[TheThinkTank] grant proposals

rachael spiewak rachael at sopobikes.org
Tue Oct 23 07:26:09 PDT 2007

Congratulations, Lance!

My favorite resource is the Foundation Center <http://foundationcenter.org/>.
It's a free library for foundation information that also offers free
fundraising workshops.  I'm lucky enough to live up the hill from one.
There are a few
and there are also cooperating
libraries<http://foundationcenter.org/collections/>across the US
(doesn't help you out too much in Calgary).  I've spent a lot
of time in there finding foundations headquartered in Atlanta, so it would
take me forever to find things for all y'all (I wish I could!).  Another way
to go is to reach out to your network and find out who's got connections to
a development director at another nonprofit.  Take that development director
out to lunch and pick their brain.  After all, the game is all about
networking.  Writing your proposal is only the half of it.  Most foundations
want a phone call or letter of inquiry before you send the whole package,
and that point of contact can be a make or break moment.  I have a packet on
how to create these things, which I will eventually scan and upload
(copyright permitting).

Meanwhile, grants should only make up around 30 percent of your budget.
They're unreliable, you're bound to the grant cycle schedule, and there's so
much work to do for an unknown outcome.  The truth about fundraising is that
it's all about your individual donors, and getting money this way is pretty
unsexy.. phone banking, direct mailing, schmoozing.  But I think it makes
more sense for folks like us.. I'd rather get my support from the
communities with which we work who trust us to spend it wisely, than some
corporation or corporate foundation.  Interestingly, my mother is our best
volunteer in this department.

To this end, we're developing a media kit or info packet that includes:
At a Glance (mission, hard numbers, what you can do in the shop)
Current Programs and Programs in the Works
Friends of Sopo Pledge Sheet
Word on the Street (nice things people have said about Sopo.. I used myspace
to generate content for this)

Most of this stuff is on our website, and we're working towards going live
with the pledge sheet, which will be integrated with our wishlist, which is
partially registered with REI so people can click click click to buy us

A word about the structure of the pledge sheet.  To get away from the
typical hierarchical levels of giving, we put actual shop expenses on the
sheet instead.  This way, people can connect what they're giving to
something that will directly benefit the community, and no one is recognized
for giving more than anyone else.  Plus, I imagine, say, a student group
decides to take on a certain expense that fits in with their world view and
does something fun to raise that money.

Finally, work the online fundraising.  I went to a workshop with a
consultant for this stuff.  People who give online give more than people who
give through the mail, and it's cheaper and easier for you.  There are ways
to make this process easier.  I've got a PPT about it that we can upload,

We also painted a toolbox green, cut a hole in it, and lug it around as a
giant hard-to-miss donation box.  A couple of dollars here and there all add

People want to be charitable.  Be passionate about what you do and show
those folks that your bike shop fits right in with what they believe in.
It's even better if you can get them to come to that conclusion on their

Of course, I'm no expert.. this is just what we've learned so far.

Your friend,

On 10/22/07, lance ayer <lanceayer at gmail.com> wrote:
> Greetings all,
> We are in the midst of starting up a new bike coop here in Calgary. So
> far it is going very well, but the next task of putting together a
> business proposal is proving to be quite a task given our short
> deadline for funding and other grants. Could someone point me in the
> direction of some resources which could help us out in this regard? Or
> if any coops have copies of their own proposals available I would be
> most greatful if they could be sent my way.
> Cheers,
> Lance Ayer
> Campus Bike Initiative, Calgary
> _______________________________________________
> Thethinktank mailing list
> Thethinktank at lists.bikecollectives.org
> http://lists.bikecollectives.org/listinfo.cgi/thethinktank-bikecollectives.org
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