Fundraising Planning - A Vital Key to Nonprofit Success

 by: Ken Goldstein

As a professional grant writer and consultant, I am often amazed at how few nonprofit organizations actually have a fund development plan beyond a vague idea of applying for a few grants and sending out an annual appeal letter.

Recognizing that lack of planning, I am not amazed at how often these same organizations have rounds of emergency budget cuts when they realize that they have no assured streams of income.

Very typical is the agency that has received a large grant to run their programs for one year. Then, in the tenth month of the grant period, comes the realization that they have no idea how they will fund the next year's programs. With less than two months of money left in the bank they go into emergency fundraising mode.

Their first impulse is to start applying for another large grant. But at most foundations, the process - from letter of inquiry to proposal to acceptance - typically takes at least three months, and often six to eight months.

Their next idea is to turn to their individual donors with a panicked letter that essentially says, "Send us money now or we might go out of business." That, of course, is the least effective fundraising letter you can write. Donors want to invest in your successes, not bail out your failures.

So, how do they avoid these situations? The answer is to plan.

Through the planning process, you will achieve the following:

* Limit crisis fundraising: This, as the example above illustrates, is our primary reason for creating a fund development plan, but there are others as well...

* Diversity builds in flexibility: Changes in other sectors of the economy can have a major impact on nonprofit funding. A cut in the state budget can be passed down as fewer contracts for local service organizations. The dot-com bust of a few years back cut foundation endowments, reducing the funds they had available to grant. Agencies that had become comfortable relying on one or two sources of funding found themselves struggling to survive these changes. Those with plans and diversified funding bases had the flexibility to adapt and survive.

* Planning for diversity brings in more opportunities: Through the planning process you come to identify funding opportunities you never knew existed. Further, when you stop having to scramble to pay next month's bills, you will be able to devote more time to developing new sources of income for your agency.   (continued...)

Fundraising Planning - A Vital Key to Nonprofit Success
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About The Author

Ken Goldstein is a grant writer and consultant working and living in Silicon Valley. Since 1989 he has been an executive director, a board member, volunteer, and consultant to nonprofits. His education includes a BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz and a Master of Public Policy and Administration from CSU Sacramento. Goldstein Consulting can be found at http://www.goldsteinconsulting.com. Ken is also the author of "Introduction to Fund Development Planning" - Please see http://www.fundraisingplanbook.com for more information.

(c) 2006 by Ken Goldstein, all rights reserved. You may re-print or re-post this article only complete and un-edited, and including the author information, active web links, and copyright notice.




Additional Government Grants Resources


Exploratory/Developmental Grants Program for Basic Cancer Research in Cancer Health Disparities
The National Institutes of Health has recently formed a partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in an effort to constitute the Exploratory/Developmental Grants Program for Basic Cancer Research in Cancer Health Disparities wherein both agencies intend to solicit grant application from various eligible researchers who are interested in conducing basic research studies regarding the biological causes and mechanisms of cancer health disparities.


Predictive Lung Deposition Models for Safety and Efficacy of Orally Inhaled Drug Products Program.
The USFA has recently formed a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health to establish the Predictive Lung Deposition Models for Safety and Efficacy of Orally Inhaled Drug Products Program.


Health Resources and Services Administration's Licensure Portability Grant Program
The Health Resources and Services Administration has constituted the Licensure Portability Grant Program (LPGP) wherein they aim to improve the experience of State licensing boards that have manifested a credible record in implementing cross-border activities in order to help overcome licensure barriers in the provision of telemedicine services across various States.


US Environmental Protection Agency: Russian Arctic Black Carbon, Reduction of Black Carbon from Diesel Sources
The Artic Black Carbon: Reduction of Black Carbon from Diesel Sources project offers a funding opportunity to interested applicants as they work towards assessing primary black carbon sources in the Russian Arctic.


National Leadership Grants
The Institute of Museum and Library Services has been running the National Leadership Grants Program in an effort to address the issues and concerns that stand in the way of libraries, museums, and other archive centers or fields.


Nutrition Obesity Research Centers Grant Program
In an attempt to support this mission, the National Institutes of Health has formed a partnership with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to establish the Nutrition Obesity Research Centers Grant Program wherein both agencies intend to solicit grant applications that wish to establish core centers which will be an essential part of an integrated program of nutrition and obesity research.


Department of Housing and Urban Development: Sustainable Construction in Indian Country Small Grant Program
The Sustainable Construction in Indian Country Small Grant Program is designed to solicit program proposals that contain one of more sets of "Lessons Learned" that will help inform the Native American communities, such as Indian Tribes, regarding the issues and concerns that need to be taken into consideration upon tackling sustainable construction projects in their community.






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