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Going after grants.

Foundations and government agencies award millions for special projects. The key to winning funds is finding the right fit.

Snap open The Foundation Directory, and you'll discover an apparent wealth of apparent wealth: hundreds of private foundations giving away millions of dollars. Can your association fund special projects this way? Yes - provided there is a legitimate match between your interests and a foundation's. Finding a good match - and recognizing that your proposal isn't alone on the table - is the association fund-raiser's challenge.

Whether your association has a related foundation, a dedicated grants and contracts office, or simply a department with an unfunded project, you can raise money from sources outside the membership. The American private sector (individuals, bequests, foundations, and corporations) gave away $129.88 billion in 1994, slightly more than in 1993, according to the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel (AAFRC) Trust for Philanthropy, New York City, which publishes Giving USA annually. In its accounting of grants and contracts, the federal government does not categorize awards to nonprofit organizations per se, which underscores a fact some associations may have missed: In the competition for funding, what's important is your topic, not your title.

Before leaping into the fund-raising fray, consider the advice of these association executives.

Research comes first

Federal funds. Associations can look to both public and private sources. Karen Beaty, grant and contract officer at the American Psychological Association (APA), Washington, D.C., uses two publications extensively: the Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance and the Commerce Business Daily. In the CFDA, the federal government solicits projects to fulfill mandated research and service needs. "You propose how to do it," Beaty explains (see sidebar, "Teaming Up," for APA's story). The Commerce Business Daily, by contrast, announces contracts available through the request for proposal (RFP) process. Both grant and contract projects may match association interests.

Private sector. For corporate and foundation funds, Steve Rubloff, director of marketing and development at the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, Rockville, Maryland, recommends you start your search at the Foundation Center (see sidebar, "Research Resources," for locations), a free library and publisher of numerous print and online fund-raising resources.

"Fund-raising looks easier than it is," Rubloff remarks. "It's very time-consuming and requires extensive research to match your need to a funder's interests. Be patient," he advises. "The process takes at least a year."

Rubloff believes more foundation money is available than associations are tapping. However, groups representing grant makers, such as the Council on Foundations, Washington, D.C., are leery of publicizing specific foundations, because grantors already are flooded with proposals. In a recent article in the council's Foundation News & Commentary, three large-foundation officers debated the trend to use RFPs; some foundations are pressing their special agendas actively and giving unsolicited proposals less attention. Certainly, a foundation will quickly dismiss projects outside of its mission, and poor research will not endear your association to grant makers.

Matching missions

At the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, Rubloff keeps a list of association projects, a "needs file." His strategy is to consider "how something in the interests of our members' careers or the field in general also benefits society or the public." Recently, for instance, a research group at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, contacted the foundation; the group needed $100,000 to complete funding to study the role of occupational therapy in helping the elderly remain independent. Rubloff went to a small Austin, Texas, foundation and won $30,000, and solicited another $70,000 from two national corporations. The association contributed in-kind staff expertise and administered funds raised.

"If it turns out occupational therapy does help the elderly, our results may create more jobs for members and improve the image of the profession, even as it serves the public," Rubloff sums up.

In applying for a grant, the point is to develop a project that both matches what a funding source is looking for and furthers the interests of your association's membership.

Stan Dublinske, CAE, director of professional practice at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Rockville, Maryland, concurs. Grants allow ASHA "to do things related to our mission that we couldn't do otherwise," he says.

Dublinske believes the amount of money available is growing smaller, and speculates that competition will grow stiffer as more people apply for it. "It used to be 100 proposals; now it's 300 competing, and 15 get funded," he says.

Grant seekers once could develop an edge over competitors by getting to know foundation program officers and learning firsthand what grantors wanted to fund. Now, "because they are being inundated with proposals, program officers are overwhelmed. They are not taking appointments," comments Patricia F. Lewis, president and chief executive officer of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE), Alexandria, Virginia. That leaves fund-raisers doing detective work with the grant directories, periodicals such as The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and foundation annual reports.

Proposal tips

"Foundations really like innovative, creative, new programs," NSFRE's Lewis stresses. Even if you have a tried-and-true program, "the perception is that it may not be needed anymore," she explains. "You need to address today's market and prove there is still a need. More innovative ideas, of course, get more attention from the foundation.
Giving USA: Where It Comes From, Where It Goes

Source of Estimated contributions,
contributions 1994 (in billions)

Individuals $105.09
Bequests 8.77
Foundations 9.91
Corporations 6.11


Use of Estimated contributions,
contributions 1994 (in billions)

Religion $ 58.87
Education 16.71
Health 11.53
Human services 11.71
Arts, culture, humanities 9.68
Public/society benefit 6.05
Environment/wildlife 3.53
International affairs 2.21
Unclassified 9.59


Note: Estimates are based on the responses of approximately 300
mostly larger foundations.

Source: American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel Trust for
Philanthropy, New York City

"Foundations increasingly want to be sure projects are not duplicative," Lewis continues. Find out who else is doing work similar to yours and collaborate, she suggests.

Foundations also may prefer to offer you a challenge grant. "They don't want to be your sole provider, but with seed money you can generate interest from others," Lewis says. APA's Beaty and ASHA's Dublinske agree that spelling out the association's in-kind or matching contribution appeals to grantors.

Besides proving that there is a need for your project, "validate the impact," Lewis recommends. Dublinske says projects must be cost-effective and proposals should state how you will evaluate results. "Say what happens to any materials afterward and how you'll disseminate the results."

Rubloff's parting words of wisdom are these: "Be sure your research is detailed, extensive, and complete." In the resulting proposal, however, Dublinske warns, "Make it tight."


* IT TAKES EXTENSIVE research to match your need to a funder's interests. The Foundation Center is a good place to start your search.

* COMPETITION FOR FUNDS is increasing, and foundations are looking for innovative new programs that address today's needs.

* FUND-RAISERS ADVICE that spelling out your association's in-kind or matching contributions in your proposal appeals to grantors.


At the American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., Karen Beaty is the grant and contract officer. With another dedicated staffer, she submits 50-75 proposals a year. In 1994, APA expended more than $1.7 million in grant and contract funds.

APA provides an example of association interests matching the government's interests. Through the Department of Health and Human Services' minority fellowship program, federal funds are available to minorities for graduate study in various professional fields. Because APA can more easily recruit, select, and monitor candidates in psychology, it administers part of the fellowship program. APA has also won public grants to train practitioners working with AIDS patients, to research mental health in the elderly, and to run a women's health conference.

Although Beaty finds much less private money available, offering in-kind work or matching funds has helped. APA's Commission on Violence and Youth developed a report on what influences violent behavior in young people and distributed it to national press. With a co-sponsor, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, APA created a layperson's violence-prevention pamphlet. Funds for the project - from research to printing - came from the Sol Goldman Charitable Trust, New York City.

RELATED ARTICLE: Research Resources

As every endeavor has its bywords, in fund-raising the party line is "Do your research, please." The following organizations and publications will help.


* The Foundation Center is headquartered at 79 Fifth Ave., Eighth Floor, New York, NY, 10003; (212) 620-4230. Other sites with comprehensive reference collections are in Washington, D.C., (202) 331-1400; San Francisco, (415) 397-0902; Cleveland, (216) 861-1933; and Atlanta, (404) 880-0094. In most states, some libraries and community foundations maintain a core collection of Foundation Center references. For the nearest site, call (800) 424-9836.

* Public library reference sections usually have a directory of state-registered grant-making institutions. These may include smaller local family and corporate foundations not listed in The Foundation Directory.

* Regional associations of grant makers, or RAGs, may provide member lists or publish guides. They often agree to use a common grant application, which can simplify your proposal-writing work. The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, Washington, D.C., for example, publishes the Guide to Greater Washington Grantmakers, available from the Foundation Center (see "Sources"). If there is a RAG near you, your local librarian should know about it.

* The National Society of Fund Raising Executives, (NSFRE) Alexandria, Virginia, is a place to gather information and network with other grant seekers. For national and chapter contacts, call (703) 684-0410.

* The National Grants Management Association, Rockville, Maryland, offers publications, conferences, and seminars - some open to nonmembers - on reporting requirements, accounting, and other practicalities that kick in once you have a grant. Call (301) 871-0730.


To order from the Foundation Center, (800) 424-9836:

* The Foundation Directory, $175, is an annual compendium of larger foundations ($2 million in assets or annual giving at least $200,000). The 1995 edition includes 7,300 grantors; it has information on a foundation's giving interests, type of funding available, how to apply, whom to contact, selected previous grant recipients, and more.

* The Foundation Directory, Part 2, $175, similarly covers 4,200 smaller programs granting $50,000 to $200,000 annually.

* The Foundation Grants Index Annual, $150, and Quarterly, $95 for four issues, makes it easy to find private and corporate foundations by geographic region and by subject of interest, and tells you who received how much in the last year.

* A variety of subject directories, $75 to $145, target your funding search for projects in aging, arts, education, health, and so on.

* Other guides teach fund-raising and proposal writing skills.

To order from the Government Printing Office, (202) 512-1800:

* Commerce Business Daily, $324 for one year, $162 for six months, is a comprehensive daily list of competitive contracts and some grants from federal government offices and agencies. For a list of services offering the daily online or via fax, call (202) 482-0632.

* Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance, $53, published annually, lists grants available to fulfill various initiatives. Public libraries also carry this and the Commerce Business Daily.

Your public library, closest Foundation Center library, closest Foundation Center library, or NSFRE chapter can recommend other print and online resources. Another reputable publisher, for instance, is Research Grant Guides, Inc., Loxahatchee, Florida; call (407) 795-6129 for a publications list. The biweekly Chronicle of Philanthropy lists recent grants, among other features. For a $67.50 annual mail subscription, call (800) 842-7817; for a trial online subscription, send an e-mail message to chronicle-request[at], and say, "subscribe chronicle [your name and organization]."

To order from ASAE's Association Management Press, call (202) 626-2748, or fax to (202) 408-9634:

* Fund Raising for Associations and Association Foundations (ASAE, 1994) is a background kit telling how associations can raise funds; catalog item AMR121070; $31 for ASAE members, $46 for nonmembers.

* Getting Funded: A Complete Guide to Proposal Writing, Third Edition (1988), by Mary Hall, gives idea-to-finished-proposal tips and strategies based on winning proposals, and information on foundation corporate funding sources; catalog item AMR210190; $23.95.

* How to Write Successful Fund-raising Letters (1994), by Mal Warwick, tells how to write winning fund-raising letters and reasons why people respond to fund-raising appeals; catalog item AMR210916; $39.95.


The ASAE Foundation gives grants that increase knowledge and information in the field of association management while assisting the grantee.

Grants are given in four areas: leadership development, strategic research, innovation, and public outreach. Associations, association foundations, academic institutions, individuals, and research entities are eligible to apply for grants.

The ASAE Foundation uses a two-step application process. The first step is to submit a letter of inquiry outlining your project. The deadline for letters of inquiry for the 1996 round of grants is June 24. 1996. Letters of inquiry are then reviewed, and if the project falls within the funding guidelines, a complete proposal will be invited. Completed proposals are due August 19, 1996.

Consider the following tips for writing a winning letter of inquiry or proposal:

1. Read, understand, and follow the grant guidelines carefully. If you have questions, call the foundation office for clarification before submitting your letter of infinity or proposal.

2. Be sure your letter of inquiry or proposal indicates which funding area you are applying for.

3. Write clearly and concisely there are no extra points for longer papers. Have a colleague review your proposal before you send it in. He or she may find areas that could be explained more clearly. 4. If invited to submit a proposal, send in the requested five copies, unbound.

To request a copy of the grant guidelines, call Ann Kenworthy, CAE, vice president and chief operating officer, ASAE Foundation, at (202) 626-2854.

RELATED ARTICLE: Government Grants: Take Note

At press time, a legislative amendment addressing federal grant money was stalled in a House-Senate Conference Committee. The amendment would significantly restrict lobbying expenditures by any organization that receives or administers federal grant money. For more information, contact ASAE Government Affairs, (202) 626-2703.

Kristin Staroba is a freelance writer based in Takoma Park, Maryland, and a former senior editor of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT.
COPYRIGHT 1995 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes related articles; how to win funds for special projects
Author:Staroba, Kristin
Publication:Association Management
Date:Dec 1, 1995
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