According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are over 1.5 million non-profits registered in the United States. Many of those are 100% funded from outside their organization, meaning that they charge no fee for direct services (usually because they serve the poorest of the poor who cannot pay) and must apply in a competitive fashion for local, state, national or international funds. One of the biggest hurdles for these organizations (including schools, hospitals and government agencies) is the lack of specific training in project development and preparation of professional funding proposals.
Non-profit staff who are designated the extra duty of “grant writer” are often already stretched in the daily tasks of their job. To add to the problem, typically they have not been trained to think analytically about the various components of their project or their agency, i.e., specific objectives, why this project is needed, how it will be funded in the future, or the scope of a realistic implementation budget. If they cannot explain it clearly in a written document, they cannot convince the funder to donate the money. Even if someone has been running an organization effectively for years, they may not have the skills to prepare a good proposal that describes what their organization wants to accomplish and why it exists.
Yet, non-profit organizations are often hesitant to spend meager resources on training a staff member in these skills, so when training is available, the decision is made to forego. When money is committed for staff training, it is usually a seminar that lasts an afternoon or one or two days, where staff learn about various types of funders and are given the skeleton for what should go into a grant application. In many cases, this training leaves them more anxious than before, feeling that they should now be able to write competently for funding, but again without the intensive skill training that is necessary to write a competitive grant application with confidence.
The Funding Forum’s five-day workshop rapidly builds skills and confidence to do the job of preparing a strong, comprehensive project plan and grant proposal in the most effective and efficient manner.
As a donor, you know you are waiting for good proposals that convince you to fund needed projects. Every good project that is designed to help people has a funder who will be interested in it.
The world of funding, although competitive, is a clear path. Those who are successful in getting funding are those who understand the world of funders and applications as well as have the skills to write solid, compelling proposals—the two go hand in hand.
Hundreds of billions of dollars annually are given to charitable projects and there are many avenues for funding. Yet, people who work for non-profits often develop a “poverty attitude”, a view that there is not enough money available to them to serve people well. They see that vital programs are funded one year and then cut the next; that salaries for good staff are minimal compared to equal positions of skill and responsibility within the corporate community. From election year to election year, programs are supported and then denied and resources to cure societal ills rest on tenuous grounds.
Non-profit personnel who have been demoralized over many years of watching erratic funding have a difficult time advocating for themselves when faced with funding opportunities. They downplay the strengths of their organization and the vision of their mission. It is common to see line item budgets based on the “do the most you can with least amount of funding” attitude. This approach creates unrealistic budgets that force dedicated staff to serve people in need with inadequate resources. It does not bode well when approaching funders who wish to see an attitude of confidence, strength and realistic cost analysis and timelines in the projects they will be funding.
At the end of the Non-Profit Incubator, attendees realize they have options. And walk out with a proposal that makes them confident to ask for the money they need to run their successful program.