Fund Raising

Five Tips for Successful Grant Writing

Posted on Nov 21, 2014 in Fund Raising, Nonprofit

Five Tips for Successful Grant Writing Grant writing is as much art as it is science Writing a grant proposal can be either a labor of love…or a nightmare that raises your stress level and keeps you awake at night. To strike a happy median, for all of the proposals that we write, keeping both our passion and sanity, follow these five simple tips for greater success. First, and I cannot stress this enough, do your research! Foundations, (and the government as well for that matter), have specific priorities and guidelines for the grants they award. They go to great pains to elaborate this information on their website. When we do not follow their guidance, not only do we eliminate ourselves form the pool of contenders, but we also have shown ourselves to be people who don’t follow directions and leave the funders with the question, “can we be responsible with the funds.?” Second, stress what you bring to the relationship. All grant funding is about partnerships. It really isn’t about you. It is about the lives that will change when you and the funder work together. Create a vivid picture for the funder about the impact they will make working through your organziation. Third, be brief and concise. Particularly in this day of online grant applications, choose your words carefully and get to the point. Foundations are reporting that more and more people are seeking grant funding which translates into more proposals to read. Include essential information, told through a story where possible. Don’t belabor a point. Fourth, answer questions thoroughly. This comes from my experience being a “grant reviewer,”(as we were called), for DESE many years ago. State and federal grants all award points to questions and are looking for certain information. Give them the information they are looking for as it applies to your program/organization. If you are unable to do this then this is probably an indication that you are not a good candidate for this grant. Finally, be positive and enthusiastic. Writing a grant proposal can be lonely, exhausting, stressful and/or a number of other adjectives. Before starting to write, talk with some some of your clients or donors, to get back in touch with why you are doing this work. This shot of energy will renew your passion and focus your writing on the people whose lives you are working to change for the...

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Secret Ingredients of a Successful Fundraiser – Board Members

Posted on Jun 27, 2013 in Fund Raising, home slider

Board members are the nerve center and life blood of all nonprofit organizations. While the staff do the heavy lifting of day to day work, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and giving shelter to the homeless, Board members set the course for the organization. While it should always be with input from all stakeholders, none the less, the Board holds ultimate fiduciary responsibility for the organization. How then can you engage and support these valuable contributors? Training, Training, Training and it must start before they are confirmed. One of the most effective strategies to use is to have a job description that is part of the interview process for all prospective board members. This document spells out the expectations, including number of Board meetings per year and time frame; committee meetings that generally meet in the alternating months; fundraising responsibilities; the necessity for making a significant financial gift; and making this organization one of their top three charities for the duration of their tenure on the board. You will eliminate the most frequently heard complaints from Board members if this information is explained before you ask for the commitment. People can now make an informed decision. Once confirmed the training must continue. It is helpful to take 15 minutes at each Board meeting and educate members on the variety of ways that they can use their skills, talents, and influence to increase the visibility and financial security of the nonprofit. Not everyone is comfortable asking for a donation but board members should be assured that there are many ways that they can assist the fundraising process. An important role for board members is to introduce their friends to the organizations where they serve as a Board member. Your passion for the organization and the work being done by the nonprofit is one of the most important gifts you can share with anyone. Accompany the Executive Director or Development Director on an “ask.” You are there to lend support or influence but you need not do the asking. Use your influence in the business community to suggest possible event co-chairs, friends or colleagues that you know are philanthropic, and would be interested in sharing in the good working being done, by supporting this worthy cause. Denise Sheppard is a development consultant who loves helping organizations raise money for worthy causes. She provides mentoring for new development staff; grant writing; board development, and thrives on being part of a team that is organizing a fund raising event.  She can be reached at denisesheppard@comcast.net or...

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Secret Ingredients of a Successful Fund Raiser – The Gala Event

Posted on Jun 27, 2013 in Fund Raising, Nonprofit

Spring is in the air and with it comes the onslaught of Gala events. I have found the following ingredients to be necessary in order to create a successful fund raising event. A dedicated committee… With a dedicated and passionate group of like minded folks, the sky is the limit on how much you can raise! Without a dedicated committee, fold your tent now. You will save your organization and yourself lots of aggravation. Make a budget and stick to it… but always include 10% as a contingency fee. Just like home projects, things always end up costing more than you planned! Guests to invite…while this may seem fairly obvious, it isn’t if you have ever sat at a Board meeting when members did not want to send pricey invitations to their friends, relatives and coworkers! Know your goal…is it “friend raiser” or “fund raiser?” While everyone who puts on an event desperately wants to cover their costs and raise money, some events have as their goal to expand organizational awareness in the community. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, that truly is a valid reason for an event! When your goal is “Fund Raising,” set a financial goal based on past experience and level of commitment of Board and Staff. Having a mutually agreed upon goal is the challenge that will bring out the best in everyone and have people stretching for those last dollars! Get your community involved through local corporate sponsorships and provide them recognition in your newsletter, on your website, and/or at your event. Show them that you really do understand “partnerships.” They are not ATM machines. Work your network, including Board & Community, to get as much donated goods and services as possible. This will keep your costs down significantly. Remember, it is not about you…it is about your donors and the work that you do on their behalf! Finally, the night of your event…have fun. It is too late to stress anyway and it will all work out in the end! Denise Sheppard is a development consultant who loves helping to raise money for worthy causes. She provides mentoring for new development staff; writes grants; and thrives on being part of a team who is organizing a fund raising event. She can be reached at denisesheppard@comcast.net or...

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Secret Ingredients of a Successful Fund Raiser – Sponsorships

Posted on Jun 27, 2013 in Fund Raising, home slider, Nonprofit

In the early stages of planning a successful fundraiser, it is important to consider sponsorships. Your ticket price needs to cover the cost of putting on your event. Your sponsorships, corporate and individual, will be the area that puts you over into to the “successful” category! What questions should you consider before sending that first letter to a business or individual? What is in it for the Sponsor? This is the most important question. At this point in your preparation for your event you are dealing with a successful business or individual. Can you offer them advertising the night of the event on the program? How about adding their logo to your website? A “tip of the hat” from the podium during your opening remarks also can be reserved for your highest sponsors. Of course, tickets to your event should also be offered to your sponsors, graduated according to the amount of the donation. Why would an individual or company be interested in sponsoring your nonprofit? Are they a local business that has ties to your nonprofit? Does someone from the company sit on your Board of Trustees? Are they one of your vendors? All of these companies should be asked. Will your Board members consider donating at a sponsorship level? What or where is their connection to your organization? Another interesting intersection for individual and corporate sponsors is their desire to have their name before a particular Cause, Honoree, or Co-Chair. This is one of the primary reasons that it is critical to choose your Honorees and Co-Chairs with great thought. Where will you find these sponsors? This is the most asked question. A rule of thumb for asking is “top down, inside out.” What this means is that you should always start with your Board of Trustees. They are the people charged with fiscal responsibility of your organization. Their support and that of their friends, colleagues, and business associates will be most important. Staff and volunteers are also asked to contribute any names of contacts that they may have as well. Next vendors are approached and asked to show their support. Finally, companies within a ten to twenty mile radius can also be approached, particularly large name companies. Craft a well written letter letting the appropriate individual know that you will be following up within ten days in person or by phone…and then GO DO IT! Denise Sheppard is a development consultant who loves helping to raise money for worthy causes. She provides mentoring for new development staff; writes grants; and thrives on being part of a team who is organizing a fund raising event. She can be reached at denisesheppard@comcast.net or...

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