Tag Archives: Foundations

Grant Proposal Submitted, Now What?

 fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, nonprofit proposal, proposal writing, foundations, Saad&ShawYou’ve written the perfect proposal. You submitted it on time. Perhaps you carefully reviewed the guidelines and found that your organization is a perfect match for what the foundation is seeking to achieve through its grantmaking. Or maybe a program officer reached out and personally asked your organization to submit. Maybe your nonprofit or university has received consistent funding over the years, and you have submitted your annual request – on time, of course. But you haven’t heard a word.

You should have heard by now. The proposal guidelines gave a date for when funding decisions would be announced. That date is now in the past. Days have passed. Weeks. A month. Ninety days. What do you do?

You could send a follow up email, or place a call inquiring on the status of your proposal. That’s a straight-forward and appropriate action. Let’s say you do, and you learn “the board meeting has been pushed back” or “we haven’t made a decision yet.” Now what do you do?

Here’s our suggestion: keep fundraising. Act as if you still have to meet your fundraising goal, even if you feel your proposal is a “sure thing” or a “slam dunk.”

For each gift or grant you are pursuing, have a “Plan B” and a “Plan C.” Here’s what we mean: if your nonprofit has submitted a grant to a foundation for $50,000 make sure you submit other proposals to other foundations or individuals in amounts that are equal to or greater than $50,000. And, don’t count each gift as if it would be received – use a 3:1 or 5:1 ratio of submitted proposals to funded proposals. Colloquially we call this “hedging your bets.” In fundraising terms we refer to this as “making sure you meet goal.” Aggressively work on alternative prospects who could give gifts or make grants equal to or greater than the gift or grant you are “waiting on.” Don’t put all your eggs in that one basket.

There is no way that every proposal you submit will result in a grant. Even if you’ve been given all the signals that “things are moving ahead.” Count only those gifts you can take to the bank.

While you can’t count money you don’t have, you can make sure you are ready to implement your proposal when the funds are received. Have you identified the personnel you need? Do you have an evaluation process in place? Has your team created a detailed project work plan to guide their activities and ensure that project goals are met on time?

Here’s the position you want to avoid: sharing with the board that you were unable to meet the organization’s fundraising goal because a certain grant “did not come through.” Hedge your bets, be aggressive, meet goal.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.


Capacity Building Grants

Community Foundation of Greater MemphisIt’s time for the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis’ Nonprofit Capacity Building program. Information sessions are next month. The Community Foundation will have pre-application information sessions in February for its Nonprofit Capacity Building grants program. Organizations interested in applying for a grant are required to attend one of the sessions. The attendance requirement is waived for organizations that sent a representative to a session in 2011 or 2012. Letters of intent will be due in April. For criteria and the schedule of information sessions, visit http://bit.ly/UCXqet

Q&A – Private Public Partnership

Nicole Taylor, CEO - East Bay Community Foundation

Nicole Taylor, CEO - East Bay Community Foundation

One of the programs of the East Bay Community Foundation is it’s public/private partnership program. We thought you might want to know about this, so we asked questions on your behalf.

What is the Foundation’s public/private partnership program?
Based on the reality that neither government, business, the non-profit sector nor the philanthropic sector alone possesses the resources to resolve our most pressing challenges, our partnership program is dedicated to forming partnerships that pool resources from different sectors to develop solutions to specific problems.  Specifically, we look to partner with the private and public sectors. To make significant change, we need to go beyond the power of one.  We need the power of many.

Does this initiative provide funding for local non-profit?   
Funding for local non profits who focus on our two priority issues — advancing economic opportunities for adults and families in need and on ensuring very young children are successful in the education system — comes primarily from our grantmaking program rather than from our partnerships program.

What is an example of a public/private partnership that has exceeded the Foundation’s expectations?  
We are developing a program aimed at purchasing foreclosed homes in Richmond, rehabilitating them, and offering them to first-time home buyers who are low-to-moderate income families – thereby reducing neighborhood blight and creating financial assets for families.  If that program comes to fruition and if we are able to implement it at a significant level of scale, it will exceed our expectations.

How does this program impact communities of color in the East Bay?
The foundation is focusing on two issues – advancing economic opportunity for adults and families in need and ensuring very young children succeed in the education system so they will have economic opportunity when they become adults.  These issues  disproportionately affect communities of color. 

Because of that disproportionate impact, these two issues we focus on are directly aimed at communities of color in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.  The public and private partnerships program is currently working primarily on the issue of economic opportunities and development in communities with high need for job creation, job training, and asset-building strategies.  The communities we work in through these efforts are primarily communities of color.

Learn more by visiting the East Bay Community Foundation online at www.ebcf.org

Q&A with the East Bay Community Foundation

EBCF-logoThe East Bay Community Foundation has been bringing together philanthropists and non-profit organizations since 1928. We thought you might like to know a bit more about the foundation, so we posed some questions on your behalf.

What is the mission and vision of the East Bay Community Foundation?
Our mission is to be the organization of choice for philanthropy in the East Bay through leadership in leveraging all assets in our communities to speed the transformation of low-income, disadvantaged, impoverished, underserved and underrepresented people.

Our vision is to broker solutions to the East Bay’s most pressing problems, achieving measurable transformation or significant change in our communities.  We strive to be a vital resource of intelligence on the East Bay; to provide our own leadership for change and to help develop leadership capabilities among organizations working for similar change; to connect the needs of the East Bay to the interests and resources of our donors, our supporters, and of organizations working for change in our region; and to ensure our donors and supporters represent the diverse communities of the East Bay.

How is the current economic climate impacting the Foundation, its fundraising and grantmaking?

It provides a temporary but serious challenge to all three. As a result of difficult economic times, everyone is tightening their belts.  We have not decreased our grantmaking targets and we hope we aren’t compelled to in the future.  This is a time for people and organizations to step up, not step back.  

What percentage of your donors are people of color?

Many communities of color have a long heritage of charitable giving.  And we know from data that people of color, women, and younger people are involved in philanthropy in increasing numbers.  However, we don’t collect data on the ethnicity of our donors.

What percentage of Foundation grants go to organizations that serve communities of color?

100% of the grants over which we have complete discretion serve communities of color.
What advice do you have for staff and board members of local non-profits?

During these difficult times, find a local non-profit that has the same mission as you do or has a very similar one.  Partner with them or if necessary consider even merging with them.  This can be a way to reduce expenses and create potentially more effective service delivery systems.  That’s a tough message, but, many non-profits are facing unprecedented revenue short falls.  By combining forces with other organizations, many non-profits may be able to sustain critical services in our communities.

Learn more by visiting the East Bay Community Foundation online at www.ebcf.org

Help is on the way

San Francisco Foundation logo

San Francisco Foundation's new non-profit transitions fund

If your organization is grappling with whether or not to merge with another organization or close altogether, you are not alone. The current economic climate is posing many challenges to the very existence of some organizations. For many donations are down, grants are smaller or postponed, and government funding that used to be relied on may simply no longer be available.

If your organization is grappling with difficult issues due to the downturn in the economy, there is help. The San Francisco Foundation has created a new fund called the Nonprofit Transitions Fund to help organizations reduce costs, increase productivity, merge, dissolve, or reorganize. The following is a list of the activities they are prepared to support.

  • Back office collaborations (including rent, equipment, group insurance joint purchasing, and centralizing human resources, payroll, and benefits administration and financial and grants management). Such collaborations can reduce operating and administrative costs.
  • Merger, acquisition or consolidation
  • Dissolution (voluntary/involuntary)
  • Bankruptcy or reorganization
  • Post-merger integration or closure costs
  • Service delivery joint ventures

If your organization would benefit from any of these activities you may want to consider completing the Foundation’s short and straightforward application form. You will be asked to identify which activity your organization is considering, the efforts you have already made in pursuing such an option, and what condition or situation is triggering this consideration. The application is online at http://www.sff.org or you can call (415) 733-8527.

All applications will be reviewed and select organizations will be asked to submit a more detailed proposal. That proposal will ask you to communicate information such as:

  • Evidence of buy-in from staff, board, and constituencies
  • Clear and realistic expectations of benefits/risks
  • What niche or role your organization(s) serves locally or regionally
  • An understanding of your organization’s relative competitive position and its financial strengths

If you are considering a merger, the Foundation will want to know about mission compatibility between the two or more organizations and the extent of a cultural fit, including board and staff compatibility. You should also be prepared to communicate your awareness of obstacles such as asset restrictions, endowment/bequest issues, current liabilities, deferred revenue, and other legal barriers.

While economic conditions may be the driving force behind these considerations, some organizations may become stronger and more effective by pursuing difficult choices.

There are a lot of things to consider and help is available.

Copyright 2009 – Mel and Pearl Shaw