Back to Eye on FDO

Category: "FDO Newswire" (119 posts)

September 10, 2018

5 Ways to Seek Corporate Giving

Corporatefunders-blogCorporate companies support nonprofits in a variety of different ways, FDO offers a window into many of them. The following are some of the more common means by which companies give.

  1. Company-sponsored foundation – A company-sponsored foundation is a separate entity from the corporation. Approaching a company foundation for a grant is just like applying to any other type of foundation. There are usually guidelines and an application process, and these details – as well as a giving history – can be found in FDO.
  2. In-kind gifts – Many companies prefer to donate their own products or services to nonprofits. Called “in-kind support,” this can be a good way for a nonprofit to start a relationship with a company. For example, if you run a soup kitchen, you might approach a food company or local supermarkets for supplies. To find companies that offer in-kind donations in FDO, find Transaction Type under Advanced Search & Filters, and select “in kind gifts.
  3. Corporate giving programs – A corporate giving program is administered by the company itself, often through a dedicated department such as Community Relations. Tracking down corporate giving programs can be challenging. When available, FDO will have contact information and guidelines about these types of programs, but seldom prior giving information
  4. Workplace giving – Workplace giving encompasses a number of different programs that encourage and facilitate employees’ donations of cash and/or volunteer time to nonprofits in their communities.

Tip: Find out where your volunteers and donors work to find employees that can act as your cheerleader.

Some of the more popular workplace giving programs offered by corporations are:

  • Employee Matching Gifts: Employers will sometimes match employees' charitable contributions.
  • Volunteer Support Programs: Employees who volunteer in their communities make their companies look good, and employers may offer what’s called “Dollars for Doers" – providing grants to nonprofits their employees support. Also, if you need volunteers, some companies will help organize groups of employees for various nonprofit projects.
  • Pro bono expertise: Some companies will “donate” their professional expertise.
  • Annual Giving Campaigns: Donations through Payroll Deductions can also be set up for employees who wish to effortlessly donate to a worthy cause. However, usually nonprofits must be affiliated with a “pass through” organization, like the United Way or the Combined Federal Campaign.

Utilize the Transaction Type filter under Advanced Search & Filters to search for grantmakers who support these types of Workplace giving.

5. Corporate sponsorship / Cause-related marketing – Both of these are advertising opportunities, and therefore must be entered into thoughtfully. It’s worthwhile to note,

donors could perceive a nonprofit as “selling out” to a company not seen as socially responsible.

Think like a marketer – what products or services do your donors or clients likely use, and what companies offer them? Also, don’t ignore small businesses in your community.

The key thing to keep in mind when approaching companies for any type of support is that they are profit-making enterprises and are looking for some kind of “return on investment” for their philanthropic dollars. Motivations for giving might include getting their name in front of potential customers, keeping their employees happy, or burnishing their reputation in their communities. Your job is to discover what they want and convince them that supporting you is a win-win for all involved.

 

Lori Guidry - Foundation Center San Francisco Lead

As City Lead for Foundation Center West, Lori oversees Foundation Center public services and programming for the social sector in the Bay Area — helping nonprofits in the region find the information and tools they need to be successful. She has worked in information services for more than 15 years, specializing in business and marketing topics, including corporate social responsibility. A native of Chicago, she earned her Masters in Library & Information Science from Dominican University in River Forest, IL.

August 29, 2018

The Board’s Role in Fundraising for Your Organization

Board Fundraising

Getting the board to fundraise can be a very challenging experience even when board members recognize that a primary responsibility of every nonprofit board is ensuring that the organization has the resources it needs to meet its mission.

One of the first things that can help is to distinguish between “Fundraising” and “Development.”  “Fundraising” is an activity with a beginning, middle and an end that results in dollars, while “Development” can be seen as an ongoing, never-ending process of acquiring a wide range of resources for the organization.  All board members can participate in both areas in a number of ways including:

  • Ensuring that there is a viable development plan in place
  • Partnering with staff to meet annual fundraising goals
  • Helping to identify and cultivate potential donors
  • Owning their responsibility to act as ambassadors for the organization
  • Making a personal gift
  • Soliciting donations from their extended personal universe
  • Helping to create and maintain a culture of philanthropy throughout the organization

To elevate the board’s capacity to engage in fundraising, it can be helpful to engage an outside consultant or consulting firm to facilitate and inform a discussion about the thorny issues that might emerge. A neutral party can help keep the conversation at both a high-level - connected to passion, values, mission and best practices - and a practical level that explores individual challenges, identifies the dynamics of effective fundraising, discusses ways to overcome resistance and examines how a person’s own relationship to money influences their ability to fundraise.

Here are some tips to effectively engage your board to fundraise:

  • Implement a strategic plan that clearly communicates the board’s fundraising goals
  • Create a compelling vision of what the board is fundraising for and be clear in messaging
  • Encourage the board to leverage their network of contacts to achieve their development goals
  • Establish mechanisms for accountability among board members and inspire teamwork

Want to learn more about the dynamics of effective fundraising? Join me on Thursday, September 6 for the live webinar How to Establish Expectations for Board Fundraising. No one is born knowing how to do this and some people will be naturally better and more able than others.  That said, clear expectations, a strong board/staff partnership, ongoing training, a deep understanding of the program, an engaging mix of stories and statistics, and a deep understanding of how each board member contributes to the development process can make any board member a successful fundraiser.

Frank Abdale, Senior Associate Consultant, Support Center

View Bio

 

August 16, 2018

Key Steps to Fundraising Success

 

 

Did you know 90% of foundations don’t have websites?

Foundation Directory Online gives you access to key information you need to win funding — find that funder today through FDO! You can search over 140,000 grantmakers and easily see how much support they give, based on your specific mission. Build stronger prospect lists through grant and peer funding insights to win that funding you need to succeed.

FDO-info-blog

FDO is everything you need in one fundraising tool. Subscribe to FDO today!

July 12, 2018

Improved FDO Organization Search: Delivering you better ways to find funding

Organization search just got even easier in new FDO. We listened to the valuable feedback of FDO subscribers and worked hard to redesign your search by organization experience. Our goal is to continuously evolve FDO to ensure we bring you the best grant prospecting tool available.

What’s new?

Use the Organization Name search box to look for a Foundation or peer Grant Recipient*.  When you enter an organization name, a full list of organizations will appear. This new layout is much easier to navigate, to ensure you can easily find organizations. You can now define if you want to see Grantmakers only or Recipients only, or both.  

To view a profile directly, click on the flyout icon in the top right hand corner. 💡Tip: You may also select multiple organizations and all will appear in your search results.

Screen Shot 2018-06-26 at 12.14.41 PM

 

We look forward to sharing other future FDO developments with you all. Happy fundraising!   

*Recipient profiles available in Professional subscription only

June 19, 2018

FDO Drives Innovation in Grants Prospect Research Using AI

AI image

 

AI and machine learning are driving change every day to improve communities and solve crucial problems in sectors such as education and public health. AI powers everyday services like Facebook newsfeed or Netflix recommendations to personalize your experience. The ability to leverage data for insights is a prerequisite for keeping pace with rapid changes in the philanthropic sector so that nonprofits and donors can stay abreast and be better prepared to respond — and machine learning is just one way to achieve this.

AI and machine learning have been at the core of Foundation Directory Online (FDO) for the last several years. Foundation Center’s data scientist, David Hollander, took us through the implementation of AI and machine learning to make our fundraising research tool possible, and starter tips for nonprofits interested in the potential of AI and machine learning for their organization.  

Making FDO Possible

Machine learning powers the grantmaker, grant and recipient results you achieve through FDO every day. Machine learning has accelerated the process of coding grants based on Foundation Center’s expert Philanthropy Classification System. The algorithms in FDO are constantly trained and improved to achieve better results. This is how FDO is able to match user queries to their most likely funders. It also enables FDO to gather deeper insights and provide grant data analytics for prospect research. FDO handles vast amounts of data that is parsed and analyzed using AI and machine learning. Powered by our data team’s expertise and supported with machine learning, we are now able to deliver more grant data and insights than ever before.

Every year Foundation Center codes a record number of grants for FDO facilitated by AI and machine learning. The more data that is fed into FDO, the more the algorithm trains and improves – and with a record number of grants being coded, the faster FDO learns and improves, empowering FDO users with the most comprehensive data and insights needed to find funding.

Interested in AI and Machine Learning for Your Organization?

If your organization is new to AI and machine learning, there are several considerations to make before embarking on implementation, including figuring out your data storage, cleaning your data and data integrations. David suggests to first: identify the problem you are trying to solve with machine learning, and second: identify the data you need to solve it. While the applications for machine learning are endless, there are also inherent challenges to overcome. The quality of your data and data bias, how heavily certain data is weighted, influence the algorithm’s results. Algorithm bias can be minimized with better sampling of data and balancing the weight given to specific data. These are just some of the areas to take into consideration. With your organization’s objectives in hand and procuring the relevant, quality data, your data scientists can understand which machine learning models your organization’s data will need to achieve your goals.

May 17, 2018

Three Easy Steps To Identify New Funding Prospects  

Blogpost-FindFundingWith so many potential funders out there, grant research can be a daunting task. But with a few simple tricks, grant research can produce amazing results pretty quickly. First off, there is a wealth of information to be found in Foundation Directory Online. Let’s look at a few ways to use this tool to find great new prospects for your current needs. The first step to successful grant research is knowing what you are looking for.

Start with a list of the things you need, how much they will cost, and when you need them in hand. Here at Funding For Good, we use our needs list in conjunction to help us determine all the answers needed to be effective in our research. 

Once you have all the prep work done, you are ready to jump online.

Let’s take a look at three easy ways to identify new funding prospects you may not have thought of or didn’t know how to search for previously.

  1. Search for foundations that have funded similar organizations in the past. In order to conduct this search, you first need to know the nonprofit organizations who do similar work, their official names, and where they are located.

Once you have the basic information, hop on Foundation Directory Online and click the upper right link in the search box that says Advanced Search. Once this box opens, you will see a box in the lower left corner that says Organization Name. In this box, you can type the organization name and choose the one you want to investigate. The search results will show you all the foundations who have funded  the organization in the past, the year of funding, the amount funded, the description of what the project funded, etc.

  1. Search for foundations that have funded YOUR organization in the past. Here’s a crazy idea that many people new to an organization or new to the world of nonprofits never think about: Who has funded us in the past? Many organizations don’t have stellar records about foundations that have given them grants previously, what the money was used for, or how much was granted. Crazy, but true! Refer to #1 and run that search on your own organization. See who has given to you in the past. Has a foundation that has an interest in your work been neglected? Perhaps you need to revisit some past supporters and get them back in the fold.
  1. Search for foundations by Geographic Focus. Do you know all of the foundations that provide funding in your county, in surrounding counties, or in your region? Would you like to? I know I love using that information when I’m researching prospects for a specific area. It’s easy peasy with Foundation Directory Online. Simply go to the Advanced Search link and type in the county and state in the Geographic Focus box (top row, center box). You’ll see the list of all foundations that award grants in that county appear. Now you can research all the foundations that send funding to a geographic area and see who might support your work. Do this for each region in your service area or where you have an impact. You might be surprised at some of the prospects you uncover.

Two additional tidbits to keep in mind.

Tidbit #1: Don’t limit yourself to super specific Subject Areas in your search. Many foundations will give to a variety of organizations, so using more general terms will lend to better results.

Tidbit #2: Don’t freak out when you see “We only fund pre-selected charitable organizations” or “We don’t accept unsolicited proposals.” To learn more about these two phrases and what they really mean, check out this blog: The Dreaded Phrases of Grant Research.

MANDY PEARCE is a grant writing expert, executive coach, and national fundraising trainer who launched Funding for Good, Inc. in 2009 to equip organizations with the skills and tools needed to become successful and sustainable. Mandy has taken her passion and expertise for fundraising to the development field and shared it with individuals and organizations for over 21 years. Her dynamic teaching style brings thousands of people annually to her presentations at conventions, trainings, and workshops. Mandy lives in Hickory, NC with her husband and their rescue dogs, Leo and Dalli, who share her enthusiasm for the outdoors.

April 13, 2018

Introducing FDO’s Newest Feature: Recipient Profile Charts

 

BlogPostRecipientCharts

We’re excited to announce a new powerful feature in FDO is here: Interactive charts on recipient profiles.  

New Recipient Charts provide insights you can leverage in your research and when you’re searching for new funding opportunities.

But how do Recipient Profiles help your funding search?

Utilize Recipient Profiles to:

  1. Discover new funding opportunities
  2. Shape your prospecting strategy
  3. Quickly gain fundraising insights

What you can do with New Recipient Charts

With Recipient Charts you can quickly see grantseeking trends and organizational insights to help guide your prospecting, find new prospects and better understand how to approach potential funders. The first Recipient Chart gives you insights on the types of funders giving to an organization and the percentage of total funding each type of funder makes up of the organization’s grant portfolio.

The second chart shows the proximity of funders to the recipient they are giving to, giving you insight on how you can expand your prospect list. Proximity is indicated by the following geographic areas:

  • Local: Funders who are located within the same city or town as the recipient
  • State: Funders who are located within the same state as the recipient
  • Region: Funders who are located in states with a shared border as the recipient
  • Country: Funders who are located in the same country as the recipient
  • International: Funders who are not located within the same country as the recipient

With this funder proximity chart, you see how much money is being awarded from each of these geographic areas and the percentage of total funding each geographic area makes up.

These first two Recipient Charts can be viewed by Grant Amounts or Number of Grants.

The third graph will help guide you on the optimal amount to request from a funder. With this grant size graph, you can understand how much funders are giving to peers and the size of those grants to see how much those funders most commonly give.

New Recipient Charts are available in the new FDO, Professional.

Start uncovering new opportunities with Recipient Charts»

 

Join us for a live webinar on May 1st (2:00PM EST), where we’ll introduce new Recipient Charts, discuss Recipient Profiles, and provide a tour of the new FDO. 

March 26, 2018

3 Steps to Plan Programs for Maximum Impact

BlogImageV2-SFM-Getty-935955514Think of your nonprofit like a car heading down the highway. Now think of a grant proposal like an invitation to the funder to join you for the ride. Before they get in, they’ll probably ask where you’re headed. Imagine responding by saying, “I’m not sure where we’re going, but we’re making great time!”

What are the chances the funder will get in the car with you after that response? When your nonprofit is focused solely on the achievement of its own tasks without a concrete idea of how you’re making a difference in the lives of those you serve, you are essentially doing just that. You’re heading down a path without a clear sense of where your efforts should be taking you.

The idea of nonprofits giving this response comes from the book Leap of Reason, a sector-wide call to action emphasizing the importance of defining your organization’s intended outcomes (i.e., your desired changes and benefits) to maximize impact. For almost 20 years, I’ve been helping organizations do just that. And I can say from experience that organizations can easily fall into the trap of focusing too much on what they do, as opposed to why they’re doing it.

To continue the driving metaphor, I like to compare impact-focused program planning to using your car’s GPS.  

Think about it. In order to use a GPS, you must enter your desired end point. Along the way, you may need to “recalculate” due to unexpected roadblocks or opportunities. But the GPS always keeps in mind where you want to end up.

You can accomplish the same thing by identifying your program’s desired impact and then planning accordingly. When you use an outcome-focused framework like a logic model, you can strategically plan your route before you begin. You can factor in the time it will take to complete your activities, the resources you have available and those you need, and other potential variables that may emerge. You can see how all the pieces should work together.  

Think of a logic model as having an impact-focused “road map” in hand while delivering your program. The map allows you to understand how you’re progressing and to make adjustments along the way, all while keeping a constant eye on your final destination.

These three steps can help you design your “road map” and plan programs for maximum impact:

  1. Clarify whom you intend to impact and why. Before you begin to define your outcomes and related services, ask: “Who do I hope will ultimately benefit from my efforts? Are there others with whom I will need to interact to achieve this desired change? What are their related needs and preferences?”  

For example, you may run a program that aims to improve the in-class experience of high school students so they learn more and are positioned for future success. But what if your work does not involve any direct contact with the students? Instead you train teachers on classroom management and instructional strategies to apply to their work. In order to effectively deliver your program, you must go into the planning process with clarity about the needs and preferences of both groups: those with whom you’ll directly interact (the teachers) and those whom you ultimately hope to benefit (the students). Otherwise, it’s easy to get lost along the way.

  1. Let your outcomes inform your approach. After you’ve clarified whom you intend to impact and why, try to articulate how you hope they will be different as a result of your intervention - both in the short-term and long-term. You might ultimately seek changes in their behavior or condition, but what kinds of short-term changes in access, knowledge, attitude or skill are critical to getting there?  

As anyone who has struggled to stick to a New Year’s resolution can tell you, short-term outcomes are often key to achieving more meaningful and lasting change.  Being clear about them upfront will help ensure your approach is purposefully designed to support them.

  1. Consider there’s more than one path. Just as a GPS often illustrates various routes, planning with an impact focus can uncover more than one feasible approach. If you start by taking the steps outlined above first, you may discover that the way you thought you had to go or the way you’ve always gone is not the only way.  In fact, by letting your outcomes drive your activities, you may discover an even more efficient and effective route to success.

Not sure if you have the time to use a logic model to plan ahead? Remember your chances of getting funding depend on it. Do funders want to partner with someone who wastes time and energy on a trip with no clear purpose? Probably not. So you should take a little time to strategically map out your programs with an outcome focus. Get started on the right path. Avoid wasting valuable resources. And put yourself in a position to maximize your impact.

See the original post here.

Bitcoin for Good

Getty-935593468-BitcoinBlog
Have you ever wondered how cryptocurrencies might be leveraged in the social sector and how your organization could benefit from them? Man on A Mission Consulting presented at Foundation Center West on just this, cryptocurrency and its benefits for the social sector. In his talk, Bitcoin for Good: Digital Currencies and Blockchain for Nonprofits, Paul Lamb discussed how nonprofits and foundations are currently using cryptocurrencies, and how social sector organizations might start adopting them.

Here are our top five takeaways from Lamb’s talk:

  1. Because cryptocurrencies are independent from financial institutions, donations are more immediately processed and available for nonprofits’ use. Cryptocurrency donations can, in most cases, be quickly converted into dollars upon receipt. Some nonprofits have experienced challenges with conversion times; however, this depends on the conversion or “wallet” provider.
  2. Blockchain, which is used to secure cryptocurrencies, can also help donors better track the impact of their dollars and increase transparency. There are blockchain systems now in development (i.e., Givetrack.org) which allow a bitcoin donor to see in real time how the nonprofit is spending their donation. This will help donors see how their dollars are used, and help nonprofits with reporting.
  3. A few foundations and funds, such as the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Fidelity Charitable Giving program, are using cryptocurrency to make grants. As with donations , if grants are given in cryptocurrency, they can more quickly be converted into dollars for the nonprofit to use.
  4. Cryptocurrency is birthing a new type of donorship, and has already given rise to a new kind of donor-advised fund. The Pineapple Fund is an anonymous donor organization that has already allocated $56 million to various charities. In the future, we may see types of Distributed Autonomous Organizations (DAO) that operate cloud-based tokenized donation and charity management systems. Through a DAO, donors could vote on where donations are made and even drive the development of independent projects based on majority token rule.
  5. This is new, uncharted territory, not just for the social sector, but for society as a whole. There are many lessons to learn about how best to use these technologies, and many discoveries to uncover about how they may impact the social sector.

For more information on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology use in the social sector, check out Lamb’s list of resources here and his recent post on Medium

Read the original post here.

October 17, 2017

6 Top Tips To Approach Funders

(Including Those Who Are Not Accepting Applications!) 

Growth-Image-forblog

Foundation Center’s Development Manager, Aleda Gagarin, shares her development expertise to answer the burning question every fundraiser asks themselves:

Does the grantmaker accept applications and should I even consider this funder if they don’t?  

“Do they, or don’t they?” It’s a tempting question to start with when doing grant prospect research, centering on whether or not grantmakers accept unsolicited proposals. It seems like an easy non-starter to help you filter out prospects, but in reality, the question of whether to consider funders not accepting unsolicited proposals is a bit of a catch-22.  On the one hand, it’s not likely that a cold proposal to a grantmaker that doesn’t accept them will get anywhere; on the other, imagine how many proposals grantmakers that do accept unsolicited proposals have to sift through. The likelihood of yours rising to the top suddenly doesn’t seem much better.

Consider Prospects Even When They Don't Accept Applications

There’s a better way to prospect, and it requires longer-term vision and relationship cultivation. It requires a deeper dive into the grants a grantmaker is making, and centers around a deep knowledge and belief in your own work and mission. Ideally, your prospect research will help you narrow down a list of foundations with giving that reflects your cause, your locale, the population you serve, and your mission. From there, you further narrow down the list by selecting foundations who historically giving grants similar in size and scope to what you are looking for. Do not disregard prospects that fit your work and mission in every way just because they do not accept unsolicited proposals.

In development, it is our goal in life to get on the radar of funders that we believe would make meaningful long-term partners in supporting our work financially, helping us develop organizationally, and increasing our ability to serve. The ‘accepting proposals’ question has nothing to do with how well a funder fits with our work. In such cases, we must find other ways to bring our work to their attention — to help them see us a good partner in helping them achieve their own missions. So, how do we get our work in front of them, without being disregarded with a cold proposal? Here are a few places to start:

  • Make sure program officers we want to partner with are on newsletters about our work, so that they can begin to see and understand our work in real-time, and so that we remain on their radar.
  • Network! Make in-person connections at events. Ask questions about other people’s work, and be excited about your own. An event is rarely the best time to ask to apply for a grant, but it’s a great way to start building a relationship that could turn into solid, long-term support.
  • Connect the dots: research who works where and who you know, and ask someone in your circle to make a warm introduction for you. If you're an FDO user, take advantage of FDO's LinkedIn feature to learn more about key staffers and leverage your connections for the introductions you need. 
  • Send your prospect news coverage or other interesting materials that cover the work you do that also aligns with theirs.
  • Be savvy on social media. Connect with them online. Share good content, and ask good questions. This will also help you better understand funders’ changing interests!
  • Invite them for an onsite visit! Ask them to come tour your office, see your work, come to an event. Let them see the value of your work with their own eyes whenever possible.
  • You also never know when a funder might start accepting applications, so approaching funders that are a good fit can give you an advantage in the future. (FDO lets you know in real-time when RFPs are available.) Get to know funders and inspire them to get to know you, so that when the time is right, you’ll be top of mind to receive an invitation to apply.

It seems easy to send off cold proposals to whomever will accept them; but it rarely ever pays off. Build yourself a thorough and thoughtfully researched prospect list, and then consider your best approach. Think outside the box. Prioritize building relationships with funders who you truly believe would make excellent partners and who will both value and improve your work. Don’t stretch your work or water it down into something it isn’t just to fit criteria of a funder who is easy to apply to; believe in your work and focus your development work on finding funders whose missions truly align with yours.