Nonprofit

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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Employee Loyalty

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 in Leadership, Nonprofit

Employee Loyalty Volumes have been written about donor loyalty, in fact a quick search of Google reveals that there are 1,650,000 mentions of “donor loyalty” as of this date. A question that has been swimming around in my mind of late is…what are we doing about “employee loyalty.” How do we take care of our employees so that they are not fleeing at the first possible moment? In the nonprofit world we see this in a very high turnover rate that includes both executive directors and development staff What about the people who stay? What secret ingredients are involved in keeping good people working and thriving year after year? The following posts will explore these...

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Secret Ingredients of a Successful Board

Posted on Jun 27, 2013 in Nonprofit

Serving on a nonprofit Board of Trustees is one of the highest callings of community service. You are entrusted with the governance and fiscal oversight of an organization created to serve the common good. Because of your efforts the hungry are fed; the homeless sheltered; the poor clothed; and the uneducated/under-educated given a opportunity to learn skills to better provide for themselves and their families. This responsibility is enormous. What is it,  though, that makes a successful Board member? Over the past dozen or more years that I have served as a board member or worked with various organizations, I have found the following ingredients to be essential: Board members must be passionate about the mission…there are no two ways about it. Board members must know in advance the expectations, both of time and treasure. A job description is a must so that this will happen. Board members must be willing to make a financial “stretch” gift every year they serve. They will also need to support events throughout the years, and share their “circle of influence.” Board members must have time to undertake the committee work that goes on between board meetings. It is never enough to just show up. Woody Allen may feel that 90% of the time that is enough…but he clearly wasn’t a board member! Board members must focus on planning and oversight and leave the nitty-gritty to staff. Micro-managing will frustrate good board members and drive away great staff. Board members need to see term limits as a way to continually bring new life blood to the organization. Keeping a list of potential new members alleviates the stress of departing members. Finally, board members must a have a sense of humor to serve in times of financial uncertainty, knowing in their hearts that they are helping to change the world! Denise Sheppard is a development consultant who loves helping to raise money for worthy causes. She provides coaching for leadership; mentoring for development staff; and writes grants.  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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Time Management

Posted on Jun 27, 2013 in Leadership, Nonprofit, Time Management

Time issues seem to plague everyone whether you are managing a large corporation, a fledgling nonprofit or any size in between. The demands on our time have become huge and include not only the people in the near vicinity, but thanks to the Internet, connections around the world. How do you manage this constant flow of interruptions? Everyone gets the same 24 hours/1440 minutes a day. Are you able to prioritize? Do you have anyone to delegate some of the responsibility to? One strategy I have used, and that I periodically need to be reminded to return to, is the matrix below that forces me to separate the Urgent and Important form the Unimportant and Not Urgent. Urgent Not Urgent Important Office emergency Grant deadline Budget for Board Presentation for major client Strategic Planning Quality Family Time Assessment of vision and values Time for exercise and reflection Not Important Unnecessary meetings/phone calls “ping on” for email and voice mail Drop in visitors Excessive web browsing Busy work easily done by staff This is by no means everyone’s list of priorities…they vary by job and responsibility. It is an illustration of how time can be managed more effectively and by proper planning things that often appear in the Urgent/Important column can easily be scheduled into the Important/Not Urgent category. Wishing you a day of time well...

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