Archive for the 'The Grant Writing Coach' Category
One of our clients has a fundraising event that is fun. Yes, you heard me right - fun.
Graceworks, a human services organization providing essential services to underprivileged families, has joined forces with the local Harley Davidson Club and together they are having fun and providing for the needy.
The concept is simple: the Harley Club collects toys and cash donations from their members. Then on a crisp Saturday morning in November they all get on their motorcycles, and with Santa leading the way they deliver the goodies to Graceworks and dozens of thrilled kids.
How can you have fun fundraising too? Here are three steps to get started:
- Ask yourself these essential questions: What do we do well? What community needs are we meeting. Who can we partner with to do what we do better?
- Are there any tasks we do regularly that could be done with a little flair and fun if we had the right partners?
- Who are the people among our staff and volunteers that would be energized by a project like this.
Go for it. Have fun!
Today is Election Day. I know I don’t need to go on about how important it is and what a privilege it is, and how many have given their lives so that we can exercise our right to vote and live in freedom . . . oops, I guess I just did.
Seriously, I believe today will be historic not simply because of the skin color or gender of the ones elected, but because our country is shifting. It’s been shifting for some time now but this election will no doubt speed up the process significantly. It is most noticeable in the attitude of the general populace: “I’d be a fool to do for myself what I can get someone else to do for me.” At face value this attitude seems reasonable - surely it’s a good thing to delegate effort. That way you are freed up to work on something else, thereby multiplying your productivity. But there’s a subtlety to this that is insidious and, I believe dangerous.
Over the past few decades we have gradually assigned more and more personal responsibility to others. This is is evident in two ways: 1) feeling like we have a right to the privileges of others and, 2) feeling like we are victimized if we don’t get what we think we have coming. What concerns me with regard to this election is this reassignment of responsibility is being aimed at the government. After today I believe we will see this self-serving attitude spread and amplify exponentially.
We’ve come a long way from JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
I have a couple quick thoughts I’d like to share with you on risk.
It seems like the “downside” is the only side these days, and as a result many have opted for staying put and not making any commitments. The conventional wisdom is to lay low in uncertain times. I beg to differ.
It is true, these are uncertain times - no one really knows what to expect from the market. The future is cloudy at best. But standing still is NOT an option. The one way to guarantee you will lose ground is to stand still and do nothing.
Let me encourage you to keep moving, keep innovating, advancing, developing and especially serving. Don’t be immobilized by the dark clouds of the economy. People in the nonprofit sector are going to be profoundly impacted by the current economy, no doubt, but that’s no reason to throw up your hands and give up. In fact, I’m saying just the opposite. Move forward!
Donor revenue is declining, so contact your current donors NOW. Let them know what you are doing and going to do, and thank them for partnering with you int he good you are doing.
Foundations are looking for quality now. They cannot afford to have grantees that are irresponsible. Contact local foundations and present your case that you are reliable and responsible - now more than ever. Be aggressive.
Hire the Thomas Scott Company. This is more than simply a shameless self-promotion. You likely cannot afford the staff you currently have, but you need to advance. How? Hire an expert. You don’t have to pay benefits or workman’s comp to a consultant, and you won’t train them and then worry they are underachieving. When you hire us you get the competitive edge you need and a clear set of expectations to which you can hold us accountable. You need extra revenue, an aggressive board, and motivated staff - we can help NOW.
We’re pressing on. Join us!
These are unusual times for nonprofits. I guess they’re unusual times for everyone, but especially nonprofits. For many, when they feel a financial pinch, the first thing to go is charitable giving, so donation revenue is down across the board for nonprofits. But the hidden hit comes from foundation giving.
Foundations are required to give away at least five percent of their invested assets. But when those assets shrink, as has occurred in the recent stock market downturn, that five percent shrinks as well. Foundation executives are faced with a dilemma: with less investment income, should they give less to current grantees and not take on any new projects, or should they scuttle questionable grantees and focus on the few very secure grantees that maintain capacity while continuing innovation?
The challenge is then shared when appreciated from the other side of the equation. Nonprofit grantseekers are faced with either shrinking opportunity or shrinking grant awards. Both options spell hard times ahead for nonprofits.
The answer to this dilemma is to work harder and more strategically with efficiency. Every grantseeker needs to be do more thorough foundation research and write proposals with even more attention to detail, distinguishers, form and, of course, grammar.
Here are a few things you can do to get or keep your edge in this difficult market:
• Do your foundation research more thoroughly by canvassing the entire alpha list of fields of interest.
• Always search for key words using the text search feature.
• Go the extra mile to establish a personal relationship with your prospective foundations.
• Be specific examples of your accomplishments and distinguishing characteristics when describing your organization.
• Have someone review and edit your proposal with a critical eye for grammar and style.
• Pay very careful attention to foundation guidelines!
Good luck – and don’t give up!
I just bought a scooter. I’m not bragging, like I would if I had just bought a Harley, I’m admitting. A scooter can never be a status symbol, even in this day of environmental responsibility and high gas prices. It’s a nod to practicality and a shrug to manliness.
I’ve tried to talk myself into a smug attitude of superiority as I fill my one and a half gallon tank from which I will eek 140 miles of embarrassed motoring. It’s not working.
But something wonderful happened today . . . gas lines at gas stations throughout Tennessee. People are stranded with empty gas tanks in their cars and nowhere to fill up. I filled up with my lawnmower gas can!
Seriously though, I really did buy a scooter and I did so paying no regard to the impressions of others – because a scooter makes good sense. The easiest and most efficient way to save on gas costs is to drive less. However, when you can’t put off a short trip to the grocery store or pharmacy a scooter makes good sense.
What does this have to do with nonprofits? Two things come to mind: 1) don’t follow the pack, and 2) now is the time to start re-evaluating expenses with an eye toward conservation.
Sometimes the pack is headed in the right direction and following along is a good idea. For example, when foundations started taking a closer look at the capacity of grantees all grantseekers started working on developing their capacity. But sometimes it’s a good idea to ignore what others are thinking (scooters are dorky) and just do what you know is right.
Secondly, now is a good time to start moving toward responsible conservation – funders will appreciate it and be more inclined to give. Start looking for ways to save on energy expenses. Instead of flying to a convention or class, can you accomplish the same objectives through webinars and tele-classes? Can some of your employees work from home a couple days a week? Will carpooling work for your workforce? In more temperate parts of the country, maybe even a scooter will do the trick!
For more on conservation ideas, visit http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2007/10/conserve.html
I read a good article by Philip Rucker in today’s Washington Post, called: “Some Nonprofits Push for Increased Federal Involvement.”
Mr. Rucker begins the article saying, “In the world of philanthropy, where independence from government has long been sacred, a revolution is underway. Social entrepreneurs are clamoring for a realignment of the way the federal government and nonprofit groups work together to maximize the impact of American generosity.” He then continues to identify several ways the federal government can work in concert with nonprofits, as well as acknowledging the hesitancy of many nonprofits to get entangled with the government. Interestingly, for some reason he only gives scant mention of President Bush’s Faith Based and Community Initiative.
To read the entire article Click Here
I’ve been wondering if there are any lessons we can learn from the Beijing Olympics, particularly for nonprofits. Of course there are all the usual sports lessons of perseverance, playing through pain, setting goals, discipline, preparation and believing in yourself. But are there any lessons that apply uniquely to nonprofits?
I’m pondering the following possibilities: capacity building and Michael Phelps; developing important relationships and the 400 medley team or the women’s beach volleyball; China and the power of focus.
What do you think? Leave your comments and let’s consider the possibilities.
Here at The Thomas Scott Company we have expanded our services to include capital campaigns and feasibility studies. It’s a significant expansion for us because of the time commitment required. However, it is a logical addition because so many of our clients need this service and they trust us.
Capital campaigns, and their accompanying feasibility studies, are the primary tool used by many constituency nonprofits to raise funds necessary for large capital expenses like new buildings and endowments. They not only provide a significant influx of cash but also energize the organization’s constituency and develop important new relationships. Typical organizations that utilize capital campaigns are churches, schools, museums, libraries and other similar member-based nonprofits.
Here are a few FAQs of capital campaigns and feasibility studies:
WHAT IS A CAPITAL CAMPAIGN?
A capital campaign is an effective way to involve your constituency in the financial support of your organization, particularly in regard to a particular high dollar projects like new buildings or endowments.
WHAT IS A FEASIBILITY STUDY?
A feasibility study answers the question, “What can we expect from a capital campaign at this time?” Before embarking on a capital campaign, it is helpful to know the level of interest in your constituency, their willingness to give, and how much money the campaign might generate. It is advisable to hire a professional to conduct your feasibility study in order to get unbiased results and accurate recommendations.
WHY SHOULD WE CONSIDER A CAPITAL CAMPAIGN RATHER THAN MAJOR DONOR DEVELOPMENT OR GRANT FUNDING?
The short answer is you should consider all three. Each of these fundraising options addresses a different need. However, a capital campaign often enhances the other two. There are many benefits to a capital campaign other than a fresh influx of needed cash. The campaign will refresh commitment to vision, generate enthusiasm, publicize advancement, challenge givers, engender unity, and increase involvement, to name just a few ancillary benefits.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN A CAPITAL CAMPAIGN?
The first phase of a capital campaign is the feasibility study (see above). Depending on the results of the feasibility study, a commitment is made to the campaign and a goal is set. Typically a capital campaign specialist is hired at this point to act as guide through the campaign. A steering committee is appointed and the campaign consultant trains the staff and volunteers in their respective assignments. Campaign materials are compiled and published, important meetings are scheduled and publicity is managed. The typical capital campaign will last anywhere from two to five years with three being the norm. During that time there is often a quiet phase followed by a public phase when campaign pledges and contributions are solicited and received. A formal kick-off usually begins the public phase and a very public celebration concludes the campaign.
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN A CAPITAL CAMPAIGN RAISE?
That depends on your organization, your needs, your capacity and your fundraising history. Campaigns come in all shapes and sizes ranging from a few hundred thousand dollars to several hundred million dollars.
If you’d like more information on feasibility studies and capital campaigns, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tom at: 615-708-0140.