Monthly Archives

November 2019

7 Common Grant Writing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

By | Grant Management | No Comments

While individual giving makes up a large portion of funding for a nonprofit, grants can be instrumental in rounding out fundraising plans. All too often grant proposals are dismissed quickly after the foundation or corporation receives it. Poorly researched proposals and other glaring mistakes cause more harm than good. In this article, we’ll summarize seven common grant writing mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 – Rushed Research

Learning about the granting organization is the most valuable part of the proposal writing process. Start by reviewing the last three years of grant winners. What do they have in common? How can you target your grant so that you have a better chance of receiving funds?

Mistake #2 – Tardy Applications

We know that work can get busy, but that is not an excuse for turning in your grant application late. Always be on time!

Mistake #3 – Too Much Content

It is important to provide proof of the excellent work your organization is doing. Pick and choose what you would like to present. Too much information overwhelms reviewers and makes you seem disorganized. Refine the enclosures to support the central message of your proposal.

Mistake #4 – Unclear Proposals

Vague language derails many proposals. Be specific about how you plan to use the grant funds and how it aligns with both your mission and that of the foundation providing the funds. Remember that a grant proposal is a plan of action, not an educational brochure or annual report. Explain the problem but then move on to clearly explain what you’ll be doing about it.

Mistake #5 – Numbers That Don’t Add Up

Create the budget and check it twice. Make sure that the numbers included is both realistic and accurate. The financials should support the logic that flows through the proposal. Err on the side of realism rather than optimism and have someone double check your figures.

Mistake #6 – Failure To Plan For The Follow Up Call

You get a call from the foundation, and your application is part at the top of the consideration list. Now they have specific questions about the programs outlined in your application. Don’t be caught off guard. Have a comprehensive plan ready to share with foundation directors when they call you.

Mistake #7 – Not Saying Thank You

Regardless whether you get the grant or not, it’s always appropriate to show appreciation. Thanking foundation directors and anyone else at the organization who helped you with the grant application is the right thing to do. A sincere thank you goes a long way towards making a positive impression for your organization.
Winning grants takes time and effort and can be stressful. With these tips, you’ve just stepped ahead of many others who aren’t taking the time to learn more about the grant application process.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

What You Can Do to Save the Earth, Nonprofit Style

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

You don’t need to be a superhero to save the planet. NASA states that global temperature is 1.9 degrees F higher today than in 1880; 12.8% of arctic ice is lost each year. While some believe this is the result of natural, unavoidable cycles, no one denies that the activities of modern society have contributed pollution and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

There’s plenty that individuals and organizations can do to reduce their carbon footprint and reduce their impact on the environment. Nonprofits can be at the forefront of the conversation to reduce their environmental impact and lead by actions in the fight against climate change.

10 Steps to Take to Reduce Pollution and Waste

  1. Green your commute: The EPA states that the transportation industry, which includes personal automobile usage and other vehicles, is a substantial contributor to smog, soot, and poor air quality. Encourage workers to walk, cycle, or take public transportation to work.
  2. Allow telecommuting: Telecommuting could potentially save a lot of fossil fuels and reduce pollution emissions by allowing workers to remain at home and contribute their talents via technology. With so many excellent technology solutions including cloud-based programs, video conferencing, and more, there’s no reason why many jobs cannot be completed by home-based workers. If 32 million Americans worked from home, they would save over 74 million gallons of gas and the pollution created by producing gasoline from crude oil, transporting it to gas stations, and burning it during driving!
  3. Use energy-efficient lights: Change out older light fixtures for energy-efficient LEDs. Consider adding motion-detected sensor lights in areas that may go unused for hours each day, such as a lunchroom or storeroom.
  4. Change the thermostat: Install a programmable thermostat in your office and drop the temperatures during non-work hours to a low setting in winter and a higher setting in summer to save heating and cooling costs.
  5. Have HVAC systems serviced: If you own the building you work in or are responsible for the HVAC system, schedule regular maintenance, including changing filters and cleaning the system. This can improve the efficiency of the system and save on energy costs. Talk to building maintenance about your concerns if you aren’t responsible for HVAC maintenance and share with them information on how a clean system is an energy-efficient one.
  6. Reduce paper waste: Ask employees to scan and share documents rather than print them out. Use recycled paper and recycle wastepaper after shredding sensitive documents.
  7. Unplug electronic devices: Unplug computers, printers, and copiers when not in use. Make it a point to unplug everything on Friday evenings or before long weekends.
  8. Ditch the single-serve coffee: Coffee machines that use individual pods are convenient and give workers a choice, but also create a lot of waste. It might be time to return to the communal coffee pot.
  9. Eat local: Although not an office-wide initiative, encourage employees to choose locally grown foods and try to order lunches from places near the office to reduce the travel time and energy used to move food from one place to another.
  10. Consider a weekly potluck: A weekly potluck lunch would encourage employees to dine in and not use their cars to go to buy lunch. It’s a fun way to save energy from automobile use while promoting social time—and sharing good food!

Whether you’re a climate change supporter or skeptic, everyone can agree to reduce pollution and waste. What’s good for the environment is good for the human race and all who live on planet Earth. You don’t need to be a superhero to save the world. All you need are new ideas to take to save energy and reduce waste.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Just Say NO to (Certain) Funding – Why Turning Away Some Funding Opportunities Is a Good Idea

By | Fundraising | No Comments

Nonprofits are always seeking funds. Entire departments are established for fundraising. Yet some funding opportunities aren’t a good idea. Learning which ones to turn down and which ones to accept can save your organization a lot of time and debate later on.

Why Say No to Funding Opportunities?

Why turn away money? After all, aren’t all opportunities for funding good opportunities?

Alas, no. Here are some reasons why you may wish to turn down a funding opportunity:

  1. It’s a significant amount – but unlikely to be continued another year: Although a large amount of money may be useful to fund a major project, the lack of it the following year may cause a great deal of stress for your organization. It may be better to scale slowly than to use a windfall for a major advance, just to have it stall for a while.
  2. It is government-funded, but it is an election year: While that may not necessarily indicate change, if the incumbent loses the election and the funds are part of a controversial project, the funds may evaporate. The sudden loss of funding may negatively impact your nonprofit.
  3. Funds are restricted: Restricted funds have their place in any nonprofit, but if all sources are restricted funds, this can hamper the organization’s ability to achieve its mission. Without funding for overhead, marketing, and similar needs, programs do not have adequate support. All the funding in the world for a program won’t make a big difference if you can’t support it long-term.
  4. The funding source goes against your mission: You may not have pursued the opportunity, but it arrived on your doorstep. Alas, it contradicts vital aspects of your organizational culture or mission. That’s a good reason to say “no” to an opportunity, tempting though it may be. You must remain true to your mission for long-term stability and growth or risk alienating donors who also believe in your mission.

Saying no can be difficult. It’s hard to turn down opportunities, especially if you’ve been working hard to find new ones. Rather than worrying about turning down opportunities, focus instead on the better step ahead: preparing guidelines for funding sources so that your staff knows where to look, what to look for, and how to develop the right sources of funding.

Now Say Yes – Prepare Funding Guidelines

To prepare funding guidelines, you’ll need to work out which opportunities align with your mission. Then, examine how the opportunity impacts the bottom line, both short and long term.

  • Speak with your accounting team and finance professionals to discuss what, if any, impact specific types of funding make on the long-term finances of the organization.
  • Decide what portion of restricted funds should be pursued, and for which types of programs. Include this in the guidelines.
  • Examine how government-funded opportunities may or may not align with your organization’s mission. Then, develop written guidelines about the types of opportunities that are acceptable and those that are not.
  • Develop a plan for “gray area” funding opportunities. How should these be evaluated and by whom? Do you want to pursue them and then decide later on what to do if they should come through; or discuss as a team which ones to approach and which to decline?
  • Share guidelines throughout your organization. Review annually to ensure they continue to align with the values your organization holds dear and with the current plans, financial forecasts, and information at hand.

Passing up an opportunity may feel frightening, especially if your organization is desperately in need of funds, and whose isn’t? By focusing on the “yes, let’s do this” and preparing funding guidelines, you can decrease the times you must decline funds and instead, spend energy wisely on pursuing valuable funding opportunities.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.