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Description: The Grantmakers’ Perspective | Preparing Your Organization for Success | Resources to Help You Find Grants
Volume 9 Issue 1 January 2015 Grants Funding or Folly When discussions begin in non-profit organizations about funding one of the first comments is usually Let s get a grant. It appears to be a natural source of funding for our organizations and many of our members have experience working with grants in their professional roles. In this newsletter we ll explore the pros and cons of applying for grants and what your organization will need to do in order to successfully navigate the grant making system. We ll also share the perspective of funders who are making those grants. What do they want in grantees We hope you ll find this information helpful if you decide to move forward in applying for grant funding. The Pros of Grant Funding 1) Additional funds are available to support particular projects or goals of the organization. 2) Submitting an application helps the organization focus its mission and objectives. 3) General administrative support may be included in the indirect cost category. These are usually administrative costs that are necessary to implement and evaluate the project. 4) The grant provides an opportunity to connect and collaborate with both funding organizations and organizations with similar missions in a locale or Inside this issue The Grantmakers Perspective Preparing Your Organization for Success Resources to Help You Find Grants 2 3 4 community. 5) One grant opportunity may lead to the next one as funders and grantees learn about each other. The Follies of Grant Funding 1) Sufficient thought is not given to how the grant will blend into the overall mission of the organization. Is the project a standalone or does it promote the overall goals set by the organization 2) Organizations must treat these grants as one time money. The grant will end and the organization must plan how to absorb those continuing costs (space personnel etc.) that may have been tied to the grant or plan to pull back to levels prior to receipt of the grant. This is particularly important if the grant is large in scope and size. 3) If the grant provides significant support for a central mission of the organization the CEO of the organization or his staff will be in a constant search for funding to maintain the mission. This can be a major stressor for both staff and the Board of Directors. 4) Grantors may require specific types of financial audits and these can be a major cost factor. Read on to find out how to position your organization to be successful. The Leadership Letter SOUTHERN EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSOCIATION Leadership Commission Members Jeff Leffler MS Anita Dailey GA Marti Nicholson OK Susan Barnes VA Suzi Brodof WV From the Other Side The Grantmakers Perspective leadership development and other forms of capacity building as well as releasing restrictions on grants and caps on overhead. So what does this self-analysis by funders tell you as a grant applicant The relationship between the Smarter grantmaking. Stronger Nonprofits. Better Results. This is the motto of a group called Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. They are a membership organization of funders that researches how foundations and funding entities can support strong effective non-profits through their programs. They have developed four categories for research that apply to their members...goals that will assist them in doing a better job of supporting the non-profit sector. Learn for Improvement-- Evaluation enhances grantmaker and grantee performance when information is used to inform real-time improvements to strategy and practice. By adopting a learning for continuous improvement mindset grantmakers can use evaluation to go beyond proving an intervention has worked to instead focus on understanding why and how performance can be improved. Collaborate--Collaboration allows grantmakers to leverage the contributions of multiple players to make more progress toward shared goals. For grantmakers working collaboratively means deepening relationships with partners and putting a common vision ahead of individual organizations or agendas. Grantmakers can also effectively support grantee collaboration by funding infrastructure that enables these efforts to thrive connecting people and groups working in common areas and emphasizing long-term learning and impact over short-term gains. grantee and the grantor is critical both in terms of empathy for a cause or mission and in ensuring that grant funds are effectively utilized. These are often relationships that are developed long before any grant applications are put forth. sons who are impacted by the projects are included in the development and implementation process. Doing something for someone is not as effective as doing something with someone. are placed on the use of grant funds may be counterproductive. It s up to you to make the case for longer-term and broader support. is key. Any plan that you put forth should include a detailed comprehensive evaluation component that can demonstrate the effective use of the grant funds. The goal you set out may not be reached but you must demonstrate what barriers and obstacles prevented you from reaching those goals. the difference and expands the scope and impact of the grant. Collaboration can support significant meaningful grant projects. T H E L E A D E R S HI P L E T T E R Grants are effective if the per- Some of the constraints that Strengthen Relationships with Grantees-- Better solutions take hold when they grow from the community where the change is needed. When we fail to achieve best results it is often because we aren t connected to our communities and the work of grantees. Support Nonprofit Resilience-- The size of many grants and the strings attached to them often don t align with the results grantmakers seek. With GEO s support grantmakers are embracing approaches that fuel nonprofit success--such as providing general operating support multiyear grants larger average grants and support for Good and detailed evaluation Source Grantmakers for Effective Organizations http www.geofunders.org Working together makes all Page 2 Preparing Your Organization for Success Finding a source of potential funding for your organization is just the first step. Having a good idea doesn t translate into money to implement that idea unless your house is in order and your organization has all the components in place to effectively utilize a grant. We re assuming that your organization is designated as a 501(c)(3) under the IRS code. This means that you have applied to the IRS to be designated as a charitable organization and meet the definition as set out by the Code. If you are approved by the IRS you will receive a determination letter that states that you have been recognized as tax-exempt by the United States government. Unless you have that determination letter you have not been granted taxexempt status. (An employer identification number is not the same as a tax-exemption.) This is important because many foundations will not consider a grant proposal unless you provide the determination letter as a part of your grant application. If you are not independently certified you may be able to partner with an organization that has the designation in order to qualify for grant funding. If you have met this test you re ready to determine if the rest of your house is in order . Once you have your idea developed you will need to convince potential funders that your organization has the ability to carry out the proposed project. Questions to Consider Does your organization have a VOLUME 9 ISSUE 1 clear mission and vision Does your organization have Have you developed collabora- goals and objectives that are incorporated into a strategic plan mitted and do they contribute financially to the organization to support your cause tive relationships with other organizations that can support the work that you are planning Are your Board members com- How will staff be designated to Is your executive team and staff capable of managing this additional project Are there sufficient policies and procedures in writing to ensure that the organization is operating efficiently and within the scope required of a non-profit organization ciary responsibility and oversight of the financial operations of the organization Are they regularly reviewing the financial reports and assets investments of the organization ing system be sufficient to handle the accountability necessary for grant funding implement the project Will the project require hiring new staff and are personnel policies and hiring practices sufficient to maintain a legal hiring and dismissal process dures are in place that will assist in documenting grant activities What type of reporting proce- How do We Get Started Figuring out how to begin may be one of the most difficult parts of the journey. Here are some tips to get you on your way. Start Small--Get your feet Does your Board assume fidu- Will the organization s account- wet and learn the grant proposal process by choosing a small project that will require a less complicated proposal maybe a small grant of a few hundred dollars to support a local event. foundations have a website that will walk you through their requirements to submit a proposal. The site may include the types of proposals they will accept a timeline for submission requirements for supporting documents etc. Try a local foundation first. They are usually the most friendly in terms of what type of proposals they will accept. successful if you don t try Is there an audit financial re- Do Your Research--Most view process in place that will assist in verifying that all grant funds have been spent per the grant agreement If these are federal funds is there capacity to do the specific audit sometimes required for these funds sound Will the grant enhance the work of the organization Are you seeking a grant as a Hail Mary to make up budget deficits Is the organization financially Give It a Try--You ll never be PAGE 3 We re Here to Help If you re considering applying for and managing a grant SECA has developed Board training modules that may be helpful as you go through this process. Module 1 Association Non-Profit Basics SOUTHERN EARLY C H I L D H O OD A S S O C I A T I O N Module 2 Legal Aspects of Non-profit Associations Modules 5 & 6 The Board of Directors Module 8 Non-profit Association Finances & Fundraising Each one of these modules contains a background document and a Power Point presentation that can be utilized with the Board for a short training session. You ll find them at www.southernearlychildhood.org leadership 1123 S. University Suite 255 Little Rock AR 72204 1-800-305-SECA (7322) Fax 501-227-5297 Email info southernearlychildhood.org Promoting Quality Care and Education for Young Children and Their Families SECA is a Voice for Southern Children This newsletter is written and produced by Glenda Bean Executive Director. www.southernearlychildhood.org Resources to Help You Find Grants Established in 1956 the Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data analysis and training it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and increasingly global grantmakers and their grants -- a robust accessible knowledge bank for the sector. http foundationcenter.org getstarted nonprofits The United Way is a locally oriented organization that makes grants to support projects in communities. Go to the link below and enter your zip code in the box at the top right. The website will direct you to the website of your local United Way. http www.unitedway.org pages about-united-way-worldwide The Enoch Pratt Free Library is one of the oldest free public library systems in the United States. They have some good information about the basics of grant writing. http www.prattlibrary.org search site.asp k nonprofit grants This site includes information about federal grant opportunities and how to become tax exempt. http www.usa.gov Business Nonprofit.shtml The National Council of Nonprofits is a resource and advocate for America s charitable nonprofits. They serve as a central coordinator and mobilizer to help nonprofits achieve greater collective impact in local communities across the country. http www.councilofnonprofits.org