Friday, December 7, 2012

9 Grant Writing Dos And Don'ts

Any nonprofit manager can browse the web and look for grant opportunities for their projects. It's the writing part that can prove a little trickier.

Grant writing is one of the more frustrating aspects of the funding seeking process. You can pour all of your time and energy into a proposal only to see it rejected with seemingly little thought. While there is no surefire way to ensure your proposal will be accepted 100 percent of the time, there are some ways to increase your chances of success.

In "Nonprofit Management 101," Tori O'Neal-McElrath, director of institutional advancement at the Center for Community Change, listed nine dos and don'ts for the grant seeking process that will give your proposal the best possible shot of being accepted:
  • DO take the executive summary portion of the proposal seriously. It is often the first section that gets read.
  • DON’T make your problem statement so bleak that it creates the perception of no hope.
  • DO get your facts straight. Make sure your data is up-to-date and as accurate as possible.
  • DON’T let a grant-writing consultant develop your program plan. The person can write the grant, but staff needs to develop the program.
  • DO follow the grant guidelines as specifically as they are articulated. Never use a “one size fits all” approach to seeking grants.
  • DO contact the funding institution and speak or meet with someone about your organization and/or program before submitting the proposal.
  • DO think of everyone -- funding institutions included -- who invests in your organization as partners.
  • DON’T try to convince a funder to invest in your nonprofit if you do not fit within their specific areas of focus.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nonprofits Advocate For Charitable Deduction

The Charitable Giving Coalition -- a group of nonprofit advocates from 40 states -- traveled to Washington, D.C., yesterday. Their mission? To make sure the charitable deduction isn't eliminated during on-going discussions on how to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff."

According to an article in The Worcester Telegram, the group is part of an effort called "Protect Giving," which involves an estimated 280 people from more than 50 nonprofits. They met with members of Congress to plead with them to leave the charitable deduction off of the chopping block.

While both Democrats and Republicans agree the cliff needs to be avoided, they remain at an impasse because President Barack Obama is insisting tax rates go up on the wealthiest 2 percent. Republicans say they are ready to accept increased revenue as part of a deal, but that it can't come from tax hikes, which they say will destroy jobs. They say any revenue should come from closing loopholes and eliminating deductions.

Yet many economists claim that it is impossible to raise the revenue Republicans claim they can get ($800 billion) without eliminating virtually all deductions, including the charitable deduction. Nonprofit officials say that if it were to be eliminated, giving to organizations would be severely damaged.

The sector appears to have an ally in this fight with President Obama, who said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday that  if the deduction were eliminated, "Every hospital and university and not-for-profit agency across the country would suddenly find themselves on the verge of collapse. So that's not a realistic option." Nonprofits the past have fought hard against the Obama administration's efforts to reduce the charitable deduction.

Tim Garvin, president of United Way of Central Massachusetts and a member of the Coalition, told The Telegram that the group met with nearly 240 legislative offices, including staffers from the offices of Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT). Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) also came to listen to the group's advocacy.

You can read the full story in The Worcester Telegram.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Major Gift Campaigns: Your First Year

With rare exceptions, major gift campaigns can't be completed in a single year and, in fact, they can sometimes take as long as a decade. That's why it is important to create a schedule of goals when planning your campaign.

Whatever kind of schedule you create should include a series of target dates in which you are going to reach certain benchmarks. Russel V. Kohr wrote in the "Handbook of Institutional Advancement" that the first year of your campaign is perhaps the most important; it is during this time period when your efforts can really take off or sink.

Kohr wrote that organizations should aim for the following 13 goals during the first year of their major gift campaigns:

  • Complete the first draft of the long-range plan;
  • Share plan with trustees and selected potential benefactors;
  • Revise plan as necessary;
  • Trustees approve plan and campaign goal;
  • Development office prepares statement of gift opportunities;
  • Development office drafts case statement that is then shared with key people in the organization, trustees, and selected friends;
  • Survey various constituencies intensively;
  • Research prospective donors of major gifts;
  • Begin solicitation of major gift, corporate, and foundation prospects;
  • Increase annual giving solicitation;
  • A group -- such as the president, chairman of the board of trustees, and the chairman of the trustee committee on development -- enlists a national campaign chairman and members of the major gifts committees;
  • Role of the president and other administrative officials in the campaign is determined; and,
  • Begin solicitation of trustees.

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  • NPT Weekly: This newsletter addresses matters pertaining to all aspects of nonprofit management, fundraising, financial management, direct marketing, technology, legal issues and human resources.  It contains one main article, and three management tips.
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Monday, December 3, 2012

The Dec. 1 Issue Of The NonProfit Times

Just in time for the holidays, the Dec. 1 issue of The NonProfit Times is now available. The newest edition of the magazine features stories ranging from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy to the looming "fiscal cliff." Let's take a look at some of the stories you will find within the pages, starting with the top stories.


  • Get Ready For The Fiscal Cliff: Most Americans are familiar with the so-called fiscal cliff -- the combination of tax increases and budget cuts set to begin Jan. 1 -- by this time. After all, it's been dominating the headlines since President Barack Obama won re-election in November. This article takes a look at the affects it will have on nonprofits should the government not come to a deal by the end of the year.
  • Charities Strike Back After Sandy's Knockdown Punch: Charities across the nation have chipped in following the devastating affects Superstorm Sandy had on the Northeast in October. This story takes a look at some of the more impressive efforts by nonprofits.
  • Lessons Learned From Katrina: In this guest column, Ann Silverberg Williamson, president and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Nonprofits, relates her experiences during another storm that caused major damage to communities: Hurricane Katrina.
Special Report
  • After The Election: The election is over and now the work resumes. The charitable sector needs to know where President Obama will lead the next four years on every social issue imaginable. This special report will let the president know where several of the sector leaders stand. Readers should also make sure to watch NPT's Platform for the Nonprofit Sector video.
  • Guarding Against Grant FraudGiven the stiff competition for grant funding and the amount of money at stake, the field of grant proposal writing is unfortunately fertile ground for fraud. When someone blows the whistle and the lawsuit flies, the person who wrote the grant proposal is in the line of fire. And, the organization that submitted the proposal -- the applicant organization, is likewise in hot water.
  • Direct Mail Still King: This column looks at why direct mail is still at the top of its game, despite all the advances in technology. Specifically, it looks at how catalogs are a great source of revenue for organizations.
These are only a sampling of the stories in the Dec. 1 issue. To get full magazine, visit our subscription page to order a digital or print edition of NPT.