June 02, 2020

4 Key Tips to Help Your Nonprofit Best Navigate the New Normal

Two employees wearing mask doing elbow greeting

COVID-19 has presented many unforeseen challenges and changes for even the most experienced grantseekers. The global pandemic has affected the way nonprofits communicate, conduct prospect research, and seek much needed grant funding.

As your nonprofit works to create a new normal during the COVID-19 era, Candid’s Senior Director of Development, Aleda Gagarin, offers four key tips to help your organization succeed:

 

  1. Check on your funders and partners

Funders are not immune to the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Add a human element to your outreach by proactively reaching out to funders and partners to see how they are faring and if they’ve adopted new policies (i.e., deadline changes, special funds, different requirements, expedited procedures, etc.)

  1. Foster your current relationships

Focus on nurturing the relationships you have with current donors to secure any expected funding. If you have a pending committed payment, kindly ask if they’d be willing and able to make the payment early to help boost your work. If possible, arrange to receive funds electronically (faster) versus paper checks (slower).

  1. Recommunicate your value

Has your organization’s work become increasingly more important in light of the current health and economic crisis? Communicate that value to funders to show them how your work is serving community and helping them meet their missions. Remind them that their support has never been more vital.

  1. Manage your expectations around prospecting

Prospecting to find the right funders is now more important than ever. However, keep in mind that many funders are struggling to make sure that they keep commitments and shore up needed resources for current grantees. If possible, show how you can leverage your work to help them meet their goals and priorities.

 

The pandemic has caused the entire sector to pause and reevaluate how to move forward and come back better and stronger. As we work to regain a sense of normalcy, we must also acknowledge the effect COVID-19 will have for years to come. By following these tips, and abiding by all local government safety rules and regulations, you can help put your nonprofit in the right position to succeed and weather the pandemic.

May 19, 2020

6 Top Tips To Approach Funders

(Including Those Who Are Not Accepting Applications!) 

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Candid’s Senior Director of Development, 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. (You can easily keep track of open RFPs on FDO's homepage.) 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.

April 17, 2020

Prepare Your Nonprofit for #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5

JasmineIn response to the unprecedented need for nonprofit support created by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, GivingTuesday is organizing #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity, on Tuesday, May 5.

To help you prepare, join our free webinar with GivingTuesday’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jamie McDonald. Get the strategies you need to succeed.

 

Webinar: Get Ready for #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5th: A Global Effort in Response to COVID-19  

Date: April 17, 2020  

Time: 2-3:00 pm EST 

Register for the webinar

 

In addition to the webinar, here are 3 tips to help your organization prepare for #GivingTuesdayNow:

 

1. Add a COVID-19 related update to your Mission and Programs on GuideStar

This only takes 10 minutes and is the quickest way to let donors know how you are supporting communities affected by this pandemic.

 

2. Claim your GuideStar Seal of Transparency

Funders use these Seals to validate and guide giving activities. Learn more about Seals in this blog article and claim your first seal in 15 minutes!

 

3. Contact your past supporters in advance

Previous funders are more likely to fund your cause again. Prior to #GivingTuesdayNow, connect with past funders to update them on your current programs and inform them on how they can help.

 

For more information, register for the webinar today!

 

April 16, 2020

Win Funding Faster by Earning a Seal of Transparency in 3 Simple Steps

Increasing the levels of trust and communication between nonprofits and prospective grantmakers is crucial to securing the funding you need to carry out your workEarning your Seal of Transparency on your GuideStar Nonprofit Profile is a key step in that process. 

Read on to learn more about Seals of Transparency and how you can claim your first Seal in three easy steps! 

 

 

What are Seals of Transparency? 

Seals of Transparency are free, tangible ways to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to transparency and build confidence among potential supporters. 

A Seal of Transparency appears on an organization’s Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar when the organization has publicly shared important information about its work. 

 

How do I earn my first Seal of Transparency? 

 

1. Claim Your Nonprofit Profile 

In 5 minutes, you can claim your organization’s Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar or create one if needed. It’s one of the easiest ways to grow your digital footprint and increase your access to hundreds of funders as a nonprofit.  

You can get started here. 

If you’ve already claimed your profile, head to step two! 

 

2. Update Your Nonprofit Profile 

Now that you’ve created a profile for your organization, update it with basic information (including your logo, mission statement, and program areas) to earn a Bronze Seal – it only takes 15 minutes. 

Adding additional information to your profile, including your organization’s financial statements, goals, and strategies will help you earn Silver, Gold, and Platinum Seals!  

 

3. Promote Your Seal 

Use your Seal like a badge of honor!  

Funders refer to a nonprofit’s Seal of Transparency to validate their organization before distributing grants. Promoting your Seal provides prospective funders with added reassurance that your organization is legitimate and transparent. 

Download your Seal of Transparency outreach toolkit to display your Seal on your organization’s website, social media channels, and more. 

  

To learn more about Seal levels and what is required to earn them, view Introducing our 2020 Seals of Transparency on the GuideStar blog. 

By Eva Nico, Senior Director at Candid. 

 

April 07, 2020

Finding Support for Your Nonprofit during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced us all to rethink how we fundraise so that we can continue to support the communities we serve.

Candid has developed a virtual coronavirus (COVID-19) resource page for nonprofits to gather information regarding funding opportunities, global giving, and relevant news items.

Here are additional actions you can take at this time to help boost your fundraising:

 

Tip 1: Look for Organizations Providing Relief

To help alleviate the effects of COVID-19 on nonprofits’ ability to carry out their work, organizations have created relief funds and other forms of support.

Candid has proactively compiled a list of these funds for nonprofits to access. The list is updated in real-time and can be sorted by geographic location. Access Candid’s coronavirus (COVID-19) relief funds list.

 

Tip 2: Connect with Past and Prospective Funders

Grantmakers are eager to support nonprofits. Proactively contacting and establishing relationships with funders is key to getting on their radar and securing much needed grant funding. Additionally, prioritizing past funders can help you gain funding faster as they are familiar with your work and more likely to fund you again.

Foundation Directory Online subscribers can view the Past Funders icon in search results andPast funder icon
on funder profile pages to see which funders have previously supported their work. Learn more about viewing Past Funders in FDO.

 

Tip 3: Go Digital

In the absence of physical meetings and events, cultivate unique virtual experiences to garner support for your cause.

Hosting digital events, such as virtual networking chats and webinars, allows for a wide variety of prospective supporters and funders to learn more about your cause.

 

Candid’s mission is anchored on ensuring the social sector has the information they need. For more information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) funding landscape, visit Candid’s popup page https://candid.org/explore-issues/coronavirus

March 31, 2020

A Foundation CEO’s Six-Step Formula for Winning a Grant

Woman working on proposalIn my long career as a funder, I loved the satisfaction of helping people who were doing wonderful things for other people. During those many years, I saw few proposals that advocated for bad ideas. But I did encounter an astonishing number of funding requests that were cast in the worst possible light.

In this space I’ll touch upon the recommendations offered in my book, The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants, to help put your organization in the right position to land your next big grant.

 

  1. TARGET THE RIGHT FOUNDATION

Even in this sophisticated age, there are people that still plug a list of funders into their database and churn out generic proposals.

To ensure that you are targeting the right prospects, use a robust grantseeking tool like Foundation Directory Online to identify funders that match your criteria. With FDO you can uncover new funders and gain insights to build better prospect lists.

 

  1. MIND THE LETTER OF INQUIRY

For most foundations, the standard technique they require of grant seekers is the LOI—Letter of Inquiry.

A letter of inquiry distills the organization’s request down to something brief. It gives the foundation an opportunity to express interest, and provides grantees an opportunity to receive feedback that might result in winning a grant.

 

  1. PIQUE THE PROGRAM OFFICER

As a proposal writer, know that your goal is to motivate the funder’s program officer to assign a code to your proposal that keeps it alive in the evaluation and screening process. At this stage, you should have no other goal.

I drill down to specifics in my book, but here I’ll simply offer four short tips:

  1. Present solutions, not problems. Although many organizations are indeed trying to address serious problems, I’ve seen far too many proposals that are almost all problem statement, with scant information about exactly what the applicant is going to do to remedy the concern.
  2. Write and rewrite. Avoid jargon and technical terms; use metaphor sparingly; equate statistics with cayenne pepper—a little goes a long way; and keep the words flowing with short sentences that draw the reader in.
  3. Focus on what you’re already achieving and how you plan to continue. Instead of telling me that if our foundation doesn’t give you money something awful will happen or that if we don’t fund you, you might cease to exist, better proposals say, “We’re doing something wonderful here, and we’re going to do it with or without you. With you, it’ll happen faster and better. Please join us in this excellent work.”
  4. Don’t bypass the system. In the course of your foundation research, you might discover that you’re familiar with someone on the board, or someone who goes to church with that person, or has a kid on their soccer team. So you figure, I’ll use this to my advantage and go straight to that individual. However, it is strongly encouraged that you resist this route.

 

  1. MEET THE PROPOSED FUNDER

Although it’s possible to receive a grant without ever meeting the funder, there are good reasons for having such a meeting.

First, some funders aren’t comfortable with a prospective grantee or a new idea until they’ve interacted beyond the piles of paper. Second, there are some ideas and facets of nonprofit work that must be seen to be appreciated. And, finally, some grantmakers are required to meet the organization they fund.

 

💡 Pro tip: Establishing personal connections with funders is a pivotal part of the fundraising process. Leverage FDO's integration with LinkedIn to quickly see how you are connected with key decision makers and establish relationships.

 

  1. STEWARD THE RELATIONSHIP

After you’re told the fabulous news about your grant award, I recommend you do three things:

  • Sit down with a tasteful piece of stationery or cheery card and send a thank-you note to the funder to cement your new relationship.
  • Put the funder on your mailing list—judiciously. If you have a monthly or quarterly newsletter, put the funder on the list for a free lifetime subscription. If your organization holds events, and the funder is local, make sure they’re invited.
  • Take an empty file folder, label it “Foundation Reports,” and place it on your desk. As successes or interesting events in your organization are documented, remember to slip a copy into the folder. When it comes time to report on a grant, reach into this file, go back 12 months in what you pull out, and make photocopies for your funder.

 

  1. REPORT RESULTS

There are three reasons for paying close attention to grant reporting.

First, most nonprofits hope to receive repeat funding. Those that are late or fail to comply with reporting requirements will be on shaky ground for a renewal grant.

Second, you might actually teach the funder something. In most foundations, the board is interested in how their grants turn out, and they might even enjoy reports or at least summaries.

Finally, sitting down and summarizing what you did over the past year is an excellent way to improve your work. It forces you to step back from your daily tasks and think about what you accomplished, what your greatest challenges were, and what you’ve learned.

By Martin Teitel, former CEO of the Cedar Tree Foundation in Boston, is author of the newly updated edition of The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants, from which this article is adapted.

February 24, 2020

NEW FEATURE: Search for Organization's Directly in FDO's Global Search Bar

Want to quickly access a prospective funder’s profile? Now you can search for an organization directly from the search bar on your FDO homepage!

 

Org Name Search Global Search Bar

 

Here's how it works:

  1. Begin typing in the name of a Funder you wish to view in FDO's global search bar
  2. FDO will auto suggest a list of grantmakers that match your text
  3. Click on the name of the Funder whose profile you wish to visit
  4. Doing a text search instead? Simply click SEARCH to continue

 

That's it!

 

This new enhancement is just one of many updates we’ve recently made to FDO. In addition to constantly building on our data, we are committed to adding new features to strengthen FDO based on subscriber feedback!

January 23, 2020

FDO’s Year of Grantseeking Growth!

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In 2019, FDO grew exponentially as a premier prospecting tool for grantseekers. More than 270k contact information updates and 116k recipient profiles were added to FDO, in addition to 50+ product enhancements. The work doesn’t stop here, our mission continues to remain focused on ensuring fundraisers have the best prospect research tools available.

P.S. Did you know that our subscribers use FDO to conduct nearly 2,400 searches each day? Professional fundraisers know that consistent prospect research is the key to help secure grant funding.

We can’t wait to help boost your grantseeking even more in 2020!

To learn more about the power of FDO, check out our handy guide or our YouTube channel!

December 02, 2019

Your EIN is the Key to Quicker Funding

Update your FDO profile today, identify and tap Past Funders for new grants.

 

Past funders profile highlight

As professional fundraisers, you know just how important it is to stay connected to current and previous funders. FDO makes it easier to see who has supported your organization over the years by simply entering your EIN into your Account profile.

 

Entering your EIN enables FDO to display a green Past Funders icon in your search results and at the top of Grantmaker profiles.

 

Past funders icon
Past Funders icon

 

 

Prioritize your prospects! Past funders are familiar with your work and more likely to fund your cause again. Reignite the relationship to secure funding for the future!

 

Follow these simple steps to start discovering and reconnecting with past funders today!

  1. Hover over the “HI” greeting drop down on your homepage and click Edit Profile
  2. Scroll down to the EIN field in the About Your Organization section
  3. Enter your organization’s EIN and click Save at the bottom of the page

 

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EIN field highlight

September 18, 2019

NEW FEATURE: View Open RFPs Directly in FDO

FDO now makes it easier to keep up to date with open RFPs. You can customize what RFPs you see on your FDO homepage based on your Field of Interest.

New RFPs Feature
To change your field of interest, click on “Change Field of Interest” on your homepage or under the “Update Profile” section of your Account area.

 

You can also subscribe for weekly RFP update notifications. Simply check the box in the Current RFPs header to begin receiving these updates.

💡 Expert Tip: Open RFPs only make up a small portion of funding opportunities. Get access to all of the funding available to you by clicking on funders in the view Similar Funders section or conducting a full search using the main search bar in FDO. Unlock all the grantmakers who want to support your cause!