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How to write a grant proposal

How to write a grant proposal

 Part two of a two part series If your nonprofit wants to learn how to apply for grant funding, this column is for you. It can be overwhelming to apply for a grant from a foundation or granting agency. Each funder wants to know specific information, but not every one wants the same information. Some ask for a specific word count, others have a page limit, and still others ask you to count the number of characters in an answer to a specific question. The requirements may make you throw up your hands in distress. You can do that, but then we suggest taking a deep breath and focusing on the larger goal: securing funds for your nonprofit. Here are three things to consider as you prepare to write your […]

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How to secure grant support - Part 1

How to secure grant support

Part one of a two part series It can be exciting to learn about grants that are made to nonprofits. Grant announcements are one way the general public learns about investments in education, the arts, community development, entrepreneurship centers, scientific research, and more. They call attention to the grant recipients’ work, and sometimes inspire donors and other foundations to consider investing in a highlighted nonprofit, or to invest in similar ones. The news can also inspire other nonprofits: they hear of the grant, and lightbulbs go off. “We should ask for funding too.” And they are right. Writing grant applications is an important way to raise funds. There are fund development professionals who are busy researching grant opportunities from sun up to sun down. They network at conferences, follow up […]

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Build your fundraising dream team

What if you could build your own fantasy fundraising team? Imagine you have the opportunity to create a fundraising team with all the right people who have all the right skills. The sky would be the limit. Let’s take it down a notch. Let’s say you could add three dream team members to your current team. Who would you pick? What would be your criteria? How would your new members work with your current members? Would you have leverage or friction? Here are a few possibilities of super stars to consider. Which three would you pick and why? A board member who believes in what you are doing A CEO who has defined her business’ vision for the next three to five years A civic and social leader who has […]

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Crisis fundraising – are you ready to be a first responder?

Is your nonprofit equipped to respond to a financial crisis? A crisis can take many forms and fall along a continuum of urgency. How urgent the crisis is depends upon your organization’s underlying health, the ecosystem you are operating in, and the actual crisis itself. A fundraising crisis can arise due to an unanticipated loss of revenue, storm damage, a lawsuit, vandalism, or loss of a key employee. The crisis could be unexpected. It could also have been looming on the horizon held off with prayer, loans, and committed donors. What becomes a crisis could also be the result of an inability to build diversified revenue streams. In many cases a crisis is the result of unanticipated circumstances Think back on 2008 and the following years: so many nonprofits were […]

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Don’t forget to ask

Don’t forget to ask

Events are a tried and true fundraising method. They can also be an expensive trap that derails your fundraising if you neglect to make the ask. Events are at the heart of fundraising. These can be grand in scale, marketed as an annual gala. or they may take the form of a smaller breakfast or luncheon. In all cases they require planning, coordination, and a major investment of two valuable resources: money and time. To help ensure you get the greatest yield on your investment we encourage you to focus on your fundraising goals from the beginning. Be specific: how much do you need to raise from sponsorships, ticket sales, and importantly event-related gifts? Sponsorships and ticket sales can often cover the costs of an event – and even net […]

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Black philanthropy spotlight

Jazz with a higher purpose We all love jazz. But what happens when you take a local jazz concert to a higher level in pursuit of a higher purpose? We know the answer: it is the award-winning Ocean City Jazz Festival. This jazz festival is an example of black philanthropy — and love! — in action. Today we share the story of the award-winning Ocean City Jazz Festival to inspire readers who harbor a dream and haven’t yet realized it. We also share it as part of Black History Month in an effort to highlight Black philanthropy and the strength and assets of Black communities across the country. This year’s Fourth of July weekend will mark the 10th anniversary of the Ocean City Jazz Festival, and it promises to be […]

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Don’t underestimate the value of in-kind services and resources

Don’t underestimate the value of in-kind services and resources

Everyone needs money – and every nonprofit needs cash or cash equivalents. These are used to meet payroll, pay the rent, fund programs, services, advocate, and more. Cash is king, but you can expand your fund development and fundraising to include in-kind resources. With this column we are talking about in-kind gifts and services that are of value to your organization. Think about technology, a new building, executive coaching, marketing, office furnishings, and other goods or services that you would otherwise purchase. Think of items that add value, that you need, and which you might not otherwise afford. Yes, you’ll need to deploy the same energy, planning, and strategizing as you would for “regular” fundraising: don’t discount the work involved. But, when you are strategic you can engage an additional […]

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12 questions to ask before agreeing to serve as a campaign leader

Fundraising campaigns require volunteer leadership. It is an honor and a privilege to be asked. It is also a responsibility. While you may have a reputation as a “super hero” in the community, leading a fundraising campaign requires groundwork that you alone cannot build. Here are 12 things you need to be curious about before you say yes or no. Does the institution have a campaign plan? Is the proposed fundraising campaign an outgrowth of the strategic plan, or is it tied to the strategic plan? What will the campaign raise money for and what is the projected impact, both quantitatively and qualitatively? Has the institution prepared a campaign case for support? What has been the institution’s prior fundraising history and results? Has a budget been developed to support the […]

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Creating your nonprofit business plan

Creating your nonprofit business plan

Part three of a three part series Does a nonprofit need a business plan? The answer is “yes.” With this column we share guidance from Bridget Ciaramitaro, experienced nonprofit planner, so you can get to work planning for the business success of your nonprofit. First, we asked Ciaramitaro, “what is a business plan for a nonprofit?” A business plan builds upon the strategic plan. In some ways, the business plan determines the feasibility of implementing the strategic plan. I’ve heard it said that a strategic plan is a wish list without a business plan. This plan includes the vision, mission and values of the organization, and the strategic goals and objectives. It includes the program model for the organization answering the question “why do we do what we do?” The […]

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strategy concept hand drawn on blackboard

How to create your strategic plan and fundraising plan

Part two of a three part series  Get ready to plan for your success starting with your strategic and fundraising plans. We talked with Bridget Ciaramitaro, talented nonprofit planner, and share her expertise with you. Let’s get to work! Let’s start with the strategic plan. We asked Ciaramitaro the basic question: what is a strategic plan? Here are her words of wisdom: A strategic plan is the result of a planning process that ends in making informed choices as to the future path of an organization. The key word is “strategic.” It is equally important to choose not to do something as it is to make the choice of moving in a particular direction. A strategic plan is a road map. Unfortunately, some nonprofits bypass the strategic plan and react […]

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