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As a long-term funding strategy, few nonprofit organizations can afford to rely upon single-source funding, and few actually do so. Although the typical funding mix varies with the type of nonprofit, most nonprofits must dine on a salad of revenue from investments, service fees, grants, donations, and other income.

 

As potential applicants for grants and solicitors of donations, many types of nonprofits benefit from seeking and securing local support. In searching for support, trying to capture grants and donations from multiple local benefactors — before casting a net more widely — is normal practice. Pursuing local funding first builds upon the advantages of locally shared issues and concerns as well as nonprofits’ local reputations. Local funders are more likely to care passionately about local problems and needs and to want to act so as to impact them positively. They are also more likely to be familiar with what any given local nonprofit does and what it has done.

 

Commitment as Catalyst:

Local support, if obtained through grants or donations, implies to other potential funders a shared commitment to — and potentially broad-based ownership of — a nonprofit’s mission and vision. It implies a program or initiative in which local entities are confident enough to be willing to invest their scarce resources. As signs of local investment, confidence, and commitment, they can serve as magnets for funders located farther afield.

 

Local investment in a nonprofit — such as through grants or donations — improves the probability that the nonprofit will continue to operate into the indefinite future. Each potential funder, whether local or remote, will desire some evidence of a nonprofit applicant’s long-term viability — past, present, and future local support is exactly such evidence.

 

Maximizing Eligibility:

Operating in partnership with local related service providers is often an effective strategy for attracting funds from both local and remote benefactors. Partnerships leverage the assets of all the partners. They also work to extend the reach and resources of each partner. If they involve different kinds of potential applicant organizations, long-term partnerships can serve to maximize eligibility for funding — different organizations may serve as lead applicants (or fiscal agents) as opportunities arise.

 

Most grants from private sources are one-year propositions. In fact, the Chronicle of Philanthropy has reported that 90% of foundations in one recent study by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy did not report or make any multiyear grants from 2004 to 2010. The general trends are for foundations to direct less funding toward multiyear grants and to make fewer of them. Under such circumstances, nonprofits need to describe how they will continue their new program or initiative with other sources of support. Being able to point to existing local sources and to identify possible or probable new ones enables them to do so more convincingly.

 

Support-Building Strategies:

Given many private funders’ short time horizons, two key strategies for nonprofits are sustained community outreach (or public relations) and routine dissemination of news about their progress, impacts, and results. Happily, both strategies, as part of a project’s work plan, are as well suited to seeking government grants as to seeking private or community grants.

 

Creating and maintaining nonprofits’ high visibility in local communities can build public awareness and enthusiasm for what they’re doing to meet local needs and to solve local problems. Such visibility and enthusiasm can lead to local willingness to offer support to ensure that the nonprofits remain able to do what they do. Good press in local media can stimulate interest among volunteers, individual donors, and other benefactors. Nonprofits can then leverage these assets to pursue more ambitious plans to seek larger donations and grants from more distant sources.

 

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One Comment

  1. Reblogged this on Carson Harper.


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