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Don't Forget Local Businesses When Seeking Funding


As nonprofits look for funding opportunities, they often forget one of the most readily available sources -- the local business community, says Federal & Foundation Assistance Monitor Editor Ray Sweeney.

Sweeney, who has years of grants management experience, says nonprofits need to be aware that most of the businesses in their city or town usually have some type of giving program.

"Nonprofits need to be knowledgeable about what type of corporate giving is available locally, and continuously pursue it," Sweeney says.

Make a dynamic list: Nonprofits should start and keep a list of local businesses and industries and their grant giving styles and update it often. "These are the funding sources that nonprofits should turn to for a quick turnaround," says Sweeney. "These funding opportunities, after all, are in their own backyard."

Obtain crucial fundraising information: A simple Google search using the name of the business with additional search terms like "corporate giving" or "foundation" many times can uncover a new funding source, Sweeney says.

If this method doesn't produce results, the nonprofit should visit the website for the business or company. The information about corporate giving programs is generally under the section called something like "about us" or "company information."

Follow directions: The website information about the giving should provide the next steps. All companies are different and handle funding in different ways.

Some companies may say contact the local store manager for details, while others like Walmart provide a wealth of information on their website. Walmart's giving is extensive, with local, state and regional funding available.

Employee involvement: Something that doesn't seem to change among corporate philanthropic efforts is the need for nonprofits to secure involvement from local employees and managers. "This is the easiest fundraising outreach there is." Sweeney says. "These businesses are local so it easy to make contact and start and enhance crucial connections."

Some suggestions:
(1) Pick up the phone and give the business or company manager a call about potential funding or volunteer opportunities for employees.
(2) Be sure to invite managers and employees to fundraising events.
(3) Offer the managers a position on the board of directors.
(4) Assess current volunteers, staff and family to see if anyone has a connection with a local business or corporation. "This 'in' can save a lot of time and money," says Sweeney.

Source : "Savvy Funding Tips", Federal & Foundation Assistance Monitor, December 11, 2009.


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