Tuesday, March 31:
Wednesday, April 1:
Thursday, April 2:
WEBINAR Introduction to Corporate Giving
Tuesday, March 31:
Wednesday, April 1:
Thursday, April 2:
WEBINAR Introduction to Corporate Giving
We all know that grants are awarded in response to submitted proposals—not the draft sitting on your desk but the one you actually get out the door. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? If you’re spending too much time writing—with endless editing and fine-tuning—your proposals won’t get in front of the decision makers at foundations, or at least not enough of them to bring in the significant dollars that you could be raising. So my “top tip” for bringing in more funding is to spend more time asking and less time writing.
But getting more proposals out the door isn't a strategy in and of itself. Effective fundraisers determine the correct amount to ask from foundations that care about what they do, and work to build connections over time to raise more money and deliver more on mission.
Here are my Top Five Strategies to streamline your fundraising program and ensure that you spend your time as effectively and efficiently as possible:
Easier said than done, right? That’s why we’ve designed a webinar series on best practices to reduce your proposal writing time and use it for more effective asking. Join me over four Wednesdays in April as we address the most important practices to help you raise more money from foundations.
The topics we cover are not only based on my advice—I’ll draw on 30+ years of listening to what foundations and corporate foundations have to say about effective writing tips, dealing with electronic proposal formats, preparing for meetings and site visits, troubleshooting when you run into problems, and more. And, attendees will have an opportunity to share their own expertise, so you’ll also learn from peers with a diverse range of experience.
The number of foundations is increasing and so are the funds they have for grantmaking. The funds we raise advance our work and increase other funders’ confidence in our organization. There’s never been a better time to do more asking and less writing.
Marilyn Hoyt is active nationally and internationally as a teacher, writer, and consultant. Her past work includes 20 years raising over $200 million as a founding staff member of the New York Hall of Science. Earlier she served for 12 years as a grantmaker for the Westchester Arts Council in New York and the Washington State Arts Commission and as a fundraising consultant for J.C. Geever, Inc. with both operating and capital campaign clients. Marilyn is one of the authors of the Foundation Center book After the Grant: The Nonprofit's Guide to Good Stewardship.
Foundation Center has started conducting single question "Quick Polls" in our bi-monthly e-newsletters so that we can stay better informed about what our dedicated regional partners are working on in the social sector. In last month’s Quick Poll, we asked nonprofits about their organizational priorities for 2015. Here's what respondents said.
Nearly 20 percent of respondents said their organization’s top priority for 2015 was to increase the number of people they serve. This leads us to our question for this month: Who does your organization serve? Do you work with economically disadvantaged populations?
In 2012, the top 1000 foundations in the U.S. gave more than 14,000 grants, which added up to $4.6 billion given for programs that served low-income populations (click through to view):
Curious about who are the top 50 foundations for economically disadvantaged populations? Click on the image to see the list at Foundation Stats. And stay tuned for future Quick Polls!
Eric B. Jacobson
In my experience, most organizations have at least two key documents: a strategic plan and a fundraising plan. A strategic plan explains what you hope to achieve and how you plan to achieve it, and a fundraising plan explains how you plan to raise the money you need to execute your strategic plan.
More sophisticated organizations have two other important documents. The first is a theory of change, which describes the context, rationale, and purpose for your organization. The second is a communications plan, which describes how your organization plans to advance your program goals by building a base of support.
Yet even with these documents to guide the organization's work, several organizations still suffer from a common problem: an inability to consistently articulate their organization's value. It is often difficult for them to clearly state why the work they do is unique, important, and worthy of support. And frequently, different members of the organization—staff, board members, volunteers—will talk about the organization differently. Many of the organizations I work with tell me they are not all on the same page about who they are, why they exist, and the work they do.
Why Is This a Problem?
An unclear or inconsistent message about your work makes it difficult to build a base of support. People have a hard time getting behind your organization if it is unclear what it does, and it's hard to present a strong brand that is both compelling and recognizable if there are lots of different messages out there about who you are and what you do.
Perhaps most importantly, not being able to articulate your unique value makes it challenging to solicit funding. After all, if you can't clearly state why your organization is so important, why should someone give money to you instead of one of the many other organizations out there seeking to raise funds?
Why You Need a “Case for Support”
The document most organizations need—but rarely have—is a case for support, also called a case statement. A case for support is a brief, clear, donor-oriented document that states why you need and deserve funding. It is the source document for all your fundraising and communications activities, and it is the prayer book that gets everyone in your organization singing from the same hymnal. It takes your theory of change and your strategic plan and synthesizes them into a statement about your organization's unique value that you can use to build support for your mission.
Creating a case for support should precede any fundraising and communications planning; the case for support says how much you need and why you deserve it, while the fundraising plan says how you will raise it, and the communications plan says how you will build a base of support to achieve your mission.
A well-crafted case for support presents a strong argument for why someone should support your organization. We all need support to achieve our missions, so shouldn’t we all have a case for support?
To learn more about the components of a good case for support, how to develop one, and how to make it compelling, join me for Foundation Center’s upcoming webinar, “The Nonprofit Rosetta Stone: Making Your Case for Support” on Tuesday, March 31st, 1:00 – 2:00 pm ET Register today!
Eric B. Jacobson has over 10 years of experience in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. He currently helps nonprofits and foundations make it easier to achieve their missions and attract support to their causes through strategic planning, smarter fundraising, and more effective messaging.
Tuesday, March 24:
Wednesday, March 25:
WEBINAR Introduction to Finding Funders
Thursday, March 26:
WEBINAR Proposal Budgeting Basics
Nonprofit leaders, dreamers, and grantseekers sit side-by-side in rapt attention during every one of Foundation Center’s Proposal Writing Workshops and Boot Camps as experts detail the proposal writing process from prospecting to packaging.
Each session is packed with hands-on exercises—reviewing successful proposal examples, prospecting new grants to apply to, and even drafting versions of real proposals. Three points consistently stand out as critical components of grantseeking worth committing to: better research, cleaner writing, and deeper relationships.
1. Better Research
Grantseeking is about “the fit.” Finding the right funder is a bit like finding the right partner—“Do we have similar values and goals? Do we know some of the same people? Do we ‘look good’ together?” It’s about lining up the interests and missions of the two organizations in a way that benefits not only the nonprofit, but also the funder. To find the right fit, you have to do your research. Heaps of research. It’s tireless, time-consuming work. How can you do better research? That’s where Foundation Center can help. The Foundation Directory Online (FDO) is the most exhaustive, up-to-date, and searchable directory of foundation funding resources. While it is subscription-based, you can access FDO from our libraries or at any of the 470 Funding Information Network Partners worldwide. FDO is designed to help you search for the funder who fits. For exclusive research tips and tricks, visit FDO’s blog.
2. Cleaner Writing
One of the simplest, most effective ways to draft a grant proposal is to review sample proposals. While all the proposals vary in approach and tone, it is clear that clean, simple, error-free writing is critical to success. Proposal writing is not about lengthy, richly descriptive language; it's about “the ease of the read”—another bit of expert advice from our trainers. And whether you’re an unsure or confident writer, always, always have multiple people read your proposal. Grants experience is not necessary—be sure anyone who reads your proposal can read along with ease. Looking for sample documents to get you started? See our collection here on Grantspace.
3. Deeper Relationships
Easily the most satisfying aspect of Foundation Center’s proposal writing workshops is watching participants connect with one another. Our expert trainers are not the only folks in the room able to offer expertise, anecdotes, and support.
Beyond establishing relationships between nonprofits, the importance of creating connections between grantseekers and grantmakers cannot be emphasized enough. Grantseekers absolutely should be reaching out to funders directly, or doing everything possible to hunt down a personal relationship between the organizations—whether through board members, volunteers, or even at the executive personnel level. Search websites, FDO, or 990s for the names of staff and board members to run by your CEO or board. If a foundation lists the appropriate contact or program officer for the grant you’re applying to, be sure to make use of it.
Remember that getting the grant does not mean your work with the funder is complete. Create opportunities to deepen the relationship throughout the funding period. Bring positive news and gratitude to conversations with funders—remember that no one wants to take a call from the friend who only calls when they need something. Need some help getting started? Check out this Grantspace article on cultivating the grantee-funder relationship.
Ready to find the right funding? If you want to take your research, writing and relationship building to the next level, check out our upcoming Proposal Writing Workshop on April 14th in SF! Please feel free to share your proposal writing resolutions in the comments section below. Best of luck in your grantseeking process in 2015!
Tuesday, March 17:
WEBINAR Grantseeking Basics
Wednesday, March 18:
Thursday, March 19:
WEBINAR Proposal Writing Basics
This guest blog post by Laura Paradise, certified life coach and trainer.
Whether you’re soliciting funds person-to-person or front-of-room, it is critical that you establish your presence. You want to communicate with confidence and warmth, steadiness and strength. You want to capture others’ attention and establish rapport that facilitates connection.
Ninety-three percent of human communication is conveyed through body language and tone of voice. Spoken words are a mere 7 percent of communication. Focusing on body language can shift your energy and tone of voice, causing your audience to experience a physiological reaction to your energy and posture. Everyone has unconscious patterns that show up in our body language in high stakes situations, like fundraising. Attending to the body-mind connection can help you establish a strong presence and transform your fundraising skills.
While these techniques are most effectively explored with practice and individual coaching, below is a brief framework for working with body language and breath to establish presence when fundraising. Review the suggestions below, choose one or two things to work on, practice regularly and pay attention to the effect. Subtle changes can have big impact.
Step one: Connect to yourself: Fundraising preparation starts with you.
Begin by focusing on feeling confident and steady both on a physical level and on an emotional level. The tips below are intended to calm the nervous system, build positive energy and help you stay grounded when you are speaking.
Connect to how the work of your organization touches you. Get clear about how the work of your organization moves you, and what you find compelling and meaningful. When you make your pitch, soften your belly and try to speak from an open heart sensing into what moves you.
Step two: Connecting to the other: your audience.
While building a relationship with your prospects and donors, you want to convey body language that is confident and open, These qualities help you to build rapport.
Ready to command more presence?
Now that you have a framework for shifting your body language, commit to developing your skills. For first-hand experience in building your skills, join Stephanie Brown and Laura Paradise at Foundation Center San Francisco’s April 10th full day workshop: Presence and Persuasion: Polishing Your Fundraising Pitch.
Laura Paradise has worked for the last 30 years as a fundraiser and lobbyist on behalf of environmental, youth development, and education organizations. Now a certified life coach, Laura is dedicated to elevating the stature and impact of women in the workforce. In addition to individual coaching, Laura offers groups and workshops where clients hone their promotional skills.
This guest post by Claire Axelrad, nonprofit coach and consultant.
Did you know you’re 85 percent on your way to securing a gift if you can get your prospect to agree to a visit? So says veteran major gifts fundraiser Jerold Panas in his iconic book, Asking. He also says, “If you want to milk a cow, sit by its side.”
But … how do you get the cow to cooperate? Ay, there’s the rub.
It just is. People screen phone calls. They don’t answer emails. They’re busy. And, let’s face it, they know what this is about. Once you get in the room with them, you have your chance to win them over. But how to get there?
Acknowledge to yourself that the hardest part of fundraising is getting the visit. Once you accept this, you’ll be less frustrated. There’s nothing wrong with you if you’re having a hard time getting through to someone; everyone does. Persevere. Try different channels until you find one that works (phone, email, text, social media, etc.).
Here are some specific tips that will help you get in the door.
1. Remember you’re not setting an appointment, you’re arranging a visit. “Appointments” are no fun. Doctors, mechanics, and dentists require appointments. “Visits” are fun. You’ll chat, nosh, and have a lovely conversation. Yay!
2. Start by asking your prospect if he or she has time for your call. If you launch into trying to schedule a visit while your prospect’s attention is on anything else, you risk failure. If the prospect only has 5 minutes, say you’ll take 4 and stick to it.
3. Tell the prospect why you’re calling. If they’re a former donor, begin by reminding them how much they’re valued And thank them for their previous gift. People will do what they’ve done before (they already went through the decision process of whether or not to give to you); you’re simply encouraging them to continue, and perhaps to do so even more passionately.
4. Be clear about your intention to talk about philanthropy. No one likes to be tricked. Explain you want to see them to: (1) get their feedback/advice on your new project/campaign as a longtime supporter, volunteer, or community leader with an ear to the ground, and (2) explore a giving opportunity. Ask when they can see you for 20 minutes, at their convenience.
5. Don't talk about specific dollar amounts yet. Save this for the in-person visit. And, frankly, it may not come up until the second in-person visit. Major gift solicitations take a while. The most common objections to a visit run along the lines of: “I don’t want to talk about/don’t have money to give” …“I’m too busy to meet”… “I’ll give, so you don’t need to spend time with me”… “I’d love to meet, but I’m going on vacation; why don’t you call me when I get back” (ever notice how it’s always vacation season for major donor prospects)? If this happens, promise you won’t ask for money on this visit. Say you’d still appreciate their advice on your project or campaign. It’s been said that if you want advice, ask for a gift; if you want a gift, ask for advice.
6. Offer choices for timing of the visit. Don’t let tell them tell you they’ll think about it and get back to you. Offer two or three choices; they’ll generally pick one. Keep the ball in your court.
7. Smile, stand up, and walk around. How you say something can be more important than what you say. Smiling, standing, and moving helps to convey enthusiasm in your speech. This really works. People like to talk to people who sound happy. When someone answers the phone, leap up and grin!
Register for Foundation Center’s webinar Anatomy of a Major Gifts Ask: The Art and the Heart. Join Claire Axelrad, CFRE, on March 24th as she describes how to make an effective —step by step. It’s not that difficult, provided you know the techniques that work. Invest in your fundraising success today!
Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE, is a sought-after coach and consultant, and was named Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and brings 30 years of frontline development and marketing experience to her work as principal of Clairification.
Monday, March 9:
Tuesday, March 10:
Wednesday, March 11:
Thursday, March 12: