Archive for the ‘fundraising’ Category

Rejected! Tattfoo Tan on getting rejection letters

December 9, 2011

COAHSI’s blog has a write-up by Tattfoo Tan on applying for arts grants, what it feels like to be rejected, and what to do about it. Perfect. Check it out.


Online Donation Tools

May 26, 2010

Idealware’s Laura S. Quinn just published a useful update on online donation tools.

Make Money from Donated Tickets

March 31, 2010

See the article, Unused tickets become nonprofit cash, about a new fundraising site. At, people who’ve bought tickets they can’t use for sports, music, theater and other entertainment activities can donate the tickets to a charity.

So far, the site seems to be for Chicago-based events and charities only, but it’s a nice idea.

Your Next Top Model (Funding Model, That Is)

March 29, 2010

Who are you? Are you the prettiest nonprofit on the block, or are you the nonprofit with a lot of potential but no compelling look or style?

If you don’t know, you might want to read “Ten Nonprofit Funding Models” by William Foster, Peter Kim, and Barbara Christiansen in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

The authors point out that, if you don’t know what kind of organization you are, you risk missing out on good matches with philanthropists. “When nonprofits and funding sources are not well matched, money doesn’t flow to the areas where it will do the most good,” they say.

Here’s their list:

  1. Heartfelt Connection (example: Make-a-Wish Foundation)
  2. Beneficiary Builder (Princeton University)
  3. Member Motivator (Saddleback Church)
  4. Big Bettor (Stanley Medical Research Institute)
  5. Public Provider (Success for All Foundation)
  6. Policy Innovator (Youth Villages)
  7. Beneficiary Broker (Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership)
  8. Resource Recycler (AmeriCares Foundation)
  9. Market Maker (Trust for Private Land)
  10. Local Nationalizer (Big Brothers Big Sisters)

The article describes the various models and also how to maximize each model’s assets to find fame and success.

Note that, although articles like these are often reductive (think Cosmopolitan magazine’s “10 ways to make him love your hair” or whatever), it sometimes helps to make lists. They make you think about your organization and clarify your strategies, even if you decide you don’t quite match any of the options.

Fidelity’s Managed Giving Fund #2 Grantmaker: Who’d Have Thought?

March 19, 2010

The Nonprofit Quarterly online newsletter published an article recently on the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. The fund is managed by Fidelity Investments, a very large mutual fund organization in which you yourself may have a 401(K) or IRA.

Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund doesn’t decide who to send the money to but rather lets its investors tell the fund where and when to send cash. It also makes it easy to distribute money:  “Fidelity seems dedicated to a low barrier approach to its donor-advised funds, recently lowering the minimum level for a donor’s investment for setting up a fund down to $5,000,” says the article’s author, Rick Cohen. “It has, according to Libbey, also entirely eliminated any minimum level required for adding to a donor-advised fund and lowered the minimum size grant to $50.”

The fund distributed more than $1 billion last year. For more information, see Fidelity’s Charitable Gift Fund Shows Well in Recession.

Note: Vanguard and Schwab also offer managed gift funds. See Yes, you can start your own charitable gift foundation for more information.

Money from government

March 5, 2010

If you’re trying to get money from local, state, and/or federal government sources, check out this article from GuideStar:

Place Your Bets: How to Get and Preserve Government Funding in Tough Economic Times

Some of my favorite bits: Why state and local funding tends to be more volatile. Enlisting a choir of angels to praise your program for you. Work with your competitors instead of against them. Invite legislators to your place of business.

Kicking the Gift Horse in the Mouth

January 23, 2010

Here on Staten Island, we’ve been having a strange few weeks, at least for those of us who are artists, musicians, poets, museums, or community groups.

I know of only one organization on the island that distributes arts grants. This organization, COAHSI (Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island), applies for money from larger foundations like the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, then redistributes (“regrants”) the money to individuals and art groups that would not otherwise be able to apply for the grant money. (These large foundations and government organizations don’t have the capacity for or interest in keeping track of individuals, so they hand off money to local organizations like COAHSI to manage.)

Suddenly, a few weeks after the last round of grant awards came out, a few people who didn’t receive awards attacked Ginger Shulick, the grants coordinator and occasional curator, in the pages of the local paper, the Staten Island Advance. (The third word is pronounced AD-vance, a pronunciation about which my husband and I have had many arguments; I think the strange accent is predictable from a linguistic point of view while he insists it’s just wrong. Whatever.) (more…)

How to get grants from elected officials

December 21, 2009

At a Dec. 10, 2009, talk sponsored by the Staten Island NFP Association, NY State Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer pulled back the curtain on the process by which elected officials make grants to non-profits.

She introduced the talk by saying that, before she joined the Assembly, she had experience applying for government grants as  legal director for My Sister’s Place, a non-profit in New York that helps victims of domestic violence. When she was elected to the State Assembly, however, she said she found she was spending an enormous amount of her time answering questions from non-profits about state funding.

In response, she decided to hold meetings for non-profits about getting federal, state, and city money. Ours was her second meeting, after the Brooklyn meeting (her district covers parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island). (more…)

Two places to find money

November 25, 2009

The Staten Island Not for Profit Association had two interesting pieces in their latest newsletter:

  1. Chase and Facebook launch innovative giving program for small and local charities: JP Morgan Chase will give away money to organizations based on the number of votes they receive from Facebook members. Awards are $1 million top prizes,  $100,000 for the five runners-up, and $25,000 for 100 finalists. If you can handle that much cash (not every organization is geared up to manage or spend large amounts of money), it might be worth drumming up votes among your Facebook friends and fans. See
  2. New Fame for the Everyday Donor is a New York Times article. The author Stephanie Strom points out that, although non-profits often scour the earth for big donors, going after the little donors may be at least as effective. For example, the average March of Dimes gift is only $14, but those $14’s add up to 22 percent of their revenue. Check it out–the stories she finds are pretty good.

Here’s a small one from the Conference House: This year, because we had a sponsor for our Halloween Harvest Fair, admission was free. Hoping to make up some of the revenue we might be losing,* one of the board members grabbed a big plastic kibbles container, cut a slot in the top, labeled it “Donations,” and put it out at the gate. She was shocked to find out that, by the end of the day, the container contained more than $500.

Moral of the story: Always put out a donation bucket.

* The sponsor couldn’t cover all expenses, so we weren’t sure if food and blow-up ride sales would make up for some of our upfront costs.

What I Learned about Fundraising from the Historic House Trust

November 9, 2009

My Conference House colleague Kirsten Teasdale and I went to the Historic House Trust-sponsored fundraising workshop on Thursday, July 30, 2009, at King Manor Museum in Brooklyn. The session was moderated by Susan Schear of Artisin and Elizabeth Wagner of JC Geever.


Here are the ideas that popped out at me as I reviewed my notes later. The postings following this one expand on them.

  • The board members must make their own significant gifts before they can ask others to give.
  • Review movement towards strategic-plan goals at least once a year, at the board level and with staff.
  • Developing collaborations with other organizations is more useful than worrying about competition. Your competitors aren’t who you’d think they’d be, anyway.
  • Do an annual appeal in the fall. If you don’t, your money is being given to someone else who did ask for it.
  • Cultivate donors: Look at your membership list to start.
  • Board members have to ask the major donors for gifts; major donors want to be asked by peers, not staff.
  • When going to foundations for grants, concentrate on the competitive funders, not the mega foundations or the family foundations.
  • Find a memorable tagline or value statement around which everyone—board members, staff, docents, members—can rally.
  • Use your gift shop to continue educating people after they’ve left the museum.