FundRaiser Blog

The FundRaiser Software Blog is an excellent resource for nonprofit organizations looking to learn more about fundraising, donor management, membership management, and much more.

Giving Friends and Allies a Chance to be Donors

Poverty

Dear Kim:

We are a 19-year-old organization of mothers in poverty fighting for the lives of mothers and children who are on the front line in the escalating war on the poor. Our budget has generally been around $52,000—just enough to cover two staff salaries, printing, postage, volunteer stipends, and office utilities and phones. We combine grant writing, subscriptions sales, fundraising events and private donations from quarterly fundraising letters to support our work. Several years ago, we lost our major funder and we have had difficulty getting smaller grants for our work in the last three years since welfare deform lost its “sexy” topical appeal. To survive with our reduced budget of less than $20,000, we have only one part-time paid staff person, our website was disconnected, and we did not replace our copy machine when it died. Consequently, we are accomplishing less work, so it is even more difficult to get grants. We do not want to quit at a time when single-mother families in poverty are suffering nightmares unimagined ten years ago: millions of US single moms forced to quit college; 37 percent increase in infant deaths in cities like Milwaukee; hundreds of thousands of moms and children homeless every year; tens of thousands of moms living with zero income after reaching unrealistic welfare time limits; tough competition for awful jobs paying even less than before, and so on.

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Pledges on Paper

Pledges on Paper

Dear Kim:  

A small family foundation run by a friend of our board chair promised us $10,000 at the beginning of the year and they have not yet paid it. Our board chair was recently told by her friend that the foundation probably wasn’t going to be able to pay because the market had wiped out a lot of their assets, but I can’t understand why they didn’t pay sooner.

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Finding Foundation Funding

Finding Foundation Funding

Dear Kim:

How does a really good organization get foundation funding?  I know from your books that you don’t recommend relying on grants, but it seems like they are a help for getting programs off the ground.  I have used the Foundation Center’s database, which is great, and I have identified potential grantmakers, followed instructions, but so far have nothing to show for it.  I took an online course on grant writing and, I hope without sounding arrogant, I feel I know how to write a grant.  But it seems like you need to really know somebody to get grant money.  Can you share any secrets? 

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Rating and Evaluating Foundations and Corporation for Giving Potential

You create your own opportunities by asking for them

When it comes to rating and evaluating prospects, fund-raisers spend the lion’s share of their time on individual donors. After all, in nearly every campaign, they are the primary source of contributions. However, it behooves us to take a look at the process as it pertains to other giving sources. For our purposes, let’s assume that governmental funders can be handled like foundations and private and community foundations can be viewed as essentially the same.

For foundations, the best and most comprehensive source of information is The Foundation Center. It maintains reference libraries in New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Atlanta and Cleveland. The Center also publishes The Foundation Directory, a reference book listing each foundation in the United States and including:

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Positioning Grant Writers For Success, Part 2

Fairness is not an attitude. It's a professional skill that must be developed and exercised.
How Do You Pay A Grant Writer?

(Read Part 1 on setting expectations for grant writers)

Few topics generate more heated discussion in non-profit organizations than whether professional grant writers should be paid a percentage of the money raised, receive commission-based compensation, or be paid a performance bonus. Perhaps because it is a practice of giving financial rewards to grant writing professionals contingent upon the achievement of fixed money goals, we can simply refer to it as "contingent-pay." Whatever you want to call it, two things are becoming more and more apparent.

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Positioning Grant Writers For Success, Part 1

The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work much first sharpen his tools.
Unrealistic Expectations Can Doom The Best To Failure

(Read Part 2 here, on how to pay grant writers) Some of the most heated discussion in the nonprofit world centers on grant writing. Why? Because so much is riding on it. It is the rare organization that could continue to carry out its mission anywhere near as effectively if its grants dried up, and for many, such an occurrence would sound the death knell.< Of the three basic sources of money for non-profits—earned income, donations from individuals, and grants—the process of getting a grant is the most puzzling. All but the smallest organizations are likely to have people on staff or use outside counsel who specialize in grant writing. The demand for skilled grant writers, coupled with the mystery that seems to surround successful grant writing, leads to some troubled areas for development professionals and non-profit organizations.

Two questions are central: How do you evaluate the performance of grant writers and how do you pay them? We'll cover the first question in this blog, and the question of pay in the next one.

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