Archive | September 2013

Lesson #7 – Value of Jing

Weather report in Reno has us with an afternoon with no smoke, windy and Fall is definitely in the air.

A couple of posts back I introduced the program called Jing to our discussion. Did you download and try Jing? Again Jing can be found at http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html. I am not sure that I really emphasized how important it is for you to get this program and start to use it. As we get deeper into evaluating grant opportunities you will want to share specific information from Form 990s and websites with your colleagues. The program is simple to use since it allows you to draw lines around whatever you want to capture. Don’t delay, this tool will be very valuable in the very near future.

As we get into the Fall months and soon into Winter this is a great time to invite your chapter members to join you in your efforts. By now I hope you have gotten Dropbox and got all your documents collected, scanned, saved and are ready to start to put them in to applications.

At our chapter tomorrow, we are trying something new called “Speed Grant Writing”. We are working on completing the local Wal-Mart grant applications which are due on December 1st. We have several stores in the Reno-Sparks area. Wal-Mart requires that we submit a separate application to each store even though the request and information is identical. We gathered all the information and now we are going to teach some of our newer members how to complete an online application. We are all going to sit down at the same time, sure there will be lots of laughs, it should be fun.

Do any of your committee members need some help to be more productive? Remember as you share what you are learning more members will be able to help with the work. Success is only a few clicks away.

Hope you are having a fun day 😉 I am!

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

Lesson #6 Computer and Typing Tips

Greetings from GrantLessons! We hope those who are at conference in Chicago are having a fun time.

Today we are going to have a simple lesson in that we are going to review some of the computer and typing tips that will make the grant writing process easier. One of the things you learn early on when working on an online application is how incredibly small the dialogue boxes are. You might be saying what is a dialogue box? A dialogue box is a small window where the applicant types answers to questions. As the applicant enters information into the dialogue box, the window scrolls down. Soon, one cannot read the words first entered which makes it confusing and fatiguing to enter data and to check on its accuracy. I soon learned to first type answers to questions into a Microsoft Word document and then simply “cut and paste” into the dialogue box.

Sometimes computers have a mind of their own and that they sometimes decide to crash just when one has finally captured their ideas. It is important to have a good back-up system for your work. Also, check the wordprocessing settings to make sure the “autorecover” is set at 1 minute not 10 minutes. Losing a minute’s worth of work is one thing, losing 10 minutes when you have been on a roll is very fatiguing.

When saving each portion of the application when working online it is important to save the work prior to moving onto the next section. Another tip is to only use one space not two spaces after the period in a sentence since it can take up valuable space when there is a limit on characters. I always set the autocorrect feature to help me while typing so that a red mark shows on the computer screen when something is misspelled. It is important to run the typed answers through grammar and spelling checks. It is important to rewrite any passive sentences so that the tone of the answer has an active voice demonstrating the success of the nonprofit and its programs.

We are keeping the lesson short and sweet this week so those that are still back on Lesson #4 and #5 can catch up. Also, we know a few of our followers are at conference taking in all the scenes. Weather is cool and windy, no smoke. I can feel Fall in the air. Here in Reno we are all looking forward to football games. Enjoy the conference!

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

This entry was posted on September 18, 2013. 1 Comment

Lesson #5 – Form 990-PF

Greetings from GrantLessons! Today was a very pleasant day in Reno. The smoke is gone. It is calm and peaceful outside. Already we are on Lesson # 5, Form 990-PF.

Form 990-PF is filed by all 501(c)(3) private foundations. Form 990-PFs are available and free on GuideStar after one completes their registration. Form 990-PF provides information on the filing organization’s mission, finances, board of directors, whether the foundation takes unsolicited requests for funds and who they made donations to during the last year. This is very valuable information for the grant writer.

One of the first things I do when I am evaluating a potential funder is to examine their Form 990-PF. I take note of the name of the organization. I learned early on to write the full name rather than an acronym or a short title when someone got confused between two funders with similar names. I look to see what the funder has reported as their fair market value. I look at whether they made money and how much they gave out in grants. I like to find funders that have more than the net assets of our chapter. I then scroll down until I find the list of officers, directors, foundation managers and their compensation. I look to see if I know any of the people and I often ask the other members on our Grant Committee if they know any of individuals listed.

I continue down until I reach Part XV Supplementary Information. In this part one can determine if the funder is open to receiving unsolicited requests. If this is checked, close the Form 990-PF and stop your evaluation since the funder will only throw your application into the trash can. Often I find a note that says “See Statement 10, 0r 11, or 15” or “Schedule 2 or 3”. One continues scrolling down until they find the statement or schedule referenced in Part XV. The information found here is very enlightening to where one needs to mail the application or the website where the guidelines and application can be found.

The most interesting area is also located in Part XV where the funders must report the grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment. I examine the list of recipients closely to see if there are any similar programs to our programs and the amounts paid out. If all the donations are for $500, I know that I should not request $5,000 in our application.

If I like what I see and think that I may recommend the organization to our Grant Committee, I save the Form 990-PF to a new folder in Dropbox. I place the name of the funder on our “Potential Funder List” and bring it to the next committee meeting. This is a specific job on our Grants Committee. If someone suggests a foundation from the membership, the first place I check out is the organization’s Form 990-PF. You can find more information about Form 990-PF on GuideStar’s website at http://www.guidestar.org/rxg/help/faqs/form-990/index.aspx and you can find a blank Form 990-PF at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f990pf.pdf .

Therefore, now we start to build on our skills, we have a GuideStar account. We have located the Form 990 tab on GuideStar and now we can start to look up different foundations. Your home work is to go into GuideStar and pull up the following foundations to look at their Form 990-PF: Union Pacific Foundation, Hearst Foundation Inc., and St. Louis Community Foundation Incorporated. The test is which foundation accepts applications for funding, which ones do not.

Okay enough for today, the roast is a cooking in the oven and it is time to check it out and then off to granddaughter Alison’s soccer game. Remember you can find more information at http://www.grantlessons.wordpress.com.

Be sure to have the rest of your committee sign up so they can learn with you.

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

Lesson #4 – Importance of GuideStar

Lesson #4 Importance of GuideStar

Greetings from GrantLessons! It is time for Lesson #4 – Importance of GuideStar. I have written quite a bit over the last few months regarding GuideStar. However, some of the new followers may have not seen it so for those followers that know about GuideStar you can have a break while I tell a short story to the rest.

When I first started writing grants, I really never realized the importance of GuideStar. I had been using GuideStar for many years to look up potential grantor’s Form 990 to evaluate if they were going to be a good match for me to write a grant. But, I really never realized the true significance until I learned more about it from conference last year.

I learned that GuideStar has a database of 1.8 million nonprofits. GuideStar loads Form 990’s from the IRS after they have been processed. Every nonprofit in the country has to file a Form 990, that is if they want to remain in good standing with the IRS. Now GuideStar has developed a process of transparency where nonprofits may update their profile to include specific information about their programs. In return GuideStar Exchange provides a participation level for each nonprofit. It’s like being in the Olympics, your nonprofit can obtain a bronze, silver or gold participant level. GuideStar Exchange is new. So far, 25,783 nonprofits that have obtained a bronze level, 16,119 that have obtained silver level, and 1,031 have obtained gold level (reemember there are 1.8 million nonprofits). So that works out to 1.4% nonprofits receiving a bronze level, .8% nonprofits receiving a silver level, and .02% nonprofiits receiving a gold level.

Part of GuideStar’s business plan is to sell access to their database to people who want to give money away. Remember depending on the foundation, they have to give a certain percentage away each year to maintain their tax status. And, this is where we come in. If one of the grantor’s decides to use GuideStar Exchange as part of their criteria to determine which nonprofits they intend to fund, we want our chapter’s profile to have the Gold level. I completed this process for our chapter. It did take time to do. I had to have access to program and resource development information. We have the Gold level and we have it posted on our website at http://www.renosparks.assistanceleague.org .

You can do the same by going to http://www.guidestar.com and select the yellow button labeled “Update Nonprofit Report”. As we reach out to try to get new grants from the ones we have always been able to get each year, GuideStar Exchange becomes very important to us.

I came across a new grant for our chapter over the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this grantor uses GuideStar as part of their application evaluation. I hope that will make our application stand out when it is reviewed. 😉

Next week, we will get into Form 990s, this is one you don’t want to miss. Oh and by the way, the Burners are on their way home. They are quite a spectacle to watch all covered in sand. It still is really smoky in Reno, we just hope those firefighters win the battle sooner rather than later with the Rim Fire.

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie