Sunday, January 30, 2011

New York Times Takes Google To Task for Taking Philanthropy Lightly, Despite Many Attempts to Get It Right

In The New York Times' January 29, 2011 Business Day feature, Google Finds It Hard To Reinvent Philanthropy, Stephanie Strom and Miguel Helft reflect on Google's charitable arm's giving, since 2004 when one of Google's founders, Larry Page, described what that charitable arm, called, now just DotOrg, upon its launch, would do.  Strom and Helft consider whether DotOrg has met Page's 2004 hoped outcomes and achievements, but get from insiders who have worked for and with DotOrg, the inside scoop on some unfortunate findings.  As many nonprofit executives and fundraisers have known for years, things haven't gone very well.  The authors investigate from former DotOrg insiders what's gone wrong and why it went wrong.

For years it has befuddled many of us professionals working in philanthropy.  Why (incredibly) has one of the most innovative, impact-ful, and game-changing companies ever to operate on Earth not done more to give to the community, at large?  Heck, wouldn't it be swell if all of those wealthy Google employees, simply as individuals (capable of some phenomenal individual giving) understood philanthropy better than they apparently do.  Google, from the beginning, conducted its charitable activities as a for-profit operation rather than as a more traditional foundation.  The article states that DotOrg's executives felt operating as a nonprofit would stifle the charitable arm's then goals.  Strom and Helft's article does not elaborate why DotOrg's leaders decided this.

It does sound, though, like the culture at Google, 'innovate at the bleeding edge of all fields by Google's great trade, collecting and making use of data' (oddly) befuddled the engineers or staff at Google's Mountain View, California (main) corporate campus, when they reviewed DotOrg's work, reviewing grant applications, considering DotOrg's potential to do good, etc.  The article quotes different former DotOrg executives and employees (most of whom would not go on the record with their names for fear of damaging a relationship with Google, interestingly) as being mostly disappointed with the way DotOrg was managed, how little it was a part of Google, and how little interest DotOrg seemed to have from Google's executives and founders.  Of course, innovation, at the bleeding edge, and making use of collected data is ripe for real-world solutions to issues challenging communities world-wide.  What it sounds like, from the article, is that no Google executive understood (or still understands) how professional nonprofit best practices work, how modern day professional philanthropy operates (whether you're doing it via a nonprofit or for-profit charitable arm), and how to go about setting and then evaluating for intended goals in philanthropic operations (on both sides of giving: donating and then evaluating the recipient organization's program for its outcomes and lessons learned, after the grant was spent).  How is anyone befuddled with such poor operations management apparent?  It sounds much more like Google's executives felt an off the cuff need to 'give back', yanked a couple of mucky mucks from the philanthropic sector, and said, "Go do some good...".  Google's executives didn't seem to have much time, thereafter, for anything much else, the article indicates.

The article does generally indicate that DotOrg was never clearly defined nor included in the Google culture, at large.  DotOrg never had: a clear mission; clearly defined finite goals; expected outcomes (or ways to measure any outcomes); clearly defined fields of philanthropic interest where the charity arm would focus its giving attention; clear process or schedule to consistently, efficiently, but effectively involve Google's executives (and founders); and the charitable arm was never fully integrated nor managed to be an integrated part of the Google whole.

Of lesser importance is who's fault any of the failures were.

The great travesty is, of course, that, according to the article, there are causes and issues that are important to Google's executives (i.e. the environment, world health, green innovation, higher education, etc.) and those causes have, in all honesty, missed out because of Google (or its lacking charitable effort).  DotOrg's original promoter, Page, hoped "... this institution may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world’s problems,” that the article quotes .  Page wrote this wish in a letter to Google's investors in 2004.  All well meaning intentions aside, Google, had real work to do.  Philanthropic work, the work of nonprofits, is professional business (all aspects of it) and no concern seemed to have been given to starting, planning, regularly evaluating, and hiring for a viable, professionally conducted, and goal-meeting philanthropic program.  One of the world's largest earners missed an opportunity, and according to the article, not just once, in its endeavor.

Have they learned?  Having learned any lesson that caused improvements strengthening DotOrg and its potential (per Page's ambition) would be a win (for Google, DotOrg, and the community at large).  It is not clear yet.  The article closes by sharing DotOrg's current leader's intention.  To quote the article, she says, "Yet for now, the high bar set by Mr. Page remains little more than a tantalizing target for DotOrg. “It is a pretty tall order to try to exceed the impact of Google,” Ms. Smith said. “But we are going to try.”".

I'm not clear why she intends to "try".  There are a myriad of bleeding edge, in their own right, philanthropic successes that exemplify how it's done, when philanthropy is done such that the donors' goals and the beneficiaries of the nonprofits those donors help win.  Also, there are tremendous resources in the form of community foundations (which most often offer its members excellent education and direction on how to give such that (once again) the donor achieves their goals by meeting the real and current needs in the community at large that interest them).  Google's leaders might have some school yet to attend, dare I write it.  While their brainiac talent are famous for being the 'creme de la creme' in engineering, it might be a thing for Google's leaders to understand that philanthropy requires many, various, well established, professional, and unique skill sets, for each given aspect of philanthropic work (which of course is vast), because obviously Google's leadership do not retain it.  It didn't take this Times article to point it out.  It has long been a mystery to any of us working in philanthropy where the Hell Google has been.  They are the ones who set out to give back.  We're all glad they've done well.  There are struggling nonprofits, though, working on real issues (and by the way, working with exceptional talent in their respective fields, among many excellent nonprofits) that could use a powerful, talented, resource-rich, and yes, wealthy partner/investor like Google.  Google's founders/executives might feel they're too busy to bother and why not plunk yet someone else into the executive helm of DotOrg, to alleviate their schedules?  As best practices on both sides of philanthropy have borne out, the fact is, Google will not achieve its philanthropic goals (whatever those might be and who is certain of what those are) until its progenitors take an interest, educate themselves to some effective degree in contemporary professional philanthropic and nonprofit best practices (and process), and actively get involved in an affirmative spirit in DotOrg's mission, goals, work, and outcomes.

As we all know, outside of Google's Mountain View offices, the world could use Google's interest in solving issues.

Awards for Partnerships Between Community Groups and Police to Promote Neighborhood Safety and Revitalization

From The Foundation Center...

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

Deadline: February 28, 2011

Applications Invited for MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards Program

The MetLife Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) are partnering for the tenth year to recognize, sustain, and share the work of innovative partnerships between community groups and police to promote neighborhood safety and revitalization.

The MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards program invites applications from partnerships that exhibit tangible accomplishments in their efforts to advance the process, outcome, and evaluation of potent police-community collaborations. Eligible applicants must be member organizations of partnerships that include, but need not be limited to, community organizations and police.

Awardees receive a monetary grant and their work will be promoted via case studies to a wide audience of practitioners, policymakers, and academics.

The program will award grants in the following two categories:

Neighborhood Revitalization Awards (six awards of $15,000 to $25,000 each): These awards celebrate exemplary collaborations between community groups and police that yield crime reduction as well as economic development outcomes such as real estate development, business attraction, and job growth.

Special Strategy Awards (five awards of $15,000 each) will be given to community and police partners who have achieved significant accomplishments in applied technology, aesthetics and green space improvement, diversity inclusion and integration, drug market disruption, gang prevention and youth safety, and seniors and safety.

Program information and the full Request for Proposals are available at the LISC Web site.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How A Capital Campaign Works

As stated in my previous instructional post, How A Capital Campaign Is Different From Most Other Fundraising Methods, a capital campaign is a fundraising campaign that, in a pre-determined amount of specific (finite) time, raises a very large amount of capital is raised usually to build or buy a building for the organization, or to begin an endowment fund, or to fund a combination of these two assets for the nonprofit.

In this post, I am going to discuss specifics.

A capital campaign is one of maybe only two or three if not the most money the nonprofit will raise in one fundraising campaign during the history of the organization.  As such, it is a very serious but also doable endeavor.  A capital campaign can take, in total, anywhere from three to ten years to conduct.  The capital campaign's goal should be a single, clear, easy to understand, finite goal.

A nonprofit gains a lot of good from having done a capital campaign.  At its completion, the capital campaign provides more than just the sum of money raised and the asset this money affords.  A capital campaign transforms a nonprofit by raising the organization's bar (including among the volunteers and staff), and creates but also leaves, afterward, a greater level of fundraising capability.  A nonprofit is a different organization, after a capital campaign, compared to what it was before the campaign begins.  The organization's leadership, after a capital campaign, will within the community have conducted much of the fundraising and will be more experienced, clearer in their message to the community about the organization (also called an elevator speech), and each leader will be accomplished. A nonprofit will have typically completely reviewed, analyzed, and updated, affirmed, and if necessary calibrated the organization's core message, identity, values, and reason for operating (i.e. the mission statement) prior to launching the campaign, to be certain the nonprofit, its leadership, and its volunteers and staff are clear about what the organization is doing, for whom, why, and how so that the organization's community is told the same, accurate, and clear message before, during,and even after the capital campaign.  The capital campaign is usually not initiated before the nonprofit conducts a feasibility study to be certain of what the core donors and the community's potential to fund the nonprofit's goal actually is, given the state of the local economy, the community's perception of the nonprofit itself, and more.  The organization's overall fundraising and perhaps also its programs and services (and they are conducted) will be reviewed, analyzed, and if necessary improved before a capital campaign launches.  There are aspects to raising funds in a capital campaign that will spill into all of the organization's fundraising that will strengthen and improve its fundraising outcomes going forward.  I'll discuss these more, in a moment.  Similarly, the organization's public relations, marketing, and social media campaigns will be revamped prior to a capital campaign, leaving the organization, afterward, very capable and perhaps more practiced in these three critical ways to create more and new support.  At the end of a capital campaign, the nonprofit will have achieved its unprecedented fundraising goal, expanded how much and from whom it can raise funds from in the future, and leaves the leaders, volunteers, and staff who were active participants informed, talented, and experienced fundraisers.  A capital campaign transforms a nonprofit into a key fundraising, operations, and successful outcomes-based machine inside, and out, including within the organization's community.

As I said, the capital campaign also transforms a nonprofit' overall fundraising, concurrently with the capital campaign effort, and after the capital campaign is done, through the prep, training, and strategy necessary to run a successful capital campaign.  An organization's leaders, volunteers, and staff can easily take the strategies, best practices, methods, and skills learned during a major fundraising campaign and apply it to all other fundraising, afterward.

A capital campaign typically involves (from initiation to completion) five to six phases.  As stated, these phases occur, typically, anywhere from three to ten years.  The phases of a capital campaign are:

Fact Finding and Preparation - The organization's leadership and key volunteers and staff determine actuals about the organization, how its perceived in the community, about the goal of the capital campaign and how the community would (or wouldn't) support it (and why), how a capital campaign is run and what the current professional nonprofit best practices are to conduct it (internally and when meeting with donors), and internal operations are reviewed, updated, and improved as necessary such as all fundraising, marketing, public relations, social media relations, programs' and services' planning, delivery, and outcomes, everyone involved learns what a capital campaign is, what their roll and expected accomplishments will be and is trained how to do their work to achieve those goals, and more;

Planning - The capital campaign, its goal, its expected outcomes, the: road map, business plan, fundraising plan, marketing and public relations plan, different assignments, action items, donor and donations planning, trainings, plus all other usual organizational operations that must be run concurrently with the capital campaign, recruitment, marketing materials, organizational and also campaign messages, and more are planned, reviewed, re-drafted, and reviewed again until finally the campaign begins to be staged;

Initial Fundraising - Usually involves raising support (capital, assets, pledges, and more) from major donors and acquiring special gifts.  These contributions are what's called lead or leadership donations as the organization can point to this acquired support once the entire capital campaign fundraising gets underway.  These contributions are among the initial fundraising because others, when they are asked to give later, will feel more confident giving and giving in larger increments, once all capital campaign fundraising is underway, knowing who (or what foundations or trusts, etc.) gave lead donations, already, during the beginning of this particular capital campaign and in what amounts (IF the leader donor has stated it is OK for the organization to share that information publicly - and some will as this is not uncommon);

General Fundraising - General donations (not necessarily in larger increments), and finally all levels of donors are engaged specifically for the capital campaign;

Conclusion - Pledges are paid out, grants are scheduled, and all work that required the capital campaign is underway (i.e. an endowment, building or buying a building, or both);

Wrap - All efforts, work, outcomes, and lessons learned are objectively, ethically, and anonymously gathered, tabulated, and reviewed by key staff, volunteers, and leaders.  Improvements, clarifications, and the public wrap and thank you is planned and initiated.  The most important thing that a nonprofit acquires from a capital campaign is not just achieving its campaign goal, but it now has an operating, efficient, and effective relationship with its community.  Its goal must be to manage that relationship such that it uses the new found leverage to the best for the beneficiaries of the organization's mission statement, and also so that it retains these investors, partners, and other types of supporters of the organization and its work.

Grant donors, in particular, that the nonprofit will apply to for capital grants will want to see that the entire campaign, its teams, and its intended outcome are well trained and thought out, are reaching and inspiring constituents, and that there are planned benchmarks, outcomes, and evaluations so that intended outcomes can be compared to actual outcomes, lessons can be learned, and improvements will be made (in the organization resulting in the same in the community).

The success of the capital campaign will depend on everyone involved conducting their role and achieving their benchmarks and role's goals.  The organization's leadership, as its leaders are its public face, the people responsible for networking in the community on the organization's behalf (always explaining its: mission, beneficiaries, programs and services, successes, achievements, accolades, current goals, and why the organization is needed), and the most responsible for the organization's achievements, will (not surprisingly) be the most key people involved in the capital campaign.  For this reason, the board and any related committees must be well thought out, proactively recruited for, and well informed, trained, and rehearsed before launching a capital campaign.

An organization's strategy is the over-arching power behind any successful capital campaign.  If there is no clearly defined strategy then the nonprofit's planning, effort, and results may be lack-luster (at the worst).  A nonprofit must clarify and then reveal to its own teams and also to its community why it and its work in the community are needed, what needs it meets now, its successes and achievements, that it is financially stable and viable, who the organization benefits and how, what the organization's current and future goals are and why, how the public can get involved (in all ways - not just donations, but volunteering, community partners, etc.), and all of this should be confidence building, compelling, and accurate.  If an organization's strategy is not to get its name and achievements repeated in its community, or it is not ready to assert that it is the most efficient, capable, and viable organization to do the work it's doing, then it is not ready to launch a capital campaign.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grants for Community Colleges Enabling People Ages 50+ to Complete Degrees or Certificates in Competitive Professions

From The Foundation Center...

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

Deadline: March 4, 2011

American Association of Community Colleges Requests Proposals for Plus 50 Completion Strategy Grants

With support from the Lumina Foundation for Education (LFF), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) will award AACC Plus 50 Completion Strategy Grants to community colleges committed to enhancing or expanding their existing degree, certificate, and not-for-credit programs for students 50 years of age and older. The foundation is especially interested in supporting programs that help those who have earned prior college credits obtain the credentials sought by employers in high-demand, high-growth fields.

Enhancement or expansion may be defined as offering career development and other support services that foster completion such as financial aid assistance, computer technology skill-building, math and English refresher courses, flexible scheduling options, tailored career advising, completion coaches or advisers; redesigning programs to meet specific needs such as offering noncredit and credit, compressed, fast-tracked, or accelerated courses; recruiting and reaching out to the plus-50 population; offering professional development to faculty to enhance their effectiveness in working with plus-50 students; assessing prior learning and capturing previously earned credits; establishing or enhancing collaboration and partnerships with local employers; and increasing access to college for plus-50 students (e.g., making accommodations for job or transportation challenges to class attendance).

The program will award eleven grants of $12,000 over three years. Awards are contingent upon evidence of adequate yearly progress. In addition, a travel allowance of $1,200 will be provided for the Plus 50 Completion Strategy Coordinator to attend a Plus 50 conference in summer 2011.

Grants may support activities such as training and retraining, career development, and support activities that enhance successful workforce training and retraining credential completion for adults over the age of 50. Political or religious programming is not supported by this grant.

The complete Request for Proposals and an FAQ are available at the AACC Web site.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How A Capital Campaign Is Different From Most Other Fundraising Methods

Is your nonprofit organization considering or planning to build or buy a building?  If so, as you know, this is one of the most expensive if not the most expensive goals that a nonprofit can set for itself.  Having said that, it is most certainly not an unusual goal to achieve successfully, if a nonprofit lays the proper groundwork, implements a viable capital campaign, and runs an effective and efficient campaign to raise the funds for the new building.

Capital campaigns are, as they say, "their own animals".  This means that capital campaigns, among all of the fundraising conducted in the nonprofit world, are unique.  As a capital campaign is still fundraising work, there is of course cross over in all fundraising in the basic principles such as: fundraising ethics and professionalism, donor care, managing and track donations and donors, overseeing the entire campaign for effectiveness and success, efficiency, and to engender a feeling between your organization and each donor of partnership, gratitude, and mutual achievement for the best of the community.  Where capital campaigns differ from any other type of fundraising campaign or fundraising method is most noticeably how much money is usually needed to be raised in order for the goal of building or buying a new building, or to raise funds for an endowment fund.

Using building as an example, if, for instance, a southern Californian nonprofit is going to build in downtown Los Angeles; or if a Washington state nonprofit in Central Washington is going to buy a building in smaller Ellensburg, Washington; the two buildings' costs are going to be different, but the point is that relative to the nonprofit organization (and given each locale's regional economy) they are each respectively enormous financial undertakings, in terms of the capital campaign.  One building may cost its organization $4 million and the organization's building expense may be $800,000 but neither amount (especially relative to each organization's respective local economy) is small or inconsequential.

Capital campaigns differ from any other type of fundraising in other ways, as well:

__ The nonprofit will want to conduct and oversee the entire fundraising campaign, itself (even with the hired effort of a consultant, this type of fundraising campaign should be run 'in house' because it is raising such a large amount of money and potential community buy- in and recruiting all kinds of larger increment donors.  No nonprofit should ever forgo the opportunity to develop and raise more support from any donor who gives once (let alone a larger increment donor)).

__ The nonprofit usually has no in-house expert on staff or even successful capital campaign fundraiser on its board, though sometimes a board member or two are recruited for board vacancies specifically because of their success in recent and excellent (ethical, professional, efficient) capital campaigns completed by other nonprofit organizations (in the region or nearby).  This campaign, by its very nature, requires that at least one or two people on its committee truly have successful capital campaign experiences among their credentials.  As already indicated, a nonprofit most certainly can also hire a talented, successful capital campaign consultant, too.  Similarly, (whether hiring a consultant or not) most everyone on the capital campaign committee (and also pertinent volunteers and staff) will want to learn about how a capital campaign is conducted according to professional nonprofit best practices, today, in order to ensure the highest likelihood for success.

__ There is no way to avoid the usually long and detailed planning period involved in such a large increment fundraising campaign, in particularly necessary for a capital campaign.  Any fundraising requires advanced planning (including a learning curve among the nonprofit's leadership if a fundraising method or type of campaign is new to it (usually the case for a capital campaign)).  Also, all fundraising requires some initial planning and implementation period.  No fundraising that is new to any nonprofit can 'just be initiated' one day, if success and efficiency is seriously expected.  Also, no fundraising new to any nonprofit raises more money than the specific fundraiser costs, in its first year (usually).  Depending on the fundraising method or campaign being discusses, usually it takes 2 - 5 years of repeating a single fundraiser annually for a nonprofit to make more net, than it costs to produce.  This is normal.  A capital campaign, though it occurs over years of time usually due to planning and initiating the campaign, must make more money than is spent on the campaign once the campaign is begun.  This expectation is generally unusual in most all other nonprofit fundraising.

__ All other normal annual fundraising and fundraising efforts, during the entire life of the capital campaign (which, again, is usually years) must also concurrently be successful and grow (as they always should) year to year.  So, all total fundraising to be conducted over the duration of each year, including the capital campaign, must be planned out very thoughtfully and effectively.  If, for instance, you have a few programs that are funded annually by a small group of your organization's major donors, you don't want the capital campaign committee to 'usurp' those donors.  Instead, you want their fundraising and the rest of all of the organization's fundraising to be planned out (with each campaign, its expected outcomes, and the financial goals for each) to be coordinated, planned and organized in advance, and you want everyone (and I mean everyone) involved in any and all fundraising efforts for each year to be clear about the coordination, plan, and goals for each and all fundraising for each year, all years.  If Mrs. Takahashi is a major donor and has given $25,000 annually to partially fund the children's rehabilitation program - and she suddenly gets correspondence or requests from the capital campaign committee (something she's never given to before nor indicated she's interested in funding, in addition to the children's rehab program, this might be confusing at a minimum, but perhaps even seem worse, to her).  Never put any donor (major or otherwise) in a position of having to get your organization's volunteers', staff, or committees' efforts or goals organized.  You absolutely want to keep your organization's relationship with Mrs. Takahasi mutually comfortable, if you want to continue to get her assistance in funding a regular program.

__ Though, if run well, the capital campaign will net a considerable and much larger increment amount of money compared to how much it will cost to run; a capital campaign is absolutely one of the most expensive fundraising campaigns to conduct.  Therefore, everyone in a leadership position (volunteer or staff) must absolutely be clear and fully capable in a few skills: budget design; budget oversight; modern, professional, fundraising methods and their best practices (because best practices are such due to their high level of success and efficiency rates); communicating and listening; viewing the mission and current organizational goals as the guiding principles directing all decision making; program planning (including staffing, time allocation, setting anticipated outcomes, including evaluations, budgeting, oversight for reporting, compliance, efficiency, and effectiveness;etc.); public relations; marketing; major donor asks; networking in the community; and more.  Larger increment fundraising is traditionally a nonprofit organization's responsibility because face to face asks are one of the best methods to raise large increment single donations; and having no less than the organization's leaders doing the asking is a 'peer to peer' relationship builder.  Also, most nonprofit leaders donate to the organization that they work for and it is a fundamental fundraising best practice that leaders who have given, themselves, have an easier time (after training and rehearsal, as always) asking major donors to give, also.  Leaders are not just conducting the usual organizational oversight, planning and working to develop new organizational goals, and doing their usual fundraising duties.  During a capital campaign, at least some of the organization's leaders will have new additional duties and responsibilities - but again, the pay off is exceptional for the organization (and for the community).

__ The various fundraising methods that will be necessary to raise such a large amount for the nonprofit, necessary by any organization conducting a capital campaign, may require the organization's fundraising volunteers and staff to learn, have to be successful in fundraising methods they've never done, and other additional and new professional challenges.  Diversification is the greatest defense against a bad economy, exposing the organization to deficits or loss in the capital campaign, and over-tapping one or two sources of support in an organization's community.  So, a more successful capital campaign will involve a few different types of methods to raise funds, such as: face to face major donor meetings, grant writing, sometimes bequests, new and unique individual appeal campaigns, sponsor drives, new and unique special events, and more.  Being certain to involve at least a few different fundraising methods makes it certain that no organization loses because it expected too much from one type of supporter (i.e. a grant donor like a foundation).  Also, keeping in mind all other usual annual organizational fundraising will be going on concurrent to the capital campaign, diversifying the fundraising methods used to raise money for the capital campaign also is some insurance against over tapping established long time donors to an organization.

__ Other factors: most certainly the national and regional (local) economies, the organization's reputation, the organization's success rate and how well the community knows this, whether the community even knows about the organization's capital campaign and why it is necessary (which should be compelling), the organization's potential for future success for the community it serves, how much networking the organization's leadership has done and will do among all of the community's various types of donors (grant donors, individual donors, corporate sponsors, etc.), whether other similar organizations or other organizations in a small community are also conducting capital (or larger increment) fundraising campaigns at the same time, and more can STRONGLY effect the potential or outcome of a capital campaign.  For this reason, many smart nonprofits' leaders conduct a feasibility assessment or needs assessment to determine whether the time and climate is strong enough for the organization to be successful at a capital campaign.  these kinds of studies can also indicate what work it has to do before it can successfully raise such a large single amount from its community.  From a feasibility assessment, an organization can be informed one of the following: there's a highly likelihood for a successful capital campaign, the time is not right now (for x, y, and z reasons) but in two years the outcome looks more likely, and other potential findings.  A nonprofit can hire a professional fundraising feasibility assessment consultant) to create, disseminate, tabulate, and make recommendations based on the study's findings.  These are wise studies to conduct before initiating a large campaign of any kind, but especially a capital campaign, because there is almost no nonprofit (no matter how well run, how well marketed in its community, how successful) that can simply begin planning a capital campaign and easily launch the campaign without having some work to do to shore up its community's misconceptions, lack of knowledge about the organization and its work, or any other public relations situation.

Capital campaigns are unusual forms of fundraising for a nonprofit to conduct as usually most organizations do not need to build or buy a building but once or maybe twice in the organization's lifetime.  In other words, it's not something any organization does regularly terribly often.  Also, capital campaigns (while very capable of being successful when conducted well) are ventures to raise exceptionally large amounts of money in a single time and finite time frame.  While this time frame should be realistic, and so is usually long, it doesn't make the effort any less intimidating, arduous, or exceptional.  Having said this, as is always the case, simply educating yourself and everyone who will in any way be involved about what a capital campaign is, how a successful one is run today, training everyone involved, and planning and then informing everyone involved in the organization what the plan is and how all efforts will work along with the capital campaign, itself, is a perfectly fine way to get the successful capital campaign going.

In my next instructional post, see How A Capital Campaign Works.

Grants for Health Organizations, Systems, Education Programs, or Private Practices Advancing the Medical Profession

From The Foundation Center...

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

Deadline: March 31, 2011

American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation and Council of Medical Specialty Societies Offer Grants to Advance Medical Professionalism

The American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation (ABIMF) has partnered with the Council of Medical Specialty Societies for the Putting the Charter into Practice grant program to provide financial support to professional medical organizations, health systems/hospitals, academic medical centers and medical practices, and other organizations as they work to advance medical professionalism.

Specifically, the grant program will facilitate the development of innovative, emerging strategies to advance appropriate health care decision-making and stewardship of health care resources, one of the commitments of the Physician Charter, which states: "While meeting the needs of individual patients, physicians are required to provide health care that is based on the wise and cost-effective management of limited clinical resources."

Potential projects to advance physician stewardship might include but are not limited to educational programs that sensitize physicians to resource management; development of communication competencies around shared decision-making and other methods to improve and support optimal health care decision-making; development of guidelines for high-value, effective care; dissemination of guidelines and recommendation to practicing physicians; and initiatives to reduce overuse of certain tests and procedures. These represent only a few examples of potential projects, and applicants are encouraged to think broadly and creatively on the topic of appropriate health care decision-making.

Applicants from health systems/hospitals, academic medical centers, medical groups, and professional medical organizations who are interested in advancing physicians' stewardship of resources are encouraged to apply. Medical school and residency programs may also apply as long as their proposed initiatives include both students/residents and faculty as co-participants and learners.

The ABIM Foundation will award up to five grants of $20,000 each in 2011.  Visit the ABIM Foundation Web site, or the link "Link to Complete RFP", below, for complete program guidelines and application procedures.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Why It Matters What The Public Thinks of A Nonprofit & How to Check

What does the general public think about your nonprofit organization?  No matter what you know or
think you know the public thinks about it, how do you truly determine what your organization’s
image or reputation is, without checking?  If you don’t get feedback, the fact is, then you truly
don’t know what the public thinks about your agency.

Why does it matter what the general public thinks about your nonprofit (or why does it matter
that they think anything at all about it)?

If your organization, it’s name, its work, its mission, its recent achievements and successes,
and why it does the work that it currently does is not understood among the people living in the
community that your organization serves; how then does your organization raise support, acquire
new support, acquire community partners, recruit volunteers and excellent staff, and more?  More
importantly, how will it grow without support (and the organization’s strong reputation in its

Your nonprofit hopefully regularly creates, disseminates, gets back, tallies, and acquires
findings from meaningful, accurate, pertinent, and quantifiable data from the people who
participate in its programs, services, and use its products.  Lessons must always be learned for
anything to improve and become leading work in its field.  For anything and everything that your
organization does related to the work of its mission statement, you should be regularly,
ethically, and objectively obtaining quantifiable (an relevant) feedback about the beneficiaries’
actual experience of those programs, etc.  If you don’t, how then do your organization’s services
and programs improve, achieve real results for your agency’s beneficiaries, or get receive kind
of objective or meaningful scrutiny to check for each one’s effectiveness and outcomes?

Consider, then, that your nonprofit’s current and new or potential: donors, volunteers, community
partners, staff, consultant, and any other type of partner’s perception of your nonprofit is also
worth worrying about.  Much stress, wasted resources and money, and time can be saved; in fact,
numbers of donors and numbers of donations; new volunteers; and even the number of truly talented
professionals that your organization would wish to consider when hiring can be increased by
proactively managing one’s organization’s reputation and image, among the general public.  One
way to begin is gather all current pertinent public-facing inter-personal interactions, written
materials’, web and other virtual materials’, etc. content and reviewing it.  What is the message
‘Joe or Josephine Q. Public’ could or might get from it, about your organization?  The other way
to find out is to also regularly gather the general public’s perception of your nonprofit after
reading, hearing, or interacting with it and its content.

What potentially new donors have considered giving to your organization, but haven’t because of a
misunderstanding that could simply be fixed by clarifying some public message your organization
is stating?

How many people have considered but decided not to volunteer with your organization because
they’ve never been told that, for instance, your nonprofit does not require a minimum number of
hours’ commitment, per week, which is exactly the kind of leeway they need if they were to commit
as a volunteer with your agency, since their schedules are so full, each week?  If only they

What potential community partner has not even heard of your organization or is not aware of what
the organization’s work is?  What a shame, because perhaps it turns out that if they knew, they’d
reach out to you, and it could work out that your organization works together with theirs’ to
produce that new program that you’re trying to lock down funding for, in order to get it going.
Perhaps they have a major donor who would fund its first three years, and having helped gotten it
underway, enabled the program to operate at all (without placing fundraising strains on whether
it comes to be or not)?  Sometimes collaboration winds up enabling something that would never
been possible without the team work.

Your nonprofit’s leadership should gather, review, research, compare, and then discuss the
following nonprofit’s messages.  Review each message’s content.  Is it even relevant today?  Is
it ‘on message’ conveying the organization’s current: mission statement, goals, anticipated
outcomes, successes and achievements, reason for existing, values, and professionalism?  If not,
why aren’t all of these outward or public facing messages consistent?  This should not be done to
scrutinize anyone’s work.  Instead, the goal in reviewing all messaging, and get public feedback,
is to get a true understanding of what the general public’s impression is of the nonprofit.  If a
group of people or individual apparently isn’t aware of the organization’s intended image, train
them.  Never assume that everyone knows how to be professional, knows basic customer service
skills, or knows the organization’s mission, values, or current goals, for instance.

Gather the most recent versions of the following and consider its content and what message
(intended or not) it gives to the public (current donors, volunteers, and partners; and potential
or new donors, volunteers, and partners, for instance):

__ All fundraising events’, campaigns’, and methods’ written, virtual, and even interpersonal
content or conversations (i.e. grant applications, annual appeal letters, sponsor recruitment
documents, informal discussions on the phone, etc.);

__ All recruitment documents (for volunteers, board members, staff, consultants, etc.) including
written, virtual, and verbal messages such as in solicitations, interviews, training, and

__ How happy, fulfilled, supported, and heard are staff, consultants, and volunteers working for
your nonprofit?  How is morale among volunteers?  Staff?

__ How does all public facing interactions between anyone representing your organization
(officially or not) and the public go?  What are office walk ins’, donation droppers’,
fundraising event attendees, program participants’, potential clients’, career fair attendees’,
professional affiliation members’, etc. impressions of your organization after their experiences
with official and unofficial representatives of your organization?  What about when the public
talks to anyone in the office on the phone, receives an e-mail, gets a fax, receives postal mail,

__ All online content (website, social media, gossip, criticism, etc.);

__ Newsletters’ content (past events, upcoming events, donation requests, volunteer requests,

__ How do intra-personal interactions, between anyone who works in the office, generally go?;

__ The organization’s interactions (written, interpersonal, etc.) with its community partners
(such as other nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, etc.);

__ All marketing materials;

__ All public relations materials’ content;

__ All programs’, services’, and goods’ materials;

__ All recent press (good and negative);

__ Etc.

What is the public misunderstanding about your nonprofit?  How can this be rectified?  What
message is your organization attempting to send that the public is clearly not getting?  Why did
this happen?  How can this be avoided in the future?  What image damage exists?  Is it accurate
or are there clarifications that must be made?  What will be effective at efficiently fixing each

Outward facing messaging to the general public should be consistent.  It should also be
proactively planned, implemented, and managed because so much depends upon the general public
knowing about your organization and its work, but knowing the correct and intended information. 

As stated, a nonprofit should regularly determine what its public’s perception is of: itself, its
work, and its potential; and findings should be reviewed and improvements should then be made.
How successful are different campaigns to inform the public about any and all of the
organization’s work? 

A nonprofit’s difficulties with acquiring new donors, recruiting better quality staff, and the
best of the best for new board members may have to do with an organization’s public image or its
reputation, or both.

A nonprofit can always improve its image and its reputation and thereby improve its successes at
acquiring all different types of support, while lowering its expenses and waste.  An organization
cannot do this, though, if it does not objectively check what the public thinks of the nonprofit
and its work.

Grants for Turtle Species Conservation Work

From The Foundation Center...

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

Deadline: April 1, 2011 (Pre-proposals)

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Invites Applications for Sea Turtle Conservation Projects

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has announced the availability of matching grant funding for sea turtle conservation projects in the Western Hemisphere. Projects of interest will focus on research, assessment, and bycatch reduction.

Conservation grant proposals are invited in the following sea turtle research and conservation priority areas: increase effective usage of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) both domestic and abroad, and implementation of other bycatch reduction methods in areas of high bycatch in the Western Hemisphere that will benefit priority sea turtle populations (targeted grant range is up to $100,000 per year); determine and assess potential bycatch and/or unsustainably managed legal harvest hotspots for the North American loggerhead population and the Caribbean hawksbill population (targeted grant range is up to $50,000 per year); and strategies on priority nesting beaches to reduce adult harvest to zero and nest mortally to less than 10 percent of nests laid for index beaches of priority sea turtle populations (targeted grant range is up to $25,000 each per year.

Applicants are encouraged to select one topic for each proposal. Applications outside of these three priority areas will be considered for funding provided they support the goals and objectives outlined under the NFWF Sea Turtle Conservation Business Plan, but will be a lesser priority for funding.

All persons, organizations, and agencies (excluding U.S. Federal Government) working on projects to increase the populations of North Atlantic leatherbacks and loggerheads, Caribbean hawksbills, East Pacific leatherbacks, hawksbills, and loggerheads are eligible to apply. Applications for funding for land or easement acquisition, political advocacy, lobbying, or litigation will not be considered.

The majority of awards under this program will fall in the range of $25,000 to $150,000; however, upper or lower limits to award size are not specified. A minimum of a 1:1 match of cash or in-kind services is required. Projects may extend from one to three years.

Visit the NFWF Web site for the complete Request for Proposals and application procedures.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Top Ten How To Improve Your Nonprofit's Fundraising This New Year

Happy, healthy, and prosperous new year to you and the nonprofit organization that you work for!  What nonprofit couldn't fine tune, improve, and increase its fundraising and fundraising successes?  In this spirit, I'm listing the top ten posts providing explicit information on the following fundraising methods and best practices:

10.) How Your Nonprofit's Fundraising Can Be Successful in the Coming Fiscal Year

9.) The Foundation Center Now Provides a Free Website That Teaches How to Do Grant Writing

8.) How Networking Can Be One of (If Not The) Most Important Modes for A Nonprofit to Obtain Its Goal (Any Goal)

7.) All About Sponsors and Sponsorships As Donors and a Fundraising Method

6.) One Way to Remedy Fundraising Jitters Is To Have Reasons To Feel Confident About the (Organization's) Potential to Succeed, and Here's How

5.) How To Request Any Support: A Donation, A Grant, Etc.: By Making A Compelling Case to Support Your Organization

4.) How Any Nonprofit Can Raise More Support, Acquire the Best Talent, Strive, and Grow

3.) How To Use Marketing Affordably To Increase A Nonprofit's Numbers of New Grant Donors

2.) A Compilation of Posts Explaining How to Plan For and Begin Grant Writing for Your Organization

1.) Tips for the Nonprofit Applying Again to One of Its Past Grant Donors

Best wishes to you and the organization you work with!

Grants for American and Candian Organizations Successfully Restoring Native Species & Ecosystems

From The Foundation Center...

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

Deadline: February 1, 2011; May 1, 2011; and September 1, 2011

Fund for Wild Nature Offers Support for Grassroots Environmental Work

The Fund for Wild Nature seeks to provide "small grants to small groups who get things done." The fund provides money for campaigns in the United States and Canada to save and restore native species and wild ecosystems, including actions to defend wilderness and biological diversity.

Funding is provided for advocacy, litigation, public policy work, development of citizen science, and similar endeavors. The fund does not support basic scientific research, private land acquisition, individual action or study, conferences, or the work of wildlife sanctuaries and rehabilitation facilities.

The fund supports bio centric goals that are premised on effective and intelligible strategies. Special attention is paid to ecological issues not currently receiving sufficient public attention and funding. All proposals must be highly cost-effective.

The fund only rarely provides support to organizations with annual budgets greater than $250,000.
Grants range from $1,000 to $5,000 each.

Visit the fund's Web site for complete funding guidelines and descriptions of previously funded projects.