Michigan Women's Foundation, 17177 North Laurel Park Dr., Suite 445, Livonia, MI 48152
telephone: (734) 542-3946; fax: (734) 542-3952; http://comnet.org/mwf
Center for Women, 25 Sheldon Blvd., SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
telephone: (616) 742-2389; fax: (616) 459-8460

Michigan Women's Foundation
Women's Road Map
The Newsletter of MWF's Management Assistance Program
July - August 1991

Grantmaker's Point of View

So you have dollar signs in your eyes and want a key to unlock the treasury. The chronicle for grantseekers on behalf of women's groups has few corollaries:

  • Closest to home is best.
  • Do your homework.
  • Know your foundations.
  • Follow directions.
  • Write a KISS proposal with a "just the facts, ma'am" budget.

    Closest to Home Is Best: Start your search for philanthropic funds by looking in your own backyard. Your hometown is the fertile funding field where your agency is known and information is abundant. Conduct an informal canvass of all sources of local funds: local men's and women's service groups, local churches and their auxiliaries, the United way, local corporations, and the trust department of local banks -- especially your agency's bank.

    Your public or college library probably has a Michigan Foundation Directory published periodically by the Michigan League for Human Services in cooperation with the Council of Michigan Foundations. Use it frequently.

    The Directory has alphabetical listings of cities where foundations operate. The city list will provide the names of all foundations in your hometown. Use your telephone book as a source of addresses and telephone numbers. Your chief question might be, "Where can I get information about how to get a grant from your foundation?"

    Do Your Homework: Your job efforts will be concentrated for a while on investigating prospective private funding sources in Michigan. The cursor word is "prospective," which serves as the identifier of charitable funds for full or partial support for nonprofit organizations like yours. You must conduct research to locate three kinds of foundations:

    1. Foundations which support women's groups.
    2. Foundations which contribute funds for programs or projects like your agency's.
    3. Your community foundation with a priority for services like yours.
    The Foundation Center (212/620-4230) is the fount of foundation knowledge. Periodically the Center publishes the Foundation Directory, presently in its 13th edition. The Directory is an index to foundations and grants.

    In recent years, the Foundation Center has offered a computer service for a fee, enabling researchers to contract for an individualized search and computer printout listing those foundations who made grants during the period and for the purpose specific in the search.

    A group of Michigan foundations provided funds to establish foundation libraries in these Michigan cities: Alpena, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Dearborn, Detroit, East Lansing, Farmington Hills, Flint, Grand Rapids, Houghton and Saulte Ste. Marie. These local foundation libraries are reference libraries about foundations together with copies of Internal Revenue 990 forms filed annually by foundations. These local collections provide the service of a librarian familiar with these references and trained to demonstrate their use. Such librarians are invaluable in identifying your "prospective" foundations.

    Most large foundations publish annual reports describing their grants and mission or purpose. These annual reports generally are a good source of grant information because they are produced by foundation writers as the foundation's description to the public of its mission. Readers can review grants and grant amounts to determine the foundation's priorities, noting what percent of the year's total grants were contributed to women's groups or causes.

    You can call or write prospective foundations requesting a copy of their latest annual report.

    Know Your Foundations: All these references provide you with a base of information from which to cull your list of prospective foundations. The word "cull" fits because you want to "work smart" by preparing a list which reflects accurately a match between your grant needs and those foundation's grant interests. A telephone call to each foundation listed offers you the chance to question foundation staff directly about their grant interests, enabling you to decide which foundations really are good prospects.

    It is a waste of your time and theirs to submit proposals to funders whose publications and practices profess no priority in your "cause celebre." So, concentrate your fundraising effort on the creation of a correct prospective foundation list.

    Follow Directions: Many annual reports provide information about the requirements for obtaining a grant. Large foundations distribute special publications detailing how to apply for its grants. Some foundations require the use of a special application form. Some foundations maintain a schedule for receiving and reviewing proposals. No generalized advice will be so precise as each donor's published counsel; however, the following advice is widely applicable:

  • Read each grantmaker's grant procedures, schedules and requirements
  • If you have questions, call the foundation's staff to gain a clear understanding.
  • Execute faithfully the procedures described.

    The wrong form or a missed deadline is a lost opportunity. Review individual requirements and comply accordingly.

    If you are told, "We do not fund gender-specific projects," ask the validating question next. "Do your funding priorities include _____ (health, violence, education, jobs, child care, etc.)?"

    The Proposal: KISS and Facts: "Keep it simple, Stupid!" is sound practice in producing clear proposals. Most foundations admire clarity and brevity. Their libraries are bulging with wordy reports. Staff desks are top heavy with lengthy proposals. Brief proposals which also meet the requirements are desirable but rare. If your proposal must be long, then include a short executive summary which describes the purpose and outlines the objectives, strategies, schedule and budget.

    Your budget must compute accurately. Line items should clarify the computation (e.g. 56 hours of staffing time at $10 per hour). This may require a documentation page following the budget to explain the line items. Avoid inflating the budget, but be sure to cover all the costs. Sergeant Joe Friday's sage advice still is apt. "Just the facts, ma'am."

    In Summary: Concentrate your efforts on philanthropic sources matched to your mission, emphasizing your own hometown. Follow each set of directions with care. you will receive more letters denying your proposal than announcing a grant. If the denial letter lacks an explanation, you can request one and apply again, if the situation warrants another try. In any event, your women clients will be the ultimate beneficiaries when you succeed in gaining philanthropic dollars.

    Marilyn H. Steele, Ph.D., Program Officer, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Retired)


    Legal Aid Society of Central Michigan and 10 other legal services agencies have been recognized by the Women's Issues Section of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association for their family-related employment plans.

    According to a legal journal article sent in by Douglas W. Slade, Executive Director of the Lansing-based legal aid program, many legal service agencies advocating for the poor -- a disproportionate number of whom are women and children -- put their money where their mouths are when it comes to "family friendly" benefits for their own employees.

    The article, "Kids and Careers: How Three Legal Services Employees Cope," appeared in the July, 1991, issue of Clearinghouse Review, a legal journal for legal services agencies. It cited an innovative array of family oriented benefits provided by agencies like Legal Aid Society of Central Michigan and others across the nation:

  • Plans that shelter employee income spent on child care from income tax.
  • Allowing for part-time work and job sharing, where two employees share one full-time position.
  • Both paid and unpaid leaves of absence -- e.g. up to three months -- for childbirth, as well as for caring for elderly parents.
  • Allowing employees to use accumulated sick and vacation days to arrange a paid leave of absence for childbirth.
  • Generous sick and vacation leave policies -- e.g. four weeks vacation and three weeks of sick leave annually.
  • Leave plans in which the employer matches accumulated leave time - - e.g. up to one and one half months.
  • Flex time policies which don't require employees to work the standard 9 to 5 workday.
  • Supportive work environments that make it OK to take sick leave to care for an ill child and/or to occasionally bring a child to the office.
  • On-site day care.
  • Allowing employees to work at home.

    These policies need not be unique to legal services agencies. Many, if not all, of them could be adapted at little or no cost by even the smallest women's organizations. AS one staffer at the San Francisco National Center for Youth Law put it, "As a youth law center, we thought that we should be in the vanguard in supporting parents." The same can be said of organizations serving women and girls.


    Every small group will produce emerging leaders who haven't assumed control of the group -- but soon can.

    To identify an emerging leader, look for people who:

  • Tend to speak more than others in the group and come up with more ideas.
  • Try to organize the group[ by giving it structure, setting its agenda and suggesting tasks.
  • Create a climate that makes members want to stay in the group, even if they're not always happy with group actions.
  • Act as gatekeepers for controlling talk and information.

    Example: In one-third of a group of juries studied, the first person who spoke, tried to organize things, and held a central view was elected to head the jury.

    To be more persuasive], align yourself with an emerging leader - or become one yourself.

    Source: From Erwin P. Bettinghaus and Michael J. Cody, Persuasive Communication (Holt, Rinehart and Winston), cited in the June 1990 issue of communication briefings.

    Need Help?
    Do you have questions on fund raising, infrastructure, financial management, grantseeking, legal issues, personnel issues, leadership or other management issues? Drop us a line and we'll do our best to find and publish the answer.

    Women's Road Map is a publication of the Michigan Women's Foundation. Published bi-monthly and free of charge as a project of MWF's on-going Management Assistance Program, this newsletter is designed to improve the management of women's organizations and, thus, enable them to compete more successfully in the nonprofit world. 1991 publication is made possible through a grant from the Chrysler Corporation Fund.

    General Notes
    MWF was founded in 1986 as a way to increase support for programs and projects that empower Michigan women and girls . In addition to the Management Assistance Program, MWF uses donor's contributions to make grants to a variety of women's organizations and works to increase public awareness of the needs of Michigan women and to encourage other foundations, individuals and the corporate community to increase their support of women's programs.

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