Archive | August 2014

Coming to Orlando Conference

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Well I have been up in Portland for the last week helping my son move from the rental to his first home! Today I am at a hotel on the way back home. I thought I would write a quick post to let you all know that I will be speaking at the conference with the Resource Development Team on grants next week in Orlando. I plan to stay after the session and answer your questions. I hope that if you are coming to conference you will stop in and let us know how you are doing on your grant writing applications. It will be fun to meet those members who are following the blog on a regular basis. Additionally, I will be joining the GuideStar presentation. Be sure to invite your fellow members to both sessions. We are having fun finding application opportunities for our communities, come join in the fun! After the conference, I will post the material presented to the blog for those who are not able to attend.

Our local chapter grants development subcommittee is planning to meet on September 17 where we will strategically plan how to use the new funding opportunities that we have found on GuideStar. Today we got great news that we will get a grant from Target for our Read to ME program. It is so exciting to see the money roll in for our local community. Come join our fun!

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

This entry was posted on August 27, 2014. 1 Comment

Strategies for Funders Giving Only to Preselected Foundations

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Cooler days in Reno, with sunny warmer afternoons leaves us time for some reading and thinking. As you remember from last week’s post, we have been looking at potential funders from our GuideStar search. Many of the lesser known foundations, including many family foundations have a checkmark in Section XV where they indicate they only give to preselected foundations. When we look at their list of donors we find some are giving to charities in China but many are giving to local charities in our cities that have similar programs to Assistance League.

How do we get noticed? How do we as one writer puts it “scale the wall” to get attention to our programs?  Rick Cohen recently published a great article called, “Scaling the Wall: 5 Ways to Get Unsolicited Proposals Heard” published August 19, 2014 in the Nonprofit Quarterly. Cohen presents 5 strategies for a nonprofit organization including:

  • Get visible to build relationships
  • Research their boards and staff for connections
  • Send information, working papers, and thought pieces
  • Send a LOI (letter of inquiry) anyhow
  • Work for philanthropic change

Cohen’s cogent advice once again is about building relationships, get out at local conferences so that you become known, provide an annual report once a year to the foundation and then send it again next year, and the year after. Send a quarterly newsletter to the funders. After you have done some of the soft sell techniques mentioned earlier by Cohen, then go aheard and send the LOI anyway. For most of us I don’t think we will be pursuing trying to get the entire system to change so that funders would be open for a portion of their funding to be available for unsolicited proposals. You can read the full article at .

I will soon be meeting with our Grants Development Subcommittee to finish the evaluation of our GuideStar search and to get their ideas on what strategies we hope to use in our efforts. If any of you out there reading this post have ideas on the topic of conquering the funders who only give to preselected nonprofits, be sure to post a comment to the blog, we would love to hear your ideas.

Soon, after we have an opportunity to meet, we hope to have a simple plan to work this particular target audience. For now, catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon! Sandie


This entry was posted on August 20, 2014. 2 Comments

What to Do Next? Finding More Leads!

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Imagine there are funders out there who are looking for you and your chapter. Funders do not often seek out programs to fund! Instead they set up a website and outline the criteria in which they are willing to consider funding a program, it could be your chapter’s program! The process used to meet a funder is through a paper or online application. So the game we are playing is “How do we identify funders who might give us money?” We do not want to waste time and we don’t want to do the process twice.

Back to our Grants Development Subcommittee, since we are a Gold Participant we went in to GuideStar and started searching on  our local community using the advanced search option. We did the first search and looked for foundations located in Reno, NV. We found that there are 2,107 foundations in our community. We found that every foundation was listed including the local hospital and university and many other nonprofit organizations similar to us. So that was too many, so we needed to select additional criteria. So back to GuideStar this time we tried to narrow the search by entering our city, state, all 501(c)3 public charities, human services, income between $100,000 and $100 million and assets between $100,000 and $100 million and we got 23 hits, one of them being our local chapter. The search was too narrow. So how did we find a balance?

We again went back to GuideStar. We again entered our location; income and assets as above, and all 501(c)(3) organizations. This time we left human services off and only selected organizations with more than $100,000 in income. We got 255 hits. Okay this seemed to be a reasonable number to look at for me. So I downloaded the search to an Excel  spreadsheet. I then started to pare the list down even more, first, I highlighted all the organizations where we had already received a contribution or where we had made an application and were waiting to hear the results of completing an application. I also scanned and eliminated all foundations where I knew that the funder would not be making a contribution to our work, such as, Boy and Girls Club. Now the list was only 50 names.

I started through the list and copied each name from the Excel spreadsheet into a GuideStar search and then  evaluated the Form 990, Section XV. Often I found that the checkbox was selected indicating that the funder only gave to preselected organizations. Then I examined the list where the funder had made contributions and found many organizations similiar to Assistance League of Reno-Sparks on the list. I am not quite through the entire list and I also want to engage the Grants Development Subcommittee to complete some of the searching. So far, I have found three new potential funders and a lot of funders who only give to preselected charities. More to come. If you need help in determining how to do the search you can watch the video, .

Next week, we look at options to find ways to engage funders who only give to preselected charities.

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



Getting Started Again

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Okay vacation is over and finally, we have a drizzly rain for a few days and cooler temperatures. We had another meeting for our local chapter’s Grants Development Subcommittee. It is part of our strategy to ensure that our work continues into the future. So you are asking what does this subcommittee do? Our job is to find new opportunities for our chapter’s grant committee. We now have had two meetings. Most of the first two meetings were spent in helping my two colleagues understand the options we have for searching databases. There are three databases that can help us in our work: GrantStation, Foundation Directory Online, and GuideStar. We reviewed what options each database gave to us and how to access the information.

A brief review helps us understand the importance of each.

As you know from previous posts, GuideStar is valuable to a chapter. GuideStar collects and hosts data on every nonprofit organization in the country. A chapter wants to update their profile on GuideStar since it demonstrates to the public that we are transparent in their work. By completing all the elements required a chapter can become a GuideStar Gold Participant. A GuideStar Gold Participant allows a chapter to search the GuideStar database and identify all the foundations in a geographic location. It can be downloaded to an Excel spreadsheet and has names and address. GuideStar also lets a chapter view the published Form 990s of all organizations. GuideStar is free.

GrantStation, which is available to all chapters for $47 per year is available to look up foundations to attempt to determine if there is  a match between what the funder desires to give resources to and the needs of the nonprofit programs for funding.

Foundation Directory Online is another database available to chapters to identify and look up foundations. Foundation Directory Online is a subscription based database and costs $19.95 per month for access.

This is where the Grants Development Subcommittee comes in. Several members of the chapter’s grant committee take on the task of only looking for new leads. Once a lead is identified, the opportunity is reviewed with the chairman and brought to the committee to see who has time and expertise to write the application. The task of the subcommittee is simply to find new leads through a systematic approach to identifying new leads. Next week we will get into looking for new leads.

Look at your committee, are there one to three individuals who simply like to be detectives and find new opportunities? Ask them to join GrantLessons blog, as we explore more options to identify new leads for funding foundation grants and corporate contributions.

Time for a walk around the marina!

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