As the Director of Development for Cenikor, I understand the importance of having a broad-based business model, which is the most sustainable model going forward for non-profits today. As funds become less available and more restricted, non-profits have to be able to secure and leverage funding from all sources including: government, private foundations and philanthropic to ensure financial stability.
I believe that through sharing with communities unmet needs, leveraging relationships with government entities and other providers that we can create funding opportunities to expand services for clients. There is an art to researching, cultivating, applying, winning and managing grants and contracts from all sources. Each individual funder has unique guidelines and focus for which their funds can be utilized.
Once you have identified your project’s goals and funding needs, it is time to research grants. A foundation is a type of nonprofit organization that exists in order to give money away for charitable purposes. There are several types of foundations and related types of funders, including ones that are run by family members, members of the community, and corporations. There are several free sites that provide information on active foundation’s such as Guidestar and the Foundation Center’s Foundation Directory Online Professional. For government grants and contracts, the main sites are Grants.gov, USA.gov for Nonprofits and Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.
Before applying for any grants, be sure to read the application thoroughly because you want to make sure that you have a clear understanding of the information being asked. There’s more to applying than just filling in forms and writing letters. Most larger funders will have guidelines to follow and staff who you can talk to about your application. Many funders publish information about recently funded projects in their accounts or websites. Finding out as much as you can about the specific funder you plan to approach, and taking every opportunity to ensure they know about you is the name of the game.
Now that you have your funding, it is time for donor-centrism which is another way of saying “building trust.” A donor’s relationship with your organization deepens based on how much trust you can create with the donor. Donor-centered is like customer-centered. And when you’re customer-centered and donor-centered, you build loyalty. And you want loyal donors. You have to connect personally with your donors. Create opportunities for the donors to engage more deeply, if they so desire. I know. It takes time to nurture relationships. And maybe you’re just a one-person shop. But you have board members and other volunteers who care about your mission. Engage them in the relationship-building process.
There’s so much you can do – at low-cost or no cost. Relationship building is where you invest your time and money. Its relationship building that builds donor loyalty and keeps your donors.