Grant Writing

Kars4Kids Small Grant Program: A Powerful Thing

Written by: Varda Meyers Epstein, Communications Writer at Kars4Kidskars4kidslogoKars4Kids is a car donation program whose proceeds underwrite educational initiatives for children. We fund things like summer camp scholarships, tutors, and after-school programs. We’ve also created a successful small grant program.

The small grant can be a powerful thing. Take the latest recipient of a Kars4Kids small grant is National Safe Place Network (NSPN). NSPN serves homeless and runaway children. By partnering with NSPN, Kars4Kids extends its reach and diversifies its mission to help still more children.

The Kars4Kids small grant program is a means for recognizing the good work other organizations are doing with children, allowing us to put our imprint on this work, too. Whether it’s a check for $500, $1000, or $5000, a small grant from Kars4Kids says, “This work is valid and excellent, and we stand behind you.”

Over the past two years, the Kars4Kids small grant program has helped fund:

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  • Extracurricular activities, experiences, and wish fulfillment for foster children and their families
  • Summer camp scholarships for science camp
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These small grant recipients each have something in common: they are helping a sector of deserving children that Kars4Kids would not ordinarily reach. The small grant offers a perfect way to partner with beautiful work outside the scope of a single organization’s mission. These grants further show that organizations can network to help each other blossom and grow.

We are excited to receive small grant requests. We love reading about the work of the organizations that apply to Kars4Kids for assistance. Take NSPN, for instance.

NSPN created Safe Place because until it did so, there was no safe place for this very vulnerable sector of children: children without homes, children who have run away from home. Kars4Kids is glad to know that now these children have a place to go where they can get help, warmth, and kindness. The existence of NSPN and of Safe Place tell us that the future holds hope for a brighter world where all children can grow up safe—a kind of world where nothing stands in the way of a child getting an education and getting ahead.

And Kars4Kids stands behind this mission in full.

We stand behind this because at Kars4Kids we believe you can measure a society’s worth by how it treats its more vulnerable sectors. Our children deserve our protection. They deserve to be worry-free as they navigate childhood and the four walls of the classroom.

We know that this is precisely what NSPN is trying to accomplish. NSPN is working to give children back their childhood, that feeling of safety, and the freedom to grow and learn. It’s why Kars4Kids gave NSPN a small grant: we know kids can’t learn if they don’t feel safe. Kars4Kids is proud and glad to partner with organizations like NSPN that make it possible for children to bloom to their fullest potential.

We, at Kars4Kids, are grateful for the opportunities afforded us by our small grant program. We consider it an honor to learn about all the creative ways in which organizations are helping children. It is the fondest hope of Kars4Kids that through the power of our small grant program we can continue to help children, no matter where and who they are, to get ahead and be their best.

 

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Fundraising Success in Two Little Words

Written by: Freddi Birdwell, CFRE, CEO of Red Bird Consulting

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Thank you.

Do you say it early and often to your donors? If you don’t, then you may be losing some serious leverage when it comes to building support for your cause.

Considering that about 80 percent of first-time givers never make a second gift, the distinction between givers and donors is an important one! When and how you say “thank you” represents the single greatest opportunity for encouraging second gifts, third and so on. Multiple gifts mean you’ve converted a giver to a donor, a casual contributor to a friend with potential for lifetime involvement.

Every gift, regardless of size, is an opportunity to connect, to deepen engagement, and to create advocates and investors for your organization. In fact, I believe that donor appreciation is the “engine” that drives the development process. All you need to do is add a generous dose of “STP” to get and keep your fundraising engine in race-winning shape!

Specific – amount and purpose

When you are specific in your gift acknowledgement, you demonstrate accountability and respect for your donor’s intent. Not only that, but telling the story of how the gift will be used makes it more tangible, and therefore more meaningful, for the donor.

Be as specific as possible, even if the gift is not restricted or designated to a specific program or purpose. You know what it costs to run your organization or program for a year. Divide that cost by units that make sense, e.g. number of clients, services, bed nights, case management hours, days of operation, etc. This is a real-world figure that represents a per-unit cost for delivering on your mission, and it can be applied to even modest donations.

“Your $25 donation will provide diapers, formula, clothing and comfort items for the next infant brought to us for care.”

“Your generous gift of $75 directly supports infant and newborn education for three of our sponsored families.”

Timely – immediately, if not sooner

The best practices standard for gift acknowledgement is within 48 hours of receipt. Prompt acknowledgement demonstrates your professionalism and tells donors you value their support. Slow or, heaven forbid, no acknowledgement sends the opposite message. Be sure you prepare in advance for heavy donation periods, e.g. a special event, a year-end direct response appeal. Being inundated with donations is a superb problem to have, but it’s no excuse for long lag times in the acknowledgement process.

Personal – the warmer the better

Remember, people give to people, not to organizations. A personal expression of gratitude deepens engagement, invites dialogue and creates relationships. You can’t do all that with a tax receipt. Even a quick handwritten note on a standard acknowledgement letter gets noticed.

Personalizing your response is where involving others in your organization really comes into play, from staff at all levels to board members and potentially even clients. A bonus of getting board members involved in thank-you calls, for example, is that it not only deepens engagement with the donor but boosts the board member’s buy-in as well.

Maximizing Performance
Now that you’ve revved up your fundraising engine, make the most of the opportunities inherent in every check, on-line or in-kind donation.  Be ready to educate newer donors, to invite and connect donors to your mission in meaningful ways, and to reflect in your response the significant interest signaled by your largest investors.

  • Educate: Education tools can include a “welcome kit” for new donors, with a special message, pictures or video links; a copy of your latest newsletter or annual report, accompanied by a handwritten note; or program material with more information on a donor’s area of interest. Keep in mind that storytelling is the most effective means of engagement, using statistics only sparingly. Don’t overwhelm.
  • Invite & Connect: Consider how you can “show” and not just “tell” the story of your organization. Interactive activities invite inquiry, spur dialogue and help your donors develop the emotional connections that motivate giving. Site tours, forums featuring testimonials from community partners or service beneficiaries, a “behind the scenes” discussion with the CEO are just a few ideas for launching such engagement. Be creative, and make sure you invite newer donors (like those first-time givers from your special event) and those who have indicated a deepening interest through multiple donations.
  • Reflect Investment: As your largest investors, your major gift donors or prospects need and deserve more detailed information on your work. Fundraising research tells us that high wealth individuals value impact, as in this 2014 U.S. Trust Study, and want to know how their investment is paying off in community benefit.

Two Words, One Plan
Put the magic of “thank you” to work by making these and other ideas work for your particular organization. Work closely with your finance or accounting staff to establish donation processing procedures. Seamless information flow between finance and development supports both fiscal accountability and effective donor stewardship.

All key stakeholders should be involved in your donor acknowledgement plan, including executive and program leadership, board members and, whenever possible, service beneficiaries. Your plan should reflect giving levels that are appropriate for your organization, what acknowledgement/recognition donors receive at each level and who is involved. Use this handy worksheet to get you started!

Thank you. Into those two little words are packed a multitude of possibilities for your organization and those you serve. What are you waiting for? Start your engines!

Three Ways to Move Your Fundraising Forward

By: Patricia Kern, CFRE, Kern + Associates

There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

For the past 20-plus (ok, 25-plus) years I have been in the non-profit sector. I’ve learned that most of the time those awesome individuals who have ‘fundraising’ in their job descriptions usually have the best instincts, the best listening skills and the best ideas about how to raise needed funds for their organizations.

However, they lack the time to listen to their instincts, act on the information they gathered, or implement their ideas.

I think the Great Gretzky may have the answer to some of the challenges we face in fundraising.

I skate to where the puck is going to be…

How do we know where to skate? Or in other words, where to fundraise? Who to ask?

The best fundraisers I have ever known are readers. They read the local newspapers. They read the business journals, regional magazines, and chamber newsletters to name a few. Why? They are studying. They read about the women and men in leadership in their community and they take note of their companies, their visions, and their plans. They read to anticipate alignment with mission and they take this insight and…

I skate…

Skate. AKA: Move. Do not sit at your desk. Get up and get out of the office. Make appointments with prospects and donors. Schedule coffee time, breakfast huddles, and lunch dates. I know one executive who schedules lunch meetings every day. He schedules them a month out and he has a contact list that is amazing. He is getting to know people of all walks of life and while listening to others, he also builds relationships to share his goals and dreams for his organization. Truth. While you may think there’s no way you could do that every day what if you tried to schedule one lunch meeting a week? It’s all about getting out and skating…

…Not where it has been…

Is there a fundraising pattern at your organization? What? That doesn’t make sense. You’ve likely heard that those that who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it, right? Becoming a student of fundraising means learning what the fundraising story was for your organization a year ago, two years ago or more. Are you raising more or less today? Can you determine why? (If yes, good job! You’re already a good student!) Better yet, do you have a written plan for how to raise more this year? Or next year? If you haven’t yet won it on paper, you don’t have a plan. There are loads of good reading resources on writing fundraising plans but a few of my favorites are:

  • www.GivingUSA.org – This is a resource rich in history and analysis of fundraising.
  • www.simonejoyaux.com – I heard Simone once and it changed my fundraising life. Centering your plans on the donor is essential to your fundraising plan.
  • www.donordreams.wordpress.com – My buddy Erik Anderson has a great blog. Plus he’s cool.

Listen to Gretzky, Fundraiser. You are Great, too.

Spring Forward with National Safe Place Network

By: Katie Carter, Director of Research, Education & Public Policy, NSPN

I love spring. It’s a time of new beginnings, warmer weather, flowers…

We mark this time of year at NSPN by launching our annual membership and licensed agency renewal drive. In case you missed the launch, you can read more here: http://www.nspnetwork.org/join-the-network.

I’d love to take this opportunity to share some of the exciting things we are doing, and some of the things we have planned. For starters, many of you are wrapping up the busy grant-writing season. We’ve been providing support to many of our member agencies, answering questions and reviewing proposals. We are available to do this year-round, for any of your grant proposals, not just your federal proposals. We wish you all luck who are writing and submitting proposals in the next few days.

Later in April, we are hosing a webinar for NSPN members about host homes. Some of you have been asking what host homes are. In the host home model, youth live temporarily with members of the community while receiving services. Host homes can serve as emergency shelters or as longer-term housing for youth in transitional living programs. Depending on the individual state regulation, the placement may be licensed of unlicensed. Agencies in rural areas often consider host homes a practical alternative to both short-term shelters (Basic Centers) and longer-term transitional housing (Transitional Living Programs). The host home model is a flexible model providing housing and stability. We have a terrific, experienced panel lined up to share experiences using host homes in their states. We have representatives joining us from Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, Project Oz, and Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs. If you are curious about learning more about the model, or want to figure out how to strengthen the model in your state, check out this webinar on April 29 at 2 p.m. NSPN members can register here:  https://nspn.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_191383.

Later this spring, we are also convening an on-line course, Clinicians’ Coffee House. This four-week course will cover: how self-care can lead to preventing vicarious trauma and contribute to a better trauma-informed approach for your entire organization. You can learn more and sign-up here: https://nspn.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_192441.

Be on the lookout for additional webinars and training opportunities through National Safe Place Network membership. We are excited about the events we have coming up and look forward to sharing them with you.

Don’t be Fooled, NSPN has you Covered

By Katie Carter and TC Cassidy

Whether your RHY-funded staff members are attending RHYTTAC conferences and trainings, you are a Safe Place agency getting help locating and recruiting sites, or you are a NSPN member during this hectic grant season, your team at NSPN is here to help – really! This is not a joke.

RHYTTAC Support

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RHYTTAC is funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) as the training and technical assistance provider for all FYSB-funded RHY grantees. RHYTTAC staff members all have a background in FYSB-funded RHY program services and understand the challenges programs face in striving to achieve the best possible outcomes in the midst of staff turnover, community change and ever-emerging needs of the RHY population.

RHYTTAC provides tools, resources and consultation to assist FYSB RHY grantees so that they may engage in continuous quality improvement of their services and build their capacity to effectively serve RHY. Technical assistance services can include the provision of relevant resources; telephone consultation; email exchanges; Community of Practice support; on-site assessment and consultation to address program-specific needs. Technical assistance may be requested directly by a grantee or a Federal Project Officer may request RHYTTAC’s involvement to support a grantee’s effort.

RHYTTAC services are free for grantee organizations, with the exception of a small registration fee for the National RHY Grantees Conference and travel-related expenses. Recognizing that travel costs are often prohibitive for many grantees, RHYTTAC is working to ensure that topics delivered via technical assistance clinics and trainings are also made available to all grantees via the website and other outlets.

RHYTTAC wants to hear from you. If there is a training topic you would like to see added to the calendar for upcoming webinars or on-site events, please let us know by contacting us at info@rhyttac.net.

National Safe Place Network (NSPN) Member Support

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In addition to operating RHYTTAC, for more than three decades, NSPN has provided services and support for agencies serving youth and families. NSPN offers a unique set of packages designed to meet the needs of youth and family service agencies across the country.

NSPN members are a part of a national network of dedicated youth service professionals working to strengthen the lives of youth and families. We provide training opportunities to gain Continuing Education Units, share current trends, best practices, and keep members updated on news and research.

We are here for you, to answer your questions, guide you through grant proposal applications, and introduce you to others in the field, doing similar work. If interested in learning more about membership opportunities, check out: www.nspnetwork.org/join-the-network.

Safe Place Program Support

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NSPN is constantly seeking to provide the greatest return on the investment that local licensed agencies make in implementing Safe Place in their communities. We offer materials and resources, professional program support, training and industry networking opportunities. Don’t Safe Place in your community? Let us know and we will work with you to see if starting the program is a feasible option. For more information about Safe Place, please visit: www.nationalsafeplace.org.

Don’t be fooled by all NSPN has to offer. We are here to help. Just let us know what you need!

Grant Writing Resolutions

January – a time of reflection, new beginnings, resolutions, and preparing for grant-writing season. We are busy preparing for an upcoming webinar for NSPN members on grant writing resolutions. For a preview of the webinar, check out these two grant-writing tips.

Resolution 1: Lose the weight.

Grant writers and development officers carry the weight of the world on their shoulders during grant season. Worrying about whether your words will help save jobs or lose them. Programs may close based on your skill set alone! STOP IT! Just like with a diet, one practice or change is never sufficient to get the healthiest outcome. You are responsible for doing your best. And, that is all you can do. You have to share the burden with others. You need to develop patters of behavior that work for you. If you feel alone, call or connect with your NSPN membership team. We will figure it out together.

Resolution 2: Don’t be a citizen of ProcrastiNation.

We are busy. It is all we can do to get today’s work done. We may often fall short of our goals. Grant season will highlight every tendency you have to wait until a better time. When you wait until the next week or until you can get to it (whenever that is…) there are often challenges. While it is true you do not always know the data a funding application will be due… you do know that you will probably need updated logic models; organizational charts; need data; resumes; and, position descriptions. You can start on all of that now. Pull out your shiny new phone or paper calendar and set aside at least one hour per week to do something related to fund development preparation. It will make things easier in the spring and you may even hug yourself with joy and relief for planning ahead, or at least check something off your to-do list.

Want more tips? Join us on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 1:00 p.m. EST for the NSPN Members-Only Webinar: 12 New Year’s Resolutions for Grant Writing. You can register here: https://nspn.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_185042

Please note: This webinar is open to any NSPN member at the basic level or above. The webinar will be recorded and available to members with access to the Training Center after January 15, 2015.