Nooks and Crannies Workshop Registration Now Open

Access Philanthropy and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits are again partnering on a workshop for grantseekers. This time, we’ll be exploring the dusty corners of community grantmaking including civic groups (such as Kiwanis, the Masons, Rotary, VFW), local women’s clubs (quilters, gardeners, church ladies, reading clubs), faith-based donation groups (church and temple outreach or mission groups), alum groups (e.g., local Yale and Harvard alumni chapters) and a variety of small business/professional associations (e.g., county bar and medical associations, chambers of commerce, and even funeral directors).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

To learn more and to register, click here

Registration Now Open for October 9th National Foundations Workshop

Access Philanthropy is pleased to work with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits again to present the National Foundations Workshop: Know Who and How. This is a great chance to gain insight into 100 large foundations who fund in Minnesota.

Save the date: Thursday, October 9th.

To learn more and to register for the workshop, click here

Arlington House Recieves $12M Gift

We’d like to send our congratulations to our client Historic Arlington House in Washington D.C. for receiving a generous gift of $12.35M from philanthropist David Rubenstein. It’s an exciting time to be associated with Robert E. Lee’s old home. To read the Washington Post story about the gift and the impressive history of the building, click here.

Philanthropy Jobs MN – Weekly Roundup

Whether you’re a new grad, recent transplant, or seasoned pro looking for a change, there’s a job out there for you in MN’s robust philanthropy sector! Here are some of the best local opportunities we saw in the past week:

• Development Intern – Airspace Minnesota

• Associate Gifts Officer – Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

• Senior Government Grants Officer – Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

• Grant Manager – CommonBond Communities

• Program Development Director – Generations Health Care Initiatives

• Temporary Fundraising Professional – Greater Twin Cities United Way

• Development Director – Lake Country Montessori School

• Director of Development – MN Private College Council

• Foundation Relationship Manager (St. Paul, MN) – Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota

• Grants Manager – RESOURCE

• Development Associate – Saint Paul College

• Development Assistant (paid internship) – True Friends

• Development Assistant – Twin Cities RISE!

• Development Associate – Wingspan Life Resources

Grant Opportunities – July 2014 Deadlines

Here’s a great list of grant opportunities with upcoming July deadlines. Take a look and see if any should be added to your list!

Sometimes finding grant opportunities is almost as hard as preparing the actual grant application and materials that you want to submit. At Access Philanthropy we understand that and we want to make your life a little easier, so we’ve done some of the research and leg-work to provide you with this list of grant opportunities with July deadlines. Take a look and see if any of these should be added to your prospect list!

Let us know if you have any questions about the funders you see on this list. We’re great at matching non-profits with prospective funders! We even work with non-profits to create custom lists of prospective funders and grant opportunities best suited to the organizations’ unique programs and needs.

And make sure to follow us on Facebook as we’ll be posting more detailed information about these funders throughout the month to help you stay fully informed and up-to-date.

July 1st Grant Deadline(s):
– Baseball Tomorrow Fund (youth/teen baseball and softball)
– Best Buy Foundation (community grants)
– Carlson Family Foundation (education, children & youth at-risk, and youth mentoring)
– Land O’ Lakes Foundation (hunger)
– Miller-Dwan Foundation (health specialties – cancer, burn, mental health , substance abuse, rehab)
– The Nash Foundation (arts, environment, youth, women in crisis)
– Southwestern Minnesota Arts Council (arts in education, general operating support, McKnight individual artists grants)
– U.S. Bank Foundation (education)
– Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota (economic development, employment, housing)

July 10th Grant Deadline(s):
– Eddy (Edwin H.) Foundation (scholarship)

July 11th Grant Deadline(s):
– Harley Davidson Foundation (education, health, environment)
– Travelers Foundation (education, community development, arts & culture – full application due 7/11, start pre-application 3-4 weeks prior)

July 14th Grant Deadline(s):
– Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (arts activities support)

July 15th Grant Deadline(s):
– Fred C. & Katherine B. Andersen Foundation (youth, elderly, social services, health programs)
– The McKnight Foundation (arts, region & communities)
– Minnesota State Bar Foundation (law related education, legal assistance to poor/disadvantaged, public interest legal work, improve administration of justice)
– Northland Foundation (children, youth & families, opportunities for self-reliance, aging w/independence)

July 18th Grant Deadline(s):
– RBC Foundation – USA (outside the Twin Cities 7-county metro area – education, health, human services, arts & culture, civic programs)

July 25th Grant Deadline(s):
– Initiative Foundation (early childhood services, employment, small business growth, community development, natural disasters)

July 31st Grant Deadline(s):
– Center Point Energy (education, community development, health & human services)
– David Bohnett Foundation (LGBT, cyber centers, gun violence prevention, voting, animals – online LOI due 6/30, on-line application due 7/31)
– We Energies (arts & culture, economic health, education & environment)

And A Few Year-Round Funders:
– 3M and 3M Foundation (community, education, environment, science education)
– Andersen Corporation (affordable housing, health & safety, STEM education/youth development, human services, civic support)

Crowdfunding: The New, Old Way to Raise Money

Social media and the Internet have changed the way many organizations raise money. Sure, the tried and true fundraising methods such as holding large gala events and courting major donors are still used and for the most part still work. But as more of our everyday lives move into the digital world, it only makes sense that fundraising would follow suit.

One of the most rapidly growing forms of digital fundraising is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is when individuals work collectively or act in a collective manner to pool their money and support organizations or causes they believe in. This probably sounds a lot like individual donor campaigns right? It’s similar but crowdfunding is done ONLINE and the timeframe to raise the money is usually pretty short, generally a couple of months, to add to the sense of urgency.

What we know today as crowdfunding is actually not a new idea. Praenumeration was the early precursor to the crowdfunding business model. It was a subscription business model used in the 17th century to finance book prints. The Statue of Liberty pedestal was also funded through an early form of crowdfunding. The American Committee for the Statue of Liberty ran out of funds for the pedestal in the mid-1880’s and more than 125,000 people contributed funds and raised over $100,000 in six months to finish the project at the urging of Joseph Pulitzer in his New York World newspaper.

The online aspect of today’s crowdfunding means that it’s accessible to virtually everyone. As of 2012 there were over 400 crowdfunding platforms and that number continues to grow. Adopt-A-Classroom, started in 1998, is often sited as one of the first crowdfunding websites. Other popular sites include Indiegogo, Kickstarter, RocketHub and Kiva. Causes and campaigns vary widely with the primary uses including funding for creative work such as blogging and journalism, music, independent films, and funding startup companies.

New initiatives are making their way into the crowdfunding world and have made headlines in recent years. In 2012, the New Era Colorado Foundation raised over $170,000 on Indiegogo to fund a campaign against a debt-limit ballot measure that they said was misleading and really just an attempt by Xcel Energy to kill efforts to create a local electric utility based on renewable energy. Their initial fundraising goal of $40,000 was quickly met and they raised it to $75,000 then $150,000. Their compelling story and creative use of social media and multi-media sources led to a hugely successful fundraising effort. Even “Main Street” has seen success with crowdfunding. Windom Minnesota, a small town with 4,500 residents in the southwest corner of the state, recently raised over $80,000 through Kickstarter for a new digital projector they needed to keep their Main Street movie theatre in business.

The accessibility of today’s online crowdfunding makes it an attractive option for organizations and causes of all sorts and sizes. But just like any other fundraising tool, if you’re going to do it, make sure you do it right. Take the time to research the various websites and platforms that offer crowdfunding services. Some charge flat rates, others charge base rates plus transaction fees and some are even all or nothing meaning that if you don’t meet your fundraising goal, then you don’t get any of the funds.

It’s a good time to add a new fundraising technique to your tool belt. Crowdfunding raised $2.66 billion in 2012 (up from $0.89 billion in 2010) and continues to grow. Now is the time to jump into the digital fundraising world – with your eyes open of course!

74% of Charities Not Making The Grade

In a recent article by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” (“Athlete charities often lack standards”), the charities of high-profile, celebrity athletes came under fire for a variety of reasons. Some failed to show efficient and effective use of money donated and others flirted with highly deceptive and unethical behavior that could even be illegal. While a great deal of attention was given to the “bad” charities such as NBA forward and Kardashian husband Lamar Odom’s charity Cathy’s Kids (supposedly started to raise money for cancer research but has failed to give any money to cancer research in its eight-year history and has instead primarily existed to finance two elite youth basketball teams), one little fact within the article escaped wider scrutiny. The author of the article, Paula Lavigne, says according to Charity Navigator’s guidelines, 74% of the 115 athlete charities investigated fell short of one or more acceptable nonprofit operating standards. Moreover, according to Ken Berger, the president of Charity Navigator, who was cited in the article, this percentage is in line with what Charity Navigator sees among ALL charities. If 74% of all charities are failing to meet basic guidelines for running efficient and effective organizations, isn’t it time to demand change?

What exactly are these guidelines that 74% of ALL charities are failing to adequately meet? Charity Navigator, one of the highly acclaimed and trusted watchdogs in the nonprofit world evaluates organizations in two general areas: financial health, and accountability and transparency. For financial health they analyze seven key areas to assess the financial efficiency and capacity of an organization. They look at program expenses, administrative expenses, fundraising expenses, fundraising efficiency, primary revenue growth, program expenses growth, and working capital ratio. Financial ratings tables are used to compare an individual organization’s numbers against what is expected for other organizations of the same type. This means that the argument of “but we’re different” doesn’t apply as variation and differences among organizations is accounted for and controlled in the analysis. The basic idea is that organizations need to be responsible with their money. It’s not okay to spend more on administrative costs than programs. It’s not okay to consistently have fundraising expenses that exceed fundraising revenue. The goal is not to scrutinize the expense of every last penny but rather to just ensure money is being handled in a reasonable way that aligns with an organization’s mission. It’s alarming to think so many charities are failing to meet these basic standards.

The evaluation of accountability and transparency is equally basic. Accountability is defined by Charity Navigator as “an obligation or willingness by a charity to explain its actions to its stakeholders.” And transparency is defined as “an obligation or willingness by a charity to publish and make available critical data about the organization.” Not only are these simple concepts that every charity should have built into their core processes, they’re also in-line with the legal expectations of organizations benefiting from non-profit tax-exempt status.

The questioning of non-profits is likely to grow as stories such as the one featured by ESPN make their way into mainstream media. Non-profit hospitals in Illinois are currently under fire as communities and governments question whether they are truly charitable organizations. This just might be the tip of the iceberg. The larger community is not demanding more from charities and non-profits, they’re simply demanding that charities and non-profits meet their basic requirements to provide real value and hold themselves accountable to fundamental practices of good stewardship.

What Are You Doing For Others? A Call to Service for Businesses

In recognition of the annual national day of service it seems like a good opportunity to talk about volunteering. Every year millions of Americans volunteer in their communities as a way to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Legislation signed in 1983 created the federal MLK Day and in 1994 Congress designated the MLK Federal Holiday as a national day of service.

Dr. King said that “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

The national day of service is an opportunity for individuals and families across the nation to answer that question. We are cooking. We are tutoring. We are painting, cleaning, giving and listening. We are serving those in need, building a stronger foundation for our communities and working together for a brighter future for everyone.

But individuals and families are not the only ones who must heed that call. Businesses are an invaluable part of our communities and in order to build that stronger foundation and reach a brighter future, they have to be vested partners in service as well. One way for businesses to engage in their communities and give back is by offering employee volunteer programs.

Studies show there are many benefits to offering employee volunteer programs including enhanced employee satisfaction, stronger employee retention and recruiting, increased productivity, professional development opportunities for employees, workforce preparedness, and a positive company image in the larger community. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from these findings and should seriously consider starting or expanding an employee volunteer program.

There are many resources available online for anyone interested in starting an employee volunteer program. Some of the best tips include the following:

Assess Employee Interests and Community Needs – What are your employees interested in? Are they already engaged in volunteer activities outside of work? What are the specific needs of your local community?

Get Leadership and Management Support and Find Internal Champions – Support from leadership and management is important because it sets the direction of a company’s culture. Leadership and management can help by dedicating funds for an employee volunteer program and leading by example. Internal champions are also important. These are the people with passion. They encourage others to volunteer and help create positive energy around the program.

Try Different Incentives – Individuals are all motivated by different things so trying different incentives is a good way to see what employees respond to. Different programs can include one or a mix of the following: matching financial donations to non-profits, offering flex time, paid volunteer days, volunteer events organized at work, dollars for doers and in-kind support services. Businesses vary in size and in their ability to offer certain programs. While you might not be able to afford to offer paid volunteer days if you’re running a small or medium sized business, there is something you can do and finding what works for you and your employees will ultimately benefit everyone involved.

The question of “What are you doing for others?” is one that must be answered by all and one that businesses should put at the top of their agenda for 2013.