Category Archives: Fundraising Strategies

How Do I Start Fundraising?

Did you know a majority (90%) of non-profit organizations report that they have one source of funding and that one source accounts for 90% of their total funding?

When we work with clients to help increase their funding, we typically recommend that they diversify their Funding Streams Imagefunding.  When an organization is strongly reliant on fees for service or grants, then we help them determine what other funding sources might be a good fit for their organization based on their industry, community and organizational capacity.

We often find that many non-profit organizations, especially those who are smaller (under $1 million dollar budgets), do not have a strategic fundraising strategy. Fundraising simply means partnering with individuals and organizations to support your cause. Fundraising can be a great method to supplement your existing funding (fees for service, grants, and contracts) that might be stringent with how you can provide services. 

As a non-profit organization, you might be wondering how do I get started with fundraising?  Recently we have worked with a few organizations to help them diversity AND increase their funding to grow their program and impact. Below are some strategies that we use that you could apply today!

1. Set a Goal

The first step is to set a goal for how much you need to raise from your fundraising efforts and how this will support your organization. For example, we worked with an early childhood education center that was expanding its services to a new location. They were seeking funding to support the renovation and start-up costs of this new facility and were able to determine the total costs they needed from individuals and organizations to support the existing funding that they already had. 

Put a finite number to your plan (a specific dollar amount) and develop a clear message for how that funding will be spent. This is what will excite individuals and organizations to partner with you!

2. Create a Plan and Timeline

Now that you have a fundraising goal, you need to create a plan that describes your steps to accomplish it. The plan does not need to be complicated, so don’t let that hold you back. The plan should be like any project plan. It will describe the different sources of funding and amount that you believe is realistic for you to secure to reach that goal. Who is responsible (we will get to “who” in the next step) and when will they accomplish it? 

For example, if you want to raise $100,000 then you’re plan may look like the following:

  • $25,000 – Fundraising Events (you will hold 5 events that will raise $5,000/ event)
  • $50,000 – Individual Donors (a combination of small and large gifts)
  • $25,000 – Corporation Sponsors (you will get 5 corporations to sponsor at $5,000/ event)

Your plan should be customized to the assets in your organization. If your organization is well connected / well known and has strong relationships in the community, then perhaps you can raise more money from individual donors. Maybe your organization is well organized and could put events together easily with volunteers, so you could generate more money through events. The purpose here is to be specific and realistic to what is possible with your organization’s capacity and resources. 

3. Develop a Team

When your organization begins to embark on fundraising as part of your revenue strategy, it is a team effort. It cannot be the sole responsibility of your Executive Director or Development Director. In order to accomplish your fundraising goal, you will need an army of champions and supporters who are working together (hence the need for a plan!). 

At a minimum, your team should include your staff (not just those at the helm), board of directors, and funders. Depending on your fundraising goal and current organizational capacity, you might decide that you need to form a special ad hoc committee to lead this fundraising campaign. The goal here is to excite your team about why you want to raise this funding, how it will grow your impact, and their specific role to help you accomplish the goal.

4. Track Your Results

Once you have a plan and put it to work, you need to track and monitor how it is going. This process will not only determine if you meet your goal but also inform future fundraising efforts. Tracking your data could look different depending on your activities. For outreach to potential individual donors you might track the number of outreaches you’ve made and types (emails, open/ click rates of emails, phone calls, events, letters, etc.). This could help inform the # or type of outreach that seem to be most effective for your donors. 

For a fundraising event, we recommend tracking all of the costs for the event including staff and volunteer time. We often find that a lot of “sweat equity” goes into putting on an event – so much so that sometimes the event does not net any profit when you factor it into the cost. With any event, you want to see your total return on investment after all of these costs are included to determine if that is the best use of your time. 

The purpose here is to use data to understand what is and is not working, which you can use to pivot your strategies and tactics. We have helped organizations to retool a fundraising event to bring in more money or launch a monthly donor campaign to increase cash flow. The goal is to get the most out of your fundraising efforts to accomplish your goals! {Interested in learning more on using data, check out several other blogs we have written on the topic here!} 

In summary, when your organization wants to get started with fundraising follow these four steps:

  1. Set a Goal
  2. Create a Plan and Timeline
  3. Develop a Team
  4. Track Your Results

We get excited learning about the possibilities for our clients and the causes that they are passionately championing. Do you need more help with your fundraising efforts? Give us a call to set up a free consultation on how we could support your goals.

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2019 Year in Review

This year was another big year for Transform Consulting Group. In 2019, we were thrilled to once again work with a variety of clients and important causes across Indiana and Michigan. 

We are thankful for all that we accomplished as a team to help accelerate the impact of our clients in communities across the two states. We summarized a snapshot of the highlights from 2019 below. 

Building Capacity:

  1. We secured over $1.6 million in grants for clients and created development plans to increase and diversify funding
  2. We facilitated 8 strategic plans which included internal and external organization assessments, research, building consensus with stakeholders, and mapping out specific steps to achieve the goals. Many of these projects were community wide initiatives that involved a diverse group of partners utilizing a collective impact framework. 
  3. We shared our knowledge and expertise at over 15 trainings at conferences and more than 20 trainings with clients. 

Facilitating Evaluation, Research, & Analysis:

  1. We continue expanding our data visualization skills and created 31 data dashboards to make data user-friendly, accessible, and manageable for clients. View a few examples here.
  2. We completed 9 program evaluations that included setting clear goals, developing tools and systems, data analysis, and an evaluation plan.
  3. We developed 9 community needs assessment data reports to help organizations understand their community and target population to appropriately plan for and align programming and services.

Mobilizing Communities, Partners, & Systems:

  1. We created and disseminated 60 surveys for stakeholder feedback to help direct our clients’ next steps. 
  2. We’re passionate about Collective Impact and worked with Community Foundations and other partners across the state to identify and address big issues in their communities. 
  3. We helped launch a new state contract that connects a number of partners at the state and local level. 

Company Highlights: 

  • As a woman-owned business, it was a huge accomplishment to officially become a certified Women’s Business Enterprise
  • We increased our number of clients by over half in 2019. Of those clients, nearly half were brand new!
  • We were 2019 Big Data Visualization Challenge finalists for the 2nd year. The Challenge used data to highlight recommendations for improving health outcomes for Indiana mothers and infants. We were provided datasets on maternal health and infant mortality, and then tasked with creating a visualization solution. You can view the dashboard we created and our recommendations here
  • We expanded our reach with clients across Indiana and Michigan who represented so many different sectors in Education and Community Development including: 
    • Adult Education
    • Alternative Education
    • Child Welfare
    • College & Career Readiness
    • Domestic Violence
    • Early Childhood Education
    • Economic Development
    • Homelessness
    • Home Visiting
    • K-12 Education
    • School Counseling
    • Substance Abuse Prevention
    • Veteran Services
    • Youth Development

As we head into the New Year, we are grateful for the organizations who trust our team and partnered with us in 2019. We have exciting things ahead in 2020, and we would love to work with you! Do you have a clear plan for your upcoming year? Whether you’re looking to strengthen  your organization’s capacity, use your data to drive impact, or mobilize your community and partners to tackle big issues, we would love to help! Contact us to set up a call to talk further in the New Year.

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7 Strategies to Maximize #GivingTuesday

As 2019 comes to an end, we’ve talked a lot about how to end the year with a bang when it comes to your fund development goals. (Find our 10 tips for your year-end giving campaign here). This blog is all about Giving Tuesday – the National Day of Giving.

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Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday right after Thanksgiving. The idea is to have a day for giving thanks (Thanksgiving), followed by two days for deals (Black Friday and Cyber Monday), and then there is a day dedicated to giving back (Giving Tuesday!).

Giving Tuesday provides a unique opportunity for your organization to engage with donors, partners, and volunteers – and hopefully raise some money! To get the most out of your Giving Tuesday strategy, we recommend implementing these seven strategies:

  1. Set a giving goal
    Decide how much money your organization wants to raise on Giving Tuesday and what the money raised will go toward funding. Once you decide your goals, share them with your supporters! Donors want to know where their money is going and the difference it will make. This strategy will also help build excitement throughout the day as you creep closer and closer to your day’s goal.
  2. Focus on new donors
    Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to engage with new donors, no matter the size of the gift! Use messaging that clearly illustrates your mission and work for individuals who may not know much about your organization. Talk about the importance of your services and your impact in the community. Include options for gifts as small as $5 on your donation pages to get new supporters in the door.
  3. Engage millennials Giving Tuesday is a very social and hashtag friendly day of giving. It may not connect with all donors (which is why Giving Tuesday should only be one piece of your year-end giving campaign), but it is a perfect opportunity to get millennials excited about your mission AND sharing your campaign.
  4. Use various communication mediums Videos, pictures, and testimonialsScreen Shot 2018-11-12 at 3.39.46 PM are all great tools for sharing your organization’s story. Since Giving Tuesday is primarily an online campaign, you will need to think of how you’re engaging supporters in a way that stands out in the often-distracting digital world. Check out case studies from Giving Tuesday campaigns in 2017 here. Notice the unique messaging, visuals, and strategies used. You’ll see that not everyone focuses on raising dollars during their campaign. In-kind donations may be just as valuable for your organization. You can frame your entire campaign around your organization’s specific need.
  5. Schedule “pushes”
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 may be the big giving day, but planning content to promote leading up to Giving Tuesday will really increase your impact. We recommend 1-2 additional communications in the weeks prior to Giving Tuesday. Promote on your social media platforms that your organization is participating in Giving Tuesday, and share what the day is all about. Send an email blast to your contact list to get them excited about participating. It’s not too early to start building excitement!
  6. Implement peer-to-peer fundraising
    Giving Tuesday is the day to rally the troops and get your network engaged in your fundraising goals. Encourage volunteers, board of directors, staff, and partners to share why they support your organization on their own personal social media platforms. Provide your supporters with content and language to share that is consistent with your messaging. Encourage key contacts to create their own fundraisers on your organization’s behalf.
  7. Follow up with donors We know it’s a busy time of year, but don’t neglect your donors. Acknowledge every gift, no matter the size. Have a process in place for depositing gifts in a timely manner and issuing gift receipts for tax purposes.

As the holiday season approaches, our team would love to support your fundraising efforts. Check out our services here, and contact us today for a free consultation!

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Besides an ask, did you say thank you?

Research shows nearly a third of giving happens at the end of the year, so now is the time to focus on communication and donor stewardship. Hopefully your year-end campaign will bring in new donors as well as repeat donors. Throughout your campaign, don’t forget to circle back to those who give and follow up with your gratitude.

According to Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report, retention rates for first time donors are between 25-30%, but for multi-year donors, the retention rate doubles. We know it’s a busy time of year, but at TCG we recommend building in time to thank your donors and begin (or continue) building a relationship that will continue throughout the year and for years to come. Ultimately, this continued engagement will help grow your donor base.

Ways to Stay In Touch

  1. Celebrate your success
    Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 8.17.13 PM
    During the end of the year frenzy, don’t forget to thank your supporters and volunteers! Dedicate one of your emails to celebrating what your organization has achieved this year. Include a list of highlights, pictures from events, or a holiday picture of staff, and start building excitement for the coming year.
  1. Send a thank you
    Once you receive a donation, the job is not done yet. Make sure that each donor receives a receipt with their donation. That is required. But don’t stop there. Send your donors a dedicated thank you email or letter. Sooner than later. Want to really say thank you and engage your board? Have board members call or write major donors to express appreciation for their gifts.
  1. Add another communication check in
    It is also part of good donor stewardship to communicate regularly with your donors. Engage (or reengage) your donors in your nonprofit as it is obviously a cause they care about. After the first of the year, welcome new donors. They might have given because a friend or family member supports the cause without knowing the details of what you do. Create a welcome series of emails to get them better acquainted with your organization. And for all donors, connect with them throughout the year and include a call to action – to sign up for your newsletter, tour the facility, attend a program, or volunteer!

TIMELINE. For Follow-Up

You have your campaign strategy and a plan for following up with donors. Here’s a timeline of how everything works together!

Timeline:

  • Start campaign week of Thanksgiving (11/25)
  • Giving Tuesday outreach (12/3)
  • Touches throughout December until December 31st
  • January-February:  Review the data to see how your campaign performed. How many new donors, recaptured donors, and repeat donors did you have?
  • Keep in touch throughout the year!

Want more ideas for your year-end campaign? Check out our latest blogs on Giving Tuesday and 10 Tips for Year-End Giving Campaign. If you want to learn more about how your campaign performed this year or to improve your organization’s fundraising next year, check out our services and contact us today!  

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4 Free Ways to Increase Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising

Nonprofit leaders know that fundraising is critical to success. There are some easy and free electronic giving options that you can start using now! Regardless of how small or large your organization is, you can benefit from your supporters’ regular shopping habits. These donations can become a consistent part of your comprehensive fund development plan.

We have identified 4 such platforms making these donations possible—either through retail companies or third party businesses. The basic formula for all of them is the same. You register your nonprofit with the platform for free. You let your supporters know that they can register themselves with the platform for free. Your supporters choose your nonprofit as the donation recipient. They make purchases, and you receive a small donation with each purchase. The donations come from either your supporters themselves or the retailers.

4 Apps and Websites That Help Nonprofits Raise Money

  1. RoundUp App – This app allows nonprofit supporters to donate the change from credit and debit card purchases to help fund a nonprofit of their choice. Shoppers use the app’s secure connection to link their bank or credit card. At the end of the month, RoundUp tallies the change from your supporters’ transactions. Then, the company sends you a donation from your supporters in that amount. On average, each RoundUp App user donates $20-$30 per month.  
  1. Giving Assistant – Nonprofit supporters first create an account with Giving Assistant. When they shop at online stores, such as Target, Macy’s, and Best Buy, they earn cash back. Then, users have the option to donate part or all of their cash back to the nonprofit they choose. Giving Assistant states that organizations receive an average of 10% of sales from supporters’ everyday purchases. This can add up to around $100 in donations per year from each user.
  1. AmazonSmile – When Amazon customers register for AmazonSmile, the customers designate a nonprofit to receive a percentage of their purchases. When users shop, they go to smile.amazon.com. Then, Amazon donates 0.5% of customers’ purchase prices on eligible items to the supporters’ nonprofits of choice.
  1. eScrip – When nonprofit supporters create an eScrip account, they don’t get an eScrip card to use with purchases. Instead, they securely connect their existing store loyalty cards, credit cards, and bank cards to their eScrip account. Then, users choose which registered nonprofit or school they want to support. When customers shop at participating retailers with their registered cards, those retailers donate to the selected nonprofits.

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of These Fundraising Tools

Once you have these accounts set up for your nonprofit, let your supporters know how to use them!

  1. Tell your staff, board, and volunteers!
  2. Add clear instructions on your website’s giving page.
  3. Post them on your social media channels with links and directions.
  4. Put them in your newsletters and other communications.
  5. Track your donations to see how active your supporters are. Link their giving amounts with the promotion work you’ve done. Then, you can see which promotional activities (e.g., social media posts, newsletters) have the greatest return on the investment of your time.

When you promote the use of these fundraising platforms among your existing and prospective supporters, you are also raising awareness for your cause. Check out our blog on this topic for more tips!

Using these platforms can also be a good entry point for getting all your staff, board, and volunteers engaged in fundraising. Everyone who supports your organization has an important part to play in fund development. Encourage them to recognize and embrace their role!

Do you need help in determining how to maximize your funds across all your fund development efforts? Check out our fundraising strategies services, and contact us to learn how we can help you meet your goals!

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10 Tips for Your Year-End Giving Campaign

2019 is quickly coming to an end! Before you know it, we’ll be saying “Happy New Year” and plans for 2020 will be underway.

We’re heading into the season of giving. It is that time of year where donor dollars increase significantly. Year-end giving trends suggest blog infographic 1that nearly one third of annual giving happens in December.

At Transform Consulting Group, we highlighted tips for ending your fiscal year strong in this blog. One way to finish the year on a high note, is to kick off a year-end campaign with these simple tips (view our video recap of these tips here):

  1. Start Planning Now: You can’t wait until the last few weeks of December to reach out to donors or to make the first “ask.” Get a plan in place today that you can implement over the next few weeks.blog infographic 2
  2. Send Something: Whether it’s a holiday greeting in the mail or an email blast wrapping up the year, your current donors need to hear from you. You can highlight an accomplishment from this year, share a specific need heading into the New Year, or just thank the donor for their past generosity. Most likely your donors are hearing from other organizations too, and you need to be on their radar.
  3. Engage Volunteers: Take the time to appreciate your volunteers this year. Thank them for the time they
    invested in your organization. You may even decide to give a special gift to those who met X amount of service hours. Volunteers are twice as likely to donate to your organization. These are the people who are already engaged in your mission and have seen first-hand the work you do.
  4. Enlist Your Board: Your board of directors can be your biggest asset this time of year. Have board members write personal thank you notes, make phone calls or accompany you to meetings with donors.
  5. Segment Your Contact List: Your strategy should be different for different donors or partners. Organize your contacts into specific lists and plan your approach for each group such as: major donors, once a year donors, volunteers, alumni (past clients if appropriate), board, etc.
  6. Go Visual: Create consistent images and visuals for all aspects of your campaign. Try highlighting major accomplishments or data using infographics (check out our blog series on infographics here). Feature client success stories and quotes with photos (if appropriate). Create images and banners to display on all social media platforms. You can even set up a microsite just for your holiday campaign that clearly showcases your goals and progress over the next few weeks.
  7. Plan A Giving Day: We highlighted tips for implementing your own “Giving Day” in this blog. This can be a unique day that your organization chooses to ramp up efforts or you may decide to take advantage of Giving Tuesday (read our blog with tips here). Regardless of what you choose, make sure you continue promoting your cause until December 31st. Surveys show 12% of funding comes in during the last 3 days of the year, so you shouldn’t just rely on one day for giving, but it can be a great tool to kickstart your efforts.
  8. Make It Easy To Give: Provide your donors with several options for giving and make the options clear! Create a button on your website for donations. Have a link on your social media pages that directs followers to give. Send pre-stamped envelopes for those donors who you know would rather give via check or cash.
  9. Focus On Donor Stewardship: It’s very rare that you can ask a person for money, and they give it to you on the spot. You need to steward a relationship with them first. Build trust and learn about the causes they are interested in. Donor stewardship is important for engaging new donors but also for helping to move current donors to the next level of giving. Don’t expect that your holiday postcard sent in December will be enough to gain significant traction. Make plans to meet up with specific people who you know can give more or should be giving period. Start those conversations today.
  10. Make It Personal: Regardless of what methods you use to ask for gifts (email blast, mailings, one-on-one meetings), you need to bring the focus back to the people you serve and causes you are working to impact. Put a face to your mission and make it personal. Share specific stories of how your programs changed a family’s life. Introduce a donor to that single mom who went back to school. Highlight exactly where the donor’s dollars are going and who will be impacted. Along with the personal anecdotal stories, don’t forget to include your outcome results. Need help with having good data to share? Check out this blog or our services.

At Transform Consulting Group, we understand the many challenges that organizations face and often it begins with funding limitations. We want to work with you on ways to maximize your funding, so that you can move your cause forward. We love thinking outside of the box to come up with unique ways to engage current and new donors. Contact us today and let’s put your year-end campaign into motion!

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How to Register to Apply for Federal Grants

Congratulations! You’ve determined you are Federal Grant Ready, and it’s time for you to apply for federal grants! Before you can jump in, there are many administrative steps to take care of first. Applying for federal grants is tedious. Getting set up to apply requires attention to detail. You also have to build in enough time to wait for your submissions to be processed. From beginning to end, it could be longer than a month, so get started now!

Although it takes attention and time, the whole process is free. At Transform Consulting Group (TCG), we have successfully helped several organizations apply for and receive multi-million dollar federal grants. We know this process, and we’ll guide you through the steps.

3 Steps to Get Registered to Apply for Federal Grants

Your ultimate goal is to get your organization registered on grants.gov. This registration will allow you to apply for federal grants. You’ll complete these 3 steps to get everything set up. 

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  1. Confirm that you have a DUNS # with up-to-date organization information.
  • Use the Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number Lookup to find out what your 9-digit DUNS # is. 
  • Look at the information associated with your organization to make sure it’s up-to-date.
  • Contact Dun & Bradstreet if you need to update your organization information.

    Pro Tip: Be sure that the organization name associated with your DUNS #  matches your legal name exactly. That includes commas and periods that are part of your legal name, such as “, Inc.”
  1. Register with SAM, or reactivate your organization’s SAM registration.

SAM is the System for Award Management, and it is the key to being able to receive federal grants!

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  • Contact SAM if you’re not sure if your organization has never had a SAM registration or if you think you may have an inactive registration.
  • If your SAM registration is inactive, then someone at your organization probably already has a user account they can use to log in.
  • Once you know whether you’re creating a new registration or reactivating an old registration, follow the appropriate steps.
  • You’ll need your organization’s Tax Identification Number (TIN).
  • You’ll also send a notarized letter to SAM from your organization’s authorizing official. You may need to email that letter as well.

    Pro Tip: You can (and should!) contact SAM’s help staff for free. 
  1. Register with grants.gov
  • Refer to these details when setting up your grants.gov registration.
  • Then, connect your grants.gov account to your SAM registration.

Renewing Your Registration

Once you’ve completed all these steps, set a reminder for next year. Each year, you’ll need to complete SAM’s annual renewal process. Completing your renewals on time means you won’t have to go through the more lengthy reactivation process!

If you need help seeking federal grant opportunities or completing a grant proposal, let us know!

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Are You Ready for a Federal Grant?

Receiving a federal grant can be a great way to accelerate your impact. There are many positive attributes in applying for and receiving a federal grant. Federal grants tend to be for larger amounts and are often multi-year funding to name a few. However, federal grant applications are complex and not easy to navigate.

We have successfully helped several organizations apply for and receive multi-million dollar federal grants. These grants have really helped to strengthen the organization’s infrastructure, expand their reach, and impact more individuals. There are some times, however, that we recommend a client not pursue a federal grant opportunity.

Before you invest the time and energy with a federal grant application, make sure these four elements are in place to determine if your organization is ready for a federal grant:grant ready blog


1. Compelling Need

Federal grants are very competitive. When they are national, you can be competing with hundreds of proposals. Nearly every federal grant application will begin with a “Need Section” where the applicant is asked to explain the need for this grant funding and support. One of the ways to stand out is to make sure your geographical community and target population fit the profile of need. Then you will want to pull from various public data sources, using citations, to make the case. Depending on the proposal, we might also include some relevant research and citations  that back up the need and proposed intervention (Check out this blog for our go to data sources!). Treat the writing of this section more like an academic college paper.

2. Program Design

When organizations are ready to apply for a federal grant, they need to have a strong design of their program. Many federal agencies are promoting “research-based” and “evidence-based” programs and services (See this blog for more insight!). If your program does not meet those thresholds, which is not always a requirement, then work to make the case for the program’s rigor and (hopefully) close alignment to evidence-based programs and elements of evidence-based programs.

3. Program Impact

There is an overall trend in grant making where more and more funders are wanting to invest their resources in organizations with sound data and results. They want to see the outcomes and solid data to backup your impact. Make sure your program has outcomes and not just outputs (See this blog for some help with outcomes!). If you are a new program or proposing a new intervention, then it is more difficult since you most likely haven’t proven yourself. This is where having a strong, close alignment to an evidence-based program model is helpful and may serve as a proxy for your impact.

4. Fiscal System and Accountinggrants-gov-logo-lg


Last but certainly not least, your organization needs to have strong fiscal controls in place to account for your federal grant dollars. You never know when the federal government will request an audit of your grant funding, so you want to have good systems in place to be able to account for those specific funds. We had one client go through an audit due to some concerning issues with their federal program officer (not anything they were doing wrong), and it was quite laborious and time consuming since this was their first federal grant. They didn’t have all of the separate accounting systems in place. Make sure you are ready to track, monitor and account for your federal funding.

If your organization can check all four boxes, then it may be time for you to consider a federal grant opportunity that could propel your impact and reach forward. If your organization can’t check all of the boxes yet, then you may need some support to help you get ready. The good news is we can help you in either scenario. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation and see how federal grants may be a good fit for your organization!

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5 Steps for Grant Writing

You have a grant that you want to apply for and submit an application. First, check out the types of grants available and our checklist to ensure your organization is ready before jumping into the grant writing process. Okay, now it’s time to start writing your grant!

5 Steps for Grant Writing

At Transform Consulting Group, we have identified 5 simple steps for grant writing:

1. Research: Spend time getting informed and researching grant opportunities. There are millions of dollars available through grants, and it can feel like a full-time job just trying to find them all! The purpose of the research step is to identify all of the potential funders who align with your organization’s mission and purpose.
Here are some good places to start in your search:

Foundation Grants:
Government Grants:
Trade Industry:

Within your organization’s area of expertise, there are “intermediary” organizations that are current with the latest news. Regularly check out those organization’s websites, sign up for newsletters, and monitor who is doing what or trends in the industry. They often will promote grant opportunities for your industry!

2. Monitor Grants: Once you have identified your “affinity” funders, create a list of those possible funders. In today’s information age, you can find out a lot about funders by monitoring their internet footprint. We recommend subscribing to funders’ social media channels and signing up for their newsletters. This will help you receive information about grant updates (e.g., changes in grant focus or new application information), receive updates about the status of programs, and be informed about their latest news. This will help provide great context to writing your proposals and developing a partnership with the funder.

3. Track Grants: You can pay for grant tracking software, invest in an internal database, or use basic Excel or Google sheets to track grants. We suggest tracking important information, such as the funder, their focus area(s), timeline for when grants are due, the point of contact, and any application details.

As you start to do outreach with funders and submit applications, you will want to track your grant application outreach. For example, you would include notes about who you talked to and their feedback.  When you submit an application, include the focus area, amount requested, and status. Having all of this information included in a shared system helps to keep your team on the same page and also creates a record history for future staff or contractors.

4. Develop Relationships: Most funders look to their grantees as a partner and extension of their mission. When working to develop a grant proposal to a funder, you want to first have a relationship with that funder. You can do this through a personal connection, social media outreach, cold calling, a letter of inquiry or by networking at different community groups and meetings. When looking to build relationships, we suggest focusing on the “program officer”.

Program officers oversee a “portfolio” of programs usually in a focus area, such as youth, environment, safety, etc. A program officer for a government entity would “manage” a grant program. At a minimum give them a call and schedule a meeting to learn more about their focus areas and goals as well as share about your organization and possible areas of alignment. Some next steps might be to invite the program officer(s) to an organization event to observe your services in action or learn about them. We liken this engagement to “dating” – a period of getting to know each other to see if there is a good fit!

The one caveat here is to make sure that you follow the grant guidelines. In most cases, government grants preclude you from communicating with the granting agency beyond asking clarifying questions related to the application. You may need to cultivate these relationships when there is not an open grant application. Always follow the grant guidelines to ensure that you do not disqualify your organization from submitting a grant application!

5. Submit: Winning grants involves submitting grants! You will want to carve time out of your schedule to regularly work on the items above and submitting grant applications.

In this blog, we discussed the low success rate of grant writing. Some studies suggest as low as 7% of organizations receive funding after submitting a grant proposal. While there is no silver bullet, we have found that following the steps above gets you on the path to success.

At Transform Consulting Group, we understand the different types of funders and their grant application process. We know what funders want and how to interpret and follow complex federal, state, or private grant applications. We are available to support your efforts at all levels of grant development, including the strategy, research, narrative, and final submission. Contact us today and let’s chat!

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When do you need a Feasibility Study?

Whether you call it a feasibility study, a needs assessment, or a readiness assessment, you typically need one when your organization is looking to take on a large initiative such as a capital fundraising campaign, adding a new program or service, or expanding into a new market.  When do you need a feasibility study?

At Transform Consulting Group (TCG), we perform feasibility studies that often include the following steps:  gathering stakeholder feedback, surveying the board of directors, scanning the environment, completing a financial analysis, and conducting a community assessment.  There is a lot to consider when taking on a large initiative, and each feasibility study is going to look slightly different depending on what is being considered and how your organization operates.

Our team has served numerous clients during their feasibility study process. Here’s a look at those projects and how the client decided it was time for a feasibility study:

  • Meeting Community Need

Community leaders in Jay County wanted to investigate the feasibility of converting an old elementary school building into an early childhood center. The Portland Foundation hired our team to facilitate a site analysis of existing school buildings, assess the existing early childhood education landscape, and create a marketing and business plan for implementation.Portland Foundation Feasibility Study Cover

  • Launching a New Program/Service

Shepherd Community Center wanted to see if their organization and service area were a good fit before adopting the Center for Working Families program model. For this engagement, we held focus groups, facilitated internal and external assessments, and completed a logic model to identify the resources, inputs, outputs and outcomes aligned to support the implementation of the Center for Working Families program.

  • Assessing Annual Performance

All Head Start organizations are required to submit annual needs assessments to inform their strategic plan goals and objectives.  The Indiana Head Start State Collaboration Office hired our team to perform their report that shows how Indiana Head Start grantees compare locally and nationally and how well the state is responding to federal priority areas.  

  • Relocating or Opening a New Location

Before you consider relocating or opening an additional location in a new community, we recommend 3 steps to determine feasibility in this blog.

  • Fundraising

Our funding analysis and fund development plan are two fundraising strategies that might be part of your feasibility study.  If you’re looking to launch a capital campaign, they are two strategies that should definitely be incorporated as well as interviews with major donors and staff and surveying the board of directors.

Completing a feasibility study isn’t a quick task, nor should it be.  Make sure your organization is ready to go before committing valuable resources to a project or campaign.  Need assistance with one or more elements of your feasibility study? Not sure where to start? Contact us today to see how we can help!

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