Category: Events


By Karen Downing

During times of economic stress, grant seeking becomes a required activity for many nonprofit organizations within our communities. As need in the community increases, and public funding for social services, the arts, health and other nonprofit work decreases, nonprofits increasingly need to turn to other sources of funding to survive and thrive.

With so much need for funding, where can nonprofits turn to in order to get funding information for their organizations?  The Internet can easily overwhelm even savvy information users.  Libraries of all types are wonderful places to learn more about non-profit funding, and librarians who are knowledgeable about funding resources are great resources for non-profits.

In the greater Detroit area, there are several Foundation Center Cooperating Collections (satellite libraries for The Foundation Center in NYC), all of which provide access to an array of resources about foundation-based grant-seeking.

Cooperating Collections are free information centers that provide a core collection of Foundation Center publications and a variety of supplementary materials and services in areas useful to grantseekers.

At each Cooperating Collection, you will find access to Foundation Directory Online, a database that you can search that includes profiles of over 100,000 U.S. based foundations and public  charities, hundreds of thousands of grants that have already been made, and direct corporate giving programs. This massive database is searchable by your geographic area, the population(s) you serve, the area of emphasis of your non-profits’ work, and more.

The Foundation Directory Online is also available at NEW’s offices in Ann Arbor (734-998-0160 x218) and Detroit (313-887-7788 x300).  Call for an appointment.

Karen Downing  is the University Learning Liaison and Foundation Grants Librarian at the University of Michigan

As part of the mission of The Foundation Center to make grant-seeking information available to communities across the country, in conjunction with the Nonprofit Enterprise at Work and the U-M Detroit Center, the Cooperating Collection supervisors of the Wayne State University Library and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor will be co-presenting a free session on using Cooperating Collection information resources on Wednesday, December 14th from 10am-12noon at the University of Michigan Detroit Center, located at 3663 Woodward Avenue, Detroit. The session is now closed due to space limitations, but if you’d like register, you’ll be put on a list to receive follow up information from the event.

If you have any questions contact Dan Robin, drobin@new.org, 313-887-7788 ext 300.  For more information about NEW’s programs and other training opportunities, sign up for NEW’s Notes.

*Note: All these tips and more can be found in Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals.

 

1. How to get your board more involved in fundraising:

Stage a Board Member Thank-a-Thon

Tons of nonprofits experience frustration with getting their boards to fundraise; in fact, it’s the second biggest reasons why E.D.s leave their post according to

CompassPoint’s “Daring to Lead” study. Any easy way to give board members a

chance to dip their toes in the waters of donor engagement is staging a thank-athon. The key is to make it easy for board members to participate, and to help them understand that fundraising is much more than making an ask. By inviting your board members to come together one evening or weekend to call and thank recent donors, they will get exposure interacting with donors and will leave feeling empowered and connected to your organization’s work. This will also help to improve relationships with your donors, who will be delighted to receive a thank you call without an attached ask. Read more from Bob Zimmerman in Chapter 31, “Getting Your Board to Fundraise.”

 

2. How to increase your chances of getting a grant:

Never Apply for a Grant Without Contacting the Foundation First

As much as you might want to believe that grants are awarded simply due to the fit of the program and the excellence of the application, it simply isn’t true. In fact in our experience the odds of getting a grant that you send in without contacting the foundation are about 5-10%. Just as in individual (and all!) fundraising, developing relationships is critical. There are people at these foundations, called program officers, who are directly responsible for deciding who gets money and who doesn’t. They care deeply about the work they are funding, and consider it an advantage to be able to scope out potential grantees. In person meetings with program officers are ideal, but even a short phone call with a grant manager or administrator can still yield the basic information you need, as well as getting your name in the mind of someone at the foundation. Sometimes these initial conversations can save you valuable time in applying for a grant program

that was not a fit—always do your homework on their funding goals ahead of time! But often, they are valuable knowledge gathering sessions: use the call or meeting to

identify their key priorities and desired language, which many times cannot be found on their website; figure out which of your programs or initiatives is the best fit, and determine how much money you should request. Finally, go out on a limb and ask if they would be willing to preview your LOI (Letter of Intent) or proposal before your official submission. This will give them a sense of ownership over your request and provide you with valuable feedback. Start today by calling the offices of your top foundation prospect and seeing if you can get on a relevant program officer’s schedule. Read more from Tori O’Neal-McElrath in Chapter 20, “How to Seeka Grant.”

 

3. How to secure a donation:

Make Specific and Direct Asks for Money

People give because they are asked–if you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no.” It can be tough to look someone in the eyes and ask for money, but somewhere in your pitch, some variation of the words, “I’d like to invite you to invest $100 in our work” need to find their place, ideally followed by as long a pause as it takes to get an answer. For fundraisers, you can’t make the mistake of not asking because you feel greedy or you think they will know what you want. Ask with pride for the cause you are so committed to raising money for, and be honored to be the potential bridge for that donor from need to impact–donation to solution. Be sure to ask for a specific amount (something that’s a stretch, but not unrealistic), and be clear on exactly what you will spend the money on and the impact it will generate. Tell the story of someone you’ve served who enjoyed the impact of these types of donations. Start today by calling a lapsed donor and asking for a small renewal gift, even if it’s $25! Practice this type of direct and specific ask on your board members, fellow co-workers, family, and friends, and in no time you will be a master fundraiser. Read more from Andrea McManus, CFRE in Chapter 18, “Fundraising: Knowing When to do What” and check out Tip 4 for more on this important topic.

 

4. How to build loyal, happy donors:

Map Donations to Impact

People don’t give to you because you have needs; they give to you because you meet needs. Donors and prospects don’t want to hear about the woes of the economy or your organizational struggles—no one wants to join a sinking ship. Instead, they want to know exactly where their donation will go, or has gone, and what impact your work is having on their community and the issues they care about. Use the power of personal stories to demonstrate how critical and important their support is to your work. Emphasize impact and stories in all your communications with donors, both in person and in your written materials. Make sure that you send timely thank you notes, reports on progress and success, and ongoing communications to build loyalty and trust with your donors. Start by sending a handwritten note to your best donor today! Read more from Kay Sprinkel Grace, CFRE in Chapter 19, “Individual Donor and Major Gift Strategies: The 83% Solution to Fundraising.”

 

Resources:

  1. www.Nonprofits101.org
  2. Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals.

 

Darian Rodriguez Heyman is the former Executive Director of the Craigslist Foundation and is Co-Producer & MC, Social Media for Nonprofits , Editor, Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals , and author of the article seen in the Huffington Post, “The Two Keys to Social Media Marketing Success

Darian will be speaking at NEW’s October 18th Get Connected, Top Ten Tips for Fundraising.  If you have questions contact Dan Robin, drobin@new.org, 313-887-7788 ext 300.  For more information about NEW’s programs and other training opportunities, sign up for NEW’s Notes.  

Blog contribution by Yodit Mesfin Johnson, NEW (Nonprofit Enterprise at Work) and guest blogger Michele Lewis-Watts, Michigan Women’s Foundation

The  “Power pipeline” (Crain’s Detroit Business 12/12/20) article got us and some other young professionals we know thinking about our role in the rapidly changing SE Michigan region, specifically in the nonprofit sector.

We all know how this starts; nonprofit board service has typically been a rite of passage. Usually, the “mature”, knowledgeable and typically, deep pocketed individuals in our community were invited to serve on the boards of charitable organizations. It was civic duty at it’s finest for Baby Boomers and they served their respective communities well –most of the time.

The Who

When we look at the leadership of most nonprofit boards now, it’s safe to summarize the composition as well, older folk. In some instances it’s a very elite group of well, older folk and in other cases it’s a group of just, well, older folk. Catch the drift?

While we Gen X, Y and Millennials may not be able to stroke a big check, we can show you a thing or two about fundraising on Facebook! As the Crain’s article stated, we want to be asked to be involved.

Boomers might say we’re selfish, self centered and disinterested in anything other than ourselves.  And while admittedly there is some truth to this, we’d suggest that another more practical reason that we’ve been disengaged thus far (aside from being broke and not being asked to be on boards) is that 25-40 year olds have a lot going on personally and professionally. The younger end of this spectrum is often finishing school, beginning careers, paying off student loans, building credit and credibility, while the older end of this demographic is busy changing diapers, caring for loved ones or climbing the proverbial professional ladder. We may be involved in church or community groups or clubs but rarely are we involved in—or for that matter invited to be a part of the kind of transformational conversations that move a city and a region forward.

The How

Yodit:

Two years ago when we at NEW were asked by a funder to attract younger, more diverse talent to nonprofit boards, we knew we were going to have to meet that young talent where they were.  That’s the reason we used the premise of “speed-networking” as a platform for learning about service opportunities in SE Michigan. Spring/Fall Into Service was our answer to their request. These seasonal events were designed to appeal, in part, to a younger demographic. It seems to have worked as since 2009, we’ve matched more than 60 attendees to nonprofit boards.

Michele:

At the  Michigan Women’s Foundation, we recognize that it cannot be business as usual and that texting, Skyping, telecommuting, social media, cloud-based systems and the like must be fully integrated into work plans and work styles; that time-intensive “bored” Board meetings are not the only way to make decisions and get work done, that only looking at the richest donors is not the only way to raise money; that having the usual suspects around the table only gets you the usual answers.

In the article, Terry Barclay of Inforum indicated that these generations “don’t write the checks,”—but  we do write checks.  We just write checks of a different size. It is a mistake to ignore that fact and wait for us to be able to write bigger checks before we are invited to sit at board tables or given more responsibility. We give of our treasures, but are ready to give of our time and talents in many different ways.

The Network

Generation X and Generation Y have different value systems. We want to lead and work differently. We seek better balance among our professional, social and home lives and know that the balance is not only possible, but doable. Older generations see this difference as a lack of commitment to work or that we don’t want to pay our dues instead of recognizing how this difference could benefit the organization and the employees of the organization.  As a result more young people are leaning toward entrepreneurship. Why should I work for you when you won’t ask for my ideas or don’t use them when they are suggested.

The aforementioned Crain’s article discusses some of our colleagues who are doing awesome work in the community (shout out to Vince, Austin, Claire, and Josh) and deserved to be recognized. Now we just need more young folks to step up and be called up. We have to make sure that we don’t inadvertently create a new “usual suspects list”; only younger.

And there’s more, recently I (Yodit) attended an event at the Downtown Detroit Synagogue. Detroit’s only remaining synagogue, this 90 year old institution is being revitalized by an almost exclusively under 40 board of directors. Ever mindful to seek guidance from older leaders (Jewish and not) , these young people are embracing cross cultural, inter faith and inter generational collaborations and epitomize what a group of passionate, engaged, and empowered people can do.

Another great project is  the  Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, we’ve partnered with them for this year’s Spring Into Service event because we want to model what we’re asking of our community; inclusion of young talent. We also believe in their mission; to promote an efficient, viable, and inclusive nonprofit sector that supports the growth, learning, and development of young professionals.

Not only does the field need to encourage your children, employees, neighbors and colleagues to get involved in service activities with organizations like those we’ve mentioned, we must be intentional in recruiting, engaging, mentoring and cultivating young talent.  These jewels will inherit the region and deserve to be a part of shaping and transforming what it will look like the baton is passed. There is much to be done in our great state, let’s be sure we have all hands on deck for this journey.

Read the Crain’s article HERE

——————————————————-

Michele Lewis-Watts is the Pr0gram Director at the Michigan Women’s Foundation which seeks to help women and girls achieve economic justice experience their communities as safe places value and have equal access to education and training address gender discrimination in all forms and to transform society.

Yodit Mesfin Johnson is the Director of Business Development at Nonprofit Enterprise at Work.  She was the youngest recipient of the renowned International Athena Award for her contribution to the women’s business community. She currently serves on the Michigan Israel Business Bridge and is an advisor on several local boards and committees.  Feel free to contact Yodit regarding any of the advice, tools or services mentioned in this post by email at ymesfin@new.org or via phone at 734-998-0160 ext. 238

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by Neel Hajra, President & CEO

Scientific proof that your brain was built to serve on a board!

I often get questions from folks about how they can do more to help their community via nonprofits. Donate money? Sure. Do project-based volunteering? Yup. However, an often-overlooked way of making a HUGE impact is through board leadership. There are many reasons why a nonprofit needs a strong board, but let’s focus on why board membership would be good for you:

  • UseYour Brain: Serving on a board is like loaning your brain to a nonprofit. Whatever your professional expertise and experience, there’s a nonprofit board that needs it! It’s a deeper, more meaningful way to serve your community.
  • Rejuvenate Yourself: Better yet, you not only get to use your brain, you use it in an a totally different context than work or your other activities. You’ll be surprised just how fun it is to apply your experience outside of your normal routine. You know more than you think… :)
  • Network: There is no better way to establish yourself within your community than through board service. Think about it: you get to work closely with a range of individuals who represent a wide variety of business and community interests. Over time, it’s a way to develop great new friends and professional contacts.
  • Give More Than Money: We all benefit from the tireless efforts of nonprofits to make our world a better place. Donating just a few hours a month as a board member is a wonderful way to support nonprofits regardless of your ability to donate money.
  • Develop Your Leadership Skills: Sometimes it can be tough to find leadership development opportunities in your work environment. The solution? Join a board! Board membership = leadership, plain and simple. You can develop your skills as a manager and decision-maker, which ultimately could help you in your professional career.
  • Find Mentors or Mentoring Others: Are you early in your professional career and looking for some mentors? Find a board with the kind of folks whose experiences you value! Are you a grizzled vet? Join a board and leverage your experience to help out other trustees AND the staff of a nonprofit.
  • Build Credibility: Think you might work at a nonprofit one day? Board membership is a great way to develop a real understanding of the sector, and build credibility in the eyes of nonprofit leaders. Hoping for a senior management position at your for-profit company? Well, many expect to see community leadership out of their potential leaders.

So HOW do you link up with a nonprofit board? I was hoping you would ask :) For those in the Ann Arbor area, NEW’s BoardConnect program will be hosting Spring into Service, a “speed networking” event where nonprofits seeking board members get to meet smart folks like you. Sign up and serve!!

PS – Detroiters, we’ve got you covered: we’ll do our second annual “Fall into Service” event this fall in Detroit!

Thanks to Zillafag for the brain picture!

June Events

BUILDING YOUR BOARD
June 3, 2009 | 3 – 6 PM
Chesterfield Township Library, 50560 Patricia Ave., Chesterfield

This practical session provides nonprofits with tools for board member recruitment and education. It also initiates their use of boardnetUSA, a national online database that connects candidates and nonprofits, including access to a growing pool of skilled applicants trained through a companion workshop, Serving on a Nonprofit Board. Attendees may also elect to receive BoardConnect’s personal recruitment support services.

Cost:
$55 per person (save $5 with online registration at www.boardconnect.org)
$40 for Michigan Nonprofit Association Members
$40 for Leadership Oakland Members
20% discount for students

BASICS OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ONLINE FUNDRAISING
Friday, June 5 | 10am-12pm
NEW Center, 1100 N. Main, Ann Arbo
r

How are nonprofits able to fundraise online and raise thousands of dollars within days? Learn how organizations use social networking and social media to promote their work and reach supporters globally. Participants will be able to diversify funding sources, creatively and interactively engage constituencies, as well as understand best practices from successful online fundraisers using blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. The workshop is intended for nonprofit program and marketing managers of all experiences including non-techies. Materials include a CD with social media guides, workshop presentation, and a social media self-evaluation.

Participants will:

  • Gain a working understanding of 5 basic social media tools: WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr.
  • Be able to Identify the return on investment regarding online fundraising beyond amount raised.
  • Develop a comprehensive social media strategy. The npServ program offers innovative desktop, server, database, and email management services in addition to social media workshops and assessments.

Cost:
$45 (save $5 when you register online)

BASICS OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ONLINE FUNDRAISING
Friday, June 5 | 2pm-4pm
Hannan House, 4750 Woodward Ave., Detroit

How are nonprofits able to fundraise online and raise thousands of dollars within days? Learn how organizations use social networking and social media to promote their work and reach supporters globally. Participants will be able to diversify funding sources, creatively and interactively engage constituencies, as well as understand best practices from successful online fundraisers using blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr.The workshop is intended for nonprofit program and marketing managers of all experiences including non-techies. Materials include a CD with social media guides, workshop presentation, and a social media self-evaluation.

Participants will:

  • Gain a working understanding of 5 basic social media tools: WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr.
  • Be able to Identify the return on investment regarding online fundraising beyond amount raised.
  • Develop a comprehensive social media strategy. The npServ program offers innovative desktop, server, database, and email management services in addition to social media workshops and assessments.

Cost:
$45 (save $5 when you register online)

SERVING ON A NONPROFIT BOARD
June 18, 2009 | 1 – 4 PM
NEW Center, 1100 N. Main, Ann Arbor

For community members interested in serving on a nonprofit board. You will learn about the five main responsibilities of board membership and how to find a board match with a nonprofit that could really use your expertise.

Cost:
$55 per person (save $5 with online registration at www.boardconnect.org)
$40 for Detroit Regional Chamber Members
$40 for Michigan Nonprofit Association Members
$40 for Leadership Oakland Members
20% discount for students

GET CONNECTED DETROIT: FRAUD PREVENTION
June 30, 2009 – 3:30 pm to 5 pm
Hannan House, 4750 Woodward Ave., Detroit

How do you protect yourself and your organization from fraud, theft, embezzlement and other wrongdoing? These problems have risen to a level never seen before in nonprofit organizations. Learn about an effective 7-step compliance and ethics program designed to prevent and detect these types of problems. A must for those with management or board responsibility.

Speaker: Paul Larned, Larned & Associates, LLC

Cost: $15 (save $5 with online registration at www.new.org).

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