Back to Eye on FDO

Category: "Training" (22 posts)

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

 

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.

December 15, 2014

15 Tips for 15 Years, Part 3

We’re celebrating the 15th anniversary of Foundation Directory Online (FDO) by offering 15 insider tips, secrets, favorite searches, and other hints to help you get the most out of FDO. We’re counting down from 15 to 1.

See our previous posts for tips 15-11 and 10-6. Here we’ll share the top 5 strategies.

5. Use tags to create a prospect list

If you've got a list of grants that seem promising, or you ran a grantmaker search that produced good results, you can make a prospect list and organize your prospects within FDO using tags. Use the Record Tags box to create a tag that's easy to remember and relevant to your search. For example, if you're conducting a capital campaign, you can create a "Capital" tag that you assign to each of your prospects in this category. Then, when you go into My FDO and click on the Capital tag, it will display all the prospects for your capital campaign and give you quick access to these profiles.

4. Filter your search to see only those funders that accept unsolicited proposals

You can save time and effort by checking the "Exclude grantmakers not accepting applications" box on the Search Grantmakers screen. But before you do that, keep in mind that doing so might exclude some funders that are still potential prospects. First, check out this GrantSpace article on when and how to approach those funders. Then, when conducting your searches, try searching the whole field of funders matching your criteria (leaving that checkbox unchecked). On your results list, you'll see the number of grantmakers that do and do not accept applications in the Narrow Your Results menu, so you'll know at a glance how many funders you can apply to directly and how many may require a different approach. 

3. Turn an exported spreadsheet into a grants calendar/mini-CRM tool

Whether you have a list of grantmakers from a tag that you created (see tip 5) or from a grantmaker search, check off the foundations that you are interested in as prospects and click "Export List" to save them in a spreadsheet. Once the list is downloaded, you can open it in Google Sheets, Excel, or another spreadsheet application and start personalizing it with your own content -- create columns for application deadlines, notes, last contact, next steps, etc. -- to use it as a “mini-CRM (customer relationship management)” tool.

2. Visualize grant data on maps and charts

Use the Chart Grants tool in a foundation's profile to get a better understanding of its giving priorities. FDO Professional subscribers can see a funder’s grants organized by recipient type or primary subject, including aggregate totals of dollars awarded, number of grants, and number of recipients, and then filter by year(s) awarded or drill down to more specific subject/recipient-type categories. 

The Map Grants tool offers the same functionality and access to aggregate totals, but organized geographically. Start on a U.S. map, filter by year or recipient type/subject, and then view by state. You can organize the state-level view by city, county, ZIP code, or congressional district.

1. Let us help!

Foundation Center supports your use of FDO in many ways. The customer service team is on call to help with billing and account questions and can direct you to the right place if you need additional information. The Online Librarian service is available by email or live chat to assist with FDO search strategies, answer questions about philanthropy, and point you to resources –that will help you with your grantseeking. Finally, Foundation Center free and fee-based training supports your FDO experience with classes on finding funders, planning fundraising, developing your proposal, and nonprofit management.

Not an FDO subscriber? Now’s a great time to get on board so you can use these tips: until 1/31, new monthly subscribers can buy 3 months and get 1 additional month free! Plus, you’ll get a free FDO training webinar valued at $69. Select “Special Offer” at checkout!

October 29, 2014

15 Tips for 15 Years, Part 1

15_candlesWe’re celebrating the 15th anniversary of Foundation Directory Online (FDO) by offering 15 insider tips, secrets, favorite searches, and other hints to help you get the most out of FDO. I’ve asked Foundation Center librarians, trainers, and editors for their ideas and contributed some of my own. I’ll share them with you in a three-part blog series, starting with today’s post. You’re welcome to e-mail me for more information about any of these or to share your own.

We’re counting down from 15 to 1, starting with these five:

15. Find Corporate Funders

This one comes from online librarian and Grantspace blogger Sandy Pon:

If you’re looking for corporate funders, do a Search Grantmakers search for Type of Grantmaker: “company-sponsored foundation” OR “corporate giving program”: This will give you a list of private or public corporate funders. Also, if you’re focusing on a specific company, do a Search Grantmakers keyword search for the company’s name. Searching in  Keyword instead of the Grantmaker Name field will return more results, which could be helpful if you’re trying to get a fuller picture of a company’s philanthropic activities.

14. Get More Out of Power Search

For FDO Professional subscribers, Power Search unlocks results from across many Foundation Center sources, including research report collections, our library catalog, and nonprofit sector news. Sarah Jo Neubauer of Foundation Center San Francisco offers this advice for making the most of this feature:

I like using Power Search to capture insights on how organized philanthropy has responded to current events. For instance, searching “Obamacare” OR "affordable care act" in Power Search reveals hundreds of grants, news articles via Philanthropy News Digest, and direct access to foundation-sponsored reports and case studies via IssueLab, all in one search. Just now, I searched Ebola and was able to download results of foundations making grants to fight the Ebola outbreak.

13. The Keyword-Search Two-Step

Janice Rosenberg, senior librarian at Foundation Center Washington, DC, offers a search strategy for finding results that go beyond our “controlled vocabulary” of search-index terms:

If someone is researching a topic that does not fit neatly into one of the Fields of Interest/Subjects terms in our search indexes, I suggest starting with Search Grants and entering the term(s) in Keyword. Then, I look at the Subject terms that Foundation Center uses when indexing those grants. (Only about 5-10 records need to be reviewed to get an idea of which terms the Center uses). It's a helpful way to discover Fields of Interest/Subjects that can then be used for searching both the Grantmaker and Grants areas of FDO.

12. Navigating the FDO Search Taxonomy

Speaking of the Fields of Interest/Subject/Recipient Type search indexes, those are very long lists of terms that can be a challenge for newer users. A few months ago, we added a feature to index search to help make that process easier. Look for the mini “filter box” at the top of the index, right above the alphabet menu, and start typing your search term. This will filter the choices to matching terms, and you can then select one or more of those, saving you time from hunting through the whole list letter by letter.

11. One More Thing About Those Search Terms

Did you know there’s a complete list of all the Field of Interest/Subject/Recipient Type terms? Go to the Help section and look in the table of contents for the Complete List of Search Index Terms link (PDF). From there, Sandy Pon suggests:

Print/bookmark the full list. Mark it up! Highlight terms that describe your mission, programs, population served. Or answer these questions: 1) Who are you serving? 2) What are you doing for them? The more terms that you can use to describe your project, the more funders you’ll find in FDO.

Try these out, and we’ll be back next month with five more! And, please share your own favorite tips and techniques!

Not an FDO subscriber? Now’s a great time to get on board so you can use these tips: until 11/30 1/31, new monthly subscribers can buy 3 months and get 1 additional month free! Plus, you’ll get a free FDO training webinar valued at $69. Select “Special Offer” at checkout!

 

August 22, 2014

Where are last year’s Form 990s?

This is a cross-post of Sandy Pon's post from the new GrantSpace blog.Sandy Pon is the lead editor for GrantSpace and the GrantSpace Blog. In her 11 years with the Foundation Center, Sandy has answered thousands of questions from our visitors about nonprofit grantseeking, fundraising, and management. Her experience also includes teaching and program design.

Our Ask Us team gets this question a LOT during the summer, more often than at other times of the year. Maybe it’s because most nonprofits have likely sent in their own 990s in mid-May.

May 15 is the first due date for filing 990s if your exempt org’s fiscal year ends on Dec. 31. But your org can request an automatic 3-month extension, plus an additional 3-month extension if needed. The second extension isn’t automatic, but it’s almost always granted. This means that Nov. 15 can be the latest date to file without penalties.

The filing date is just the IRS’s receipt date that gets stamped on the 990. It’ll take several more weeks for the IRS to scan it and then send it on DVDs, along with hundreds of other 990s, to us and other orgs that put 990s online, like GuideStar and Economic Research Institute. Thus, if your foundation prospect is a Nov. 15 filer (and a lot of foundations are), you might not see its 2013 990 online until early spring 2015. In other words, 12-15 months later.

This also partially explains the delay in providing updated foundation trends at Foundation Stats. (More about this in a future post.) We’d love a direct feed from the IRS so that when it gets a 990, we would get it at the same time. Until that happens, we’ll need to rely on the batches of DVDs that we receive from IRS every few months.

What’s better than a direct feed from IRS? A direct feed from the funders themselves. A growing number of foundations report their grants electronically to the Foundation Center, which means that their grants data is available sooner for our Research team to analyze, and for you to find in a search in Foundation Directory Online (FDO), our database of grantmakers, or on Glasspockets, a Center initiative that champions philanthropic transparency in an online world.

Why should you care about 990s, anyway?

These IRS forms may be the only source available to learn about past grants, especially for small foundations. Past grants can suggest a funder’s giving preferences and help you determine how much to request from a foundation. After all, you don’t want to ask for $50,000 when the funder seems to give only $5,000 to projects like yours, and vice versa.

990s include info on board members and key staff, as well as application guidelines. They are the basis for many FDO foundation profiles. Plus, you can view them for free at several websites, including our own 990 Finder.

Want to know more? See our Knowledge Base Article, “What is Form 990 or 990-PF? How can I learn about using them?”

Why does this info help you become a better grantseeker?

Now that you know about the typical lag time in getting 990s on the Internet, you can:

Save time by not searching for the most recent 990s when the funder hasn’t even submitted them yet. Instead, set a recurring reminder to look for it 2-3 months after the usual IRS receipt date, stamped on the 990.

Explore other ways to get the latest news about foundation prospects. Do they have websites? Do they use Twitter, Facebook, newsletters, other communications channels? Subscribe to them all. If any of your prospects is a large national foundation, Glasspockets has a colorful chart that quickly shows which communications channels they use.

Does the foundation provide an online grants archive, like Robert Wood Johnson Foundation? If yes, you’re in luck since most foundations don’t even have websites. Bookmark the archive and learn how it works. It’s probably easier to read and understand than the 990s, and it’ll likely have more details. See also this free world map at Glasspockets to explore recent grants from some of the world's largest foundations.

Try Google News Alerts or similar tools to get notified whenever news about the foundation is published online. You also can subscribe to nonprofit news sources, like The Chronicle of Philanthropy or our own PND.

What other tools & tricks do you use to get the latest scoop on your donors? Share if you care...share them in our Comments area. Thanks in advance!

 

June 27, 2014

Foundation Research Master Class

As a subscriber to Foundation Directory Online we’re pleased to offer a special rate for our Foundation Research Master Class, an unparalleled opportunity to learn how to use FDO's tools and databases in a new and more proficient way. Subscribers at any plan level can register for the class at the special $115 rate (normally $295).

Foundation Research Master Class covers how to turn preliminary search results into a targeted list of potential funders by learning technique to refine your strategies for finding and evaluating prospects. Learn to:

  • Translate your organization's needs into funding research strategies
  • Evaluate funders to determine the best fit for your organization
  • Identify funding prospects based on your location, subject fields, and activities
  • Get an in-depth tour of Foundation Directory Online Professional to help you more effectively use your subscription
  • Develop a targeted list of foundation prospects for relationship-building and fundraising

Get information and upcoming class dates on the registration page (in order to register at the FDO Professional rate, please call customer service with your Foundation Directory Online member ID or user name using the phone number listed on the registration page).

Besides this in-depth class, you can also always find introductory information on conducting funding searches with the free Introduction to Finding Funders class. Register for the next classroom session or view a recorded webinar version on the signup page on Grantspace

April 10, 2014

GrantSpace Resources

One thing I always take the opportunity to tell FDO users about - whether I'm at the Foundation Center booth at a conference, talking to a subscriber on the phone, or anywhere - is GrantSpace, the Foundation Center's site dedicated to training and free resources for nonprofit grantseekers. We call it a "learning community for the social sector," and here's a look at some of what that entails.

Classroom

The Classroom area of GrantSpace includes a full list of the Foundation Center's training offerings. These are free and fee-based, live online or in-person at various locations around the country. There's also a calendar view so you can find trainings by date and location. Training is divided into four categories: Finding FundersFundraising PlanningDeveloping Proposals, and Managing Nonprofits.

Knowledge Base

The Knowledge Base (in the Tools section) is basically a very large FAQ covering nonprofit grantseeking topics large and small. Need information on finding government grants? Wondering how to approach foundations that don't accept unsolicited applications? Curious about crowdfunding or online fundraising? The Knowledge Base has write-ups and links to resources on all those topics and many more.

Multimedia

GrantSpace is the Foundation Center's home for a wealth of multimedia content, like "Meet the Grantmaker" videos, our Philanthropy Chat podcast series, and training webinar recordings. 

All the resources on GrantSpace are free except for the full- and multi-day training classes, and what's described above only scratches the surface. It makes a terrific complement to Foundation Directory Online as a knowledge resource to go along with your funding searches. 

March 09, 2011

Live Q&A Discussions in March - Collaboration & Fundraising Volunteers

This month, we are offering two live chat discussions at GrantSpace. Join us from the comfort of your own office and tap the expertise of our featured guests and get your questions answered while sharing your own experiences. We devote most of each hour long discussion to your questions and comments. Free to attend, we ask that you register by clicking on the event links below.

Understanding Nonprofit Collaboration 
Wednesday, March 23, 1pm-2pm ET

Increasing in prominence as a tool for enhanced efficiency and strengthened service delivery, collaboration’s advantages, disadvantages, potential, and pitfalls must be understood by all savvy nonprofit professionals.

Consultants Jo DeBolt of La Piana Consulting and Lindsay Hanson of Grassroots Solutions will answer your questions about nonprofit collaboration: when to do it (or not), what traits help or hinder successful partnerships, and more.

Turning Your Volunteers Into Fundraisers
Wednesday, March 30, 1pm-2pm ET

Are your board members and volunteers part of your fundraising strategy? Volunteers are your built-in fan base, and with a little nudge and training, they can share your cause, heighten your visibility, and introduce you to new friends, who just may be your next donors.

Fundraising consultant Amy Eisenstein and Foundation Center Atlanta director Val Porter will answer your questions about how your board members and volunteers can raise interest and money for your organization.

 

October 08, 2010

Corporate Funding

Wired for GoodIf you're a frequent user of Foundation Directory Online Professional, hopefully you are familiar with the "Search Companies" tab. Yet companies are often forgotten as a source of funding or other resources for nonprofit organizations. The Foundation Center - San Francisco recently hosted a workshop with Joni Podolsky, author of Wired for Good: Strategic Technology Planning for Nonprofits and principal of CommunityCollage Consulting. Throughout the workshop Corporate Partnerships in a Downsized World, Podolsky discussed the many reasons why corporations give, resulting in a better understanding of how nonprofits can create stronger partnerships with corporations. A full round-up of the event can be viewed at the Philanthropy Front and Center blog.

Learn more
If you want to learn more about corporate giving, check out the Foundation Center's Introduction to Corporate Giving, which is available as self-paced e-learning, a webinar, or as a free classroom training course. For a more in-depth introduction, try the day-long course Securing Corporate Partnerships. Also be sure to check out the other resources available on our website, including sample documents, podcasts, and videos.  

June 04, 2010

Training Opportunity: Foundation Funding Research

Periodically I like to take a moment to let you know about upcoming training opportunities that can help you learn how to make the most of your Foundation Directory Online subscription. The Foundation Center offers the day-and-a-half training course Foundation Funding Research: Strategies for Finding and Evaluating Prospects, which shows the many ways you can find comprehensive, accurate, and timely information on prospective funders with FDO.

There are several dates coming up at Foundation Center library-learning centers. Click the links below to learn more and sign up.

June 14 - 15, 2010 
New York, NY

July 13 - 14, 2010 
Washington, DC

July 15 - 16, 2010 
San Francisco, CA

August 3 - 4, 2010 
New York, NY