Grants are often considered the focus of the grant writer or grant manager. Many nonprofits do not realize the importance of board involvement in the grant seeking process. The board does have responsibility in financial and legal oversight of the organization, but they also hold responsibility in facilitating pre-award participation to improve grant award success.


First and foremost, your board of directors is responsible for development of your strategic plan. This includes a grant seeking strategy that engages the overall organizational strategic plan. In order for this to be effective, it is important for board members to learn about the…

How much do you request for each grant application? That is the real question. We have experienced many clients who think they should always ask for the maximum amount that the foundation offers. We do our best to try and help them understand how this works, but today we will discuss in more detail the process involved for a foundation to consider your request and how appropriate your request amount actually is in the larger scheme of things.

First of all, foundation staff are not going to give you a suggestion. Unless you have an already established giving relationship, no…

Writing a budget for your nonprofit is a basic requirement for successful functionality and for grant applications. However, it is more than just numbers in a line-item budget. In order to qualify for many grant applications, you must also offer a budget narrative.

What is the difference? Line-item budgets are what most people think of when they think of a budget. It has the revenue and expense categories broken down by segments. It looks like a chart. Numbers align and the budget should balance. This is important for ease of identifying specific costs.

A narrative budget summarizes group expenses that…

Many new nonprofits are excited to start offering their services to the community, but have not yet received 501(c)3 designation from the IRS. The only issue you face while you wait for this designation is that you cannot fundraise without it. Tax-exemption is only qualified if moneys were contributed to an IRS designated 501(c)3 entity. This also disqualifies you from grants until approved. This is where fiscal sponsorship comes in.

What is a Fiscal Sponsor?

Any organization that has obtained 501(c)3 status can serve as a fiscal sponsor for an organization that has not yet received 501(c)3 status from the IRS. The fiscal sponsor serves…

Budgets are the mainstay for your annual funding planning and spending. These are required for a business to run and maintain an appropriate strategy in order to prevent loss and guarantee that expenses can be covered. This also affords the ability to see where shortfalls are and what is required to rectify that gap. Budgets also significantly impact your grant requests.

Writing the budget

When writing a budget with the idea of grant funding involved, it is frequently found that nonprofits will pad or adjust their budget with the anticipation of potentially getting more than they need or being prepared to address a…

Today, we will discuss the various things you should implement to strengthen your fundraising cycle. We have discussed fundraising several times in previous blog posts:

The fundraising cycle consists of the following steps:

1. Identification

2. Qualification

3. Cultivation

4. Solicitation

5. Stewardship

These are really no different from any sales cycle, but they require a certain level of finesse because if done correctly, this will be an ongoing relationship for the longevity of your nonprofit efforts. You’re not going for a one time “sale” as would be done in the for-profit world. You are looking to build trust, demonstrating…

The Do’s and Don’ts of Communication

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Communication is a key factor in the success of any organization, especially nonprofits. Knowing the best way to communicate with your supporters, volunteers, donors, and the community is critical to your mission’s success. Knowing how to garner support through email marketing also increases your support from foundations. The following are email best practices to assist you in your nonprofit’s efforts.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is used to inform, engage, inspire, and educate the recipient. This can be used to garner strong volunteer support, donor support, fundraising campaigns, and updates for your supporters to stay engaged and…

Have You Had a Fundraising Check-Up Lately?

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Nonprofits come in many shapes and sizes. Those who have been around a while are often quite confident in their traditional fundraising strategies. Unfortunately, we are living in an ever-changing world that requires everyone to stay up to speed with the new methods to achieve our organizational goals. Aging demographics means that those who were target donors are one portion of your focus and they may require a different fundraising strategy than the younger demographics who operate quite differently in a world full of technological advancement. …

Details to Focus On

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This post addresses the key ingredients to a strong needs statement. When clients first sign up with us, we send them a Client Information Form to complete. This form is pretty comprehensive and covers a lot of details that not all of our clients have considered before. Although we do not pressure our clients to submit this form rapidly, we do request that they take the time to complete it thoroughly. The more thorough their responses, the better the grant application we can generate for them. …

Never Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Building Multiple Revenue Sources Download

This is another focus area that can become numerous blog posts. If you prefer to have everything in one place, then we encourage you to download this handy 45 page guidebook that will cover 15 different revenue strategies that your nonprofit can use.


The Compassion Capital Fund (CCF), administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provided capacity building grants to expand and strengthen the role of nonprofit organizations in their ability to provide social services to low-income individuals. …

Shella Zelenz

Professional nonprofit management adviser and grant writer. Author

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