or your cousin's computer: remember, Seeking Grant Money Today.

We thank you, our readers, for your attention, comments, questions, and interest this year; and in a small but heartfelt way, we are saying thank you to you with the follow free websites good for at least entertainment and distraction!

Merry Christmas, belated Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kawanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice, best wishes in 2011, Happy holidays, and enjoy!

Fun Games at

- I am admitting to you, here, that the game, Papa's Burgeria, there, was a time suck of mine for a bit.

Funny Sports - Top 10 Sports Fails of 2010

Sketchy Santas - Top 10 Fails of 2010

- Now, come on.  This is just some good holiday fun without the hangover, family drama, or over-stuffed feeling.


- Sometimes celebrity gossip is just good mindless dirt, whether it turns out to be both true and accurate, or not, later.

Stay safe, and merry, merry!  The Grant Plant, LLC

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How To Make Requesting a Donation Face to Face From A Major Donor Easier

A major donor campaign is a fundraising method where nonprofits develop existing or new donors that consistently give at larger single donation increments compared to the average individual donor.  Usually the campaign is planned and operated by all fundraising staff and volunteers, but the actual work of developing major donors is coordinated by the fundraising or development staff (behind the scenes such as receiving contribution and responding in a timely manner with a thank you) and executives and board members developing these donors personally.  And yes, asking anyone for money for anything, including a nonprofit, can be daunting, awkward, and even something one works to avoid having to do.  So, let me be clear, on average, of all nonprofits' volunteers and staff in the world, I am certain that there are fewer numbers of executive directors and board members who are comfortable with the idea of asking people for large amounts of money.  But (and this is the key) once those same executives and board members are shown how it's done (so that the major donor campaign can be fruitful and successful), once they are educated, trained, and given the opportunity to rehearse; the anxiety level goes way down, as is true of anything new. 

In my post, Getting Major Donors to Contribute Large Regular Donations Can Stabilize Cash Flow I explain what a major donor campaign looks like, how one works, and how your nonprofit can begin one.  In that post, I give you the step by step instructions to get one going.  That post is a good primer or introduction to this post.

Here I am listing my top pieces of advice for a strong and successful major donor campaign:

__ All fundraising, no matter what type of fundraising method (i.e. grant writing, major donor campaign, bequests campaign, capital campaign) is about a given nonprofit initiating, developing, and maintaining relationships with current and potentially new donors.  Every nonprofit should see that direct relationships with its donors as its strongest ability (and potential) to raise money.  Re-read that last sentence.  If a nonprofit farms out most or all of its fundraising, or receives the benefit of another entity, such as a local business, raising funds for it - it may be missing a crucial component to that nonprofit's own ability to raise more, over time, and to grow the amount raised annually, and frankly, it probably is.  The idea that  'relationships are everything' might sound trite or cliche' but it is neither.  On the other hand, no one should be overdoing any interactions between the nonprofit and its donors, either.  The happy medium has been found.  The tried, tested, determined donor care or donor development is how relationships are made and maintained, and then re-done and honed by other nonprofits, and repeated successfully by all kinds of nonprofits all over the world.  These come to be professional nonprofit best practices.  How should a donor be treated so that a relationship is maintained between the nonprofit and them but so that there isn't an undo amount of resources used by the nonprofit to do so, and also so that the donor is comfortable and even appreciative, and the nonprofit receives the benefit of ongoing support from that donor (no small feats)?  Also, what is the method or how is it conducted?  I explain what and how in my post, Your Nonprofit Needs Cash Flow.  That Means Your Nonprofit Needs Your Individual Donors.  Take Great Care of Each One.  It, other posts in this blog, and other excellent nonprofit resources also explain the professional nonprofit donor development best practices that I am referring to.

__ It is easiest to ask others for donations (of any increment but especially larger single donations) when you, "the asker", really believe in the nonprofit, the work its doing, its team, its future capabilities, and that the organization's work will provide for the community a yet undiscovered solution that will produce real and needed outcomes for the organization's beneficiaries.  If the organization is really doing well at what it does and is the organization to provide real solutions it's easiest to ask anyone to support it, including asking a major donor, in a face to face meeting.

__ Remember, when asking a donor for a donation, that you are asking a question and the person being asked can always say 'no'.  'No' is not the end of the world, or the end of the relationship.  Rather, it is one's right and if after asking for a donation the nonprofit is told 'no', it should simply be taken as such.  How the donor indicates they wish to proceed should be respected and then follow through can be made with them, if appropriate, again, at a later time.  Remembering this takes pressure off the asker, because it's not a nonprofit's leader's job to coerce, pull out of thin air, or beg a donation out of anyone (ever).  As is stated in the post, "Your Nonprofit Needs..." mentioned above, a major donor is one who demonstrates an interest in the organization and its work.  The asker relates why the donor's larger increment investment  is needed, why this particular organization is a sound investment and how it will achieve successes with the larger donation.  This information (in any donation request) may or may not be compelling to the donor, but the nonprofit leader, in a major donor ask, has done their job if they have related truthful and compelling facts.  Leaving the discussion (and relationship) so that the donor is comfortable, informed, thanked, and has been asked are the ultimate goals.  We all know that sometimes a person has a reason why they can not give right then (or maybe just not give at that increment right then) and those reasons come and go.  This is O.K.  The key is to engage any and all donors in such a manner that they give now and again later, but if they can't give now - treat them well so that they might give again later.  This is all any fundraiser can do.

__ Being informed about how to go about a face to face larger increment donation request, properly, and then having rehearsed it each help.  Having a well researched perspective donor is helpful, too.  The fundraising department should arm those who are going to meet with potential major donors (i.e. the executive director and board members) with factual and on point set of talking points for the nonprofit representative to have and learn, prior to the meeting, for each perspective major donor.  No one's privacy should be invaded but there is a good amount of information that can be gleaned, for instance, from a nonprofit's own donations records about most donors (i.e. they prefer to give to this campaign, have volunteered in the past (or not), and have a relative who was assisted by this nonprofit (or not).  Once a nonprofit's representative is trained, rehearsed, and informed for each individual they are going to talk with - they feel more at ease.

__ Nowhere is it written that all direct interactions with a potential donor (of any kind) must be one on one.  Do whatever makes everyone involved (e.g. the nonprofit's representatives and the potential donor) comfortable!  If everyone would rather meet during a jog around the local park instead of for a lunch, for instance, - do that.  If the potential donor wishes to include a friend in the meeting - fine.  Why not if that makes them comfortable?  If the nonprofit representative would rather do the ask with another board member present (in a team) that's fine, too, as long as the potential donor is informed and is fine with it (and they usually are).  Take the pressure off wherever and however you can for everyone involved in this process!

__ Know how much you are going to ask each individual potential donor for (based on some real recent giving history and their indicated/demonstrated capability to give in larger increments).  This amount may vary individual major donor to individual major donor and probably will.  For instance, the amount that your organization would ask Bill and Melinda Gates for, in a face to face ask, is likely a different amount from how much you would ask a local business owner for (and one donor and their potential to give is not more important than the other.  Just having supporters who give is the ultimate goal).  Having said this - you aren't out to get as much as you can beyond reason.  If the nonprofit is running a capital campaign and there is a specific amount still un-raised and needed - of course attempt to raise it - but raise it from prospective, if planned, major donors who are really capable of giving at that level and have demonstrated an interest in the organization.  If the amount is very large, split the amount into lesser amounts and ask for specific increments (as needed) based, again, on the individual donor's abilities to give. 

__ Know what you are asking for the money from them for.  If you go into an ask and can't demonstrate why the money is needed and where the money will be spent, why ask for anything at all?  Donors are not money repositories but rather investors or partners who are interested (for usually personal reasons) in the nonprofit's cause or issue, and are invested in the organization because they want to see real, successful, and needed (but yet unmet) outcomes.  Don't abuse their interest.  Be prepared (but not overly so) to demonstrate (in a compelling fashion) how and why the donation is needed.  Make a clear case.  As already stated, being armed with compelling information makes asking for a donation easier for everyone involved.

__ Be grateful.  If they've given before, begin by thanking them and acknowledging their prior support.  If they haven't given to your organization before but are notoriously active in philanthropy or volunteerism in the local community, note that, and thank them (even if it wasn't for your organization - they can be thanked for their concern and involvement in your community).  If they do donate, of course thank them, and follow their wishes if they request anonymity.  Engaging anyone by first thanking them lessens the level of every one's anxiety.

__ Always follow through in a professional and timely manner.  If you meet with a potential donor and they request more information, get it to them.  If they request more time to consider the ask, grant them that.  If they are not ready to give now, but perhaps in six months - thank them and then contact them in six months.  Always grant anyone asked for a donation their rights.  This is how a potential donor feels enabled even if they have not donated to your specific organization, yet.  It is a good way to begin or maintain a relationship even if the first donation has not yet been given.  This leaves everyone in the relationship feeling respected, heard, welcome, and enabled.

__ Rehearse.  It may seem tedious or even unnecessary but the best practices bare out.  It is proven that leaders who practice and rehearse prior to major donor asks do better.  Isn't it always the case with anything that if you practice you do better?  It's true with major donation requests, too.

Grants for Programs Increasing Employment Outcomes for People With Disabilities

From The Foundation Center...

Deadline: February 15, 2011

Kessler Foundation Offers Grants to Increase Employment Outcomes for People With Disabilities

The Kessler Foundation's Signature Employment Grant Program seeks to fund cutting-edge, innovative, and other non-traditional solutions that increase employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

Projects must be collaborative, serve a large geographic area, and include multiple funding partners and stakeholders. In addition, initiatives or projects must have the potential for growth, scalability, or replication.
Any U.S.-based nonprofit organization or other tax-exempt group such as a public/private school, public institution, or government from any state is encouraged to apply.

Applicants may seek a funding amount between $100,000 and $250,000 per year, for maximum project funding of $500,000 over two years.

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

Monday, December 06, 2010

About Bequests and Its Unique Fundraising, What They Are, & How A Nonprofit Can Begin A Bequests Campaign

Bequests are a specific type of donation whereby the bequeathing donor chooses to include your nonprofit organization in their will, so that upon that donor's death your nonprofit receives whatever the donor has left the organization, which is often but not limited to a portion of that donor's estate (cash, property of value, stocks or other traded assets, etc.).  Raising bequests is, like grant writing, another method of fundraising that is another way to raise larger increment donations.

One of the reputable standards, in the American nonprofit sector, Guidestar, has written a free five piece series of blog posts describing how a bequests campaign works.

There are more benefits for a nonprofit, to raising bequests, besides a seeming one time donation.  While the nonprofit organization develops this specific type of donor (which is done during a specific and unique fundraising campaign, the bequest campaign, the nonprofit's key volunteers and staff already having learned what a bequests campaign is, and how one operates such that it succeeds, fully planned it out, and implemented it); the nonprofit is simultaneously bringing someone one who potentially is interested in supporting the nonprofit (perhaps through regular contributions) during the rest of their lives, considering they are interested in giving a portion of their assets to the nonprofit, upon their death.  That is the ultimate goal of any fundraising: to locate potential donors interested in a specific nonprofit's cause, the specific type of work it does on that cause, and in the given nonprofit, itself; such that they are committed to give again and again (usually by the virtue and success of the specific nonprofit's success rate and potential).

Bequest campaigns are run, during a given fiscal year for example, right along side the rest of the year's fundraising.  So, perhaps an example nonprofit during its fiscal year, this year, will do the following fundraising methods (as planned out and organized) and some will be run concurrently: remittance envelopes included in quarterly postal mailed newsletters (mailed to past donors, all clients, and community partners), website donations, four different special events (i.e. golf tournament, gala dinner with auction, mom and me camp, and a celebrity poker tournament), grant writing, a capital campaign, and a bequests campaign.

Guidestar is one of the best resources that exists, for donors (including the Donor's Bill of Rights, tax records information and donation record keeping information, and a database of registered nonprofits so that donors can research how old, effective, efficient, ethical, etc. a nonprofit is, should they be considering giving to that organization).  Guidestar has written an excellent, free, five part primer on what a bequest campaign is, how they function, and how one can be started at your organization.  The link to the first post in the five part blog post series is:

Make 2010 the Year YOU Start Planned Giving Part 1

You will see that the series of five blog posts are listed on the right hand side of Guidestar's blog web page, to further read the remaining four posts.  Needless to say, your organization can use their information for 2010, but also 2011, and on. 

It's always good, too, to consult with an organization's Certified Public Accountant and governing jurisdictions to be up on the current laws, rules, and required reporting before an organization launches a bequests campaign.  Good luck!

Leadership Awards for American and British Jr. High & High School Level Students Wishing to Improve Their Communities

From The Foundation Center...

[For more information on this award opportunity, click "Link to Complete RFP" at the end of this post].

Deadline: January 12, 2011

Bank of America Charitable Foundation Invites Applications for Student Leaders Program

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is accepting applications for its annual Student Leaders Program, a component of the foundation's signature Neighborhood Excellence initiative. The program is open to eligible high school juniors and seniors in selected market areas who are committed to improving their communities.

Selected student leaders participate in a paid eight-week summer internship with a designated local nonprofit organization where they experience firsthand how they can help shape their communities — now and in the future. To enhance their leadership experience, award recipients also participate in a six-day, all-expense-paid student leadership summit in Washington, D.C., provided by Bank of America. The nonprofit internship and student leadership summit exposes students to leadership aspects in the civic, nonprofit, and business arenas. The program's goal is to nurture and develop the country's next generation of community leaders.

Five student leaders will be selected from each of the forty-five eligible markets. To be considered for the program, applicants must be a junior or senior in high school (U.S. markets) or enrolled in sixth form/college or college of further education (ages 16 to 18) (UK). Applicants also must be legally authorized to work in the U.S. without sponsorship and be a student in good standing at his or her school.

Visit the Bank of America Web site for complete program information and application procedures as well as information on obtaining posters to publicize the program.