Friday, October 06, 2006

# 19: Know your funder - Advice from Donor Power Blog

Jeff Brooks, Donor PowerBlog, has some advice in his post The Secret of Non-Profit Branding that grant writers should keep in mind. When you read it, just substitute 'funders' for 'donors.'

"Put it this way: Your donors are giving to you because of what that giving says about them -- to themselves or to others.

They aren't giving because your programs are so brilliant.

They aren't giving because you're so smart (or strategic, or any other great attribute).

They aren't giving because of your long history or superior achievement."

When you write a grant application you tell the funder 'you'll be happy to have your money and your name associated with this program and this agency. We will represent you well.'

Pay attention to what they want their funding to say about them -- for example: Do they want to be seen as a funder for projects staffed by highly professional, credentialed staff or are they self-help or peer oriented? Are they interested in agencies with a track record of sucesses or in nurturing start-ups. Do they like risk-taking and funding innovations or do they want projects based on model programs? Are they consumer or community-oriented or research-based?

You can tell a lot from the RFP itself, but I also like to see who they've previously funded, and how they describe those projects. What image do they project in their newsletters and conferences? Anything I can learn about the face they present to the world will inform my narrative strategy.

Jeff says "So ask yourself: What about our brand feeds the unique aspirations of our donors? What is it about giving to you that makes them feel proud or happy or cool or validated?"

Read Jeff's post. In fact, read his blog regularly. I do. As a grant writer, it will broaden your perspective. As a non-profit marketer and fundraiser, you'll find something relevant in every post.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

#18: How Can You Prove Your Outcomes Are Worth the Money?

Oh, finally someone has said something sensible about outcome measurement. What do they say? You can't prove it -- and, it can be counter productive to try.

Stanford Social Innovation Review : Articles : Drowning in Data (August 30, 2006): "The only surefire way to show that a program is helping people more than they could have helped themselves is to conduct expensive and lengthy studies involving control groups. Because so many people underestimate the difficulty and cost of demonstrating impact, nonprofits often collect reams of data that are not only useless, but also misleading. As a result, evaluation is failing to help make the social sector more effective."
Yes, the team needs to have a logic model and identify goals. But, my money is on program improvement, not long term outcomes.

Read this article. Pass it along. It's important!