I recently had an opportunity to have a conversation with four funders from four very different funding sources. Here is what I learned.
First, over the past eighteen months or so, there has been a dramatic increase in individual giving. Statistics have always shown that about 80% of all giving to nonprofits and ministries comes through individuals. So, if your organization is not actively working to increase its donor base and nurture the relationships it presently has with donors, that should be a top priority.
Likewise, our society is also seeing a lot of “rage giving.” Rage giving usually happens in response to a political decision or event that enrages a group of people on one side or other of the issue. Know that this is happening, if your organization is not on the receiving end, know that in general, rage giving does not last for the long term. Additionally, relief giving in response to disasters will temporarily divert funds to relief-type agencies, but again, this is just temporary.
Foundations are looking for work that is “amazing and inspiring.” They are looking for organizations run by dynamic leaders (hint, hint: develop and strengthen your leadership skills). Foundations are seeking to fund projects that are memorable. Just tell your story! More and more funders are interested in getting involved in something meaningful.
Authenticity is extremely important to funders. They want organizations to be honest and “real” about why they are submitting a proposal. Identify how the project fits into the funder’s purview. Research and learn what motivates the funder you are approaching—it is not a one-size fits all, what motivates one funder is not what motivates another.
Corporate funders want organizations to understand the difference between a sponsorship and a grant. Essentially, a sponsorship away is coming from the organization’s marketing budget. They are looking for reach and impact—being visible before largest potential audience possible. Grants generally require more rigorous proposals and are for a specific project. Grants also must align with the stated grant guidelines. Sponsorships allow the funder to give in a more flexible manner such as for operating support. This is important to note, especially if your request doesn’t align with the grant guidelines.
For many corporate funders, the easiest portal to enter for funding is through employee volunteerism.
Finally, funders also spoke about outcomes and impact. It is important to show your organization is making a difference in the lives of those you are working with. However, for some, a logic model is not necessarily important. But, what is important is that the organization takes the time to think through the process that a logic model requires. (Members of the Resource Center can access a sample logic model in the site).
Above all, funders want organizations to know that it is their goal to fund organizations, not proposals! Be real, be authentic, and be honest in your funding requests. Contact us if we can help in this area.