Fundraising for Dummies: Tips From an Allocation Panel Insider

In December I was asked to sit on an allocation panel for the United Way Capital Region. After a series of site visits and pouring over pages and pages of fund allocation requests and current budgets, I must give kudos to grant writers, financial officers, and other non-profit managers who have to hustle each year to get funding. You really have to go through the fire. 

Today we met to hear presentations from community agencies requesting funding for the new fiscal year. I must say that hearing the panel deliberate has been a huge learning experience for me. I thought I’d share in this week’s post, some of the biggest take aways that I thought were valuable to know when positioning yourself to receive money from funding allocation agencies.

Diversity, diversity, diversity
If you want your non-profit to get funding, show that your agency or program serves diverse populations. Also take a look at your boards. Is your board reflective of the populations you wish to serve? 

Also demonstrate that you can play nice in the sand box with others. In other words, collaborate and communicate. There isn’t a lot of money in the pot to begin with so allocation committees really want to see their dollars stretch. If you can show how the money will benefit more people in the community than just the populations you are seeking to serve, the better your chances.

Diversify your streams of revenue
Do not make one allocation agency your sole source of  funding. Allocation panels like the United Way are interested in sustainability and they want to know how the program will go on if their funding went away.

Learn to fishDemonstrate that you can fish. There’s certainly nothing wrong with asking for help, but allocation boards are impressed to see that you also know how to fund raise and campaign for yourself. 

And lastly have measurable outcomes and solid bench marks. Show how your program will produce beneficial outcomes over time. Again, sustainability is the key. Note that fly-by-night events typically don’t get funding unless you’re going for a grant that specifically earmarks money for those purposes.

Have you ever requested a grant or some other type of funding for your program or agency? Am I missing any tips here? Tell me about it.

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