Donors give some inside scoop!

Periodically, Gateway Center for Giving hosts a "Meet the Donors" program where a panel of grantmaker representatives share info about the organizations that they represent, give guidance on what they are looking for in a grant proposal and/or grant recipient, and answer some questions from the audience. On May 24 the GFC librarian (moi!) attended the most recent of these, where we heard from a panel consisting of representatives from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Joseph H. and Florence A. Roblee Foundation, Monsanto Fund, and the Whitaker Foundation. Two of these are smaller, family foundations, while the other two represent larger corporate entities, so it was a nice array of viewpoints. After a half hour of networking (complete with pastries!) and an introduction from Deb Dubin, Gateway Center for Giving's Executive Director, each of the panelists gave a presentation, supported by PowerPoint, regarding their particular funding interests and some helpful hints that nonprofits should keep in mind when applying for funds for their organizations and/or projects, then all four sat down for Q&A.

Some hints from my notes:

  • CHECK THE WEBSITE! Before calling a potential funder, spend some time exploring their website (for these four organizations, find their links above), familiarizing yourself with their interests and their procedure. Many will also include information about the types of projects and specific organizations that they have funded, which can give you a sense of whether they would be a good fit for your organization. (Note, though, that many family foundations do NOT have websites - but you should be able to find them using the Foundation Center resources here at the Grants & Foundation Center at Central.)
  • WHAT PROBLEM DO YOU SOLVE? Think about, and be prepared to articulate, the problem that your nonprofit organization is uniquely positioned to solve, and how you are different from other nonprofits who might be working in the same arena - or if you aren't all that different, perhaps consider collaborating with another nonprofit? Many funders are big fans of collaboration.
  • FOLLOW UP! If a funder has spent time with you in person or on the phone and you have committed to getting something to them as a follow up to your conversation, DO THAT promptly and well. As one of the panelists said, if they met with two different nonprofits in a given week, and hear back from one with materials requested later that week and from the other in three weeks, they take that as an indication on how well both parties will follow through on the project for which they are seeking funding.
  • HOW IS YOUR BOARD? Do they have a good variety of skills and experience? Do they understand and believe in the nonprofit's mission?
  • SHOW THEM YOUR STUFF. At least one panelist said that they love site visits and to see the difference that your organization is making in person - much more effective than just hearing and/or reading about it.

Watch the Gateway Center for Giving website (linked above) for upcoming "Meet the Donor" opportunities. Know that they have a "Good Guest, Good Host" policy: attendees are asked to refrain from making fundraising requests before, during, and immediately after the event. Visit the Grants & Foundation Center for more on how to approach - and be successful with - donors; here are a few books that might be of assistance: 

Seeing Through A Donor's Eyes

The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks and the Answers All Donors Crave

How to Connect With Donors and Double the Money You Raise

Finally, a reminder about upcoming training opportunities, both here at the GFC and around town:

GFC programs here at Central Library (click the titles to go to the SLPL events page to register):

Intro to Grant Research – Your friendly Grants & Foundations librarian, Lisa Thorp, will present an overview of the resources available at the SLPL Grants & Foundation Center in the Social Sciences room at Central Library, and will demonstrate how to use the Foundation Center databases, Foundation Directory Online & Foundation Maps.
Saturday June 23, 2:00-3:30 p.m., Carnegie Room (3rd floor)

Planning and Implementing a Major Gift Program for Your Nonprofit Organization – A successful major gifts program has the power to change the game for a nonprofit in the best way possible. Whether you work in development at a museum or advancement at a university, if you’re in fundraising, you understand how major gifts are paramount to the sustainability of every nonprofit organization. Dan Reynolds will walk us through the steps involved in planning and executing a major gift program for your nonprofit organization, as well as lessons learned from the field.
Saturday July 14, 10:30-noon, Carnegie Room (3rd floor)

Better Outcomes for Nonprofits with CQI – Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is a philosophy of management that focuses on improving an organization’s efficiency & effectiveness, which can result in improved morale & teamwork. Sarah Buek, MSW, LCSW, founder of Insight Partners Consulting, LLC, will introduce participants to common CQI models & processes to apply to their nonprofit work, help identify the capacities and behaviors that lead to learning and improvement, & introduce, demonstrate, & practice several key quality improvement tools & exercises.
Tuesday August 14, 3:30-5:00 p.m., Carnegie Room (3rd floor)

Grant Writing 101 – Amy Lottes, GPC, (Little Bit Foundation and Logos School) will return to Central Library to present this 90 minute program aimed at nonprofit corporations interested in learning how to approach charitable foundations to apply for grant funding for their organizations. Learn why you might want to pursue grant money, considerations to keep in mind, and how to know if you are “grant-ready” – and what you should do and where to go if you think the answer is “yes”.
Thursday September 13, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Auditorium (Lower Level)

And here is information about programs in the community that might be of interest:

Grant and Foundation Symposium - this day long event will focus on helping statewide nonprofit organizations and local governments learn about federal and foundation funding opportunities. The symposium will feature government agencies and foundations discussing funding opportunities and how to go about applying through panel discussions, info booths, and breakout sessions.

The symposium is free, but space is limited; click here to learn more about the event, and to register to attend.

Association of Fundraising Professionals
 o Donor-Centered Fundraising (Jun 14)
Grant Professionals Association - St. Louis Regional Chapter
 o Federal Grants Landscape (Jun 12)
Network for Strong Communities
 o Assessing Your Way to Success: How to Use Measurable Outcomes to Achieve Your Goals (June 14)
 o Volunteer Recruitment (June 19)
UMSL Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program
 o Search Engine Optimization and Search Marketing 101 for Nonprofits (Jun 14)
 o Diversity and Inclusion in your Volunteer Program (Jun 29)

Also at UMSL, a webinar: "Starting and Governing a Nonprofit 501(c)(3) Organization - a Primer" July 19, 2-4 p.m.  

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of St. Louis Public Library