Archive | June 2015

Lesson #18 Types of Funders and Lesson #19 Finding Funding Sources

Greetings from GrantLessons

Lesson #18 – Types of Funders
There are three types of funders: public charities, public foundations, and corporations. GrantLessons: A Practical Guide does not cover national or state grants since they are complicated and have many reporting requirements.
Public Charities
Assistance League chapters are public charities. Public charities receive their support from the general public and private foundation grants. Public charities are organized to provide direct service or other tax-exempt activities. A public charity must have a diversified board of directors that do not have any private benefit and be at arms-length in their relationships. Public charities must be supported by the general public. For that to be true, a significant amount of revenue, at least 33%, must come from relatively small donors (those who give less than 2% of the organization’s income), from other public charities or the government. While that is significant, that leaves 67% to potentially come from other, less diverse sources. Public charities file Form 990.
Private Foundations
Private foundations make grants to public charities. Private foundations receive their support from a relatively small group, even one individual or family. Private foundations must meet an annual minimum asset distribution each year of 5%. Like public charities, private foundations are organized to provide charity. Private foundations file Form 990 PF.
Corporations
While a corporation has a mission to make a profit, they also want to be good citizens in the communities where they are located. Corporations participate in what is termed “corporate social responsibility”. Corporate social responsibility includes both volunteering and philanthropy done by corporations. Corporations make either grants or contributions to public charities. They do not file Form 990s.

Lesson #19 – Find Funding Sources
The committee needs to understand there are a myriad of ways that information about a funding source can be found. There may be an announcement in a newspaper. A potential funder may come to an Assistance League thrift shop. Someone in your organization may know someone who sits on a Board of Directors. You can do Internet searches to identify large corporations in your locality and then talk to the human resources staff to determine if they have any philanthropic programs.
There are databases where a member can search to determine if there is a match between the chapter program needs and the need for the private foundation or corporation to make a contribution or to support a grant proposal. The databases present a list of potential funder profiles. A profile is a collection of variables which provides information about a potential funder.

GuideStar
GuideStar is located at http://www.guidestar.org . Once a nonprofit organization obtains their GuideStar Exchange Gold Participant status, they will be able search the GuideStar Premium Subscription which is a database for names and addresses of potential funders. GuideStar provides this as a free benefit to those who have taken the time to complete their chapter’s GuideStar nonprofit profile. This is an annual subscription, you will need to update in order to maintain the search capacity.

GrantStation
GrantStation is located at http://www.grantstation.org . GrantStation is an independent database of profiles. National Assistance League offers a subscription to GrantStation for $47 per year.

Foundation Directory Online
Foundation Directory Online is located at http://www.fconline.foundationcenter.org . Foundation Directory Online is a proprietary database. Individual subscriptions range in price from $50 to $200 per month. One can purchase a month’s subscription and then stop the subscription immediately so that only one month’s charge is made. After purchasing send an email to
In summary, GuideStar requires a nonprofit to gain GuideStar Exchange Gold Participant status to be able to search their database. To use GrantStation, the nonprofit needs to gain a subscription, this is possible through the National Assistance League office. Foundation Directory Online requires the nonprofit to purchase a paid subscription.

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

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Lesson #16 – Chapter GuideStar Profile and Lesson #17 Chapter Form 990

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Well the weather has warmed up after several weeks of rain. We continue this week with information about GuideStar and the chapter’s Form 990. If you have not been out on GuideStar you should check it out they have made changes. You now can see the charting impact report for your chapter and we can see each others as can anyone who accesses GuideStar.

Lesson #16 – Chapter GuideStar Profile
GuideStar is a database filled with information about nonprofit organizations: public charities and public foundations. GuideStar obtains the information used in its database from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Each nonprofit has a profile on the GuideStar website at http://www.guidestar.org . GuideStar allows each organization to claim their profile and then to update and embellish the profile with more specific information. All chapters who desire to raise funding should become GuideStar Premium members because funders may look at your profile as part of their evaluation process. GuideStar does not have information about corporations.

How to Start
In order to use GuideStar, the committee member needs to create an account and log in for the chapter using the email username and password established in Lesson 1. Go to http://www.guidestar.org to start.

Claiming your Profile
Search for your nonprofit organization, when your chapter’s name comes up select the link and you will be in the chapter’s profile. Again the information displayed is from the nonprofit’s Form 990 or Form 990PF.

GuideStar Exchange
The GuideStar Exchange is an opportunity for you to show your organization’s commitment to transparency and communicate directly with your stakeholders through GuideStar—for FREE. GuideStar has several videos on their website on how a chapter can claim and update their profile. There are three levels of participation on GuideStar Exchange: Bronze, silver, and gold. Gold participant level brings with it several benefits.

GuideStar Premium Subscription
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). 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. Our chapter’s GuideStar profile should be updated annually. GuideStar Premium subscription allows additional information about potential funders and provides the capacity to upload the information to an Excel spreadsheet. You have to claim your subscription to be able to access this benefit.   One must claim this benefit by providing their email address. It will take 24 to 48 hours for GuideStar to recognize the request and populate the extra fields.

Lesson 17 – Chapter Form 990
A nonprofit organization files a Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax). Form 990 is an information return that is filed annually. It is the mechanism used to communicate the organization’s financial information and activities to the IRS each year.
Funders will ask for Form 990s. Scan the chapter’s Form 990 document and place into a Dropbox subfolder and into the hard files. Funders often ask for previous Form 990s. Putting at least the past two years in Dropbox and the hard files will help if one finds that more than one year is requested by the funder.

There are two main types of Form 990. Chapters file Form 990 and foundations file Form 990PF. Some members of the public rely on Form 990 or Form 990PF as their primary or sole source of information about a particular nonprofit organization. Form 990s are generally available for public inspection. You need to start looking at Form 990s for any funder you may think is going to have an opportunity for you to collaborate with.

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

Lesson #14 – Setting Up Files and #15 Potential Funder Tracking Document

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Remember as we move into starting a new year, it is a great time to invite your colleagues to join us. Simply go to http://www.grantlessons.wordpress.com and enter their email address in the upper right hand of the screen.
Dropbox is an excellent resource to help application writers gain access to needed documents. However, hard files are needed for auditor review.
Clean neat files make the work for everyone easier. First be sure that you have enough file drawers. Be sure you have a hanging file frame to hold the file folders.

Setting Up Files
Labeling and organizing the folders is important and everyone will have a slightly different approach. Do you alphabetize all the folders by the full name of the foundation or do you use a nickname or a partial name on the outside of the folder? Do you keep foundation folders in the current file that your chapter has not filed an application or received a check for years? Do you have so many folders that you need a second file drawer?
Lastly, it is very important to keep the filing current and to review the mail opening procedure. Just think if a grant agreement gets to the Treasurer’s office and filed without a copy getting to the Grant Committee’s mailbox, potentially a grant could be lost because the chapter did not complete a requirement of the funder. One needs to remember that the auditors use the hard files each year to demonstrate that a grant application was completed and donations received.
At least 4 months prior to an anticipated auditor review, the committee needs to inspect and clean-up the hard files.

Who Has Access to Files
The files are confidential but need to be accessible and organized for all committee members to use. However, it is very important that the members do not take the files home. Instead they should make copies of pertinent documents that will help them write a paper application. As time goes along, it is anticipated that most documents needed will be in Dropbox.

 

Lesson #15 – Potential Funder Tracking Document
As the committee gets started with finding resources, it is important to keep track of all funders that are reviewed. A simple Excel spreadsheet allows those that are looking at potential funders a way to keep track of the funders reviewed and the results.
Create an Excel spreadsheet with the following variables:
• Date of Review
• Name of Funder
• Opportunity Evaluated
• Chapter Program
• Next Steps
• Results
• Date When Application is Due

The tracking document is an ongoing method to capture the investigation history done by the researcher for foundation grants and corporate contributions. The tracking document should be kept in Dropbox.

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

Lesson #12 – History and Program Descriptions and Lesson #13 – Jing

Greetings to GrantLessons!

We are continuing with our lessons. Be sure to get you colleagues to join the blog to learn how to write applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions.

Lesson #12: History and Program Descriptions

The committee will need a description of the chapter’s history and its programs.

History

Each chapter has its own history. It is important to collect the facts. The facts need to demonstrate a solid and energetic nonprofit ready to serve its community. The history should include the date the chapter was established and its affiliation with National Assistance League. Next one can indicate the number of philanthropic programs that are supported by the chapter, the number of members and the number of service hours contributed by members in the last fiscal year. One can then start with the date and name of the first program and then in one sentence explain whom the program serves. The writer then proceeds to follow the same format for the rest of the programs. At the end, the writer refers the reader back to their website. After the draft is completed, be sure to have several people read it for accuracy, clarity, spelling errors and correct use of grammar. The writer then needs to send the document for review by saving the document to Dropbox in a separate folder. The reviewer can then open, edit, and save the document back to Dropbox.

Program Descriptions

The number of philanthropic programs is different for each chapter. Funders will either desire to learn only about the specific program that the application is written for or they may want a short synopsis of all the chapter’s programs. Additionally, this is one variable where the number of words or characters may be limited (150 to 1,500). The writer must capture the heart and soul of the program in a few succinct words. The description should start with the date the program started. The description should include outcome specific data. The number of service hours spent in administering the program during the last fiscal year should be included.

It helps if the program has been established for a period of time so one has some outputs to use, such as, the number of children clothed in the Operation School Bell program during the last year. In writing a good narrative here are some tips:

  • Put your good writing hat on (know your grammar and spelling issues);
  • Simple is better, be sure to write in the active voice;
  • Remember the funder knows nothing about your programs, paint a picture;
  • Support your writing with current data; and
  • Know what you are asking for and why you are asking, tell a compelling story;
  • Tell your story with passion;
  • Proofread what you write; and
  • Ask someone else to critique what you have written.

Save the document file to Dropbox. One can upload all programs on one document and then cut and paste as appropriate for each online application depending on whether they want only the program for which the application is written or they want to understand all the programs that the chapter conducts.

Lesson #13 Jing

Once the committee gets functioning, much of the work focuses around looking at documents and websites. In communicating with other colleagues, one may want to share specific information from a document or a website. One can do this with Jing, that is, take a screen print of specific information.  While this is the shortest Lesson, it is one of the most important.

As we get deeper into evaluating potential funder 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 on your computer screen. Don’t delay; this tool will be very valuable in the very near future. You can find Jing at  https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html .

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