Let me introduce myself. My name is Monique Gary and I live in Southeastern Michigan in the Metro Detroit area. I currently work for Ware and Associates, a consulting firm. I work as an Instructional Designer and Project Manager. Recently I've started a new company I named Apex Grant Writing. At Apex we work collaboratively with your organization to identify funding opportunities that align with your organization's vision and strategic plan and to pursue grants that support your initiatives. We also serve as a resource in all aspects of proposal preparation including budget development and review, formatting, and adherence to all internal and external guidelines, regulatory requirements and policies.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Your Organization's Fundraising Plan

Now that your new nonprofit is firmly established, you need a strategy for raising money. Having a successful fundraising plan in place is crucial to the success of your organization.

1. Establish your fundraising goals.
Your goals should be created with your board of directors, and have the board's approval. You need to determine how much money you need to raise, and what it will be used for. Some possibilities are operating expenses; funding of a new program or expansion of an existing program; or to build new or renovate existing facilities.

You might have more than one goal for the year. If so, create a fundraising plan for each goal. State what you ultimately hope to accomplish with each goal and list the specific steps toward accomplishing each goal. Those specific steps are called objectives. Where the goal is a broad, general statement, objectives are narrow, precise, tangible, concrete, and measureable.

2. Outline your fundraising plan.
Develop a written plan that states how much money you need to raise, how you will raise it and from what sources. The plan should have a certain amount of flexibility so that it can be modified throughout the year. Not all of your plans will succeed, or your funding sources may change during the year.

Be specific when outlining your fundraising plan. Determine just what type of fundraising you will do, and how frequently. For example, your organization may decide to have a membership drive, certain types of fundraisers, and apply for two grants per year. This will determine precisely how you will run your fundraising campaign.

3. Identify fundraising tactics
Some fundraising tactics work better than others. You might decide to use direct mail, telemarketing, email, or canvassing door-to-door. Social media such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook works best when incorporated with other tactics.

4. Identify funding sources.
Define your target donors and customize your fundraising plan with those particular organizations or individuals in mind. For example, if you think that parents with young children will be more likely to donate to your cause, then your fundraising plan should target them. Make a list of people, businesses, agencies and organizations who might be interested in donating to your cause. Identify sources that you don’t usually tap into. Are you exploring grants from a variety of funding sources including the government? Local churches, colleges and universities are also possible sources.

5. Develop a timeline for your fundraising plan.
Identify a year's worth of specific actions and determine who will lead each project. Develop a separate timeline for each fundraising activity. Check throughout the year to ensure that major milestones are being met. The timeline will likely change during the year, but having one to start with will keep you on track.

6. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.
Evaluation of your fundraising plan is crucial to its success. Evaluate as often as necessary, at least every few months. Determine what you will measure such as the number of new financial supporters, the amount of money raised so far, whether you are on track for meeting deadlines for grant submission. Determine what programs have proven to be successful and what programs need to be changed or abandoned

As a new organization, planning is key to the success of your fundraising strategy. Once you have established your nonprofit organization, developing a fundraising plan should be one of your top priorities.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

After You're Legal

  1. Establish what staff members you will need. Create a list of positions that are needed to run your organization. For example, a small non-profit organization will need an office manager, a fundraiser, a marketing specialist, and an executive director.
  2. Select the location of your office and buy equipment and furniture.
  3. Set up the office.
  4. Recruit your staff. Local unemployment agencies are an excellent resource. Referrals from board members and advertising in local classifieds are also an option.
  5. Review resumes and look for applicants that have the critical skills needed for each position.
  6. Set up interviews with your top applicants and invite board members to participate in the interview process.
  7. Interview the selected applicants.
  8. Confirm the applicants’ experience.
  9. Contact references. This step is very important! Don't skip it.
  10. Hire the best of the best. If you haven’t found the best, repeat the search process---don’t settle!
  11. Train your staff.
  12. Develop a fundraising plan. Solicit outside help if you need to.
  13. Launch your fundraising program.
Next time…Developing your fundraising plan.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

After You File Your Legal Incorporation Documents

  • Get approval from the board to file for tax exempt status.
  • File for federal tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. You can find the forms for this on the IRS's Web site .
  • File for state tax exempt status. You will need to wait for federal approval for tax exempt status before you contact your state's department of revenue. To find contact information for your state's department of revenue, conduct a keyword search online for "[Your state's name] department of revenue."
  • Research local permit and business requirements. You may need to obtain a permit to solicit funds, get a business license, or file city level tax exempt status forms.
  • Obtain a mail permit from the U.S. Postal Service. This will grant you a bulk mail discount for your fundraising mailings.
  • Complete employment filing needs. If you plan on hiring employees, you will need to file for a federal employer number. This is a free process that you can complete online.  There is a simple form that you will need to fill out and file with the IRS. Once approved, the IRS will mail you a form with your federal employer number. You will also need to file for a state employer number. Contact your state's department of revenue for the proper forms. Finally, make sure that you have unemployment insurance and the proper tax reporting forms needed for meeting employment laws.
Next time...After You're Legal