Archive | May 2014

Corporate Contributions

Greetings from GrantLessons!

The days in Reno have been windy and warm, summer is definitely here. ūüėČ First let me say “Greetings to the 14 members who have joined in the last 2 weeks!” I would encourage you to read the last six months of blogs where we have discussed all the steps you need to do to plan a long-term strategy to develop a committee to write applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions. Be sure to ask your colleagues to join you by joining up as well. Working as a team makes for fun!

Today I would like to talk more about¬†corporate contributions. This is an area where as chapters we probably have not examined deeply. You can find corporatins that want to give funding if their operation has a local community physical presence. As you drive around what corporations have a presence in your community? Do you have a Walmart, Target, Staples, Wendy’s in your location? What are the less known corporations¬†where a¬†logo is posted on a building in your¬†community? Next complete an Internet search on the corporation. On the website look for a section that identifies the cities and states that the corporation has a presence. You want to be sure that your city is listed before you pursue an application or a contact with the store manager. ¬†Also at the bottom of the website you will often find a section labeled, “Social Responsibility” or “Community Giving” or similar words. Check the link out since this is where many corporations discuss their connection with the community and how they are sharing their wealth. Often times you will find a section that says “Grants” or “Donations” or “Contributions”.

An example is always useful. Check out so that you can see where you find information about the their giving opportunities and how they want to be approached. Be search to scroll to the¬†bottom of their website.¬†You can see that Staples tells you that they have an arm called, “Staples Foundation”. Do an Internet search and see what you find. Often times corporations work through their local store manager which means someone needs to talk with them. Does someone in the chapter have a connection?

Sometimes corporations will want an online application to be completed, they will ask for similar responses to questions that are required by foundations. Since the grants committee has started Dropbox and has filled out online applications they are primed to complete a corporate contribution application. They generally are much simpler than a foundation grant application.

Corporate contributions take some detective work and the amounts of the contributions can vary from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars. In my book, every dollar counts to helping our communities. If you are going to pursue corporate contributions also know that their is often a question that asks if their are opportunities for the companies associates to volunteer within your operation. My research shows that many chapters use non-member community volunteers and many do not. Be sure you understand your Board’s position on this issue before you make an application.

Lastly, it is important that only one committee works on corporate contributions so the proper coordination can be done. Make sure that different committees are not making applications to the same corporation. Encourage members to refer to the committee that is handling corporate contribution applications. Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and start looking and recording your results so that you don’t find yourself doing it twice.

Enjoy your summer and have fun searching! You may be surprised at what you find!

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





Sitting Back and Relaxing

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Today we have our last grants committee meeting for the current fiscal¬†year. And it has been a good year and while we will sit back and relax at a celebration at noon today, our work is never done. Writing applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions is an ongoing year round effort. We just stop once in a while to mark where we are in the process and celebrate our success and look at how we can improve. The beginning of a new fiscal year is close at hand. We have signed up for committees and our chapter is lucky in that most of our current members are staying on for another year while a couple are taking a rest and there is one new excited member. ūüėČ

When I am sitting back and relaxing my mind goes to a familiar quality improvement model that I have used over the years to help me in my work. Some of you will recognize it from the guru Deming: plan, do, check, act. I wish overall we would all use this model in all of our Assistance League work because it helps us make progress even if it is slow.


We had a plan this year to write more applications. As you sit back with me and sip on the cup of tea at hand, what goal was set for your grants committee, do you remember? Was it to find more members? Was it to look again at new funding opportunities? Was it cleaning out the files? If you did not set a goal for last year that you can determine your progress on now, please look at what goals could be set for next year? Write the goal in the meeting minutes. The goal(s) should have a date that it is to be accomplished. The goal will be different for each chapter based on where they are at in their development.


The “Do” element of the model means we have to engage ourselves in thinking about how we are going to meet the goal as a team. We have to implement steps towards the goal(s). Something has to be done, action needs to be taken. Using shared responsibility to break the goal into small reasonable steps that each member can¬†do helps in goal attainment.


One thing I do believe in for a grants committee to be successful the team needs to meet at least once a month. At this meeting check to see where you are at in the doing steps to accomplish your goal(s). This is where you can find out if a member who took on a step is struggling with their assignment. The struggle could be caused by many factors. If there are several members on the team they can collectively determine what other options are available to accomplish the goal and the struggling member feels supported. And the entire team learns in the process!


The last element is “Act” where the team adjusts their strategy, either taking a step backwards or forwards to move towards the goal. Periodically, a more in-depth evaluation needs to occur, certainly at least once a year.

The “Plan, Do, Check, Act” model is all about sustaining and growing our ability as a team to¬†make a difference in our communities, many of you know it as continuous quality improvement.

When I go to our meeting today, I have a couple of ideas on how we can improve our process to raise more money for those who need our excellent programs. We never want to get stale like a piece of dried bread or complacent¬†or burned out when there is so much that needs to be done. Try the model it can make a difference in your committee’s progress. ūüėČ

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





GrantStation – Foundation Directory Online – GuideStar

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Warm days have hit Reno-Sparks and it is time for barbecues. Welcome to the 5 new followers that joined yesterday! ūüėČ

Are you still looking for some new leads for your chapter’s funding resources? Let’s look at three opportunities again!


In GrantStation there is a new search feature called “Keyword”. The search by “Keyword” feature allows you to search for grantmaker profiles that include a specific keyword which describes location, area of interest, type of support, etc. Put your city and state in the search field and see if you find any new leads. Remember you can get a full year’s subscription for $47.00 by contacting Anita Friesen, Director of Resource Development at¬†.

Foundation Directory Online

Foundation Directory Online at can be purchased for one month at a time for $19.95. The directory provides an easy way to search for foundations in a specific location, such as, Kansas City, MO or St. Louis, MO. If your chapter wants to use the directory for a month, be sure to cancel the subscription at the same time that you enroll or you will be charged on a recurring basis for the next month until you cancel. If you believe you are not able to find any resources, Foundation Directory Online is worth your time.


Has your chapter obtained a Gold Level Participation? There are 13 National Assistance League chapters that have obtained a Gold Level Participation.¬†¬†Once you have completed the required fields for Gold Level Participation and have published the changes, you will be eligible to receive one free GuideStar Premium subscription (a $1,500 value).¬† You find this opportunity under the “Benefits” link. Your free GuideStar Premium subscription will remain active at no charge as long as your GuideStar Exchange information is up to date and meets the Gold Participant requirements. As a benefit to obtaining the Gold Level, the chapter can do an advance search that allows¬†you to gain the names and addresses of all the foundations in¬†your city and state.

Hope you are enjoying warmer days and have time to look again at your potential funding sources online.

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






Congratulations and Evaluation

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Congratulations!¬†If you have been following GrantLessons for the last 32 weeks you¬†have been reading simple lessons to improve your chapter’s ability to write applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions. Now it is time for some simple homework. Pull out a yellow sheet from your tablet and get your favorite pen in hand. Brew yourself a cup of tea, turn off the phone, and think about your chapter’s Grants Committee. Divide the top half of the page by¬†making two columns. On the left side label it ¬†“Strengths” and on the right side label it “Needs Improvement“.¬† Take a sip or two of tea and start writing whatever comes into your mind on how you believe your committee is functioning. Be sure that you write at least three items on each side.

Do something to celebrate the “Strengths”!

Now look over the “Needs Improvement” side and select one item. Put that item in the center of the lower section of the yellow sheet. Now start to think about how this item can be improved. Write down everything relevant to improving this issue. Group the strategies if you see that a couple go together. Look to see if the strategies are short-term or long-term. Start to prioritize the strategies for improvement. Soon you will see structure to the strategies where one item needs to be done before the other. Get another cup of tea ūüėČ Now think about how you as an individual can improve your ability to make a contribution to your Chapter’s Grants Committee. Evaluating leads to improvement!

Most of all take some time today to celebrate your work! It is important work and it is making a difference in your community.

Please hit the “Leave¬†comment” button at and let us know at GrantLessons how we are doing. Let us hear what you need help with to improve your work.

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