Tag Archives: Funding

5 Tips to Implement an Evidence-based Program

When awarding funding, philanthropic funders want to invest in “what works” and is proven effective. Many funders show preference for programs and practices that are evidence-based. Implementing an evidence-based program is a great way for grant seekers to demonstrate that they are also committed to “what works”.

For example, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation recently awarded funding to over 20 schools and school districts as part of their Prevention Matters initiative.  Prevention Matters is a three-year grant initiative aiming to help Marion County schools identify, implement and sustain proven substance use prevention programs.

To apply for this funding, schools selected an evidence-based substance use prevention program that aligned with their needs. In their proposal, schools had to demonstrate that they had a strong plan for implementation and sustainability. Developing such a plan can be a daunting task, but is crucial for successful implementation. We worked with Bishop Chatard and the North Deanery Schools of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to help them develop their implementation plan and proposal (Which was fully funded by the Fairbanks Foundation! Learn more about our fundraising services here.). Here are 5 tips we used to help them prepare to successfully implement their evidence-based program!

1. Select an Evidence-based ProgramWhat Works Image (1)

First, you need to find a program that aligns with the needs you are trying to address. For example, if you are a school looking to prevent substance use and violence, while also promoting positive youth development, you may choose to implement the Botvin LifeSkills Training curriculum.

Taking the time to research available programs is crucial to ensuring successful implementation and maximum impact. To learn more about how to find an evidence based program, check out this blog!

2. Assess your Organization’s Capacity

Once you have selected an appropriate evidence-based program, it is important to assess your current funding and staffing capacity. You want to assess if your current organizational capacity will allow you to implement the program with fidelity. Fidelity refers to the extent to which you deliver your program as the original program model intended. Evidence-based programs are  proven effective and that effectiveness relates to how the program is implemented. Therefore, fidelity to the model is crucial to successful implementation.

Completing a feasibility study is a great way to assess your capacity and readiness. A well designed feasibility study will help an organization assess 1) if what they are thinking of implementing is possible and 2) how to consider implementing it. Check out this blog to learn more about completing a feasibility study.

The assessment of your capacity may indicate that you need to make some organizational changes. For example, you might need to tweak your program budget to purchase necessary materials and/or hire additional staff. Making these operational and workforce investments will lead to more successful implementation and program outcomes.

3. Create an Implementation Plan

Next, it’s time to flesh out your implementation plan. This plan should include a timeline and should specify staff members’ responsibilities for program related tasks. Many evidence-based programs have a set number of required sessions and guidelines for how frequently they should occur. Make sure that your implementation plan aligns with program requirements.

4. Train and Prepare Staff

Once you create your implementation plan, provide training for staff involved in the implementation. Involved staff should have a clear understanding of the program goals, activities, and their responsibilities throughout implementation. Your implementation plan should also include continued professional development opportunities and training for staff, to ensure continued high quality implementation.

5. Establish Continuous Monitoring Procedures

Once you begin implementing the program, you want to continuously monitor your fidelity to the program model. Many evidence-based programs come with accompanying fidelity checklists. It is important to identify a staff member, or an outside evaluator, who will conduct observations of the program to evaluate the implementation. You can use observations and fidelity checklists to assess if the program’s implementation is consistent with the original program model.

If your organization is looking for support in choosing, implementing or evaluating an evidence-based program, contact us today to learn more about our program development and evaluation services!

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What is the Breakeven Point for Your Early Childhood Education Program?

For early childhood education programs, as well as other nonprofits, it is important to know the organization’s “breakeven point.” This is the point at which your expenses and revenue break even, meaning you have enough funding to run your program.breakeven-point

Operating a high-quality early childhood education program is expensive. Child Care Aware of America produced a report in 2017 called Parents and the High Cost of Care. This report discusses the aspects of high-quality programs that drive up the cost. It also acknowledges the gap between the cost of operating a program and the amount that families can afford to pay.

Often, program administrators cannot pass that entire expense on to families of young children because most families cannot afford the full cost. Child Care Aware of America finds that nationally, on average, married couples spend 10% of their income on child care for one child while single parents spend 36%. Therefore, many programs end up stitching together various funding streams in order to make it to their breakeven point.

At Transform Consulting Group, we’ve partnered with Early Learning Indiana on a project designed to improve the financial stability and sustainability of early childhood education programs. We’re currently working with 10 early childhood education programs in Indiana to help them access new funding streams and accomplish their financial goals.

For many programs, their financial goal was to improve their internal systems, procedures, and accounting practices. They did not know exactly how much they needed to bring in weekly, monthly, or annually to meet their financial obligations—let alone make any changes, such as increasing staff wages, expanding to serve more children, or implementing a scholarship or tuition assistance program.

For this project, we adapted a tool developed by First Children’s Finance that helps programs determine their breakeven point. This tool enables programs to determine the total expenses and revenue of their overall program. It also calculates the number of children they need to enroll in each classroom in order for each room to break even. If your program doesn’t already calculate your breakeven points, there are many reasons to start now!

Why Calculate Your Breakeven Point?

Calculating your breakeven point for your overall program and each classroom tells you whether or not your current levels of revenue truly cover all your expenses. Many early childhood education programs know that the tuition parents can afford to pay does not cover their costs, but they may not know what their true deficit is. Other programs know their overall annual surplus or deficit, but they don’t know how much revenue they need to break even in each classroom.

For example, it is more expensive to operate infant classrooms than preschool classrooms. If you calculate your breakeven points, you may learn that enrolling your preschool rooms at 90% of their capacity will cover the deficit in your infant rooms. Infant care is a significant need in most communities and therefore it is likely an important part of the mission of an early childhood education program. Because of this, programs accept the fact that they will have a deficit in those rooms, but now they can move forward with a plan to recoup their losses.

As in the example above, other types of nonprofits also need to be aware not only of their overall breakeven point, but also the breakeven points of their various programs. An after-school organization might run an arts program, a sports program, and an academic enrichment program. The after-school leadership team may learn that the arts program isn’t currently breaking even but scaling up the program would help the bottom line.

When Should You Calculate Your Breakeven Point?

Some organizations may decide to use a breakeven tool annually, updating it to provide a check on how they are budgeting. Another use of a breakeven tool is when an organization is considering a change like one of the following:

  • Moving to a different location with different space constraints
  • Expanding one or more existing programs
  • Adding a new program
  • Anticipating the loss of a particular funding source

One of the ten early childhood education programs we worked with during this project was Mt. Pleasant Child Development Center. They were excited to be able to use the breakeven tool as a check on how each of their classrooms’ breakeven points factor into their budget. They also wanted to use the information gleaned from the tool to determine how much funding they can reinvest in their staff benefits.

At TCG, we understand that performing this kind of financial assessment can be difficult and time-consuming. If your program needs support with evaluating your current budget or help with achieving your future goals, contact us today!

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3 Steps for Creating a Fund Development Case Statement

A fund development case statement is a broad three- to five-page overview of your nonprofit organization that highlights who you are and what sets you apart from other similar nonprofits. Your case statement sets a foundation for grant applications and donation requests.  

Fund Dev Case Statement Blog

At Transform Consulting Group, we use 3 steps when partnering with organizations to create a fund development case statement. We recently used these steps to develop a case statement for the Johnson County Learning Center (JCLC): Early Learning Community. JCLC provides early childhood education for families in Johnson County. Right now, they are seeking to increase their overall funding and diversify their funding streams. They are new to fund development, so one of our solutions was to help develop their case statement.

Step 1: What is the Need?

Address the compelling need for your organization or cause. Why do you exist? What happened to spark the founding of the organization? Why do you continue to operate? What problem(s) in particular are you working to solve? Consider the following:

    • Demographics: Who is your target population? What are some key data points that characterize them and demonstrate their unmet need?
    • Services: Is there a lack of services like yours? Are you filling a critical gap? Do you provide speciality services that are needed and missing?
    • Research: What does the literature say about why your work matters? What studies have been done that demonstrate the importance of your work and cause?

Tip: Use available, relevant information. Perhaps organizations in your community or region have conducted needs assessments. For state and national data sources, check out our blog.

For JCLC’s case statement, we used Census data to help funders and donors get a sense of the community’s demographics. Since they work in the early learning and education industry, we pulled data from the Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee’s (ELAC) county profiles and interactive dashboard and the Indiana Department of Education.

Step 2: What are You Currently Doing?

Address what you are currently doing to meet the need. How does your organization fill the existing gap in your community? Consider the following:

    • Programming: What are the programs and services that you offer? What makes them uniquely effective?
    • Impact: What are your results and accomplishments, including the numbers served and outcomes? What positive trends or recent changes have you identified?
    • Stories: Who can tell personal stories about the positive impact of your organization in their lives?

Tip: Use existing language from your website, annual report, and newsletters.

JCLC had already developed content for their website to communicate their mission and programming. In addition, they pulled some data reports to provide more detail about their reach and partnerships. We were able to use their existing language and data as a foundation for their fund development case statement.

Step 3: What are Your Plans for the Future?

Address what else you hope to accomplish that will better meet the need of your target population. This is why you are asking for grant funding. Consider the following:

    • Unmet Need: Why do you want this grant funding? Is there a population or geographic area you are unable to serve?
    • Your Case: How is what you are currently doing (while great) not enough to meet the compelling need? What are your limitations?
    • Your Proposal: How would you use the funding in order to meet the need?
      • Expand Services: Is the need overwhelming and you need to serve more?
      • Enhance Services: Do you need to refine your services or programs in a particular way, such as specializing or retooling them to meet the needs of the target population?
      • Launch New Services: Do you need to start something new to fill a gap, perhaps based on new research; a new community needs assessment; or a changing target population?

Tip: There’s no need to start from scratch if you don’t have to! Consider if you have written similar information for other grants or reporting requirements. More than likely you have this information in multiple places and just need to thoughtfully pull it together.

Data from ELAC and Child Care Aware of America shows that in Johnson County, there are many families who cannot afford the cost of early childhood education. At the same time, a growing body of research shows the positive impact for children, especially low-income children, attending a high-quality early education program. These children can achieve positive academic, social, and economic outcomes (ELAC Annual Report, 2018). There is a need for community investment to create a more robust scholarship program that would help make sure all families can access the education needed for their youngest children. Now, JCLC will share this data with local funders to seek the specific dollar amounts necessary to increase the number of children served by their scholarship program.

If your nonprofit needs to seek additional funding or you would like help reviewing or creating a fund development case statement, contact us today to get your organization on the way to financial strength and sustainability!

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Benchmarking Organizations Similar To Yours

If you are looking to make a change in your organization, then you may want to start by benchmarking the practices of organizations similar to yours. There’s no need to spend your valuable time and energy reinventing the wheel. There are other organizations with programs similar to yours, in regions similar to yours, with funding needs similar to yours. Learn from them!CHIP

Transform Consulting Group recently went through the process of benchmarking other nonprofit organizations for our client, CHIP: The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention. CHIP is in the process of growing its programming and is seeking to partner with new funders.

2 Reasons You May Benefit From Benchmarking

  1. One reason you might benefit from benchmarking is if you want to change your programming or expand to serve different clients or another location. Start by benchmarking the best practices of organizations with similar programming—both locally and in other regions similar to yours. Then, focus on nonprofits that have already successfully navigated a comparable change or expansion.

    For our work with CHIP, they were already experts on funding sources of local homeless service providers since they function as a leader in the homelessness system in Indianapolis. We were able to help them by benchmarking other homeless service system leaders in similar cities across the country. Through this process, we identified different funding streams that CHIP is now leveraging. We also investigated various ways that other organizations have developed partnerships with homeless service providers, as well as public-private partnerships. Then, we analyzed the aspects of these structures that aligned with CHIP’s goals for development and expansion.
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  2. Another reason benchmarking may benefit your organization is if you want to diversify your funding streams. First, research organizations with similar programming in different regions to learn about funders and funding sources that may also be available to you. Then, benchmark other organizations in your region with programming that is different from yours. Some of those organizations’ funding strategies may be applicable to you.

3 Strategies For Conducting Benchmarking Research

  1. Online Research – In today’s Information Age, the majority of information that we want to know is readily available at our fingertips. Doing research online goes beyond just looking at an organization’s website. You can dig deeper by looking at their annual reports and other publications. In addition, remember to check out their social media posts for more information about how they operate. Also, use a search engine, such as Google, to find out what others are saying about the organization.
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  2. Review 990s – Some nonprofit organizations share detailed information about their funding sources on their website or in their annual reports, but others do not. Most nonprofits have to file an annual tax form called a Form 990. If an organization doesn’t put it on their website, you can find their 990 elsewhere online.
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    Since our work with CHIP is centered on fund development, we paid particular attention to 990s in our research. We analyzed and compared the amount of funding coming from various sources, such as philanthropic grants, member dues, and government grants.
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  3. Key Informant Interviews – Electronic research is very useful, but sometimes you can learn more from a conversation with an expert. If you identify a few organizations that are very relevant to your work and goals, then reach out to staff there. Before your conversation with them, be sure to plan your questions ahead of time. Keep your questions focused on your goals in order to make the most of your time and theirs!

Tracking Key Indicators

Track your findings, and synthesize what you’ve learned! Before starting your research, set up a tracking system that works for you and your team. Then, document what you learn. Finally, figure out how your learnings can positively impact your organization! assess-01

These are some key indicators you may want to track.

  • Organization Name
  • Location & Service Area
  • Population Served & Demographics
  • Organization Size & Number of Staff
  • Programs, Initiatives, & Focus Areas
  • Funding Sources & Funders
  • Interesting Data & Ideas
  • Collaboration with Partners

If your organization wants to make a change in order to have a bigger impact, Transform Consulting Group can help you with the necessary research & analysis to achieve your goals. Contact us today to get started!

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How to Create a Fund Development Plan

At Transform Consulting Group, we know how stressful and time consuming it can be to find funding sources that match an organization’s mission and vision that are also sustainable for future growth. We have found that taking the time to create a fund development plan and have some additional resources on-hand can greatly reduce the stress and confusion related to finding (and landing!) funding.

In this blog, we will share some of the tips and strategies we use with clients to formalize their fund development plans.

Start with the END in Mind

Before you choose which fundraising strategy to pursue, you need a clear vision of where you (and your Board) want Shoes at Arrowsyour organization to be as a result of this funding ask. In order to know where you want to end up, start with these two steps:

Step 1: Review your Strategic Plan

Having a clear and updated strategic plan can be a very helpful resource in deciding which funding streams to pursue to support your organization’s goals.

Step 2: Identify Top Program and Financial Goals
  1. What are your program goals for additional funding?
    • Do you want more professional development for staff? To implement a new program? Expand your service capacity? Grow into a new geographic market or target population? Improve your year-end campaign?
  2. What are your financial goals for your organization?
    • Are you relying too heavily on grants and want to diversify your funding streams? Do you want to increase your cash reserve? Strengthen the financial stability of your organization? What are your overall goals for your organization for the next 2-5 years? Do you want to increase staff wages or benefits?

Having goals for your organization helps guide you to the type of funding to pursue.

How it’s Done

At Transform Consulting Group, we have divided the fund development process into three focus areas:

  1. Past: review past and current portfolio of funding to identify themes and potential opportunities.
  2. Present: review the current research, assess industry trends, and benchmark other successful organizations.
  3. Future: create and help implement a fund development plan based on your future goals.

Funding Analysis

Taking a look at past and current funding sources provides historical context into the types of funding partnerships, including opportunities for growth. During this funding analysis, it’s important to review the following:

  1. Funders over the past 5-10 years –  what they funded, the amount funded, and the relationship with the organization.
  2. Prospect list –  which groups or individuals did not agree to funding your organization and reviewing why.
  3. Financial statements – identify the current revenue sources by funding category and pros/cons of each to determine growth area(s) needed.

Research Benchmarks

It is essential to take some time to do an environmental scan of current research and new trends that can support your funding requests. Below we outline the flow of research:

  1. Research current trends in the industry that provide important context for the need for your organization.
  2. Benchmark other similar organizations for funding strategies and opportunities that you could possibly replicate.
  3. Identify the need for targeted funding strategies and sources based on your demographics and supporting research.

Create a Fund Development Plan

You made it! You have done your reflections and outlined where you want to end up. Now it’s time to put a plan in place.

Here are the three pieces included in a fund development plan:

  1. Create: You have done the work to get to this point, so now is when you put it on paper. Using the goals identified in your reflection and the findings from your research, outline prospective funding opportunities, target numbers, strategies, timeline, and responsibilities.
  2. Develop: Now that you have your plan outlined, you need to develop your funding tools (case for support, donor letters, funding campaigns, sponsorship packages, grant proposals, etc.).
  3. Implement:  It is a reward getting to this point! Whether this entails applying for grants, making the ask for shared services, or launching an awareness campaign, you are now ready to move forward!

Creating a fund development plan takes time and energy, but it truly pays off in the end. Being knowledgeable about your organization’s current state and future goals, the latest trends and community needs, and the appropriate funding sources to pursue will greatly increase your chances of being funded and the financial health of your organization.

Whether you are ready to apply for funding or have no clue where to start, we can help! Contact us today for more information on fund development strategies.

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Grant Opportunity with KaBOOM! Playground

kaboom -playground-5-8-10 webChildhood obesity rates have tripled since 1980 and stayed the same for the past ten years. The average child spends nearly 75 hours a week immersed in various forms of media. With fewer children playing outside and a rise of childhood obesity, many organizations are taking steps to change this trajectory.

KaBOOM! is working to partner with communities to make active play space available for youth across the country. Through the development of playgrounds, KABOOM! is working to bring the importance of play to the forefront. KaBOOM! offers a number of grant opportunities for organizations wishing to begin or modify a playground project. KABOOM has three grant categories:

  1. Build it with KaBOOM! Grants: Provides planning grants to design your playground and funding to then transform the space. The grantee will be provided with a Project Manager, funds, resources and tools to assist community officials in designing and building a playground that is unique to the community.
  2. Build it Yourself Grants: Offers $15,000 grants to help community organizations purchase playground equipment and complete the assembling process on their own with remote assistance from KaBOOM!.
  3. Creative Play Grants: Enhances existing play spaces through creativity, communication and collaboration in play.

Each KaBOOM! grant has a set of requirements that must be met before the applicant can apply. For further information on grant requirements, review the grant application guide. For information on additional playground grants, check out these resources that KaBOOM! highlights on their website.

Transform Consulting Group assists organizations with assessing their current funding and identifying new revenue opportunities. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation!

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Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps Funding Available

 

americorpsThe U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) have partnered to create the Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps funding opportunity. AmeriCorps grants are awarded to eligible organizations to recruit, train, and manage AmeriCorps members during a defined term of service.

This AmeriCorps funding opportunity provides grants to programs that help youth who have been adjudicated in the juvenile justice system, convicted in the criminal justice system, or identified as “at-risk” for incarceration, to serve as AmeriCorps members. Youth will have the chance to participate in a national service program and receive meaningful mentoring while they serve.

Public or private nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, local or state governments, veterans’ service organizations, labor organizations, and other partnerships/consortia are all eligible to apply for this funding. Proposed programs should meet the following goals:

  • Establish and maintain mentoring relationships between experienced members and disconnect Youth AmeriCorps members.
  • Evidence of collaboration with entities that provide reentry or reentry-related activities.

A Letter of Intent is due Monday, April 20th.  The full application is due Wednesday, May 20th.

Recipients of the Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps grant will need to enroll new AmeriCorps staff members to provide mentoring and coaching to at-risk youth. Recruitment should involve finding individuals who have mentoring experience and/or applicable life experience to serve as mentors and coaches to support the successful participation of youth in the program, and position them for success after their service ends. For more information, click here.

Transform Consulting Group has successfully helped programs apply for AmeriCorps grants in the past, including the United Way of Central Indiana. Interested in how AmeriCorps staff members could improve your organization’s impact? Contact Transform Consulting Group today to learn more.

 

 

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