Tag Archives: grants

Three things to consider before applying for a big grant

Three things to considerBig money attracts big dreams. Imagine what your organization could do with a large sum of money. Large could be $25,000 or it could be $25 million. It all depends on your operating budget. Whether you say “yes” to big money, or turn down an opportunity can impact your organization – and community – for years to come. Learn three questions to ask before making a decision.

When you are approached to apply for a large grant it can feel as if your nonprofit has won the lottery. Maybe you’re a grassroots program, a national advocacy organization, or a college or university. In most cases the response is the same: you are excited and begin to evaluate how your programs fit into the grant guidelines. If the proposed grant could cover multiple years your team may feel the heavens have opened. Maybe, and maybe not.

The first pivotal question to ask when considering a major grant is whether or not it is in line with your mission, goals and strategic plan. You can contort your nonprofit and change your direction to secure the funding. But what will that do to your organization? If the grant funding is for services outside of your focus why are you changing your priorities? There are legitimate reasons to change, but make sure yours is a conscious decision. Our general recommendation: don’t chase money that takes you off course.

If you accept funds that are not line with the core work of your nonprofit you can put your organization at risk. You may find that the time and money required for grant management, reporting, and evaluation are not covered in grant funding. Paying for these can become an additional – unfunded – expense.

Second, have you planned for the end of the grant – even as you prepare to apply for funds? For example, have you considered how you will replace the funds once a grant ends? Will the new grant-funded program/ service/advocacy become part of your long-range planning or business plan? If not, what will happen to those you serve?

Third, do you have the information you need to carefully construct a budget for the proposed work? Will grant funds cover current programs, or will you need to expand programming or launch a new program? Will you need to hire additional people? If yes, where will you find the talent you need? How will you retain current and new hires during the life of the grant? What will happen if staff leave your organization? How will you replace them?

Take time to make wise decisions for your organization’s sustainability.

Image courtesy of satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Copyright 2015– Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw position nonprofits, colleges and universities for fundraising success. For help with your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.


Simplifying Financial Aid

financial aid, paying for college, college access, scholarships, grants, HBCU, first generation studentsTrying to receive financial aid for college? How do you feel when completing the ten page FAFSA (Free Application for Financial Student Aid) form? Could reducing it to two questions improve the process? Senators Alexander (TN) and Bennett (CO) believe more students could pursue a college education if the form were simplified. They want to reduce FAFSA to a postcard that asks two questions: What is your family size? And, what was your household income two years ago? Using earlier tax data – and a simple “look up” table – would let students know how much financial aid they are eligible for when they start looking at colleges.

The Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency (FAST) Act proposes to streamline federal grant and loan programs by combining two federal grant programs into one Pell grant program and reducing the six different federal loan programs into three: one undergraduate loan program, one graduate loan program, and one parent loan program.

The bill would also restore year-round Pell grant availability so students who want to accelerate their education by attending college during the summer can do so. It seeks to discourage over-borrowing by limiting the amount a student is able to borrow based on enrollment: a part-time student could only take out a part time loan. It also seeks to simplify repayment options by streamlining repayment programs and creating two plans, an income based plan and a 10-year repayment plan.

Financial aid by the numbers: There are approximately 22 million students enrolled in more than 6,000 institutions of higher education in the U.S. In 2013, taxpayers lent more than $102 billion in new federal student loans to 10 million college students. 9.2 million students received a Pell grant in 2012-2013 with an average award of $3,477 and total federal expenditures of $33 billion.

Here’s what we know: college education is critical to the economic success of individuals, families, and communities. Financial aid plays a key role in providing access to college. Completing FAFSA is complicated and time consuming: many people give up. With bipartisan sponsors this proposed legislation could remove a barrier to education and increase access. We also know policy changes can have unintended consequences. When changes were made to the Parent PLUS loan program the consequences were devastating for students, their families and the colleges they attended. Many students could not complete their education because they were suddenly no longer eligible for these loans. Decreasing enrollment had a dramatic impact on colleges and universities with substantial numbers of first generation students. We don’t know what unintended impacts this legislation could have: we do know that when people come together we can find solutions.

To learn more contact Bob Moran, in Senator Alexander’s office – robert_moran@help.senate.gov or (202) 224-6770; or Juliana Herman in Senator Bennet’s office – Juliana_herman@bennet.senate.gov or (202) 224-1334.

Image credit to the US Department of Education

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

Cultivating Foundations

Patrick J. Heryford

Writing grants is a major source of revenue for many non-profits. However, writing the proposal is only one part of the process. We asked Patrick Heryford, the director of corporate and foundation relations for the YMCA of San Francisco to share his experience.

Saad & Shaw: You mentioned that there is so much more to grantsmanship than writing a proposal and sending it off to a funder. Would you share with our readers a little bit about what that “so much more” is?

Patrick Heryford: An accurate and well-written proposal is essential, however, building open and trusting relationships with funders is considerably more important. It is easier for a foundation to say “no” to an anonymous piece of paper than it is to a human being. By the time you submit a proposal, you should have already had conversations with foundation officers and you should have a good idea as to whether or not you will be funded. If you do not have existing relationships, attend industry events where you will have access to officers. In the Bay Area, Development Executives Roundtable (www.dersf.org) frequently hosts “Meet the Grantmaker” type panels, and the San Francisco Business Times hosts an annual Corporate Philanthropy Summit.

Saad & Shaw: What do you consider the top five things an organization should include as part of their stewardship of grantmakers?

Patrick Heryford:
1. Do Good Work: If you do good work that has a positive impact in the community, funders will recognize this and it will make your fundraising efforts much easier. And remember that foundation officers talk to one another. An officer who is well-versed on your mission could very well become your advocate with other funders.
2. Research Funders: Be sure you are applying to the right funder for the right program and not wasting the officer’s time (or yours). My favorite online research tool is the Foundation Center’s Online Directory (www.foundationcenter.org).
3. Meet Deadlines: Use whatever record-keeping system you need to ensure you meet application and reporting deadlines. For reports, if you can’t make a deadline, let the funder know well in advance. My experience has been that they will give you an extension provided you are up front with them.
4. Communicate: During the grant period, you must let the funder know of significant staffing or organizational changes, or any reallocations to the budget you presented with the proposal. Invite them to events connected with the funded program, and send them updates related to the program. If your proposal is declined, send a brief hand-written note to thank them for considering your request; it will help them remember you next time you apply.
5. Check In With Your Program Staff: Schedule regular meetings with the people who are running the program at your organization. Are they making progress toward the goals and objectives? Are they using the funds for the appropriate items? Better to keep tabs on this during the grant period than at the end when a report is due.

Saad & Shaw: Any last words of advice?

Patrick Heryford: Some may think that due to the struggling economy and foundations’ reduced assets, a nonprofit should scale back their stewardship. The opposite is true. Now is the time to ramp up your stewardship program. When was the last time you communicated with past funders? You need to stay on their minds so that when the economy turns around, they will know you and your organization’s mission.

Patrick Heryford can be reached at pheryford@ymcasf.org.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.

$200,000 for Destiny Arts Center from Bank of America


Destiny Arts Center Received $200,000 from BofA

Destiny accepts $200,000 check from Bank of America

We love our work. And we love the organizations we work with. They are up to good. We worked with Destiny Arts Center in Oakland, CA throughout 2009 as they prepared for their Raise the Roof Campaign. Last month Destiny was recognized for their good works with a $200,000 grant from Bank of America. Here is the press release. Join us in congratulating Destiny Arts Center.

Bank of America Charitable Foundation Invests More Than $3.6 Million in California Nonprofits to Strengthen Communities  

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. – The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is providing more than $3.6 million in unrestricted funding to 18 nonprofits across California to help strengthen communities through the bank’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative (NEI). Since introducing the program in 2004, Bank of America has invested $22.5 million throughout the state to help nonprofits increase their long-term viability and most recently to help sustain them during this challenging economic environment.

Each organization, named “2009 Neighborhood Builders®,” will receive $200,000 in unrestricted grant funding and participate in Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Leadership Program® with other nonprofit leaders from 45 communities across the country and London.

“Nonprofits and community leaders are instrumental in providing critical neighborhood services and Bank of America is proud to support their work through the Neighborhood Excellence Initiative and other lending, investing and community development programs that align with our overall corporate social responsibility efforts,” said Janet Lamkin, California President at Bank of America.  “Not only does this program recognize some of the truly stand-out organizations and leaders in California, but it also offers valuable unrestricted financial support and professional development opportunities – critical to the long-term success of our communities.”

In the East Bay $200,000 awards will be given to Destiny Arts Center and the Urban Strategies Council.

Oakland’s Destiny Arts Center is helping to end isolation, prejudice, and violence in the lives of young people by using martial arts, dance, theater, and leadership training as tools for motivating youth.

The Urban Strategies Council eliminates poverty by working with partners to transform low-income neighborhoods into vibrant, healthy communities with increased employment and economic opportunities.

About the Neighborhood Excellence Initiative
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative annually recognizes organizations, individuals and students who have shown a commitment to improving their communities. In its sixth year, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation has committed more than $110 million globally to the NEI program since its inception.

By the end of 2009, more than 800 leaders from the nonprofit awardees will have participated in the Neighborhood Excellence Leadership Program®, which builds a network of community leaders across the country to share learning and insight in areas including strategic communications, financial management, succession planning, and long-term development. Through NEI, Bank of America has also encouraged community leadership at the grassroots level by recognizing more than 1,200 high school students and 1,200 community leaders over the last six years.

Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy
Building on a long-standing tradition of investing in the communities it serves, Bank of America this year embarked on a new, ten-year goal to donate $2 billion to nonprofit organizations engaged in improving the health and vitality of their neighborhoods. Funded by Bank of America, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation gave more than $200 million in 2008, making the bank the most generous financial institution in the world and the second largest donor of all U.S. corporations in cash contributions. Bank of America approaches investing through a national strategy called “neighborhood excellence” under which it works with local leaders to identify and meet the most pressing needs of individual communities. Bank associate volunteers contributed more than 900,000 hours in 2008 to enhance the quality of life in their communities nationwide. For more information about Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy, please visit www.bankofamerica.com/foundation.