5 Critical Changes for Nonprofits in Dealing with Foundations
I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion for the Association of Development Officers Annual Conference in Tarrytown, NY. The theme of the conference was “Differentiation in the New Philanthropy World” It was a great day of idea sharing and included a wide range of breakouts regarding this topic. More than 200 people from the non profit community in our area attended and walked away with the latest ways to respond to the ever-changing landscape in philanthropy and differentiate their organization when interacting with donors, foundations, supporters and the public. We were pleased to be a sponsor to support such a worthy organization.
My panel included Naomi Adler, Esq. CEO, United Way of Westchester and Putnam, Melinda Burge, Executive Director of The Community Fund of Bronxville, Eastchester and Tuckahoe and Adam Kintish, retail market manager and VP, TD Bank (Adam represented their foundation). Their grant funding budgets range from $200,000 to $5,000,000, giving us wide range of capacity.
Even with these differences, they all agreed on some common changes that are taking place within their organizations and also the way in which they work with grantees.
Non Profits find themselves in a perfect storm:
- Less funding from all sources
- Tough economic times which are creating more demand for your services
- Stricter guidelines and accountability from funding sources
- Increased transparency and reporting requirements
- Changes in technology – email, social media have created a new level of speed and access to information
- Increased competition for dollars from many non profits
Here is what I heard from the foundations regarding their challenges:
- They are under extreme pressure from their own funders and their need for accountability has increased.
- Due to less available funding they have had to cut back in many areas, including infrastructure and allocation amounts.
- Because of decreased capacity and resources that their funded non profits face, they find themselves having to offer more services to them, adding more strain to their foundation.
So what has this done to the way in which they allocate funds and work with grantees?
- It is critical that they receive very clear, concise submissions that include everything they asked for. Sounds basic, but it must be easy to find the information and no grammatical errors. Less is more. But clear!
- You must include the critical numbers and they must show that you are making a difference in your area.
- Communication is critical. Keep the foundation up to date proactively on how you are doing. Give them the information they want before they ask for it.
- Know when the foundation board meets. Just prior to that meeting is a good time to send an update
- Bring a mix of people to the table when meeting with a grantor to provide a deeper bench and broader personalities to help deliver the message. CEO and board members are sometimes a great addition to the Development Officer.
I hope that these 5 principles help you when working with foundations with grant requests. This panel was put together with the guidance of Sharon Guss Pollack and Joanne Essig Stewart, Partners with Goodworks Advisory group, LLC. Please feel free to reach out to Sharon, Joanne or myself for more information.
Sharon Guss Pollack
I would love any feedback on these topics, please feel free to leave a comment.