Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS
Lately, against our will in most cases, we’ve been exposed to news about the heady world of big fundraising, especially in the political realm. We’ve heard about very wealthy donors writing checks for extraordinary amounts of money for presidential candidates. But, in one case, we’ve heard about a candidate who promises to donate to charities to prove how committed he is to a certain cause. There is no law against this, and I am not here to weigh in on Republicans or Democrats, but it made me think about big fundraising and the rest of us. How can we learn from what we observe, and can we mine the sites for successful charities to find out who the big donors are to expand our list of targets. For example, at the end of the annual report for the Boston Foundation, there’s a huge list of donors (scroll down) and the amounts they’ve contributed. Who’s to say we can’t contact these folks directly, then double check them against our Free Grant Search Database and get a well-rounded view of their presence in the world of philanthropy.
One of the first lessons I learned as a grant writer was the art of schmoozing. Some people are naturally great at this, I’m not because it makes me feel a little sleazy. I’m getting over this because it’s just part of the job of raising funds for children and schools, but it’s hard to shake. One lesson is that foundations and corporations are expecting you to schmooze. It is not offensive to them to meet you at an event and be asked for ways to approach them for funding. In fact, they won’t know if you’re in need if you don’t tell them.
The other lesson is that I’ve been too timid. I’ve always asked for tiny amounts of money to pay for small projects, one project at a time. In the first blush of a relationship with a foundation, this is the norm. You’re developing a relationship and they need to see if your organization has the capacity to pull off a small donation from request to running a successful project before they will expand to give more.
Once this first approach is completed, though, it’s no sin to greatly expand your requests. If the foundation is happy with how their funds are addressing their agendas, they’ll be much more likely to do it again. Over years, and this is a process, not an event, the amounts can become quite huge. Your partnerships will mature to be able to predict the next steps of the growth of the foundation’s desire to change K-12 and higher education. For the most part they are interested in helping your school raise levels of academic achievement. This is in their best interest because they will be the inheritors of our graduates. They want to be able to hire people in their community that are ready to work. You may need funds for professional development for your teachers at first, this is a common initial approach.
Later, though, it’s conceivable that the foundation or company could take on the task of providing your district with the funds you need to lease all of your computer equipment and maintain state-of-the-art technology in your schools. This doesn’t come cheap; they know that, and they’re actually waiting to see if you have the chutzpah to step up and ask for this level of help. They’ll admire your bravery. If they aren’t confident in you, they’ll say no, and you can step back to make your request more modest until you get to yes.
Let me know how you’re doing.
Current Grant Opportunities:
Improving Community Education Grants
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
The foundation believes education, economic participation and community engagement are critical to moving low-income Americans toward greater prosperity. These three areas are the pillars of their program to address poverty in the U.S. Funding is made under three objectives: Improving Community Education- To ensure that community education serves as a pathway out of poverty for children in low-income communities; Expanding Economic Opportunity- To expand opportunity for those in, or at risk of, persistent poverty by promoting policies and programs that increase income and assets, help people connect to the labor market, and enable them to advance into better-quality, higher-paying jobs; and Building Organized Communities- To enhance the power and effectiveness of the community-organizing field in order to strengthen and sustain the involvement of low-income communities in shaping their futures.
After-School, At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Early Childhood, Family Services, General Education, Health/PE, Math, Reading, Safe/Drug Free Schools, Science/Environmental, Social Studies, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
Public School, Higher Education, Other.
Proposal Deadline Description
$10,000.00 - $4,500,000.00
Mott Foundation Bldg. , 503 S. Saginaw St., Ste. 1200 Flint, MI United States 48502-1851
All States, Michigan
Free Grant Search Database
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