BNI Foundation Welcomes New Board Members

The BNI Foundation has recently added four new members to its board of directors, bringing the total to nine members. Joining Chairman Jeff Stay, Vice Chairman Andy Hart, Treasurer Michael Walchonski, Co-founder and Secretary Beth Misner and board member Graham Weihmiller, are four BNI leaders from around the world.

Kevin Barber oversees over 1,200 members in South-West Germany’s 39 chapters, the first of which he started himself in 2005. Kevin is also the BNI Foundation’s Global Special Envoy and is responsible for the Foundation’s operations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Shelli Howlett is one of the few female BNI Executive Directors running multiple large regions. Her geographic area includes Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, Texas where there are 2,700 members in 105 chapters.

David Kauffman acts as Managing Director and Senior Director Consultant for the BNI Delaware Valley Region, which encompass 5 states and 125 chapters. David has years of experience serving boards of charitable organizations and also founded and operates the Adaptive Aquatic program for the Haverford, PA YMCA.

Jeremy Walsh is the Worldwide Director of Support, Training and Documentation for BNI Connect. Jeremy and his team set up BNI Connect’s self-help forums, which see 52,000 visits a month from members searching its comprehensive library of hundreds of training materials.

We are excited to have these accomplished members of the BNI family join us in their leadership roles at the BNI Foundation and are looking forward to accomplishing great work with their guidance. You can learn more about the BNI Foundation’s board of directors by clicking here.

Educational Grants Help Schools and Teachers Fund Projects

Educational Grants Help Schools and Teachers Fund Projects

We have written before in this space about the great need for funds in our nation’s classrooms. Lack of funding has created a situation where most teachers have to purchase basic supplies like books and paper with their own money. The good news is that there are a large number of educational grants available to schools and teachers.

Grants are funds (or sometimes products) that are gifted by a grant maker, usually a foundation, trust or government agency. They can be awarded to non-profit organizations, schools and educational organizations, and even businesses and individuals. More often than not, grants must be used for a specific project determined by the grant maker. Educational grants are available for a surprisingly large number of projects from equipping a classroom with computers to paying for a field trip or anything that can enrich education.

What follows is only a sampling of the grants that schools and teachers can apply for. Some of the grants are open for submissions at different times of the year so check each link for deadlines and eligibility requirements.

Elmer’s Teacher Tool Kit Grant

The Kids in Need Foundation and Elmer’s partnered to award this grant that provides $100 to $500 worth of school supplies to students with financial needs. The application requires a description of how funds will be used as well as how many students will be impacted.

Target Field Trip Grants

The purpose of these grants is to expand learning outside of the traditional classroom. Each Target store in the US awards three $700 grants that can be used for transportation, admission fees or other field trip expenses.

Pets in the Classroom Grants

This grant from the Pet Care Trust is designed to allow students to interact with a class pet. Funds are used to obtain, care for and maintain a classroom pet. Teachers of students from pre kinder to ninth grade are eligible to apply.

Toshiba Tech Grants

This grant is available for grades 6-12. The Toshiba America Foundation promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning by providing funds for technology enhanced education. Grants of up to $5000 can be used to purchase technology and supplies for STEM educational projects.

Givers Gain® Grants

The BNI Foundation awards ten $1000 grants each year, five in the summer and five in the winter, to 501c3 non-profit schools and educational organizations. Grants are by referral only and the school or organization must be partnered with a Business Voices team to be eligible.

Donors Choose

Donors Choose does not offer grants, but rather an innovative way to raise funds for schools. Public school teachers can request funds for classroom projects, listing the resources needed. Donors can pick which school and project they want to support and can donate money or needed supplies.

A Word on Grant Writing

Grant Writing refers to the process of applying for a grant or making a grant proposal. Grant writing can be something of a skill that can be improved through repetition. Some organizations hire professional grant writers to increase their chances of securing funds. For teachers who will apply on their own, here are a few tips to help the application or proposal get noticed.

Get to know the grant maker – Research the organization awarding the grant to learn what they look for in an application. Reach out to them to learn what you can, read their blog and follow them on social media, if available.

Plan your project – Map out your project’s goals, needed supplies, cost, etc. Innovative and interesting project proposals tend to get more attention.

Give yourself time – A well-written grant proposal, and most applications, take time. Do not wait until just before the deadline to get started, as you will probably not be able to put in the time to make your proposal shine.

Do not limit yourself to the short list of grants above. Take some time to research what is available. You will be sure to find at least one grant for your specific classroom needs. Many more grants for all kinds of educational projects are just a Google search away.

Video Contest Winner “Day with the Misner’s”

Earlier this year, Josh Perry of FusionForge Consultants won the video contest meant to highlight the impact adults can have on children. Each submission was a video “testimonial” in which the contestant described an adult who significantly influenced their life. Josh’s winning video was about a volunteer named Ray who brought knowledge, passion and excitement to a Junior Achievement economics course he taught at Josh’s high school.

First prize was a day with Ivan and Beth Misner in Austin, TX. Josh and his wife Kay Perry had the opportunity to spend the day with the Misners at their home.

The day started with breakfast at Trace Restaurant in downtown Austin.

Next was a trip to the Farmer’s Market, also in downtown Austin. There they purchased food from the Misner Plan for lunch.

That was followed by a long boat ride on Lake Austin.

The rest of the afternoon was spent floating and hanging out at the Misner’s pool where they had lunch.

The day ended with a wine tasting and dinner at Cru Restaurant in downtown Austin.

Congratulations to Josh Perry and his wife Kay. It looks like a great time was had by all.

BNI Sacramento School Supply Drive

In August, just before the beginning of the school year, members of the BNI Riverside Executives chapter in Sacramento, California invited Principal Greg Barge of Earl Legette Elementary School to their chapter meeting. They had a surprise. Chapter members had collected over $1000 worth of school supplies to donate to the school. The supplies, as well as thirty new backpacks, went to the students of teacher Rory McClure’s fourth grade class.

Business Voices has had a successful back to school season. Supply drives like the one put together by BNI Riverside Executives, are a great way to support our local students and schools. Remember, due to budget constraints, school districts often cannot provide teachers and students with everything they need, placing the financial burden on students’ parents and the teachers themselves. Back to school time may be the most obvious time for supply drives, but supplies are needed in the fall, after the winter break and throughout the school year.

Peck Elementary School Supply Drop-off

BNI Gate City teamed up with Volvo Financial Services to provide much needed school supplies for the students of Peck Elementary school in Winston Salem, NC. Volvo Financial Services has been a big supporter of the Business Voices initiative for years. In addition to supply drives like this, Volvo Financial Services donates $5,000 to the school every year. Those funds have gone to improve technology in Peck Elementary’s classrooms.

And now there is another surprise! Volvo Financial Services has committed to having all of the Peck Elementary third graders visit their facility on a field trip where Volvo leaders will speak to the kids and take them on a tour. While there, the students will have the opportunity to explore a  large Volvo truck.

Congratulations to BNI Gate City for their successful partnership with the folks at Volvo Financial Services. By working  together and sharing their time, talents and treasure, they have had a positive impact on the students of a local school.

Fill My Ride at BNI SWFL

Fill My Ride at BNI SWFL

The next successful Business Voices® Fill My Ride event took place on August 4th. Members from BNI BizNet of the South West Florida region gathered supplies for students at Six Mile Charter Academy in Fort Myers. Enough school supplies for more than 50 children were delivered to the school in the back of a large pick-up truck. Upon arrival, BIzNet members were enthusiastically met by faculty members as well as the school’s wildcat mascot.

“There were enough supplies donated to help out 50+ students whose families were not able to fulfill the extensive supply list for the new school year,” said BNI BizNet member Matthew Colla. The school’s Dean of Students was able to disburse the supplies to the specific families most in need of them.

Congratulations to all who participated in this much needed program, and thank you for sharing your story with everyone.

Kronos Anniversary

BNI Kronos Givers Gain Anniversary Celebration

BNI Kronos in Ahmedabad, India celebrated their first anniversary – and 120M Rupees (1.8M USD) in closed business – by organizing a Business Voices event. Twenty-five of Kronos’ 32 members spent the day with mentally challenged, low income youth. BNI Kronos members organized gaming stalls for the kids and members to interact, and they provided lunch for the day. The members and children spent the day playing, dancing and dining together.

Aside from giving of their time, Kronos members donated a total of 200,000 Rupees (over 3,000 USD) including a much-needed washing machine, music system, health and hygiene kits and three months’ worth of groceries. Additionally, Kronos members adopted 12 of the youths and will provide additional necessities to them in the coming year.

Watch the video (below) and view the photos of this successful and inspiring event. Congratulations to the members of BNI Kronos for their efforts.

Cause Marketing Benefits Companies and Non-profits

Cause Marketing Benefits Companies and Non-profits

Consumers, given the choice, will often purchase products and services from socially and environmentally responsible companies. Companies and non-profit charities are taking advantage of this fact, and the last quarter century has seen the rise of cause marketing, promotional campaigns that increase profits while benefiting a cause. Cause marketing is now the primary avenue by which companies demonstrate social responsibility. Cause-related marketing is a specific form of cause marketing in which a company partners with a non-profit organization to raise funds for a particular cause.

Cause marketing can be beneficial to both the for-profit company and the charity. For the non-profit, there is the prospect of tapping into the business’s marketing resources and exposure to the company’s customers. For the company, it can mean a public relations boost and increased sales. Even consumers benefit by being able to support a charity simply by making a purchase.

How Does Cause Marketing Work?

Cause marketing works best when there is a certain synergy between the non-profit organization and the company they are partnering with. Ideally, the non-profit’s mission and vision should have some relation to the company’s products or services. It is best if the business’s employees and customers are excited about the cause as well. The right affiliations make for the strongest promotional campaigns.

These partnerships do not always involve a straight donation from the company to the non-profit organization. Instead, businesses will often donate products, services, or their employees’ time. This kind of charitable work tends to have a stronger impact on the consumers being targeted.

The marketing campaign’s goals will be to motivate customers to take some sort of action like donating money or volunteering their time. An effective campaign will not only solicit help, it will raise awareness for the non-profit as well as the company’s philanthropic efforts.

Advantages of Cause Marketing

The advantages to the business include increased sales and public awareness of its social responsibility. A non-profit’s benefits can be significant. Monetary donations and an increase in volunteers are the two primary benefits. In addition, the non-profit is likely to enjoy increased exposure in advertising and publicity from their relationship with a for-profit company. Depending on the company partnered with, the amount of advertising and publicity generated is likely to be greater than what the non-profit can accomplish on its own.

The BNI Foundation’s mission and vision place it in a unique position to benefit from cause marketing. Our association with BNI and its members – all of whom are business people – provides excellent cause marketing opportunities, and BNI’s core value of Givers Gain® reflects perfectly the BNI Foundation’s goals. When BNI chapters integrate the BNI Foundation’s impact into the BNI corporate culture, the BNI brand is elevated, brand loyalty surges and member and alumni engagement and retention are impacted positively.

The charitable activities of the BNI Foundation, along with our aggressive online marketing presence, already lend added credibility to the BNI brand. Deeper relationships between the BNI Foundation and BNI chapters and members act as a tool toward BNI brand awareness, loyalty and recruitment.

As Dr. Ivan Misner clarifies in this video, the BNI Foundation is your foundation. The time, treasure and talent you give benefit the children and schools in your community. Currently we are working on increasing our membership among BNI chapters and members. Back to school time is the ideal time to get your BNI chapter involved with the BNI Foundation and cause marketing. Click here to get started on this win/win opportunity.

Boys Haven – Givers Gain® Grant Recipient

Boys’ Haven is a general residential operation in Beaumont, Texas that serves boys ages 5 to 17 and provides a port for stormy times in the boys’ lives. Many of these boys come from single parent homes and are in need of a more structured environment. Some are referred by Juvenile Probation Departments and the Department of Family and Protective Services. The program is based on the principles of discipline and hard work, a program where natural consequences occur and privileges are earned. Boys Haven has been in operation for more than 70 years.

 

 

The organization will use the $1000 Givers Gain® Grant to enroll its residents in the Equine Therapy Summer Program provided by Stable Spirit. The therapy is designed for those who have suffered some form of abuse or neglect in their lives. The boys learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with horses and discussing thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and patterns. The BNI Foundation is proud to support Boy’s Haven and the fine work they do.

What Non-Profits Need Most is Funding

What Non-Profits Need Most is Funding

Too many non-profit organizations fall into a financial trap of their own making. Being mission driven, they find themselves focusing on providing services without a clear picture of where the money will come from. Many non-profits fail to put a solid fundraising system in place. A major study of the challenges facing non-profits conducted in 2013 found that almost a quarter of the organizations surveyed had no fundraising plan whatsoever. Additionally, many non-profit board members lack training on essential fundraising skills like donor identification, prospecting and cultivating.

Non-profit organizations need a solid fundraising culture to succeed. Too many non-profits find themselves dealing with one financial crisis after another when efforts are too heavily focused on the cause, and few resources are dedicated to funding. Some in leadership positions at non-profit organizations do not consider income generation their top priority. This kind of thinking can cause an organization to fail to thrive, or worse, flat out fail, despite great ideas or potential.

Create a Fundraising Culture

A strong fundraising culture is created when all of an organization’s members and donors have an awareness of its mission and funding needs and are enthusiastic to work toward making both succeed. With a bit of basic information, and an appreciation for how the mission and fundraising interact, members and volunteers will create a network that spreads the non-profit’s vision and is ready to capitalize on fundraising opportunities. These basic tenets encourage a positive fundraising culture.

Mission and Vision

Members should understand exactly what change the non profit organization is trying to affect and how it goes about doing that. What are the primary goals of the non profit, and how does it use its resources to serve the community? Being able to articulate these points allows members and volunteers to promote the non-profit’s work.

Fundraising Plan

Every non-profit organization must understand the costs associated with sustaining its mission and vision, as well as its programs and services and how to make the project sustainable. The basics of the financial plan includes information about revenue sources and administrative and organizational expenses. Donors and members must know who donates to their non-profit and where other funds come from.

Pitch

Having fundraising pitches or elevator speeches prepared for every occasion is essential to take advantage of whatever opportunity arises. Preferably, board members already have pitches they use to secure donations from the philanthropists they solicit, but everyone ought to have an idea of what to say if the subject arises. It could simply be clearly communicating the organization’s goals, strategies and needs.

Where’s the Money?

Ideally, non-profits must secure support from many different sources. Some financial sources will occur episodically from events, a grant award or single donation. A combination of episodic and ongoing support, such as endowments, annual funds, recurring grants and the sale of services or products are preferable. Here are some traditional sources of philanthropic funding that non-profits can rely on.

  • Charitable Contributions from individuals account for almost three quarters of all charitable giving in this country.
  • Corporate Contributions have taken on added importance to companies as socially conscious consumers increasingly turn to like minded companies when making purchasing decisions.
  • Government Grants fund programs on the local, state and national levels.
  • Foundations come in many forms including family, community and corporate. Their purpose is to generate funds for other philanthropic organizations.

Non profit-organizations need to consider all of this and more to be successful. If every member at every level of the organization is committed to both the mission and the fundraising, the non-profit will have a substantial advantage in receiving support of all kinds.

The BNI Foundation is YOUR foundation. Our mission to create a conduit between business and education to meet children’s educational needs is powered by BNI. We rely on the support of BNI members, but anyone can help with their time or money. Click this link to find out how can take action.

 

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