20 Years of Giving Fundraiser

The BNI Foundation kicked off Global Convention activities in style with a fundraiser to celebrate its twenty year anniversary! Everyone involved with the foundation was invited to the event which took place on the evening of November 8th in Long Beach, CA.

BNI Foundation co-founders Beth and Ivan Misner, Executive Director, Stephanie Starr,  staff, volunteers and Board members mingled as they enjoyed food, drinks and live a-cappella entertainment by Swingline. Also on hand to speak was award-winning film producer/director/writer, Barnet Bain. The evening was capped off with a silent auction.

Red Coats, Inc. generously sponsored the event which was graciously hosted by Margie and Emory Cowan, long time BNI Foundation supporters who truly embody the principle of Givers Gain®.

View a gallery of photos from the event here.

$10,000 Raised for Children’s Shelter

BNI member Jim McLemore, of A-Tec Office Solutions Inc., hosted a successful fundraiser for the Haven of Peace Children’s Shelter in Stockton, California. Thanks to the assistance provided by fellow members of the BNI Stockton Business Partners chapter in the Central Valley region, the event raised $10,000 for Haven of Peace.

Haven of Peace offers shelter, counseling, education and other forms of assistance to mother’s and children in need. They opened their doors in 1959.

BNI California Central Valley Executive Directors, John and Eva Lisle were the proud sponsors of this event. The donation of time, talent and treasure from this California region is truly appreciated.

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.

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.