Organizing a Fundraising Campaign

By: Justin Alan

How to Request a Grant or Get a Renewal for Your Organization

Once you have found a grant that your organization may be eligible for, the next step is to write a grant proposal. If you think this sounds simple then you need to look into it more carefully, because many grant applications fail due to a poor or incomplete proposal. All the rules that apply to your grant proposal must be strictly adhered to. They are there for a reason that, while it may not be apparent to the applicant, is certainly needed for some specific reason. So if you are meant to email it in, don't fax it, or it will not even be read. Don't risk your application being disqualified before it even reaches its destination.

Funders don't just fund anything that comes along. They are not delighted to throw money at all sorts of proposals just because they land on the desk. Make sure you apply for the right kind of grant. If the funder loves the environment, they may not be kindly disposed towards big business. If they usually fund pet shelters or animal welfare, they may not be interested in education or sporting needs. Funders can be extremely specific in their choice and that's their prerogative.

When writing your grant proposal, start with a one-page outline in logical steps, then expand each step fully - and don't leave anything out. Be specific in your reasons for applying. 'To help the community' or 'for adult education' is not specific enough. Also be specific about your expenses. Research them thoroughly. Don't just estimate what you think they will be. Itemize each need and cost carefully and make sure you think of it all, don't leave half out because it doesn't seem that important. Grants committees think all costs are important - it's their money that is paying, after all.

After writing your proposal, ask at least two other people to read it and explain to you what your goals are. They should be people who don't know about your cause. Ask them questions to facilitate the process. If they can't understand it properly, it's back to the drawing board for you, because the grants committee most likely won't be able to either.

Never hurry the process of writing a good proposal. It takes time to get it right, especially if this is your first, and it will show if you rush the process. If there is a deadline for the grant that you cannot meet without rushing, then it may be wise to wait and go for it the following year instead.

If you think the task is too much for you, consider hiring a professional grant writer, but they will need to know a lot about the organization, so be prepared with lots of information.

How to Suggest Inheritance Giving from Supporters

Inheritance giving plays quite a large part in the fundraising processes. It may be that a person has been a loyal supporter of your organization's cause for some time, but now that they are retired, they are unable to give the amount that they used to when a good wage was coming in.

This is the time to suggest they may be interested in inheritance giving - leaving something in their will to your cause. If you leave it too late, they may not be able to remember you, since forgetfulness and dementia seem to play such a large part in elderly life.

To suggest inheritance giving requires a great deal of tact on the part of the fundraiser. You don't want the person to feel that they are about to die or anything so unpleasant. Remind them that their heirs could well benefit from their loyalty to your cause by not having to pay out a great deal of tax. Who would they rather be the beneficiary of their money, Uncle Sam or your cause?

The most common way to leave money to a charity by will is called specific bequest. This is a specified amount of money or an asset, or it could be a specific percentage of the estate. A contingency bequest could be set up even if the person is younger, with young children. Other gifts that can be left to a fundraising organization are life-insurance policies, stocks and bonds, or even real estate.

It is best that the supporter should see a solicitor or lawyer to facilitate the bequest. At the same time, this may motivate them to get their will written up legally if they have not done so. The lawyer will help them to assess the value of their estate and so find out how much tax is due on it. If they have a will already, then they need only add a codicil to be able to leave your organization a legacy. It must be done in a professional manner; otherwise it may be open to question or legal proceedings.

They will then be able to see where they stand with regards to taxes on their estate, and how much tax will have to be paid on it. Suggest to the supporter that they be open about the amount of the gift - and the tax savings - to their heirs. This will prepare them in advance and prevent any bad feelings.

Money Management
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