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Grant Writing Workshop AmeriCorps Members Presented by Kathryn Ross March 10, 2015.

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Presentation on theme: "Grant Writing Workshop AmeriCorps Members Presented by Kathryn Ross March 10, 2015."— Presentation transcript:

1 Grant Writing Workshop AmeriCorps Members Presented by Kathryn Ross March 10, 2015

2 Objectives Today My primary objective is to give you a good basic overview of grant writing so you will feel comfortable starting that process. But I also hope the topics we discuss this morning - positioning your work and tailoring your messages for different audiences - will be helpful to you in every aspect of your communications.

3 Types of Funders Private Foundations More than 80% of Minnesota foundations. Established by an individual, a group of individuals, or a family. Family foundations are run by the donor and/or the donor’s family. Examples: McKnight Foundation, Bush Foundation

4 Types of Funders Community/Public Foundations Publicly supported for the benefit of a specific geographic area or area of interest. They raise money for their own endowment, as well as giving grants. Have both unrestricted and designated funds. May include one or more supporting organizations -- a separate funder managed by the community foundation. Examples: Saint Paul Foundation, Duluth- Superior Area Foundation, Lutheran Community Foundation

5 Types of Funders Corporate Foundations Separate entities from the corporation which give away some of the corporate profit in the form of grants. Examples: Target Foundation, General Mills Community Action Fund

6 Types of Funders Corporate Giving Programs Grant making straight out of the corporate checkbook, often operated by the community relations department, or similar part of the company. Example: Thrivent Financial for Lutherans

7 Types of Funders Government Funding available competitively at federal, state, county and city levels, usually organized within certain agencies by subject area. See Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance ( for national sources. Applying can be extremely complex, and accountability demands high.

8 Types of Funders Civic Organizations — for example, VFW and Rotary Clubs Faith Communities

9 Types of Funders Why is it important to consider what type of funder you are working with? Informs their guidelines – scale of projects they fund and local vs. national concerns May affect level of information required May affect the expertise of reviewers

10 Types of Grants General operating or operating support: Funds your whole mission -- everything you do. You decide what to spend it on -- a particular program or something more general like rent.

11 Types of Grants Program or project support: Funds a specific activity with a beginning and end, particular goals, and a specific cost. Restricted to those activities; cannot be used for anything else. Some funders like to support new projects; others will support ongoing programs.

12 Special Kinds of Project Grants Planning: If you are starting a new program (or organization), you may need to spend time and money on research and planning. A planning grant supports initial project development. Can be used for focus groups, surveys, travel to visit similar programs, etc.

13 Special Kinds of Project Grants Start-up: Supports a new program (or a new organization) in its first few years. Sometimes the grant is for more than one year, with decreasing amounts each year. (Also called "seed money")

14 Special Kinds of Project Grants Management assistance: Supports a project to improve management: fundraising, planning, marketing, etc. (Also called "organizational development" or "technical assistance" or capacity building). Could be used to hire an IT consultant.

15 Special Kinds of Project Grants Facilities and equipment: Helps buy a physical object, like a building or a piece of equipment, that you will use for many years. (Also called "capital" grant)

16 Additional Resources Minnesota Council on Foundations Minnesota Council on Nonprofits

17 Remember Grant makers have a legal obligation to give grants…it’s their job to give you money! And it is your job, as a grant seeker, to help them invest in worthwhile programs that advance their mission and goals.

18 Relationship vs. Transaction Foundations have moved beyond being a “checkbook” and funding out of “need.” Want to invest in solutions – interested in impact. Moving more to RFPs and directed grant making.

19 Getting Started Development is an ongoing process of nurturing relationships. To succeed, we need to align our messages about our work with our prospective donors’ interests and values.

20 Preparing Your Case for Support Become a good storyteller - make sure you are an effective advocate for your organization. No matter who you are talking to, you need to be able to speak clearly, confidently, and knowledgeably about your organization and programs.

21 Should You Apply for a Grant? Does the project fit your mission? If so, how does it strengthen or expand what you are doing well? Is it tied to your strategic plan?

22 Should You Apply for a Grant? If the project doesn’t fit … Why have you decided to do it? If it’s an expansion of your mission or programming, does it require board approval?

23 Should You Apply for a Grant? Either way … What is the need for the project? Have you documented the need? Done focus groups, pre-planning? Why is your organization the best group to be doing this?

24 Call Program Officer First If you can, take advantage of a preliminary conversation – you may get very helpful information on what you need to be competitive.

25 Site Visit Sometimes you can meet with a funder before you apply – this is especially likely if: 1. You already have a history with that funder; and/or 2. They have new staff who are unfamiliar with your organization.

26 What Goes in a Proposal? Funders usually have specific guidelines, so read them very carefully! Some funders prefer the MN Common Grant Application Format, which has specific headers and questions. Others have their own application forms.

27 Quick Caveats Always, always, always, build in extra time to complete a proposal by the deadline. Be very clear about assignments – who is responsible for what information and by when.

28 Quick Caveats What content and how much is increasingly being limited in online applications. Many of them have character limits which means you must make every word matter.

29 Getting Started In general, proposals hinge on three questions: 1.What is the problem/need? 2.What can you do to solve/address it? 3.Why should we trust you and invest in your approach?

30 Organizational Background History: Year you were founded or incorporated A sentence or two about “why” and “who” I like to include milestones or critical stages of growth I might include key awards or recognition

31 Mission Statement This is your official statement of purpose, board-approved. You don’t get to edit it or modify it, even if is clunky!

32 Vision Statement This is usually aspirational – “we envision a world where no one who is sick will also go hungry.”

33 Description of Current Programs Usually a brief summary, but you may want to add distinguishing features: “Our F.A.S.T project has become a national demonstration for best practices on how to help families with serious mental health disabilities move out of poverty.”

34 Populations Served Actual numbers – usually in the context of a fiscal year Demographics – age, race, gender, income – sometimes, disability, sexual orientation, veterans If you can, you may want to add distinguishing characteristics – “we serve people others turn away”

35 Organizational Background To the extent you can, use this section to begin positioning your strengths and what makes you special or unique… Have you been asked to expand your programs or facilities? Are your staff viewed as experts in the field?

36 Organizational Background Have you received prestigious awards or grants? Do you have a particular connection to a neighborhood or community that should be reinforced?

37 Positioning your Work What are the needs that your group - and only you – are addressing? Why are they important? Why should I care (how do they affect me)? What are you doing to solve these problems?

38 Open Arms as Example “Open Arms of Minnesota feeds sick people.” (true, but uninspired) “Open Arms is the only nonprofit in the state that prepares and delivers free meals specifically tailored to meet the nutrition needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses.”

39 Distinguishing Characteristics Unlike most meals on wheels programs, we prepare our meals in our own kitchen so they are as delicious as they are healthy. We offer a variety of specialized menus - mild for clients struggling with nausea, soft for clients who have difficulty swallowing, culturally appropriate for African-born.

40 More Key Points The majority of our clients live far below poverty levels - 70% of them report incomes of less than $10,000 annually. We provide our clients with a weekly delivery of frozen meals with enough food for five days, including lunches, dinners, breakfast items, and snacks.

41 Key Points (cont.) From the beginning of our service in 1986, we made a commitment to feed anyone living in a household affected by disease, so we also provide meals to caregivers, partners, spouses, and children.

42 Key Points (cont.) 34% of our breast cancer and 18% of our HIV/AIDS clients have children. Recognizing the growing concern over childhood obesity, we recently launched a new children’s menu that prepares “kid friendly” foods such as chicken fingers that are baked instead of fried.

43 Analysis What needs does Open Arms address? Who do we serve? How does our meal program differ from others?

44 Building the Case for Support In 2007, Open Arms provided 193,300 meals to 900 clients and families - an astonishing 39% increase over the record-breaking 168,000 meals we served in 2006. We enrolled 402 new clients who had never received service from us before.

45 Case for Support (cont.) In Minnesota, a new case of HIV infection is reported every 27 hours. Cancer Plan of MN states that 50% of all Minnesotans will be diagnosed with an invasive cancer in their lifetimes. MN has the third highest rate of MS diagnosis in the country.

46 Case for Support Nearly every day, Open Arms receives a call from someone new who is sick and has nowhere else to turn for help. Food Shelves and Meals on Wheels programs are not prepared to deal with these challenges, nor are they equipped to provide nutritionally appropriate food for people who are sick.

47 Case for Support (cont.) We have the expertise and desire to feed anyone who needs our help. There is only one obstacle standing in our way: the size of our current kitchen. For the first time in our 22-year history, we will have to turn new clients away.

48 Case for Support (cont.) Hunger Can’t Wait. It can’t wait for anyone, but it especially can’t wait for people who are sick or for children whose parents are sick and can no longer care for them the way they use to.

49 The Invitation Together, we can do more than build a new building for Open Arms - we can build a future where no one who is sick in our community will also go hungry.

50 Analysis What needs were identified? Short-term? Long-term? Why are they urgent? What happens if nothing is done? What happens if I support Open Arms?

51 Case for Existing Programs For years, Goodwill-Easter Seals has worked with MFIP families. Developed FAST when we discovered some families weren’t moving off caseload. Families who go on SSI are often doomed to poverty.

52 Existing Programs Offered sector-training programs for nearly 20 years. Career Pathways model – new relationships with community colleges to provide college graduate. Specialized supports – college navigators.

53 Other Talking Points How is your organization recognized for its leadership? Contributions to the field - scholarship, new programmatic models? Prestigious awards, grants, affiliations with other leaders? Who else endorses your work?

54 Identifying Prospects - Casting a Wide Net At Open Arms, I look for: Who is funding other hunger relief programs (similar mission). Who is funding affordable housing, shelters, free clinics (human services/similar values). Who is supporting MN AIDS Project, Susan G. Komen, MS Society (similar disease categories).

55 Identifying Prospects - Targeted Populations I look at who is funding targeted populations that we serve, such as African-born individuals and new immigrants and refugees. This year we are experiencing a significant increase in requests from Latino clients, a population experiencing an increasing trend in HIV infections.

56 Prospects - Special Interests Since we also serve meals to children, I look for organizations who are concerned with children’s health and nutrition. We have just enrolled an eight-year-old in our service.

57 Prospects - Unique Opportunities Open Arms new facility will be built in one of our city’s poorest and most ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Funders interested in economic development and neighborhood revitalization may be interested in the capital campaign.

58 Other Angles In addition to our direct service (meals) I see if any other activities might fit: Education (we offer undergraduate and graduate level internships) Community Outreach/Advocacy Volunteerism Equipment purchases - e.g., vacuum sealing machine that eliminates Styrofoam containers

59 Making Connections In addition to published guidelines, annual reports, websites, etc. that list donors, look for connections in less obvious ways. For example, are there companies in your community that are ranked favorably as best places for women to work? Does your community offer a lecture series featuring prominent women as speakers - who are the sponsors?

60 Making Connections Many business leaders serve on boards of nonprofits - can be an indicator of their personal interests. Newspapers and other weekly publications usually report on social events - who attended what fundraiser, exhibition opening, golf tournament, etc.

61 Contacting Foundations Don’t be afraid to call - they usually have professional staff who are very willing to speak to you. Make sure you have read their guidelines thoroughly! Be prepared to briefly summarize your request in a few sentences and why you believe it is a good fit.

62 Contacting Foundations If you get a positive response, try to get as much guidance as possible on what they will be looking for in the review process. A site visit is a wonderful opportunity to tell your story from multiple vantage points.

63 Contacting Foundations If the response is negative, don’t argue or get defensive. Get as much feedback as possible. If your project can be reconfigured to be a better fit, try again in the future. If not - move on.

64 Foundation Messages What you say will be largely shaped by their guidelines. Usually reviewed by professional staff or peers in your field. Usually requires more formal or academic writing, quantitative data and outcomes. You’ll be expected to demonstrate expertise and professional qualifications.

65 Working with Corporations Major corporations usually have formalized giving programs and many of the same steps can apply. Corporate contributions committees are often staffed by employees. Corporations will be concerned about protecting their brand/reputation.

66 Working with Corporations Never lie about your organization or programs - if a company is nervous about controversy, it is better to walk away. On the other hand, you sometimes can use a company’s negative to your advantage (e.g. Flint Hills and Science Museum).

67 Working with Corporations Informal, “get acquainted” meetings can be a great first step - there’s no pressure and you’ll learn more face-to- face. Ask what partnerships they think have been most successful and why.

68 Working with Corporations Once you’ve identified common objectives, ask to meet again to discuss a proposal. Does the company have other resources (marketing, in-kind donations) to offer? Work out terms for recognition (logo placement, etc.) carefully.

69 Corporate Messages Usually reviewed by employees or other members of your community. Relevance to local issues (e.g., changing demographics, economy). Specific benefits to this community. Who are your community partners? Board members? Employee participation?

70 Corporate Messages If it’s appropriate, incorporate company’s own mission statement or language into your proposal to underscore a positive affiliation. Example: Think Better Banking and Free Thursdays (Smart + Friendly) Example: Cargill and Open Arms (innovation, leadership on health and hunger issues locally and globally).

71 Using the Funder’s Language I hope you agree that we share a commitment to nourishing people, a desire to continually be innovative in the work we do and services we provide, and an ongoing promise to lead on issues of health and hunger, both in the Twin Cities and around the world.

72 Using the Funder’s Language This project directly relates to the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation’s stated objective to provide underserved populations with assistance during the treatment process. “Open Arms helps tremendously. I’m a single parent, doing chemo and trying to make finances and payments. The energy I do have goes toward working. There’s no energy left for food preparation. You keep me going.”

73 Animating Your Text “In a field known for its innovation and commitment to excellence, the staff and board of Open Arms of Minnesota consistently rise above their peers to provide both leadership and vision on a national and international scale. They have done far more than many other organizations, with more resources, to develop best practices that are now accepted as the gold standard for the field. Open Arms is a strong and steady light shining out from America's heartland to illuminate the lives of countless people throughout the world who are challenged by illness, isolation, poverty, and hunger.”

74 Animating Your Text Opening our arms wider to serve more people is the right thing to do. It’s a way for us to build on the promises we made to individuals with HIV/AIDS — to provide nutritious food so they can live dignified and independent lives for as long as possible — and ensure that something good comes from a terrible disease.

75 Evaluation and Impact Outputs - Open Arms will deliver 250,000 meals to 700 clients. Outcomes - 80% of clients will report that our meals support their health and allow them to live more independently. Measurements - surveys at the beginning of service, and bi-annually after that.

76 Administration & Finance Qualifications of Leadership and Staff Governance – e.g., a wide range of skills in finance, management, public relations, etc. Demonstrate commitment by 100% participation in Annual Fund Volunteerism – “Open Arms’ 1400 volunteers contribute the equivalent of 12 FTE”

77 Administration & Finance Balanced budget every year since our founding Annual Fund contributions increased by 5% over previous year Received new grants from Bremer and Phillips Foundations

78 Handling Rejection If it’s a foundation or corporation, don’t get angry or put the staff on the defensive - ask if there is anything you could have done to make the proposal stronger.

79 If You Succeed In addition to a formal thank you, have a Board member (or staff member, if appropriate) send a personal thank you note. Personalize your communication beyond your newsletters and grant reports (send articles, award announcements, etc. with a note). Communicate throughout the year - not just when you request the money.

80 If You Succeed Look for ways to give back to your donor - can you give a presentation before an employee group? Did you produce a report or publication that can be more broadly disseminated? Can you do some form of a recognition event?

81 Be Accountable If you run into problems, call the donor and explain what is going on and what you are doing to address it. If it’s a grant funded activity, ask if you can submit a course correction in writing. Never let your donor learn about a controversy second-hand.

82 Summary Prepare a compelling case for support that: Is true to your mission (don’t distort or embellish beyond the facts). Be able to: Emphasize key points that may be of particular interest to different audiences.

83 Summary (cont.) Learn as much as you can about your prospects before you initiate contact. Listen carefully - your job is not to judge, argue, or bully. Use feedback to educate and address concerns.

84 Summary (cont.) Tailor your presentation to your audience (Formal? Community group? Individual?) and use language and examples accordingly. Clearly articulate how your proposal will further your donor’s objectives and values.

85 Summary (cont.) Communicate on an ongoing basis. Handle problems immediately and directly. Never stop thanking your donors!

86 Thank You! Kathryn Ross

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