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To Win Funding, Get Solid Commitments

One organization can’t do everything, and go-it-alone grant proposals that don’t make good use of community networks and resources are not convincing. The most effective proposals include authentic collaborations where participating organizations pursue their own missions while also contributing to a common goal.

“Unless usual-suspect groups are involved as partners, funders will have questions,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “If an early childhood agency wants to improve child health through better nutrition, it only makes sense to work with the food bank and the community health center.”

Contributions of partners can be a powerful multiplier of grant dollars. Because those pledges are persuasive, they’re also part of the deal. If the grant request is funded, then partners must deliver on their promises.

To gauge partners’ sincerity, most funders require documentation– usually letters of commitment or memoranda of understanding attached to the proposal. “Vague promises don’t help,” said Floersch. “These documents must be an integral part of the proposal package.” Effective letters of commitment or MOUs:

* Note any involvement in planning the program, and express confidence that the effort will succeed.

  • Express commitment to fulfilling the specific role and responsibilities discussed in the grant proposal.
  • Detail contributions of resources, time, expertise, facilities, equipment, or any other benefit pledged.
  • Express confidence in the applicant organization’s capacity to implement and manage the program.
  • Sync precisely with the proposal narrative and accurately reflect the agreements made during the planning process.
  • Are signed by people with authority to make commitments on behalf of their organizations.

“Unless the funder forbids it, attach these documents even if they aren’t required,” said Floersch. “They make your proposal more concrete and prove you’ve rallied the support you need to get the job done.” © Copyright 2017 The Grantsmanship Center.




Fundraising …

5 Realities of Corporate Fundraising


Whether you are considering cause sponsorship, “pin-up” or point-of-purchase campaigns, corporate volunteering/employee engagement or cause marketing, your corporate fundraising will succeed if you remember five critical points advised Chris Baylis, president and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective in Ottawa, Canada, in a session “Developing New and Stronger Corporate Relationships” at an Association of Fundraising Professionals Toronto Congress.


Corporate fundraising reality No. 1: Corporate partnerships are not philanthropy (even when they are … ). You have to know and define your audience and understand the value of your brand and what you offer beyond being a good cause. Determine the interests and buying power of your audience and ask “Who cares about this audience?” or “Who cares about whom you help?”


No. 2: Your cause is irrelevant! What? Your cause is important—but to your audience. Your audience is important to your prospects. Use your cause to attract (and define) your audience and your audience to define and attract prospects. Together, find ways to bring your prospects to the audience, using your cause.


No. 3: Prospects expect you to know your value. Make a list of every single asset you have to offer. Look at how much it will cost your prospects to get the same exposure or service elsewhere. Understand your audience and its value. Know what do you bring to the table beyond just a “good cause” and understand what it is worth.


No. 4: It’s not about logo placement. You probably think logo placement is the most important aspect of cause partnership because it is the most visible component to the public. It is actually one very small aspect of cause partnership.


No. 5: You must report back (in a way that is tied to your partner’s goals). Do a fulfillment report that explains what you said you would do—and prove it. The report gives your partners a tool to prove to their internal decision makers that they got the ROI they expected and it sets you up for renewing the partnership within weeks of end of your campaign.

As we celebrate our 36th year, NPT remains dedicated to supplying breaking news, in-depth reporting, and special issue coverage to help nonprofit executives run their organizations more effectively.