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    • I think what you are trying to do for families is both needed and admirable. I’ve worked in the nonprofit world and also have sales experience, and you’re right that development is largely about developing relationships. And not being afraid to ask for money.

    • I wasn’t sure from your original post on what you wanted to have a conversation about. Are there specific hurdles you’re trying to get over or are you looking for insights on strategy or something else? I’d love to hear what your vision is for the programming and services you plan to provide.

    • @Tavius, I worked in the nonprofit world (in the arts) for over twenty years and taught graduate courses in nonprofit finance and administration. I would be happy to share insights if you are able to post, as @apm suggests, specific questions and concerns.

      For a general overview of what you are embarking on, I suggest you research “Non-profit Organizational Lifecycle” to begin with. The details may not make a lot of sense at your early stage of involvement (?), but I bet @apm and I could talk you through a lot of it so you know what to expect ahead...

    • I really appreciate you reaching out and sharing your experience with me. I am learning many people have learned through the world of had knocks in nonprofit land. Everyone with any time in the "industry" seems to have great stories about what not to do : ) I am Development Director and my main concern is growing our donor network beyond friends and family. They have been generous, but we need more support. Do you have any experience or insights there? Many people say facebook is where it is at, but I don't think so. Not anymore, anyway. What do you think?

    • “If I wrote you a check for $10,000, what would you do with the money?”

      Maybe you need to add an extra zero to that number, or take away a zero, but I think it’s important to know the answer to that question and to be able to effectively communicate that answer to prospective donors as appropriate.

      I also think having a board increases your charity’s credibility to donors, as well as (in theory) increasing the number of people doing fundraising.

    • I hear a bit of panic in your “voice,” which is probably due to the fast approach of the end of the year, so I will forego laying the groundwork (which, honestly, is essential).

      Spend a day getting up-to-speed regarding tax incentives for donors. You need to be grateful for the friends and family, of course (they offer a lot more than just monetary support), but at this time of year, your targets need to be big-money donors and you need to be able to speak their language. Just having a good idea and good intentions often signals to big donors that there is nothing solid to support. However, if you can appeal to their business acumen while also making them seem selfless and generous (ha), you may have a fighting chance to get their support.

      In most probability, you will be watching from the sidelines this year, but remember what you see and learn for next year. The effective development officers have been working toward this end-of-year “shakedown” for many months prospecting and developing relationships. (Remember, people give money to people, not to ideas. Grants are given to ideas.)

      As the Development Director, you are the face of the organization for the big money. All the relationships funnel through you and you have to have a tight handle on how things are framed for those prospective donors. You arrange special experiences, facilitate handshakes with board members and founders, coordinate with staff who are overseeing special projects that will attract the interest of monied individuals, and guide the board in creating an upper eschelon of affiliation (which board members also belong to, since they are the core of your high-value donors).

      That is just a glimpse of what your job is. Hopefully, the organization has a mission statement, an organization, and a vision that supports all your efforts.

      You are correct, Facebook is not the way to build strong donor support.

    • If it were $100,000 (which is close to year ones goal) I would find the ideal space for us to grow our safe healing community. I would sign a year long lease and get to work!

    • I hear a bit of panic in your “voice,” which is probably due to the fast approach of the end of the year, so I will forego laying the groundwork (which, honestly, is essential).

      Whenever I’m offering what little useful advice I have about careers or starting a business, I always try to slow things down and get the individual to focus on their foundation. A friend is fed up with their job and wants to apply to everything on indeed, I give them an interviewing book recommendation or some interview questions to practice in the mirror. It not only builds a strong foundation but it also provides time to reflect on and refine their strategies. Because idea 1.0 will usually benefit if it has a chance to simmer. And lastly, you rarely have a chance for a “do-over” if you completely botch a meeting with a prospective employer, investor or donor.

      It is a real dilemma though when this is the time of year when a significant percentage of annual giving is made.

    • IMHO, it is a better approach to get a few grants under your belt before you jump into big-time donor relations. Grant applications require the organization to really get its act together. That is essential before approaching outside individuals for donations. Also, presenting potential donors with a list of successful grants gives them a lot of reassurance that others in your field value your ideas and see a lot of potential.

    • This is great insight! It totally makes sense. But where do you start when grants take programs and programs take money? (We are working on programs for grants). I just need to keep things going in the meantime.

      The only large donations I felt I could potentially pursue were with people we already know who believe in us personally. That is how we got our start. An individual believing in an individual. I am sure this may be the exception?

    • Our overall goal is huge “We plan to incrementally develop a holistic and comprehensive recovery model for ongoing grief and trauma recovery in a safe healing community.” We have specific programs to offer as pieces of a larger whole we plan to develop as we go. We are trying to pair it down a lot more than that. I just want our specific offerings to have a context in our overall vision.

    • You have to look for grants that support operating expenses, not programs. You are right, most granting organizations want to fund programs because it helps THEM tell stories of success. But there are a few organizations out there that recognize the dilemma you describe and are willing to help you over the hump if you have a promising mission and a realistic approach to growth and development.

      Check out The Foundation Center. They have a wealth of information for people in your situation. You will find they are an invaluable resource no matter what stage your nonprofit is in. There are Foundation Centers all across the country; they offer training as well as information on most grants and grant makers in every sector. You will be blown away by all the resources—stay focused on your current challenge and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. If there isn’t a center near you, they offer online help as well, and many of their resources are available in digital form.

    • The only large donations I felt I could potentially pursue were with people we already know who believe in us personally. That is how we got our start. An individual believing in an individual. I am sure this may be the exception?

      This is NOT the exception. This is the most common way a nonprofit is formed.

    • You have to look for grants that support operating expenses, not programs.

      What do you think of pursuing program grants for an event (a) to demonstrate there’s a need for the charity based on event attendance and (b) to demonstrate the capabilities of the organization based on a successful event?

      I spent some time in Joan Garry’s leadership lab and Facebook group and my sense is that you need a track record of success and need to be asking for a grant that covers operating expenses specifically to grow your program and not just to maintain it. Could be completely wrong here (no surprise!), which is why I’m asking.

      I guess the better question is, how do you gain a funder’s trust that your charity is worth operating funds if your charity is at the beginning of its lifecycle?

    • We joined Joan’s lab and Facebook group a couple months ago. We love it! A track record is what we need. It’s hard to get money unless you have a proven program and hard to have a program with money. I imagine this is one of the first challenges many nonprofits face, especially in the beginning? Please tell me more about the “event” grants. Thank you : )

    • Please tell me more about the “event” grants. Thank you : )

      First off I’m thrilled that you’re in Joan Garry’s lab. If you go to the training courses, there should be one by a social media expert on Facebook. She does a great review of what to do/not do when setting up a Facebook page for your charity. Definitely worth watching, especially for tips on what to post and how frequently.

      “Event” grant. A grant can be for whatever the funder approves. I once got a grant to buy adaptive gardening tools for individuals who were wheelchair bound. Whether it’s for operating expenses, the purchase of new equipment, or for programs, the funder wants the money to contribute to the charity’s mission.

      Say your a new charity that wants to provide art therapy to senior citizens. Right now, you may not have a track record to convince a funder to award $100,000 for a state of the art studio. But what happens if you get that funder to give you $500 for a Valentine’s Day Lonely Hearts Art Therapy night?

      Well, you now have a grant from a reputable funder, which gives you credibility with donors and other funders. You also have increased your chances of getting a larger award down the road from the funder who awarded the grant.

      Putting on such an event not only does good. It also gives you the opportunity to promote the event to the local tv news stations as a human interest story. So you’re getting your charity’s name out to prospective donors in the community. If you had a website and Facebook page already set up with links to newsletter signup and donation pages, a tv news spot could translate into online donations or a prospect list for face to face follow up.

      Putting on the event allows you to recruit new volunteers.

      Lastly, successfully completing a small event provides evidence that your team is capable of bigger things.

      Does that make sense? Please ask if it doesn’t or if you have follow up or additional questions.

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