Nonprofits Meet (and Greet) the Funders with The La Salle Nonprofit CenterBy Erin Kane |
It’s a funding jungle out there. In the Philadelphia area, home to more than 13,000 nonprofits, the demand for dollars continues to grow, creating a highly competitive funding environment.
Twice a year, The La Salle Nonprofit Center offers area nonprofits the chance to meet — and greet — a handful of grantmakers. These popular panels, called “Meet the Funders,” demystify the grant-making process while offering advice and best practices.
Four area funders recently held court at the Wilma Theater, drawing close to 200 attendees from a cross section of nonprofits.
“One of the key things nonprofits take away form these funders’ panels is, ‘Understand who were are and don’t try to squash a square peg in a round hole,’” said Laura Otten, Executive Director of The Nonprofit Center.
In case you missed it, below is an inside look at the fall session. The next panel is planned for January 2013.
Standing out in a sea of proposals
How do funders assess the worthiness of a proposal? There’s no simple answer, but fit is a common denominator. “We’re looking for a clear connection to our mission,” said Leith.
“We want to know who you are and what you are doing with the money,” offered Groener.
In other words, your nonprofit’s mission and goals should be similar to the funder’s. Keep match in mind when you’re researching opportunities, and consider partnerships.
Organizations that are reaching out to peers and sharing services stand apart.
Honesty matters. So do results
When you’re approaching a funder, communicate your story clearly — and factually. It should go without saying, but honesty is paramount. Outcomes should be realistic and based on existing data.
“If you can’t meet your goals, we want to know why,” said Leith. Most grantmakers are more than willing to help you re-adjust. Feedback also guides funding priorities, so if something isn’t working, let your funder know.
If you’re an existing grantee preparing to submit a new proposal, make sure that all reporting requirements are complete. “Results really do matter,” added Thompson.
So does following directions. When it comes to proposal writing, Black offered words of advice: “Be concise and answer the questions.”
We’ve been rejected. Now what?
If your proposal doesn’t get funded, it probably has little to do with the quality of the application. “Much more important than the written proposal is whether it’s aligned with our priorities,” said Black.
Asking for feedback is also a good idea. “If you organization isn’t a good mission match, have a conversation,” advised Leith. Most grantmakers are willing to offer some pointers.
And take the time to evaluate your organizational health. Grantmakers are looking for strong leadership, financial stability, and diversified funding sources. “In general, we’re looking for fiscally healthy organizations, but we do our best to understand what the conditions are,” explained Thompson.
While securing grants can be an exercise in perseverance, the good news is that area nonprofits are achieving results. “Keep up the great work,” added Black.
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