Sunday, July 29, 2012

Yes, This Blog's Appearance Was Garish Orange Last Week

Seeking Grant Money Today has a new look.  It is a work in progress, for now, but is also soon to be completely revamped and updated. 

There are, right now, a few key tools that I have provided you with for years that I have yet to add back to this new template (i.e. Blog Roll and Recommended Web Resources).  These will be returning to this blog. 

Similarly, there are directions in some of my older posts that suggest that the reader look to the right or left, etc. for recommended content (that was a static part of this blog's former margins).  As those items have been relocated on this new blog template, or have yet to get added back in, those directions will be updated in due course, as well.

As a final example of why I've updated the look of this blog, I want to say that by virtue of  how long I've been writing it (since 2004) I've amassed quite a number of blog Labels (see the tag cloud to the lower right as it exists for now).  If, though, I'm being honest - the truth is I just haven't paid attention to the large number of tags I've created.  For ease of use I am going to trim the fat there, shortly.

My goal in updating the blog was two-fold: to make it easier for the reader to be able to benefit from it and to update and modernize the feeling of the site.  I think I've achieved both.  That garish orange was actually in not too long ago but its time has passed.

I would be grateful for constructive feedback (if you will also please keep in mind that this is not the finished product) beginning from this moment, through my fine tuning this blog's appearance, layout, and utility for you, the reader.

Without you, this blog is pointless.  So, I truly hope that the new layout (especially when it is ultimately finalized) and the look are an improvement for your experience, here.  Feel free to let me know, as you use it now, your reactions and suggestions.

As always, thank you for reading, and please do look forward to more professional, nonprofit, best practices information here (but in an easier color scheme and a refined user interface).

Grants for Various Different Types of U.S.Organizations' Librarians' Education and Training Needs

From The Foundation Center...

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

"Deadline: September 17, 2012

"Institute of Museum and Library Services Accepting Applications for the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program

"The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is accepting applications for the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.

"The program invests in the nation's information infrastructure by funding projects designed to address the education and training needs of the professionals who help build, maintain, and provide public access to information systems and sources.

"In 2013, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program will support projects to develop faculty and library leaders, to recruit and educate the next generation of librarians and archivists, to build institutional capacity in graduate schools of library and information science, and to assist in the professional development of librarians and archivists. The program is especially interested in developing information professionals who can help manage the burgeoning data generated by the nation's researchers, serve as stewards of the nation's cultural legacy, and meet the information needs of the under-served. The program also seeks to help librarians develop the information and digital literacy of their communities, as well as other critical skills users will need to be successful in the twenty-first century.

"Grants will be awarded in the categories of doctoral programs, master's programs, early career development, programs to build institutional capacity, and continuing education.

"To be eligible, applicants must be either a unit of state or local government or a private nonprofit organization and be located in one of the fifty states of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau. In addition, applicants must be a library or a parent organization, an academic or administrative unit, a digital library, a library agency, a library consortium, or a library association. Grant amounts will range from $50,000 to $500,000. In order to receive a grant, applicants must provide funds from non-federal sources in an amount that is equal to or greater than the amount of the grant after subtraction of student support costs.

"Visit the IMLS Web site for complete program guidelines, eligibility requirements, and application procedures."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Nonprofit's Reputaion In Its Communities Makes Or Breaks Possible Collaborations With Other Agencies

Keep in mind as you read the following posts that nonprofits raise support from their communities in various different ways including developing, acquiring, and retaining community partners (such as other nonprofits, government agencies, or businesses) to provide programs or services with.

A Community's Confidence In A Nonprofit Is the Ultimate Key to An Organization's Future

The Nonprofit That Understands That Without A Strong Relationship With Its Community, It Stumbles - Is the Nonprofit That Succeeds

A Real World Example Demonstrating Why Nonprofits' Mission Statements Are More Important Than the Almighty Dollar

Be Familiar With All Other Organizations Doing Similar Or Related Work to Your Nonprofit's... For Your Agency's Improved Grant Raising

The Single Most Important Thing A Start Up Nonprofit Can Do Is Network.  Here's Why...

How Networking Can Be One of (If Not The) Most Important Modes To Obtain A Nonprofit's Goal (Any Goal)

What Are Grant Donors Looking For and Funding, Today?

Grants for North American Nonprofits Bringing Joy, Comfort, and Learning to Children In Need

From The Foundation Center...

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

"Deadline: Rolling

"Toy Industry Foundation Invites Grant Proposals for Programs to Help Children in Need

"The Toy Industry Foundation invites grant proposals from nonprofit organizations seeking full or partial funding for special projects or ongoing programs designed to improve the lives of children in need. Proposals must demonstrate how grant funds will help fulfill the Toy Industry Foundation's mission to "bring joy, comfort, and learning to children in need through play."

"The foundation seeks to fund nonprofit organizations and projects in North America that enrich the lives and increase the well-being of children (infants through adolescents) or families in need through play by focusing on education (summer and school-year programming), health and safety, youth development and leadership, play and recreational activities, and/or arts and culture. The term "in need" refers to but is not limited to those affected by poverty , homelessness, special needs, pediatric illness, natural disasters, and disparity in access to education or recreational opportunities.

"The foundation accepts proposals from qualified nonprofit organizations based in North America. In the United States, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations and educational organizations as defined in USC 26 § 170 (C) are eligible. Organizations based in other areas of North America (outside the U.S.) must hold similar nonprofit status designations.

"There is no set grant range.

"Grant proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis for at least the remainder of 2012.

"Visit the Toy Industry Foundation Web site for complete program guidelines and proposal requirements."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Hearty Warning That A Second And Perhaps Worse Economic Collapse Looms, Nonprofits

On Wednesday I received an e-mail from Rachel Katz, Analyst for Global Philanthropy encouraging me to write my blog post this week about the current economic climate, especially given that economist Nouriel Roubini (who was one of not many economists that correctly forecasted the 2007 economic collapse) just this week warned in an interview with Bloomberg that a second and perhaps worse economic collapse is looming now if the world economies do not break up and reform the banking, investing, and other financial industries.  He is concerned that since no real action has been done yet to the financial industries, given the world economic collapse; to keep what caused the 2005 collapse from happening again; and because Europe's economy is tenuous right now; and because America's economy is recovering slowly and mildly - not enough has yet been done to avoid another now potential second collapse.  Roubini's concern is world governments won't have enough resources, if another (and if larger) collapse occurs to either stave it off or rebound from it easily.

I read an article that Global Philanthropy's President, Trevor Neilson, wrote for The Huffington Post, this week, What Roubini Just Said and Why Those Who Work in Philanthropy Should Listen.  His article is the reason that Ms. Katz requested that I consider blogging on the world economy.

Despite Ms. Katz's e-mail (simply letting me know about the article and requesting that I blog about the topic as their office finds Mr. Roubini's warning so compelling) I was not going to blog on this topic but two things changed my mind.  First, I have seen Roubini speak as a guest on The Charlie Rose Show (PBS) and his arguments are logical and compelling.  He is not a politician, nor a mouthpiece for one party's ideologies or another.  Second, as this blog exists solely to assist nonprofits (which by virtue of their business model have few resources at their disposal) a warning (even one that might be hasty and unwarranted, in the end) can be prudent if not perhaps ultimately vital.

So, with a healthy dose of open-mindedness, faith, and balance (check out other reputable, credentialed, seasoned economists forecasts; and other reputable and trust-worthy sources for their opinion on the current economy and its potential), I ask you to please consider the following.

Ms. Katz stated in her e-mail, "We believe that now is a crucial moment for nonprofits to be prepared to weather the storm, particularly as social services continue to be cut at the very time they are needed most."

In his article for The Huffington Post (link, above), Neilson wrote, " And at the very same time, in response to the financial crisis, decreased tax revenues and massive budget deficits, social services are under siege." after describing the still churning foreclosure monster, slow job recovery, and the unemployment rate in America. He then recommends three things that nonprofits can do, now - to stave off being harmed by a second economic collapse. His second and third recommendations are excellent.  He says at the end of his article, "Let's hope that Roubini is wrong...".

Here are my thoughts:

I do not know whether Mr. Roubini's warning is on track, premature and unwarranted yet, or just foolhardy.  I agree with Neilson.  I'd love for him to be just altogether wrong.  What I do know is that any of us working for or volunteering with nonprofits operating today, has weathered one hell of an economic storm that began in 2005 and has, seven years later, not really ended.  So, frankly, based on your experiences and lessons learned, some of you could write his article and my blog post better than either of us.  I wish you would.  

1. On both a regional and local scale, we as a sector must communicate openly and often about what each of us is experiencing, improving, learning, and finding successful operationally within each of our individual organizations, in each of our unique communities and geographic regions.  Professional nonprofit best practices are only constantly evolving.  As a sector (that bares more weight in responsibility right now than it is empowered to by its communities) we benefit if we engage, inform, and evolve.  We can only do this if we come together.

Our sector is a part of different economies.  The nonprofit sector provides billions of dollars to their respective state economies in donations, payrolls, purchases, and more.  What's more - it has been proven in state level studies of the sector over and again that nonprofits indeed lessen the welfare expenses within the communities they serve.  As we nonprofit organizations are vital, efficient, and effective mechanisms of delivery of solutions for our respective communities - we must engage our local, state, and even federal representation either as united bodies (perhaps on local or state levels) and talk.  

2. If our regional, state, and national leadership does not hear from our sector about what we achieve, how, and what we are being challenged by right now and why - how can we expect them to know how nonprofit organizations operate, what their unique challenges are, and what we accomplish?  If your organization is a 501(c)(3), I am not saying lobby.  I am saying that just because we're nonprofits - it doesn't mean we can't speak to our representatives (just take notes or record the conversation and keep records on file, per talk, to be able to prove (if necessary) that no lobbying occurs in these talks).  Get with your lawyer, determine what can and can not be discussed - and steer clear of the off limits discussions.  But for goodness sakes - we are a critical part of our communities but often altogether cut off from our leadership for one reason or another.  Make it a priority to talk to leaders such that they come to understand our unique sector.  If leaders understand what we accomplish for their constituency, and how; and if leaders become used to seeing our sector as a vital part of their region's economy; and if we have open channels with our leaders - they are more likely to budget for our sector proactively; they are clearer about what our sector's challenges and limits are economically (and why); and we become our sector's own advocates.  Again, if your organization is not allowed to by law - do not lobby.  Rather, empower our leaders to understand our unique sector in your region.  [Update: 7/19/12 Rick Cohen, regular contributor to Nonprofit Quarterly responded to this blog post (link is below) rightfully pointing out that I was wrong in advising nonprofits they should not lobby.  I advise so, here, to be cautious on behalf of my readers and what they may do based on my advice in this blog.  Having said this, Mr. Cohen is correct and I am wrong: 501(c)(3) organization can not politic they can get their issues before their representatives.  I say that in order to be cautious and clear on what can or can't be done by a 501(c)(3) such that they remain in good standing with the IRS and state authorities a nonprofit should understand what it can and can not do legally before striking out and and lobbying.  As such, I've updated this blog post with several resources, below for 501(c)(3) organizations rights to lobby their politicians.  These resources are not provided as a substitution for a nonprofit speaking to legal counsel to be clear about its legal responsibilities and rights, though.]

Create a nimble organization operating such that it can weather storms.  How?  

3. Retain donors and volunteers, and retain talented board and staff members.  Create an endowment, save, cut costs, share expenses with other nonprofit, collaborate with other organizations to deliver expensive but necessary services and programs.  Create an operations budget that is padded, based on sound key economic indicators for your region and its economy, and build emergency funding options into it (to be used if and when needed).  Have contingency plans in place for your organization's fundraising and leadership ready to conduct any necessary additional emergency fundraising (i.e. grant donors, major donors, and key sponsors that your organization already has established healthy relationships with.

Always share your organization's recent organizational achievements, benchmarks, accolades, potential (i.e. credentialed well known board, staff, and volunteers), and current goals.

4. Retention (whether of key staff, board, volunteers, donors, or community partners) saves money and time.  How can a nonprofit retain the key players it wishes to?  Be sure to let them know what your organization has accomplished by virtue of having their support or assistance.  These key players are your organization's partners and your organization remains successful (even in this economy) only because of its support from the community.  If you do not let key supporters know what you and they are accomplishing (based on your organization's mission) - then how can you expect them to continue to support your organization or even find a reason to?  Toot your organization's horn and do it (eh hem... elevator speech, even) whenever you can.  Retention does one more thing.  It creates a buffer for difficulties including recessions.  An organization that has a community of its own (i.e. volunteers, donors, community partners, etc.) has a ready lifeline even in financial slow downs.

I am with Mr. Neilson, though.  Let's do what he suggests, what I suggest, and what any of your colleagues working for efficient successful organizations share that has worked for them.  But for goodness sakes.  Let's hope that Mr. Roubini is indeed wrong this time.

Meanwhile, let's regard his warning with a measure of restraint but take it and all good ideas to survive to our leadership and budgets and let's be prudent.

Additionally: Financial Post's June 15, 2012 interview with Nouriel Roubini, Dark clouds are gathering around the world

Update: Nonprofit Quarterly 's Rick Cohen's article Nonprofit Strategies In Case of Another Economic Collapse published July 19, 2012 reiterates Neilson's recommendations in his article for Huffington and the suggestions I make in my blog post, here, about Roubini's comments this week.

Free resources for thought for 501(c)(3) nonprofits wishing to engage their government and representation without risking their good standing as charity organizations (not to be used in lieu of legal counsel's advice):

Nonprofits Scramble to Learn Rules on Advocating Versus Politicking

Overview of Findings of Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy Project (a landmark study by OMB Watch, Tufts University, and the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest on the Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy Project (SNAP) of 2000)

5 Snap Recommendations for Political Times by The NonProfit Times

Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy Project Summary of Findings Power Point

Center for Lobbying In the Public Interest explains why nonprofits should actively lobby By the Numbers

Stoking the Nonprofit Advocacy Engine by Gita Gulatee-Partee

Here is some scholarly thought on the topic: The Inequality of Representation: The Impact of Charity Law on Political Advocacy by, Jeffrey M. Berry, Department of Political Science, Tufts University

 Recommended book: Seen But Not Heard: Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy by, Gary Bass, Kay Guinane, David Arons and Matthew Carter published February 12, 2010 by the Aspen Institute discussed in
A Call to Advocacy for Nonprofits interview with above book author Gary Bass published by The Washington Post

Grants for Health Impact Assessments of Decisions Made In Other Sectors (i.e. Civil Engineering, Agricultural Legislation, Etc.)

From The Foundation Center...

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

"Deadline: September 14, 2012

"Health Impact Project Announces Call for Proposals to Bring Health Into Decisions in Non-Health Sectors

"The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, has announced a Call for Proposals for organizations seeking to conduct health impact assessments (HIAs). HIAs identify and address the health impacts of decisions in other sectors, such as planning roads, passing agriculture legislation, or siting schools.

"The Call for Proposals will support two kinds of awards: HIA demonstration projects that inform a specific decision and help to build the case for the value of HIA; and HIA program grants to enable organizations with previous HIA experience to conduct HIAs and develop sustainable, self-supporting HIA programs at the local, state, or tribal level.

"Demonstration Projects — The project will support up to five HIA demonstration projects designed to inform decisions on proposed local, tribal, or state policies, projects, or programs, or federal decisions that will have impacts limited to a specific state, region, or local community, such as permitting a new mine or building a new highway. Grants will be up to $75,000 and must be completed within eighteen months.

"Applicants need not have experience with HIA to apply. Because many of the HIAs done in the United States to date have focused on aspects of urban land use planning, proposals focused on other topics will receive preference. Additionally, high priority will be given to HIAs from geographic regions where few HIAs have been completed to date. In addition to the five projects from the nationwide search, the Health Impact Project, in cooperation with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, will support up to three demonstration projects in Minnesota.

"Program Grants — The project will fund three HIA program grants to support organizations that have completed at least one prior HIA to conduct at least two HIAs, and to implement a plan that establishes the relationships, systems, and funding mechanisms needed to maintain a stable HIA program that endures beyond the conclusion of the grant period. Applicants may request grants of up to $250,000 for programs to be completed within twenty-four months. Grantees will be asked to provide a minimum of $100,000 in matching funds, either through in-kind contributions of staff time or through outside funding sources.

"Grants will support government agencies, educational organizations, or nonprofit organizations.

"The project will host three webinars for potential applicants on August 1, August 7, and August 15, 2012.

"Registration is required for all webinar attendees. Early response is encouraged, as participation will be limited.

"Visit the Health Impact Project Web site for complete program guidelines, an FAQ, and webinar information and registration."

Monday, July 09, 2012

Seed Grants for Projects Effectively Co-Stewarding National Wildlife Refuge Natural Resources

From The Foundation Center...

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

"Deadline: August 20, 2012

"Applications Invited for National Wildlife Refuge Friends Group Grant Program

"In recognition of the important role refuge friends organizations play in building critical community support for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, along with its partners, is requesting grant proposals for projects that help these organizations be effective co-stewards of important natural resources within the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The Friends Group grant program provides competitive seed grants for creative and innovative proposals that aim to increase the number and effectiveness of organizations interested in assisting the refuge system nationwide. The primary purpose of the program is to provide assistance to new and existing friends organizations. For the fall 2012 grant cycle, friends organizations are invited to submit proposals that focus on start-up and capacity-building projects.
Grants will be provided to support proposals that fall within the following areas:
1) Start-up grants — Funds will be provided to assist starting refuge friends organizations with formative and/or initial operational support. For example, funds may be requested for such things as membership drives, tuition for nonprofit training programs, brochure and newsletter development, logo design, office equipment, or consultant fees for planning a mission and strategic plan.
2) Capacity-building grants — Funds will be provided to strengthen the capacity of existing refuge friends organizations. Capacity building refers to projects that enhance an organization's abilities while allowing them to achieve measurable and sustainable results. For example, projects may include outreach programs aimed at increasing organizational capacity to serve the public; business plan development or other strategic planning costs; membership program development; board/ leadership development such as trainings; development of exhibits to expand community outreach efforts; tuition for skill-building training programs; and nature or book store start-up expenses.
Eligible applicants are official refuge friends organizations. Applicants must either be tax-exempt under section 501(c), or be in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status and submit with their grant application a copy of the letter from the IRS confirming their application has been filed.
Grants will range from $1,500 to $5,000.
The complete Request for Proposals and application instructions are available at the NFWF Web site.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

What a Development or Fundraising Plan Is and How and Why It's Invaluable to An Efficient and Effective Organization

The Development Plan or Fundraising Plan is a master policy for a nonprofit to plan out, guide, and measure its fundraising for a specific period of time (sometimes one year, often two or three year periods, or more).

The Development Plan often comes about shortly after or while an organization's leadership is conducting organizational self evaluation and future planing such as strategic planning.

The Development Plan requires that the organization's leadership, prior to beginning to plan, have gathered specific pertinent information, such as: the organization's own recent fundraising record (from the current and past one or two years), its operations budget, its recent Profit and Loss statements and Balance Sheets, its programs budgets (current and recent), the region's economic forecast, and more.  Preferably, the organization has been recently conducting evaluations on its programs (asking clients or participants for anonymous feedback that is tabulated such as a client survey) because the feedback and areas where improvements are needed in order to achieve the organization's mission's goals and to successfully provide the mission to the intended beneficiary are critical for the leadership to gauge what direction the organization needs to go to improve itself operationally and fiscally (i.e. make things more efficient).  Too, the leadership needs to have current and accurate recent studies (either the organization has conducted its own needs studies in the community it serves, or it has gathered several recent and reputable demographics and statistics from the region's public library's reference desk on the beneficiary population and their current but as yet unmet needs).  All of this information is extremely important in order for the board and other pertinent leaders to be able to both assess what the organization has accomplished, at what cost, over what period of time and how that meets up with the intended timeline and budget projected before they were implemented.  Too, the information on the clients or beneficiaries of the organization allow the leadership to see where the population exists today and what needs (pertinent to the organization's missions and goals) it currently has but have not yet been met.  Finally, economic indicators (such as the organization's own recent fundraising successes and difficulties, projected economic climates by economists, the local media's projection, etc.) allow the leadership to determine while planning future fundraising what is feasible and how to budget for that.

Next, based on the above mentioned strategic planning results or outcomes (i.e. the final ratified strategic plan) and based on the organization's mission and the beneficiary population's current but as yet unmet needs the organization plans out its near future (again either one, three, or more years) programs and services.  Program evaluations, budgets, staffing, etc. are all developed along with each program and service plan.  After these are finalized and ratified by the board, the organization's executive director and board know what the reasonably projected costs will be to the organization for next year and possibly the next few year's programs and services.  Based on this information including considering economic forecasts and the nonprofit's recent fundraising successes and income the organization's leaders can next create the Development Plan.

The Development Plan, itself, is a way for all of the leaders, volunteers, and staff to know what the game plan is in terms of funding the organization and its work, specifically.  Too, it outlines when, by whom, how, how much, and expected outcomes for each fundraising event, fundraising method, and even for each board member, the executive director, and development staff member, too (for the Plan's time period).  It projects expected results and builds fundraising events (over the course of each year so that cash flow is constant and at a level as to afford the projected operating budgets) including operational details and then is ratified by the board and implemented.  Finally, as we've all learned over the past five years there are contingency or even emergency funding resources and plans included just in case.

The Development Plan is not just a key or road map but rather it is a tool that enables a nonprofit (when the Development Plan has been well informed) to confidently look to the next year and subsequent years and know that not only will it be able to afford to deliver its programs and services - it will be around.

For excellent references (either to purchase or note and then check out at your local public library) see any of the Development or Fundraising books I've hand picked in my Amazon store (above in the upper right hand corner of this blog page).

Sponsored New Environmental Classrooms for Youth In Domestic Violence Shelters

From The Foundation Center...

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

"Deadline: August 1, 2012

"Mary Kay Foundation Invites Applications for Nature Explore Classrooms to Help Domestic Violence Survivors Heal

"The Mary Kay Foundation and Mary Kay, Inc. have partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation to bring Nature Explore Classrooms to domestic violence shelters.

"Nature Explore Classrooms are outdoor learning spaces designed to include nature in the daily lives and learning of children. Research shows that nature can help soften the impact of life stress on children and help them deal with adversity.

"By the end of 2012, Mary Kay will have sponsored seventeen Nature Explore Classrooms to help child survivors of domestic violence heal from abuse — representing a combined donation and support of nearly $800,000 since the program's inception in 2009.

"Mary Kay is accepting applications to build four new Nature Explore Classrooms at women's shelters in the United States. Shelters that serve survivors of domestic violence and have outdoor space available to accommodate learning stations and equipment are eligible to apply.

"Along with the outdoor area, each classroom includes a multi-faceted curriculum to fully maximize the educational opportunities and healing effects of the outdoor environment. The classroom is funded entirely by Mary Kay and is an investment totaling more than $50,000.

"Visit the Mary Kay Foundation Web site for complete program information and application instructions."