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Writing a proposal is like trying out for the Olympics. Research and planning take months, maybe even years; hundreds of competitors vie for the same grant dollars, and rewards are heart-shatteringly few. And, last, but certainly not least, your proposal might be the greatest, most eloquent piece of compelling prose you’ve ever written – that doesn’t get funded.

Tossing your organization’s hat into the grant arena is tough but sitting out the competition is out of the question. Not every proposal you write will be funded and it may take several tries before any dollars come your way. But if you keep trying you will eventually win, because winning grants is not based on luck. It is based on your approach. And, as the adage goes, the devil is in the detail.

Without further ado, below are three ways to write better proposals and increase the odds of winning your next grant.

  1. Read the funding announcement

I know, I know. You’ve read this tip before. But it’s as true then as it is now. Scour that funding announcement inside out. Note the terms the grantor uses and incorporate their language into your proposal. Very frequently the grantor will embed suggestions in the sections preceding the questions. Do not overlook these. They are NOT suggestions.

I recently worked on a proposal where, in the middle of the announcement, there was a sentence that mentioned the statement of need could include information on subpopulations. While the question itself did not ask to detail subpopulations, I knew that scoring well meant incorporating as much information as possible on subpopulations. Why? Because an approach should not be a one-size-fits-all solution. The grantor wants to know that YOU know your community.

  1. Complete a thorough needs assessment

Here is where details become critical. Needs assessments should be complex, lengthy and turn up several issues.  These issues will be the basis for your approach. No matter what grant you are going after the funder wants to know that your approach includes data-driven activities.

What do I mean by that? Say you are applying for a grant to build a homeless shelter for war veterans. Not only will you need to answer why a shelter needs to be built right now, but you will also have to address your population’s underlying causes of homelessness. Why is this population susceptible to homelessness? Are there any underlying behavioral and mental health issues? How will you address these issues while war veterans are in your care? More importantly, what solution does your assessment turn up for long-term success? No needs assessment is complete without knowing how clients discharged from your program will be reintegrated in the community. The funder will want to know how your organization will ensure clients live happy, healthy and productive lives long after they complete the program.

  1. Show don’t tell

Repeat after me: I will never use a “lack of” statement in my proposal ever again.

This one is simple. Winning proposals never use “lack of” statements. To illustrate the point compare the next two paragraphs.

  1. The majority of teens living in Sunshine Village spend their evenings watching TV because there is a lack of afterschool programming to keep them engaged in pro-social activities.
  2. There are three providers of afterschool programs in Sunshine Village that serve 1,000 teenagers per year. There are 3,000 teenagers in Sunshine Village, which means that 2,000 of them are left with unstructured time in the afternoon. Youth risk behavior surveys administered through Sunshine Village High School indicate that 75% of teens spend three hours or more per day watching TV because, as one teen noted, “there is nothing to do.”

Which proposal do you think is more likely to get funded? While these are very basic examples, the point is that you will make a more convincing case with accurate, detailed information about your community, its population, and its needs.

Writing proposals is a gargantuan task and requires thorough research. But with adequate planning (and about five hundred cups of coffee) you will be able to compose quality proposals with data-driven approaches. Good luck!

Melissa Manzone is Founder and Writer at The Grant Gal, which helps non-profits strategize and write proposals for federal grant competitions. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from The Ohio State University and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Kingston University London. In her free time, Melissa loves to read everything from biographies to historical fantasy and her favorite book will forever be Jane Eyre. She also is an aspiring author and is working on her first book about a warrior princess, which she hopes to publish next year. You can find her at www.thegrantgal.com and contact her at Melissa@thegrantgal.com

Posted by & filed under Donor communications, Fundraising, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Are you stuck in your fundraising?  Overwhelmed? Dissatisfied?  Need a reset?

Or maybe your organization is just starting to get serious about building a strong fundraising program and you’re wondering how to get going.

When I see fundraisers struggling with any of these situations, I always ask them to stop everything they are doing, take a deep breath and then focus completely on the donor relationship and making every single one of your donors into a LLL-Donor: Loyal, Loving and Long-term.

The path to success become clear and the steps are fewer than you’d imagine:

  1. Set your sights on finding donors that are as interested and passionate about your mission as you are (you are interested and passionate about your mission, right?!)
  1. Offer donors reasons to support your mission
  1. Share how donors are achieving the mission
  1. Repeat

When you make the shift to a LLL-Donor strategy, you no longer think: “I have to write a direct mail letter”.  Instead you’ll say: “I have to tell my donor about this horrible problem and the solution we have.”

A stewardship report is not a burdensome exercise in dragging information out of your programs people to regurgitate to donors. It’s now a labour of love to show donors how their generosity is making measurable improvements in our community, country and/or planet.

Even rubber-chicken silent auction events will be elevated above a formulaic dinner and silent auctions.  Instead, your gala will become a LLL-donor recruitment event, where you have the opportunity to emotionally engage 100, 300 or 1000 attendees with the life-changing work your charity performs.  Play your cards right and you will bring a good number of them into your donor-fold, motivated by true philanthropy.

Your fundraising calendar no longer looks like a spreadsheet related to your accountant’s work plan for your fiscal year. It’s now a plan to build loving relationships with new donors and sustain the fire for your cause with your long-term donors.

Sending notes, having conversations, making donors feel special and appreciated…sharing your deepest dreams and feelings and reminding them of how good it feels take on the world together.

Sound mushy and irrational?

That’s when you know you are on the right path.

David Kravinchuk is passionate about prescribing annual giving and bequest marketing solutions, David opened Fundraising Pharmacy to dispense name-brand advice (at generic prices!) for Canadian charities including St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, New Democratic Party (MB), Community Living Toronto and international clients like Outward Bound New Zealand and University of Queensland. Follow David on Twitter @DavidKravinchuk and sign up for his regular dose of advice, RE:Phil.

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As a newly wed, much of the last year has been spent working and planning my wedding. Now that my wedding has passed, I have been reflecting on the many life lessons that the wedding planning process has taught me. Here are my top six learnings:

  1. People matter more than things: This is one of my Bubbie Helen’s (grandmother’s) favourite sayings (which my mother often reminded me of when I broke something around the house as a child). And it applies to both weddings and fundraising equally. You can have mountains of the finest flowers, fountains of champagne and a scrumptious, towering wedding cake but none of it matters if the people who you love most are not there to celebrate with you. Similarly, dazzling donors with glossy brochures and Academy Award worthy videos means little compared to building meaningful, personal long term relationships with those who give to your cause.
  2. Personal touches go a long way: My husband and I spent much time and energy figuring out how to make our wedding feel like us. It was those touches, big and small, that we and our guests loved most about our wedding. Your donors will not remember the flashy events you invite them to, but guaranteed they will keep a card you send them that has a dog that looks like theirs on the cover and read articles which you send them because you know they will be of personal interest.
  3. Don’t skimp on the hors d’oeuvres: Hungry wedding/event guests are angry guests! No further explanation necessary.
  4. Trust your partners: The early stages of the wedding planning process are often the hardest, because they involved finding vendors that you like and trust. They are key to ensuring your wedding is exactlyas you want it. The same is true in a fundraising shop, you must trust your colleagues, volunteers and the countless other stakeholders who are crucial to success in fundraising campaigns.
  5. A handwritten, heartfelt thank you note never goes out of style: Always send out hand written, personal thank you cards in a timely manner. There is not a person inthis world who does not appreciate being thanked. Whether it’s for a wedding gift or ongoing organizational support, those 5 minutes you spend writing the card will pay dividends in your relationships.
  6. Always keep the bigger picture in mind: And last but most importantly, don’t get bogged down in the process. Weddings are stressful to plan and it’s easy and natural to get overwhelmed by the endless decisions and details. Fundraising campaigns are no different. But in both cases, the key is to always keep the bigger picture in mind. Throughout the process, when we got stressed, we stopped, took a deep breath and reminded each other how excited we were to marry each other. When a campaign deadline is looming, take this simple advice. Pause, take a deep breath, and remember how much good your cause is doing. You will get through it.

 

Hava Goldberg is a passionate fundraiser and community builder who is currently the Senior Development Officer, Community Engagement at the Sinai Health Foundation. She is a proud alumunus of the University of Guelph and holds a Masters in Non-Profit Management (specializing in Jewish Communal Services) from Spertus College (Chicago). Hava has worked in the non-profit sector for nine years and in fundraising for the last four years. She has been an active volunteer and fundraiser for as long as she can remember.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

That’s china, with a lower case “c” as in a set of fancy, old plates, not the country. Allow me to explain, this morning on my commute to work, I read yet another article about how Millennials are eschewing their parents’ Royal Doulton figurines and heirloom china in favour of minimalist lifestyles. Apparently this applies even to the lucky few who are home owners. The article, like many others that have been written over the last few years, suggests that this is the case because Millennials value experiences more than things (especially Instagrammable experiences).

This is a lesson that we, in the fundraising sector, must take to heart. As fundraisers, it is crucial that we take our cues from the daily habits of our donors outside of the non-profit sector. Newsflash, human behavior does not change drastically simply because someone is giving to a good cause!

As a 30-something year old, who often has to remind others she’s a Gen Y not a Millennial, I can tell you that I have far too often received fundraising appeals that are directed at someone twice my age. Return address labels, greeting cards, key chains…ugh! If I don’t want my family’s tchotchkes, do you think I want yours unnamed but well intentioned non-profit?!

It’s high time for us to start segmenting by age and stage of life when it comes to our mid-level giving strategies. Millennial and Gen Y donors have no interest in freebies. Indeed, receiving these things may make donors under the age of 35 less likely to continue to give to your cause. Subsequently, this will likely cause them to question how you are spending their hard earned donations.

Instead, we must start speaking to them in a way that appeals to them. Why not send them an invitation to experience your cause in a hands on manner? For example, if you work for a health based charity that partakes in research & care, plan an opportunity for donors to do basic health science experiments with some of the young researchers. I assure you from my own experience, not only will your young professional donors relish this opportunity to deepen their understanding of the cause, they will Instagram, Tweet and Facebook about it and create fantastic earned publicity for your cause.

These opportunities exist within many non-profit organizations but are often offered exclusively to major donors who are frankly so saturated with opportunities to don fake scrubs or swing a hammer that they often do not attend or appreciate these events. Reimagining these events could allow you to organically grow young professional ambassadors for your cause. And we all know how much Millennials love anything organic…

Hava Goldberg is a passionate fundraiser and community builder who is currently the Senior Development Officer, Community Engagement at the Sinai Health Foundation. She is a proud alumunus of the University of Guelph and holds a Masters in Non-Profit Management (specializing in Jewish Communal Services) from Spertus College (Chicago). Hava has worked in the non-profit sector for nine years and in fundraising for the last four years. She has been an active volunteer and fundraiser for as long as she can remember.

Posted by & filed under Announcement.

Are you interested in positioning yourself as a thought leader in the fundraising community?

By writing a blog for AFP Greater Toronto Chapter you’ll have the opportunity to share your insights, knowledge and expertise with our members.  AFP offers a great platform and chance to connect with fundraisers.

Tips on Writing a Blog Post:

  1. Make the post useful to the readers – offer tips, advice or insight into an area of your work.
  2. Offer a fresh angle – a point of view you don’t often read online or hear in conversation.
  3. Share a pride in the profession, even when challenging ideas – we are proud to represent fundraisers in Toronto, and we understand your work is complicated (your peers can relate).
  4. Offer practical information that will help readers understand a complicated issue or address similar challenges. This doesn’t need to be a bullet point list of tips, just information or advice that readers can apply to their own understanding.
  5. Provide original, personal, and honest work. This means your post has never before been published anywhere, including your own blog. You are free to post on your own blog within 72 hours of posting on the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter blog.

Your blog should be a minimum length of approximately 450 words, and a maximum of 650 words. All blogs will include your photo, bio and any social media handles (feel free to include your contact info too).  All submissions will be reviewed for approval – please note that promotional blogs cannot be accepted.

We are flexible and open to your ideas on what you would like to blog about.  Please email Sarah at sedwards@afptoronto.org to start the conversation.

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The AFP Fundamentals of Fundraising Course is composed of seven modules that have been designed by experienced fundraising professionals to meet the real-world needs and challenges nonprofit organizations face every day.This program includes case studies and projects for groups and individuals, making the learning experience both substantive and enjoyable.

This intensive program offers a complete overview of the development function, featuring the most current information and techniques. The course will provide an overview of skills, techniques, and program components for individuals with 0 to 4 years of fundraising experience.  READ MORE

 

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Are you interested in joining a CFRE Review Course and or a Study Group?  Join us for the 2-day CFRE Review Course (open to AFP members and non-members) or 9-week CFRE Study Group (AFP Members only) to help you prepare to take the exam.

We will organize the Review Course and Study Group based on demand, setting the dates and venue to accommodate the most number of people possible.

If you are interested in attending, please let us know through this quick form (we will only be able to offer the course if we receive enough interest).  Please indicate your interest and preferences.

If you have any questions please contact info@afptoronto.org

Posted by & filed under Announcement, Next Generation Philanthropy, Uncategorized.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Toronto Chapter is proud to announce Samantha Banks, Director of Operations and Development at The House as the 2016 New Fundraising Professional Award recipient.

Samantha Banks
Director of Operations and Development
The House

Samantha is an enthusiastic and inspiring fundraiser with a deep commitment to the fundraising profession.  As she says, “There are so many incredible professionals who have dedicated their lives to the philanthropic sector.  It is a tremendous honour to be recognized as one of them.”

After only two years working at The House, Samantha has tremendously helped to raise the profile of the organization. She has significantly increased young adult programming and engagement and raised corporate sponsorship three-fold for their marquee event JEDx. Samantha has added a new level of flair and creativity while keeping true to the mission and vision of the charity.

In addition to her impressive day job at The House, Samantha is known for her tireless commitment to improving the non-profit sector through her volunteer work.  She has made vital contributions to AFP Greater Toronto Chapter, as well as Sinai Health Foundation, Toronto Public Library Foundation, and Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.   As a Contemporary Dance Major (BFA) at Concordia University, she was President of Hillel Concordia, Hillel Montreal and the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students.

Samantha is passionate about supporting networking events and conferences that bring young professionals together and build community.   As Chair, Next Gen Philanthropy Advisory Committee, she was instrumental in planning the AFP Next Gen Philanthropy Conference (March 2014), as part of the Diversity to Inclusion Series – a groundbreaking initiative organized by the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada. This conference brought together philanthropists, community leaders, fundraisers and volunteers in an effort to start a conversation about how charities are working with the next generation of philanthropists in Ontario.

She has demonstrated her dedication to the fundraising profession by being an active member of the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter’s Marketing, Membership & Communications Committee (present), and on AFP Ottawa Chapter’s Board of Directors.  Samantha has also shared her expertise by presenting at Congress (2014) and Fundraising Day Ottawa (2013), and serving as a moderator at the International Conference (2014).

Samantha says, “I consider myself fortunate to get the chance to be in the same room as those who have carved the path of what philanthropy looks like today and those who are shaping what it will look like tomorrow.”   She is now recognized as one of the top young professionals who will help shape the future of the fundraising profession in Toronto.  Samantha is a graduate of the Humber Fundraising and Volunteer Management Program, and plans to go for her CFRE in 2016/2017.

When asked what she values most about fundraising, she answered: “The people. The characters who walk through the door just wanting to give. The passionate personalities of the volunteers on the ground. The loyal attendees who support rain or shine. The fearless people who have made this industry their career.”  Samantha is an inspiration with an incredible career ahead of her.    As Samantha always says, “I will continue to change lives until the day people stop changing mine.”

Background

Established in 2001, the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter New Fundraising Professional Award recognizes a full-time fundraising professional who has displayed exceptional talent and demonstrated outstanding achievement early in his/her career. The recipient has between two and five years of experience in fundraising and is selected through submissions from Chapter members. The award encompasses career achievements, long and short term career objectives, personal volunteer service and a commitment to the profession.

About AFP

AFP Greater Toronto Chapter is a recognized leader in promoting philanthropy and providing education, training and best practices for those in the fundraising profession. With more than 1200 members, the Greater Toronto Chapter is the largest of the more than 244 AFP chapters throughout the world.

Contact

Cynthia Quigley
Director, AFP Greater Toronto Chapter
Tel: 416-941-9212
Email: cquigley@afptoronto.org

Posted by & filed under Announcement, Uncategorized.

When two friends and former clients simultaneously moved from one employer (which I will call Alpha) to a new employer (which I will call Beta), they already knew a lot about the new employer’s donors and prospects, because of their experience at Alpha. And they had collaborated on many major donor solicitations.

This presented an ethical dilemma for them. Standard No. 18 in the AFP’s Code of Ethics says “Members shall adhere to the principle that all donor and prospect information created by, or on behalf of,

an organization or a client is the property of that organization or client.”

The question put to me was: “How do we manage knowledge of donors when crossing to another organization? How do you ‘pretend’ to not know what you know?”

Here’s what I said (edited for confidentiality and length.)

That’s a tricky question. You know what you know.

We face this as consultants: we must studiously avoid porting any “proprietary” information from one client to another that might “improve” the result for the lower-performing charity. When we must, we can say “We can’t comment on that.” It works because we’re not making final solicitation decisions.

This will be harder for you.

The AFP principle is clear, but doesn’t speak to how you manage the accumulated knowledge you have. Always, the spirit of your effort is key, rather than the letter of a policy. But I propose these boundaries.

  • You can never report outside of Alpha what any Alpha donor has done or even that they are Alpha donors, unless that information is public.
  • You cannot approach specific Alpha donors with news of your move UNLESS you had relationships prior to joining Alpha.
  • You and your former/current colleague should never discuss the history of Alpha donors, even privately. That information is no longer yours.
  • You cannot comment to any Beta donor about his/her giving history at Alpha UNLESS the donor raises it.
  • Even if it wanted to, Alpha cannot give you a dispensation to build on its information for selected donors – in the end, it’s not their information.
  • You cannot create a prospect list for Beta based on donors you met through Alpha. Some other route to identifying and qualifying those prospects must be followed.
  • Because prospect identification and solicitation is part of your job, you must be honest with yourself about the prospect’s signs of interest/ affinity for the cause, and other parameters that would put someone new on the radar for your new employer, or elevate their priority. Involving others with no history of your former employer will help.
  • Ideally a legitimate ask amount will emerge organically through prospect identification, considering affinity, history and estimated capacity of the donor. Jacking up proposed ask amounts for certain Beta prospects based on their giving to Alpha violates confidentiality. It also mistakenly assumes that a donor weights each case the same way, when they certainly do not. Because your knowledge will undoubtedly be a factor in your own inner dialogue, involving other staff or even volunteers in setting ask amounts can protect you somewhat.
  • Once a prospect is legitimately identified for your new employer, and you know, for example, that the prospect likes breakfast meetings, it’s stupid to ignore that knowledge. It’s also stupid to flag your knowledge: keeping your own counsel is smart.

The passage of time will help. If a year from now you’ve diligently qualified a bunch of people who happen also to be Alpha donors, so be it. But if your first 10 calls are on Alpha donors not already known to Beta, you have a problem.

Exercise restraint. Do the work that would yield prospects. Create the profiles so you have a paper trail. Be scrupulous about what you talk about. Soon there will be no issue.

This is an interesting challenge. Few people likely care as much as you will – I always liked that about you.

So, what would you say? We know what and who we know. How do we ethically steward that information?

For more on Article 18 of the Ethics Code click here.

Larry Matthews

Larry Matthews, CFRE, is Vice-President of KMA Consultants Inc., which specializes in campaigns and pre-campaign studies, annual fund reviews, and major gift planning and coaching. Larry has been a fundraiser since 1983 and a consultant since 1995, with specialized expertise in case development, research among donors, and donor communications of all kinds. He writes an occasional blog which can be found at http://www.kmaconsultants.ca/  email to: lmatthews@kmaconsultants.ca

 

Posted by & filed under Announcement, Uncategorized.

Tony Elischer has died. It’s hard to believe that someone who lived life so fully, who bounded into a room, who was perpetually enthusiastic, upbeat and loved our profession – is gone.

I first attended the International Workshop on Fundraising Management, now the International Fundraising Congress, in the early 1990s. There I was introduced to a remarkable group of British fundraisers – George Smith, Ken Burnett, Margaret Bennett, Richard Radcliffe, Bernard Ross, Stephen Pidgeon and others. But above all, there was Tony Elischer.

When Allan Arlett and I founded the Toronto Fundraising Congress in 1995, we brought some of these fine fundraisers over. Tony first came in 1997. All told, Tony appeared at 11 AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Congresses. After his successes here, we introduced Tony to the AFP International Conference on Fundraising, where he presented multiple times.

What did Tony talk about? Well, it’s best summed up with the word ‘innovation’. He wanted to make the world a better place. He challenged us to think and do things differently to make that happen – in our work, for our causes and for ourselves.

Tony raised our game. His enthusiasm and networking led to Canadians taking their place on the international fundraising stage too. He encouraged fundraisers in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, India, Africa and beyond. A consummate networker, Tony connected so many of us and improved our profession globally.

Tony loved conferences, and most of all he loved conference plenaries. He did seven in Toronto, including the groundbreaking and inspirational Fundraising Theatre in 2012. It’s still being talked about. Tony was then thrilled to take this concept to the AFP International Conference on Fundraising in San Antonio for the Kaleidoscope in Philanthropy plenary in 2014.

We’re going to miss you Tony. Big time. Here in Toronto, throughout Canada and around the world.

I don’t know if there’s a conference in heaven. But if there is, Tony Elischer will be asking God if he can do the plenary. And if God is smart, he’ll say yes!

Steve Thomas, CFRE

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