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Successful Corporate and Foundation Fundraising for Nonprofits John Feather, PhD, CAE, CFRE Chief Executive Officer Grantmakers in Aging.

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Presentation on theme: "Successful Corporate and Foundation Fundraising for Nonprofits John Feather, PhD, CAE, CFRE Chief Executive Officer Grantmakers in Aging."— Presentation transcript:

1 Successful Corporate and Foundation Fundraising for Nonprofits John Feather, PhD, CAE, CFRE Chief Executive Officer Grantmakers in Aging

2 Why Foundations? Why Corporations? As government funding diminishes, private foundations and corporations can help As government funding diminishes, private foundations and corporations can help Especially useful for new programs and special efforts Especially useful for new programs and special efforts Strong interest in programs that involve local communities Strong interest in programs that involve local communities Big money – foundations give away $41 billion a year and corporations $20 billion Big money – foundations give away $41 billion a year and corporations $20 billion Top three areas are education, health, and human services Top three areas are education, health, and human services

3 Why Are Nonprofit Programs Attractive? Meet real needs Meet real needs Matches donor demographics and interests Matches donor demographics and interests Visibility and prestige of being associated with good works in the community Visibility and prestige of being associated with good works in the community Small investment, big return Small investment, big return Sustainability of programs Sustainability of programs

4 Fairness vs. Stewardship Foundations, corporations and government agencies have fundamentally different approaches to funding decisions Foundations, corporations and government agencies have fundamentally different approaches to funding decisions Not understanding the difference often leads to frustration by grant seekers Not understanding the difference often leads to frustration by grant seekers

5 Government Process: Fairness All applicants should have an equal opportunity – a “level playing field” All applicants should have an equal opportunity – a “level playing field” Detailed written criteria (Request For Proposals) Detailed written criteria (Request For Proposals) Review panel of outside experts Review panel of outside experts Staff members who are assigned to answer questions Staff members who are assigned to answer questions

6 Foundation and Corporate Process: Stewardship Stewards of donor’s intentions and interests Stewards of donor’s intentions and interests Often favors known successful programs Often favors known successful programs Makes use of information not in the grant proposal Makes use of information not in the grant proposal May not have a written proposal process or staff access at all May not have a written proposal process or staff access at all Final decision makers may not be experts Final decision makers may not be experts

7 Goal is the Same Both government funders and foundations/corporations want to fund excellent projects Both government funders and foundations/corporations want to fund excellent projects Approach is different Approach is different Successful grant seekers tailor their proposals for each foundation or corporation Successful grant seekers tailor their proposals for each foundation or corporation

8 Why Do Corporations Give? Good corporate citizenship. Positive community image in places they operate Good corporate citizenship. Positive community image in places they operate Enlightened self interest. For example, they need an educated workforce, so they support education Enlightened self interest. For example, they need an educated workforce, so they support education Individual leadership initiative. The CEO or senior leaders often shape giving priorities Individual leadership initiative. The CEO or senior leaders often shape giving priorities Civic participation. Often restrict giving to places in which they operate Civic participation. Often restrict giving to places in which they operate Quid pro quo. What’s in it for us? Quid pro quo. What’s in it for us?

9 Why Do Foundations Give? To honor the donor. To honor the donor. To make the world a better place. To make the world a better place. To meet community needs. To meet community needs. To gain prestige or visibility (sometimes). To gain prestige or visibility (sometimes). Because they have to (IRS 5% rule). And only to 501(c)3 organizations Because they have to (IRS 5% rule). And only to 501(c)3 organizations

10 Writing a Successful Foundation/Corporate Proposal First and foremost, it is just good grant writing First and foremost, it is just good grant writing Every foundation and corporation is unique: follow their process Every foundation and corporation is unique: follow their process Never “repurpose” a government grant proposal for a foundation or corporation Never “repurpose” a government grant proposal for a foundation or corporation

11 A Step by Step Approach Writing the proposal comes at the end of the process Writing the proposal comes at the end of the process Many of the steps will take time Many of the steps will take time Respect each foundation or corporation’s process and procedures Respect each foundation or corporation’s process and procedures Make use of the all resources you have, including connections to the foundation or corporation Make use of the all resources you have, including connections to the foundation or corporation

12 Step 1: Nurture Relationships Essential to know the foundation or corporation Essential to know the foundation or corporation Provide a regular stream of information Provide a regular stream of information Invite staff to events Invite staff to events Don’t let the proposal be your only communication Don’t let the proposal be your only communication

13 Step 2: Advertise Your Success Smaller foundations and local corporations especially want to ensure that they are giving to good programs Smaller foundations and local corporations especially want to ensure that they are giving to good programs Make sure your efforts are seen and appreciated in the community Make sure your efforts are seen and appreciated in the community A little secret: foundation and corporate giving people talk to each other A little secret: foundation and corporate giving people talk to each other

14 Step 3: Do Your Homework Find out what the foundation or corporation funds and at what level Find out what the foundation or corporation funds and at what level “Over the transom” proposals are never successful - - and no multiple copies! “Over the transom” proposals are never successful - - and no multiple copies! Tailor the proposal carefully to match the language (“buzz words”) of the foundation or corporation Tailor the proposal carefully to match the language (“buzz words”) of the foundation or corporation

15 Step 4: Look Locally Most foundation and corporate money is local, but most people look nationally Most foundation and corporate money is local, but most people look nationally Have local influentials on advisory boards Have local influentials on advisory boards Receiving support locally will help you compete for national foundation funds Receiving support locally will help you compete for national foundation funds

16 Step 5: Understand the Funder’s Needs What is the foundation or corporation trying to accomplish? What is the foundation or corporation trying to accomplish? Is visibility and/or prestige a goal? Is visibility and/or prestige a goal? Look at the history of the organization and background of trustees or corporate officers Look at the history of the organization and background of trustees or corporate officers Corporations often take cues from employees in deciding what to fund – do you know any? Corporations often take cues from employees in deciding what to fund – do you know any?

17 Step 6: Simplify and Clarify Often the downfall of nonprofits Often the downfall of nonprofits Have a verbal pitch that is at maximum 2-3 minutes long Have a verbal pitch that is at maximum 2-3 minutes long Write it down and memorize it Write it down and memorize it Answer the obvious questions (cost, length, why you) Answer the obvious questions (cost, length, why you) Try the “mother test” – she’s on the Board! Try the “mother test” – she’s on the Board!

18 Step 7: Talk before Writing Always try to talk to a program officer before submitting a proposal if possible Always try to talk to a program officer before submitting a proposal if possible Ask for advice -- they often can and will give it Ask for advice -- they often can and will give it Hearing that they would never fund you is not an insult, it is a favor Hearing that they would never fund you is not an insult, it is a favor Listen more than you talk Listen more than you talk

19 Step 8: Create the proposal Here is where you actually write the proposal (step 8 of 9) Here is where you actually write the proposal (step 8 of 9) Answer the “Three Whats”: Answer the “Three Whats”: Do What? Clear statement of the project Do What? Clear statement of the project So What? What difference will it make? So What? What difference will it make? Then What? How will the effort continue once funding ends? Then What? How will the effort continue once funding ends?

20 Step 9: Remember Your Goals Don’t respond to every foundation or corporate announcement -- you won’t be successful and will soon give up Don’t respond to every foundation or corporate announcement -- you won’t be successful and will soon give up Be politely persistent Be politely persistent Don’t let the pursuit of funding warp your strategic goals – know what you do well and stick to it Don’t let the pursuit of funding warp your strategic goals – know what you do well and stick to it

21 Information Resources The Foundation Center: most comprehensive resource The Foundation Center: most comprehensive resource Searchable databases Searchable databases Well worth the membership if you submit many foundation proposals Well worth the membership if you submit many foundation proposals Foundation websites and annual reports Foundation websites and annual reports Corporate giving information is harder, but a search of local news stories is often helpful Corporate giving information is harder, but a search of local news stories is often helpful IRS 990s at guidestar.com IRS 990s at guidestar.com

22 Thank You! John Feather, PhD, CAE, CFRE Chief Executive Officer Grantmakers in Aging Arlington, VA


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