Sunday, July 24, 2011

From Planning A Nonprofit's Grant Writing Work, to How Each Step of the Grant Raising Process Is Conducted According to Professional Best Practices (and Why)...

How To Plan Out This Year's Grant Seeking

What Information Goes Into A Grant Proposal?

About Grant Guidelines

If A Grant Donor Allows Phone Calls, Call Each Donor Your Agency Is Applying for a Grant From

Descriptions of Different Grant Proposals' Documents Formats

Top Ten Formatting Tips for Any Grant Proposal

Evaluation Methods - How Can A Nonprofit Use Them to Raise More Money More Often

The Letter of Inquiry or Letter of Introduction - Often the Initial Grant Application Step

That Darn First Paragraph In Your Grant Proposal

How to Write the Organizational Description In A Grant Proposal

That Program, Project, Or Item: Writing In Your Proposal About What You Need the Grant For 

How To Make the Case for Your Grant Request, In the Grant Proposal

How Do We Tighten Up Our Grant Proposal?

Applying for Grants Through the Grant Donor's Online Grant Application Wizard or Program

Received Press After You've Mailed A Few Grant Requests?  Here's What to Do...

Grants for Nonprofits or Individuals Archiving or Preserving the Sound Heritage of America, And Also for Studies of Music On the Human Condition

From The Foundation Center...

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

Deadline: October 3, 2011 (Letters of Inquiry)

Grammy Foundation Offers Grants for Music Research and Preservation Projects

Funded by the Recording Academy, the Grammy Foundation Grant Program annually provides support for music archiving and preservation efforts and for scientific research projects related to the impact of music on the human condition.

The foundation awards scientific research project grants of up to $20,000 to organizations and individuals working to research the impact of music on the human condition. Examples of eligible projects include the study of the effects of music on mood, cognition, and healing, as well as the medical and occupational well-being of music professionals and the creative process underlying music. Priority is given to projects with strong methodological design as well those addressing an important research question.

The foundation will award archiving and preservation project grants to organizations and individuals working to advance the archiving and preservation of the music and recorded sound heritage of the Americas. The archiving and preservation area has two funding categories — preservation implementation (grants of up to $20,000) and planning, assessment, and/or consultation (grants of up to $5,000).

For the 2011-12 funding cycle, a Letter of Inquiry is required before a full application may be invited for consideration.

Visit the Grammy Foundation Web site for complete program guidelines and the Letter of Inquiry form.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Some Suggestions Based on A Fundraising Event That I Just Attended That Could Have Done Better, So Your Organization Doesn't Make the Same Unfortunate Omissions

This weekend my husband and I attended a local, annual, fundraising event for local nonprofit organizations.  It's a lovely evening, including bite sized plates by different accomplished chefs from across the United States, each plate is paired with a specific unique wine and beer, a main stage with two bands performing dance music all night long, and all of this occur outdoors at a lovely, scenic, local venue.

Specific to the actual fundraising, though, I was (as a professional fundraiser) left scratching my head over a couple of very key things, so I thought that I'd share to perhaps prevent your nonprofit organization from doing the same at your next fundraising event.

When my husband and I arrived and parked, there were no signs in the lot that we parked in nor on the trail that we were supposed to take to direct us to where the event was located.  We had a fairly long walk (perhaps 1/8th of a mile) and only got tot he event, itself, (in a golf course) because two different caddies drove past us, per chance, as we stumbled around looking.   We saw two other parties of attendees lost, looking for direction, too.

We, next, gave our tickets to the greeters at the main gate, we were given a bracelet to authorize that we were of age to drink (something that most states' alcohol/beverage boards require at a public event like this which serves alcohol), a wooden pog, and a small slip of paper.

After we got into the event, we looked around at everything offered and all going on.  Personally, having helped put on very similar types of fundraising events of the same size and larger, I thought, 'This pog or slip of paper that we just received must give us the details of the evening's events.  Neither did.  The slip of paper explained that the pog was to be used for each attendee to vote for the sponsor's tent that they thought was decorated the nicest. 

__ First, nothing was handed to us, upon our entering the event, that asked us to contribute to any of the local nonprofits that the event is helping to raise funds for.  This is the most unfortunate mishap of the evening, as at this event, are people who support the event, have the means to support nonprofit organizations (as the ticket for the evening was $200/person) but no attendees were asked for a direct contribution (in an amount of their choosing or in a recommended amount) last night.  While, yes, the attendees are contributing by paying the ticket fee, the legal amount of the contribution is the amount given to each nonprofit being supported last night, in each organization's individual portion (which means that there were tens of organizations being supported - not one, so they each share the donations raised in direct proportion to the number of them), less the cost of the attendee's evening (i.e. food, beverage, overhead, etc.).  If an attendee was given a pledge sheet, last night, as they entered the event, perhaps listing every nonprofit being supported, with a donation line next to them which the attendee if they chose to, could write in a donation amount that they promise to give, there could've been a formal ask after everyone had had a few drinks, requesting that the attendees be sure to go through their pledge sheet and select a nonprofit or two that they believe in to give a contribution to, more money would've been raised.  If attendees aren't asked, though, (as they weren't last night) no one will give any contributions beyond what the tickets raised, themselves.  Remember, when a donor is asked to give, they have the right to say "no", but if they are not asked to give then, quite simply, not one of them does.  The ask is probably one of the top three most critical things that any fundraiser must do to conduct their job to the full potential, and raise the most possible.  At one point, in the evening, a master of ceremony at the main stage did ask participants to pledge and as he did, a woman turned to me and asked, "Did you get a pledge form when you came in?" and I said, "No, I did not."  She replied, "We didn't either,".

__ Second, we did not receive a pamphlet or booklet that explained the layout of the evening's offerings, at the site.  Where were the bathrooms, where was lost and found, and where were the garbage cans/recycling bins?  This particular event, in length and width, was laid out over probably about two football fields.  We could see, generally, that food was being served around the perimeter, but there were private tents for sponsors' attendees set up interspersed among the food vendors, so it was a bit unclear at first.  Also, we knew that each food dish was to be paired with a specific beer and wine, but it was not initially clear where those pairings were made available, for each dish being offered.

__ Third, there were booklets that listed the names and services provided of each sponsor.  It listed all of the volunteers, the key staff, and thanked the local venue, listed the bands, etc.  The booklet did not have a donation envelope or pledge sheet in it, either.  Again, this is unfortunate.  The booklet could've listed each nonprofit's name and explained each organization's: mission, recent successes and accomplishments, current goals, and why their effort is so necessary right now in our community.  This kind of compelling case ingratiates a donor by drawing them in to an opportunity to (in effect) partner with a nonprofit of that donor's choosing by giving it a donation and thereby enabling its programs and services (and ultimately, its accomplishments).  This is how a repeat donor is raised who remains a long term repeat donor.  They are understood to be critical to the organization's ability to succeed so they are treated as investor/partners in the organization's potential and its successes.

__ Fourth, at no time, during the evening, did any of the masters of ceremony who spoke at the main stage explain each nonprofit that was being supported or their mission or recent work. 

__ Fifth, there were no visuals, regarding what the fundraising goal is (in sum total), nor any visual indicating how much, so far, has been raised, and how much remains to be raised to meet the total financial goal.  Again, what a shame.  Imagine if any one of those attendees, last night, (some of which are some of the wealthiest members of this community) felt so strongly about the goal and potential to help these organizations, simply took out their checkbook to write a check, themselves, to in part (or in total!) contribute the rest of the amount needed to raise the total goal amount?!  There was no such clear visual, though, last night.

__ Finally, the website for the event is visually gorgeous.  It's very colorful, contemporary, and on topic.  The surprising thing is that when my husband and I referred to it last night to find out what all the evening involved, whether the venue was outdoors or indoors, what the dress code was, where the event's site and parking were: none of that were on the website.  Not any pertinent information nor clear description of the evening or its details are on the website.  What a shame.  We had to look up photos of previous year's events to see what those year's attendees wore to get a sense of what we should wear.  We had to call local friends who had gone before who could give us the rest of the information as the host company's office was closed.

There are no perfect fundraisers, nor perfect events.  There are many ways to conduct successful fundraising events and no two are probably the same.  Having said this, there are things that are somewhat necessary that one can simply improve an attendee's experience of any event, by including.

Oh, and my husband and I never even looked at the different sponsors' tents or their interior design because we, ourselves, were not at the event with any sponsor.  So, why would we?  After all, we were there to have a fun evening, eat, and enjoy ourselves.  We came home with that slip of paper and pog that we got at the entrance.

Sadly, late in the evening we found out that there were pledge forms, but they were in stacks up by the main stage and if you wanted one, you'd have to walk up to the main stage (across the entire site) and find the stack.  Too bad.

8/31/11 Update to this post: Sagebrush Fundraiser Needs Its Own Cash Injection 

7/13/12 Update to this post: This organization is no longer conducting this event.  The post above describes their last year of it and the final event.

Grants for Ghanan, Nicaraguan, and Pacific Islander Countries' Disabled Persons' Nonprofits

From The Foundation Center...

[If you are interested in this grant opportunity, click "Link to Complete RFP" at the end of this post for more information].

Deadline: August 18, 2011

Disability Rights Fund Invites Grant Applications From Disabled Persons' Organizations in Ghana, Nicaragua, and Pacific Island Countries

The Disability Rights Fund seeks to strengthen the participation of disabled persons' organizations (DPO's) in efforts to advance the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the country level in the Global South and Eastern Europe/former Soviet Union.

To achieve the goal that persons with disabilities participate fully in society and enjoy equal rights and opportunities, the fund is accepting applications for the second round of its2011 Securing Our Rights grant cycle. The second grantmaking round is directed at DPOs in Ghana, Uganda, Nicaragua, Peru, Bangladesh, and fourteen Pacific Island countries (Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu).

Applicants from Ghana, Nicaragua, and the fourteen Pacific Island countries can apply as single organizations or in partnerships for small grants. Applicants from Bangladesh, Peru, and Uganda can apply by invitation only.

Single organizations and partnerships from the eligible countries can apply for twelve-month project-specific grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Funding can be used to support projects to increase DPO skill in addressing the CRPD by building more inclusive organizations or partnerships and/or internal capacity building; and to further rights-based advocacy and monitoring through increasing DPO participation in decision-making processes regarding the CRPD at state or local levels, directly addressing implementation of CRPD articles, and/or ratification efforts (in the Pacific Island Countries only).

DRF supports projects that demonstrate a clear ability and commitment to contribute to the advancement of the human rights of persons with disabilities. Cross-disability and other in-country partnerships are strongly encouraged, as are projects that address particularly marginalized sectors of the disability community.

Visit the Disability Rights Fund Web site for complete program guidelines and application materials.

Monday, July 11, 2011

For U.S. Charitable Organizations That Had Their Official Charity Status Revoked By the IRS, June 2011

On Friday, June 10, 2011, in every state in the United States (U.S.), different numbers of nonprofit organizations initially designated officially as "charities" by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had their official status revoked by the IRS (thereby ending their right to raise tax free dollars (donations), among other rights and responsibilities given to nonprofit charities).

To quote the IRS' own Charities & Non Profits web site's Automatic Revocation of Exemption web page's explanation, "Most tax-exempt organizations are required to file an annual return or notice with the Internal Revenue Service. (See Annual Return Filing Exceptions for a list of organizations that are not required to file.) Section 6033(j) of the Internal Revenue Code automatically revokes the exemption of any organization that fails to satisfy its filing requirement for three consecutive years. The automatic revocation of exemption is effective as of the due date of the third required annual filing or notice." The IRS' Automatic Revocation of Exemption web page (from which this quote came; this link is the second one in this paragraph, above) has basic information on this situation, including Frequently Asked Questions.

In the IRS' June 8, 2011 news release on this revocation, they explain, "The Internal Revenue Service today announced that approximately 275,000 organizations under the law have automatically lost their tax-exempt status because they did not file legally required annual reports for three consecutive years. The IRS believes the vast majority of these organizations are defunct, but it also announced special steps to help any existing organizations to apply for reinstatement of their tax-exempt status.

"Congress passed the Pension Protection Act (PPA) in 2006, requiring most tax-exempt organizations to file an annual information return or notice with the IRS. For small organizations, the law imposed a filing requirement for the first time in 2007. In addition, the law automatically revokes the tax-exempt status of any organization that does not file required returns or notices for three consecutive years.

"For several years, the IRS has made an extensive effort to inform organizations of the changes in the law through multiple outreach and education avenues, including mailing more than 1 million notices to organizations that had not filed. In addition, last year the IRS published a list of at-risk groups and gave smaller organizations an additional five months to file required notices and come into compliance. About 50,000 organizations filed during this extension period. Overall, the IRS believes the vast majority of small tax-exempt organizations are now in compliance with the 2006 law."

Helpful Resources for Revoked Charities:

The list of all nonprofit charities that had their official charitable status revoked June 8, 2011 is located here

A list of frequently asked questions, pertaining to the revocations, and answers are here

A handy IRS revocation fact sheet that includes all pertinent information and more on charitable organizations is located here

An explanation of the due dates of the forms that charities are expected to file to remain in good standing is here

The IRS explains how a charity that had its official charitable status revoked may be able to have it reinstated, first here and then in greater detail, here and this revocation has involved so many U.S. charities, that the IRS, on their You Tube channel has placed a video that also explains how a revoked charity may be able to get its official charitable status back.  That may be watched, here

Grants for U.S. Residents, Age 16+, Who Are NASCAR Fans and Are Making Significant Impact On the Lives of Children

From The Foundation Center...

[If you are interested in this grant opportunity, click "Link to Complete RFP" at the end of this post].

Deadline: July 18, 2011

NASCAR Foundation Invites Nominations for New Award to Recognize Volunteer Efforts of NASCAR Fans on Behalf of Children

The NASCAR Foundation is accepting nominations for the first Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, which will recognize the outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of NASCAR fans on behalf of children. The award was created in honor of Betty Jane France, chairwoman of the NASCAR Foundation and a champion of philanthropic efforts in the NASCAR community.

The NASCAR Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to raise funds and increase volunteerism to support nonprofits and charitable causes in the U.S., with an emphasis on efforts that affect the ability of children to live, learn, and play.

The award is open to individual residents of the U.S., age 16 or older. Applicants must be NASCAR fans and have made a significant impact on the lives of children through volunteerism or charitable work during the last five years. For this award, "volunteerism" is defined as voluntary action in service to others and the community. Individuals who receive compensation to perform charitable work — volunteering, fundraising, etc. — are not eligible for the award.

Anyone may submit a nomination. Self-nominations are accepted.

One winner will be selected to receive a $100,000 donation from the NASCAR Foundation for the 501(c)(3) children's charity of his or her choice as well as a 2012 Ford Explorer. Three finalists will receive a $25,000 donation for the children's charity of their choice. The winner and finalists will also receive an expenses-paid trip to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and be part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week in Las Vegas in December 2011.

Visit the NASCAR Foundation Web site for complete program guidelines and the nomination form.