For many of us in the fundraising sector, it seems that people get segregated into different specialty areas: annual appeals, major gifts, special events, planned gifts, proposal writing, and grants management. I have the pleasure of working with many capital campaign and major gift specialists, including my colleague Diane Remin. Like others, she initially thought that our two specialties were very different, but upon further thought, the basics of fundraising apply to all development activities. I am happy to present her thoughts on these fundraising best practices that we all should be doing, no matter what our specialty.
The program development has been done; a budget developed. You have a fantastic proposal written with a compelling need that any funder would want to fund, right? So you send it off to a new foundation prospect, and what happens?
If they don’t know your agency, the first thing the reviewer(s) will probably do is look at your website. Has it been updated in the past year? Or the past decade? Is it easy to understand and navigate? Does it show how effective you are at serving the population /demographic you serve? If not, that will say a lot about your agency’s capacity and ability to attend to detail. Does it tell an uplifting story about succeeding despite the odds, or just a tale of woe? Continue reading “Marketing/Communications: The Flip Side of Foundation Applications with Allison Chisolm, Choice Words/Chisolm & Co.”
Nonprofits have training needs, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has training funds available for non-routine training programs – it’s a match made in heaven! If your nonprofit pays into the state’s Unemployment Insurance tax pool, then you could be eligible for training grants.
What types of workforce training grants (WTFG) are available in Massachusetts? They fall into two different program categories, but for both programs, the training should:
- make a difference to company’s productivity, competitiveness, and ability to do business in Massachusetts, and
- the training should result in job retention, job growth or increased wages.
I recently requested feedback from a funder when I learned that my really good request was turned down. My proposal was strong, the fit with the funder was excellent, but I knew the competition would be intense. I just didn’t realize how intense. Nonetheless, it is still a best practice to ask, so ask I did.
The funder responded that she had received more than 1000 applications nationwide, and they could only fund 140 total. In New England, she had received 150 proposals, and could only fund 4! So right from the get-go, that funder was only going to fund 2% of all the good proposals that were submitted.
Does it make sense to apply to this funder in the future, vis a vis my client’s time and/or budget? Continue reading “Seven Grant Tips for 2017”
With foundation grants accounting for only 10% – 15% of all charitable gifts in the United States, nonprofits should carefully assess if it makes sense to dedicate time and resources to compete for them.
Make no mistake, grants are extremely competitive. Foundations tend to prefer funding programs (55%) –especially new programs– to general operating (29%) or capital costs (21%). To get a sense of the total number of foundations, amounts given and the sectors to which they give, you can find statistics at the Foundation Center website. You will learn fun facts like only the top 1% of grant recipients captured half of all U.S. grant dollars, and the health sector received the most (28%) grant dollars.
When I started Proposals, Etc. in 2002, the field of proposal writing was starting a subtle change that has snowballed in the past ten years. Technology has changed how we approach and apply to foundations and the government alike.
Funder research is a lot easier. In the 1990’s, we were still subscribing to and scouring the Federal Register for federal grant notices. We looked up foundation tax forms on microfiche (if you are younger than 30, ask your parents) in libraries. Now most funders have precise instructions and information available on websites everyone can access from their own computer or smart phone.
John M. Cataldo, aka my father, used to hate the expression “Do you get it?” or “Do you understand?”
The question was, in his view,”Have I made myself clear?” The burden is on the speaker or writer to make sure that the audience understands his/her point. Donors, foundations, corporations shouldn’t have to work hard to understand what a nonprofit is trying to convey, especially if it involves a monetary ask!
“It’s a jungle out there.” – Randy Newman, songwriter
The past twelve months have been very challenging on the foundation grant front. If you work in a nonprofit, I hope that you budgeted your expected grant dollars conservatively! It has been harder to obtain grant funds recently in Massachusetts. Why? Note the following trends.