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Position Opening: Development Director, Isabella Santos Foundation

Position:           Development Director 

Organization:    Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF)

Location:           Remote in Charlotte metro area

Reports To:       President

 

Organization Overview 

Mission & Vision
The Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF) is a 501(c)3 childhood cancer foundation dedicated to raising funds for research for neuroblastoma, other rare pediatric cancers, and charities that directly impact the lives of children with cancer. ISF was founded in honor of Isabella Santos from Charlotte, NC who lost her battle against neuroblastoma. ISF works to improve rare pediatric treatment options in an effort to improve the survival rate of kids with cancer.

History
In 2009, ISF was established through Isabella’s parents to raise awareness and research funds for neuroblastoma and received its tax-deductible 503(c)3 status in 2010. What began as an effort of a circle of friends has emerged into one of Charlotte’s fastest-growing nonprofit organizations. The goal of the foundation is to raise money and awareness for rare solid tumor cancer research in an effort to increase survival rates of kids with cancer so they can live their dreams. Through Isabella’s legacy, ISF works to help impact other kids fighting cancer in her name. To date, ISF has donated over $3.5 million to support its mission.

For more information about Isabella Santos Foundation, please visit isabellasantosfoundation.org.

Opportunity

Through the Isabella Santos Foundation, people across the country are raising money for solid-tumor cancer research and treatments. The foundation currently focuses on events, direct donations, sponsorships and peer-to-peer as the core fundraising strategies.

The Isabella Santos Foundation recently launched the Rare & Solid Tumor Program at Levine Children’s Hospital, ensuring children and families will have access to the latest cancer expertise in Charlotte and the surrounding region. The Isabella Santos Foundation made a commitment in 2018 to raise $5 million to create the Rare & Solid Tumor Program at Levine Children’s Hospital.

To achieve these goals, ISF is seeking a Development Director to source new donors and manage the organization’s fundraising strategy. The full-time Development Director is responsible for leading resource development activities toward generating $300,000 – $400,000 annually.

The Role

Reporting to the President, the Development Director will be responsible for implementing and managing a development program through a variety of revenue streams with a focus on the cultivation and expansion of new donors and stewardship of existing relationships.

The Development Director will be responsible for crafting a development plan and budget that supports the strategic plan of the staff and board leadership on an annual basis. The Director will be responsible for the design and execution of a comprehensive written annual fundraising plan and goal revenue projection to include individual donors and peer-to-peer strategies. Key responsibilities include:

Development Planning

  • In partnership with the President, craft annual development plan outlining the full-year of giving strategies to sustain and increase support from corporations, events, foundations and individuals
  • Create multi-year strategies for implementing a moves management model of resource development, prospecting, recruiting, engaging, soliciting and stewarding donors and sponsors

Culture Development

  • Establish a first-class stewardship program that effectively engages all constituents (staff, board, volunteers, donors) in supporting the ISF mission and in creating a culture of philanthropy
  • Activity participate in professional fundraising associations and industry groups to stay current of all new practices and innovations in the development field, employing appropriate best practices at ISF
  • Follow current fundraising trends in philanthropy and the nonprofit community

Individual Fundraising

  • Prioritize focus on acquisition strategies to uncover new sources of individual donors, building relationships to onboard them as constituents to the organization
  • Develop new peer-to-peer giving strategies to grow the base of funders and onboard constituents to the organization’s compelling mission
  • Oversee the organization’s efforts to deepen relationships, facilitating activities that increase affinity and engagement, increasing involvement and financial support
  • Maintain ongoing communication with major gift donors, stewarding their engagement with organizational leaders

Development Operations

  • Maintain timely records of all donor, sponsor and prospect contacts in donor database
  • In collaboration with the marketing team, develop content for a variety of channels related to fundraising
  • Assure accurate and timely member, donor, sponsor recognition, acknowledgements, and renewal letters for all financial and in-kind donations
  • Research effective ways to integrate social media strategies into giving campaigns

Required Qualifications & Competencies

The ideal candidate would have the following capabilities and qualities:

  • Minimum of 5 years’ experience in resource development or related field (i.e. marketing, external relations, business development/sales, community relations)
  • Demonstrated expertise in the areas of fundraising, especially cultivating and stewarding donors, peer-to-peer giving strategies and corporate sponsorship
  • A commitment to the ISF mission and ability to speak publicly about the mission with passion
  • Strong ability to make connections easily and create authentic relationships with a wide variety of individuals and groups
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • A self-starter, capable of working in a decentralized work environment
  • Solid analytical skills and basic understanding of financial levers
  • Proficiency with Google Suite, Microsoft Office and CRM software
  • Bachelor’s Degree required, with a preference for candidates with continuing education in advancement, fundraising and philanthropy; CFRE designation is a plus
  • Ability to work extended hours, including nights and weekends, as needed

Compensation
Base compensation will be in the $65,000 – $70,000 range with opportunities for performance-based bonuses.

To Apply

Isabella Santos Foundation has partnered with Next Stage to help in this hire. Beginning September 16, 2019, all inquiries, nominations and applications should be directed via email to Next Stage (search@nextstage-consulting.com). Applications must include a compelling cover letter and CV to be considered for the role. Please also indicate where you learned of the opportunity.

Please note that only those candidates invited for screening will be contacted. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Isabella Santos Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity in its works and staff. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sex, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable state of federal law. ISF encourages candidates of all groups and communities to apply for this position.

About Next Stage

Next Stage is a strategy and implementation firm based in Charlotte, NC and serving nonprofit organizations and social cause start-ups throughout the Carolinas.  Next Stage works with nonprofit organizations to develop game-changing strategies and strengthened operations in service to mission and long-range vision. We partner with clients through three key service lines: strategic planning, resource development planning, and talent development. For more information about Next Stage, please visit nextstage-consulting.com.

Position Opening: President & CEO, Charlotte Museum of History

Position Description: President & CEO

Overview
Client: Charlotte Museum of History
Location: 3500 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte, NC 28215
Founded: 1969
Reports To:  Board of Trustees

Charlotte Museum of History — Organizational Description

Mission
The Charlotte Museum of History interprets and preserves Charlotte’s unique history, enriching the community through shared understanding of the past and inspiring dialogue about the future.

Overview
The Charlotte Museum of History is a cultural institution in east Charlotte offering educational programming for thousands of children, teens and adults; tours; regular community activities, and a variety of permanent and traveling exhibits.

Today’s Charlotte Museum of History building opened in 1999 but the institution’s roots date to the 1940s. The museum and its grounds are home to Mecklenburg County’s oldest surviving structure, a 1774 stone house built by early settler Hezekiah Alexander, a local Revolutionary War leader who served on the committee that drafted North Carolina’s 1776 constitution and bill of rights. In 1949 the Daughters of the American Revolution worked to restore the house, and today the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Recent Efforts
Last year, with the community’s help, Charlotte Museum of History added to its robust programming and completed critical preservation projects for the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site.  The organization also successfully merged with Historic Charlotte, which shares a passion for preserving our community’s built environment and unique history.

With solid revenues, a great staff and a strong and growing base of support, the museum is moving forward with its recent strategic plan, which calls for increased presence and engagement in the Charlotte region while enhancing the museum experience through partnerships and development efforts.

The Role
The CEO is more than the face of the organization – the role is the captain of the organization with a foot in two worlds, stewarding historical assets of the past while engaging the new museum constituents of the future. It is a role that requires an appreciation of history, of course, but also an entrepreneur’s spirit and a manager’s instincts.

Having navigated the challenging post-Recession years that impacted all nonprofits in the region, Charlotte Museum of History is primed to take the important next steps toward sustainability and increased impact.  The organization is seeking a dynamic leader who can get the most out of a team by using mentorship and coaching while continuing to add new roles and leveraging the involvement of volunteers.

Duties and Responsibilities

Management & Leadership

  • Provides daily oversight to the operations of the museum
  • Maintains a working knowledge of museum trends, professional standards, and best practices to be carried out when developing or improving operations, programs, exhibits, and collections care
  • Defines the organization’s long-term goals and strategic focus in partnership with the Board of Trustees, and implements strategic plans and annual operating plans
  • Works in partnership with the Board to set and accomplish the organization’s mission and vision

Human Resources

  • Responsible for recruiting, hiring, training, developing, supervising and evaluating museum personnel (both paid staff and volunteer)
  • Promotes a strong and intentional organizational culture that fosters loyalty, integrity, commitment and creative thinking – one in which staff are empowered, feel valued and are regularly recognized for their contributions
  • Provides overall management of the human resources function, including supervision and a performance appraisal system

Fiscal Management

  • Understands and supervises the business functions of the museum, including budgeting; monitoring and reporting income, expenses, investments, and cash flow; maintenance of appropriate records; and assisting the museum’s auditors
  • Ensures that fiscal management complies with all legal and grant requirements, and is in keeping with sound financial practices of the nonprofit community

External Relations

  • Provides overall leadership in external relations including partner development, public relations and fund development, engaging in consistent outreach efforts and managing a portfolio of relationships
  • Develops strong partnerships that serve the mission and vision of the museum
  • Serves as the museum’s spokesperson for media relations
  • Engages in public speaking and advocacy opportunities
  • Establishes and implements with a Development Director (yet to be hired) an annual fund development plan with fundraising goals, strategies, action items, timelines, and assigned responsibilities
  • Participates directly in fundraising activities, including identifying and meeting with donors and prospective donors to generate support
  • Provides direction and supports board member involvement in fund development

Program Oversight

  • Works with Education Specialists to develop, implement and coordinate yearlong museum programming and outreach efforts, conducting ongoing assessment with regard to the effectiveness of planned curriculum
  • Provides regularized and systematic staff development opportunities

Required Qualifications

The ideal candidate would have the following capabilities and qualities:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in History, Public History, Museum Studies, Nonprofit Administration/Management, or equivalent degree program; advanced degree preferred
  • A passion for history; enthusiasm and knowledge about historic preservation a plus
  • Management experience with proven ability to provide leadership and inspiration to staff and volunteers; experience in a museum or destination setting a plus
  • Experience in museum or nonprofit work for a minimum of 2 to 5 years
  • Demonstrated track record in financial management
  • Demonstrated excellence in communications and interpersonal skills
  • Experience in external relations (Charlotte market a plus)

Compensation
Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience.

To Apply
Charlotte Museum of History is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity in its work and staff. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sex, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable state or federal law. Charlotte Museum of History encourages candidates of all groups and communities to apply for this position.

Beginning September 8, 2017, all inquiries, nominations and applications are to be directed via email to Next Stage Consulting: search@nextstage-consulting.com.  Applications must include a cover letter and CV.  Please indicate in the subject line of your email the position and organization to which you are applying and where you learned of the opportunity. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Please note that only those candidates invited for screening will be contacted.

 

Emerging Organizations (The Community Social Impact Portfolio)

by Josh Jacobson

Last year, I overheard a conversation at work.  A friend of mine was asked by someone I didn’t know to name some of the prominent social entrepreneurs working in Charlotte. Without hesitation, a list of names were rattled out.  The people mentioned were all stellar folks and worthy of inclusion.

But my name wasn’t mentioned.  Perplexed, I asked my friend why that was.

“Well, I guess I think that you work with social entrepreneurs, but that you’re a consultant. You’re just… different.”

I’ll admit, I was a bit wounded.  In my mind, the work of Next Stage has always had purpose and meaning with social benefit at its heart.  The firm was founded to be an alternative to “for hire” consulting that was more interested in collecting fees than ensuring client success. But as I settled down later, I realized that there was some real truth to what was said.  While Next Stage had a mission and a set of defined values, we were missing two elements that every social entrepreneurship company needs: long-term vision and an organizing philosophy. These must-have elements, which Next Stage had preached to its clients, were unexamined in our own business model.

Earlier this year, I made an important decision about the direction of Next Stage and set about making it happen. A critical piece was the hiring of Caylin Viales, who has brought her tremendous talent and passion for social impact to the redefinition of what Next Stage could be.  Last week, another important component was launched – the public announcement of our philosophy regarding the Community Social Impact Portfolio.  Located near the end of that post, Next Stage commits to “orienting all of its work toward these five classifications” and “reorganizing its service lines to align with this philosophy.”

We do this because we see the role Next Stage plays in the community differently now.  We are making a commitment to the overall health of Charlotte’s industry of social impact.  In working individually with 501c3 nonprofit organizations directly, our commitment is not only to the client that hires us but also to the broader community that has a vested interest in the success of all nonprofits.  We feel a big part of our role is about “playing the orchestra, and not just the instrument.”

Because Next Stage is a social entrepreneurship company, and we are just as committed to improving our community as the nonprofits that trust us to help them achieve success.  The difference is that our mission isn’t focused on one positive social outcome – it is focused on all of them.

The Emerging Organization

It is perhaps because of how we perceive our identity as social entrepreneurs that we have been so attracted to helping emerging nonprofits.  Organizations thrive or die in their first ten years of existence, and much of that is related to the existence of a passionate founder.

I am unabashed in my love of nonprofit founders. They are the “special sauce” in the emerging nonprofit business model, capable of defying odds to make the impossible possible.  Through their eyes, every mission is brought to life and is emotionally captivating.  They will their nonprofits into being, imbue it with their personal brand, and then… what?  What happens next? Happily ever after?

Unfortunately, no. Too often, exhaustion gives way to frustration, and before long someone who could have been a game-changer is not even involved anymore. The nonprofit that had so much promise just a few years before is a shell of its former self.  Or not even in business anymore.

It is a sad fact that many start-up nonprofits don’t see their tenth year. Statistics proving this are difficult to come by since nonprofits don’t have to tell the IRS when they’ve “gone belly up.”  But evidence abounds. While there are many great success stories, there are perhaps just as many examples of new nonprofits sputtering as the decade anniversary approaches.

My firm is typically contacted when an organization has begun to understand that it needs some help to achieve a degree of sustainability.  We are often very successful, and the organization is placed on a pathway to ensuring long-term success.  But sometimes the challenges are too great or the organization too resistant to change.

We believe passionately that emerging nonprofit are badly needed to challenge the status quo.  Start-ups are typically less risk adverse and are able to pilot new strategies that contribute positively to the industry.  As an organization matures, it can lose that “special sauce” of the nonprofit founder, who stays up late until the job is done and knows the background of every person served.  They are often very open to volunteer engagement and encourage the community to come alongside their programming to help ensure success.  There are lots of reasons start-up nonprofits should be a dynamic component of the Community Social Impact Portfolio.

At the same time, remember the statistics from the last post about the proliferation of nonprofits in Charlotte (e.g. 3,600 public charities)?  As a community, we need to be smart about how we encourage social entrepreneurs, and more mindful of what a successful start-up business model looks like.  As I heard a donor say once, “I’d rather give my money to an organization with somewhat less impact that I know will still be around ten years from now, than an organization with tremendous impact that flames out from a poor business model.” In this way, nonprofits should view their donors (especially Millennial and X-Gen donors) as less “buying services” than “stewarding long-term solutions.”

The Checklist: Emerging Organizations

As a part of this series, Caylin and I will be suggesting a five-point checklist for each of the five areas highlighted in the Community Social Impact Portfolio. This checklist will roll into a tool that will be made available at the end of this series for donors and funders, along with worksheets for organizations to use when considering organizational strengthening.  This week, we look at the top-five evaluation areas when considering the health and worthiness of an emerging nonprofit for support:

  • Differentiated Mission – An emerging organization with an expansive mission statement is very likely biting off more than it can chew.  Successful start-up organizations are razor sharp on what they do and how they fit in to the already-established network of community organizations. To know that a mission is differentiated, a needs assessment should be conducted that documents the problem as well as the other organizations and supports in the marketplace.  People interested in getting involved with a nonprofit should start with its mission, and if it is poorly formed or not well stated, the likelihood for success is greatly diminished.
  • Distributed Leadership – The potential for burnout in the nonprofit sector is a constant companion, and nowhere more so than with the nonprofit founder.  Many start-up organizations are setup with what is called “heroic leadership,” where a handful of people are doing all of the heavy lifting.  While that may be necessary in the very early stages, the organization needs to be shifting as soon as possible to a “distributed leadership” model, where volunteers (and later contractors and staff) are owning defined responsibilities. An organization that is overly dependent on a handful of individuals is at risk, and its leadership should at the very least have a long-term succession plan in place.
  • Documented Policies & Procedures – This may seem like a boring checklist item, but our experience suggests that an organization without documented policies and procedures is highly unlikely to “get to the next level.”  There are many reasons why this is missing, and most of them end with “…and who has the time to do any of that?”  A model of distributed leadership can never be fully implemented if the organization lacks a framework for how work gets done.  As consultants, we always ask to see the Organizational Handbook (or Board Handbook) at the start of an engagement.  It is one of the top predictors of future success.
  • Evidence/Documented Results – The fact is that anecdotal evidence doesn’t cut it in an increasingly competitive nonprofit marketplace.  Emerging organizations push back on the idea that they can have documented evidence “with so little budget,” and we would argue that this excuse is not sufficient. It means the programming was not designed with a way to measure the impact to begin with, and a start-up organization cannot afford to run programming that has no defined assessment criteria.  Program fidelity is a must.
  • Quality Marketing Efforts – A certain local marketing professional and I share the belief that one of the biggest reasons nonprofit organizations fail is that they spend so little on marketing.  No other business model could possibly expect to be successful spending as little as nonprofits do.  For the emerging nonprofit, we look more at the savviness in the marketing effort than the dollars spent on it. Does the nonprofit understand segmentation?  Is their messaging human-centered, and are they creative in how they tell their story?  An all-volunteer effort is fine in the early years, but it has to be done well otherwise future success is not a given.

We could come up with another dozen or so, but the goal here is to provide readers with a way to quickly assess start-ups, less as a way to evaluate the impact of their current efforts and more toward the long-term likelihood for sustainability and growth.

Next time, we’ll tackle Niche Organizations.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NextStageConsultingNC/

Just starting this series? Read the other installments here:

Overview: The Community Social Impact Portfolio
Emerging Organizations
Niche Organizations
Imported Organizations
Blue Chip Organizations


JoshJosh Jacobson is Managing Director of Next Stage Consulting, a Charlotte-based firm focused on organizational development and fund development for the nonprofit sector. Next Stage Consulting provides organizations access to affordable, high-quality consulting services to help them “get to the next level.” Josh is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and is President Elect for the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Image Copyright : Thuansak Srilao

The Community Social Impact Portfolio

by Josh Jacobson

This post launches a weekly series through mid-September outlining a new way to think about stewarding nonprofits in the Charlotte region – the Community Social Impact Portfolio.


A couple years ago, I decided to try my hand at investing. My wife and I had been utilizing a financial advisor who was primarily passively managing a system of 401ks and IRAs. I thought, why pay someone to do what I could do for myself?

I’m glad I did it, but it required me to become far more knowledgeable about concepts with which I was only partially familiar. The majority of our holdings were in mutual funds, and with a little bit of research, I was able to better understand how best to create a balanced, diversified portfolio that was responsive to the market. And on a semi-annual basis, I do a bit more research to rebalance the portfolio. We’re long-term investors so I tend not to pay it daily or weekly attention. But I rest easy at night knowing that my investments are optimized.

That notion of a diversified portfolio got me thinking – could the same principles be applied to optimize the nonprofit sector?  How can donors have a similarly good feeling knowing that their social investments are producing positive returns for the community in which they live?

This concept has been a moment of inspiration for our consulting firm, which has taken a hard look at what makes a healthy social impact ecosystem, and as importantly, what we all can do to make it a reality.

The following blog post kicks off a six-part weekly series that will outline a way of thinking about the many nonprofits that serve our community and a call-to-action for all of us to get more strategic in how we foster what I like to call a “Community Social Impact Portfolio.”

Understanding the 501c3

To get started, we first have to all be on the same page with what it means to be a nonprofit organization. Believe it or not, board members for a large percentage of Next Stage’s client base have pretty profound misconceptions about the nonprofit they are charged with governing. The ah-ha moment typically comes when I share the following at the beginning of a board retreat:

This nonprofit is owned by me, it is owned by you, it is owned by everyone. A 501c3 charitable organization is a public entity that is charged with doing that which is in the best interest of the community it serves. Just like government. And you are its board members who have elected to take on its governance responsibility, ensuring that the organization serves the best interests of the broader public. And you don’t even get paid for it. What you have chosen to do on my behalf, on everyone’s behalf, is pretty exceptional. Thank you. Thank you for all you do and for being here this morning.

You can imagine the faces of these unsuspecting board members at this point, who are suddenly very present in the Saturday morning retreat they signed up for but did not fully understand. Excuse me, what?

It is generally not very well understood (particularly by nonprofit founders) that once an organization receives its 501c3 status, it has thus been given over to all people to “own.” In exchange, the US Internal Revenue Code allows for federal tax exemption for gifts to support its mission. It is a pretty decent trade off, but only if one truly understands what it means to give up control to the public.

Too Many Cooks

If we accept that nonprofits are owned by all of us as taxpayers, and are effectively doing the work government would do on our behalf if it had the interest in doing so, then surely we must have some form of control over how nonprofits are formed, right? I mean, if I encounter long lines at the DMV, it isn’t like I can just go down the road and set up my own DMV. There must be some form of checks and balances?

The answer is: nope. Technically, the IRS is the gatekeeper, but it isn’t a very discriminating arbiter. According the 2016 IRS Data Book, more than 86,000 new tax-exempt organizations came online in 2016 with just over 1,000 denied tax exempt-status. That means that more than 98% of organizations that apply for tax-exempt status receive it. And you and I don’t have very much control over that.

So what does that look like in practice?  Charlotte is a great example of the explosion of nonprofit sector over the last twenty years. There are nearly 5,000 registered charities in Mecklenburg County alone (including roughly 3,600 public charities). While Mecklenburg County’s population has nearly doubled in the past 20 years, the number of public charities has increased three-fold.

Needless to say, this is an unsustainable trend. It creates duplication of services and unneeded competition for donor dollars. It creates backlash for founders of new nonprofits with truly game-changing strategies. And it reinforces a nonprofit culture that avoids taking risks for fear of losing ground.

It simply isn’t all that strategic.

Strategy is My… Middle Name

As a consultant to nonprofits in the Charlotte area for almost a decade, I’ve had the opportunity to work with more than 160 organizations of all shapes and sizes. My firm focuses on leveraging internal assets to meet external need. It requires being a student of our community.

This work has informed a philosophy that a healthy city must feature a variety of nonprofit organizations working in concert to address community needs. And just as a healthy stock portfolio should be diversified, a region’s nonprofit sector should include a carefully curated portfolio of community resources.

In fact, I’d suggest that all nonprofit organizations in the Charlotte region should fall into one of five categories:

  • Emerging Startups – Not every new nonprofit contributes to the bloat described above. The nonprofit sector is ripe for disruption, and social entrepreneurs with new and different ways to achieve success are needed now more than ever.  Sometimes these individuals should be encouraged to align with already-developed nonprofits, but other times there are good reasons to launch a new 501c3 endeavor. Just as your investment portfolio should have some early-growth companies, a community should come together to champion dynamic new efforts.
  • Niche Organizations – The vast majority of nonprofits should be in pursuit of niche status – that is, “owning their space.”  This requires identifying an organization’s core value proposition and striving to lead in that space. That may mean getting narrower in focus to differentiate, or expanding operations to meet community need. A niche organization must have a plan for maintaining its role as a leader and adapting to a changing community. After all, companies only stay in your investment strategy if they demonstrate a capacity for adaptability.
  • Imported Nonprofits – Organizations that demonstrate fidelity and have built an evidence-base should be encouraged to scale.  Communities must be willing to embrace organizations with demonstrated impact that can scale to provide programming that is locally informed and delivered. Charlotte needn’t re-create the wheel if a program has proven successful in another comparable city. For our investment analogy, consider these organizations like investing in foreign markets. When our own community lacks bandwidth or successful strategies, other communities may hold the answer.
  • Blue-Chip Institutions – In Charlotte, the vast majority of financial resources are generated by the top 100 nonprofit organizations with budgets topping $4 million. These organizations should be encouraged to collaborate with organizations in the preceding three categories, leveraging their revenue and assets in service to increased community impact. Since these organizations control the majority of resources, they should also be expected to drive innovation through an R&D function.
  • Foundations – It can be easy to forget, but private foundations are nonprofits as well and they play an incredibly important role in providing resources to fuel social impact. Working with individual donors, foundations should strive to curate a community portfolio of nonprofit resources to ensure a healthy and vibrant community. This means working together and understanding community challenges at the ground level.

Going forward, Next Stage is orienting all of its work toward these five classifications of nonprofits, and is committing to work on behalf of the greater good to help organizations be the best representation of where they are in these categories. The firm is reorganizing its service lines to align with this philosophy, and will be stumping on this topic to actualize a community that is knowledgeable and bought-in to the road ahead.

In the weeks to come, this series will explore each of these five categories, making suggestions for how nonprofits, donors and volunteers can optimize their organizations to create a dynamic Community Social Impact Portfolio.  I will be joined in this effort by Next Stage’s Caylin Viales, who will collaborate on the series and is a big part of helping to create our firm’s response to this new way of seeing our charge.

As always, we hope you will digest this content (we know its wordy – these are big ideas!) and engage us on it.

Because these nonprofits belong to all of us. And it’s about time we acted like it.

Just starting this series? Read the other installments here:

Overview: The Community Social Impact Portfolio
Emerging Organizations
Niche Organizations
Imported Organizations
Blue Chip Organizations


JoshJosh Jacobson is Managing Director of Next Stage Consulting, a Charlotte-based firm focused on organizational development and fund development for the nonprofit sector. Next Stage Consulting provides organizations access to affordable, high-quality consulting services to help them “get to the next level.” Josh is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and is President Elect for the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Prospecting: Step One to Stronger Grant Submissions

The lure of grantsmanship is the intoxicating concept that your nonprofit can secure outsized investment by simply applying for it. Too many think of it like submitting a credit card application; based solely on the merits of your organization’s mission and impact, the grantmaking source will prioritize your project and reward it with a big check with many zeroes.

The fact is, this isn’t how it works. Grantmaking sources receive hundreds, if not thousands of submissions every year. The movement toward online submission processes has made it relatively easy for 501c3 organizations to submit applications and grantmakers are deluged with requests, many of which do not match giving guidelines. The likelihood that your proposal is carefully reviewed is relatively low given the number of applications that must be processed.

So what does this mean? Should you give up on the hope for grant funding? Of course not. But it does mean that you should do your homework and focus your energy on sources that are more likely to fund you. In Next Stage Consulting’s first installment in its five-part series, I’ll talk about prospecting for grantmaking sources.

Identifying Sources
It is an oft-asked question – “isn’t there a website where one can seek grant opportunities?”

The answer is “yes and no.” There are certainly websites, but they are rarely free. Some of the best sources are The Foundation Center and FoundationSearch, both of which offer access to searchable foundation profiles for a fee. My personal favorite is FoundationSearch, which is run by Metasoft, a Canadian company that operates as a for-profit business. The Foundation Center has a very good product as well, Foundation Directory Online, but I’ve found Metasoft does a good job of staying one step ahead of the competition.

In some communities, you may find that your local library provides access to foundation software. For example, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library provides access to The Foundation Center at its Main Library branch and six satellite branches.

These are fairly comprehensive resources, but you might find that not all corporate sources of support are profiled. Some companies may have a community relations team that provides gifts and sponsorships, but do not operate under a 501c3. Still other foundations operate under the umbrella of your local community foundation, and do not report directly to the IRS.

To identify these and other sources, search engines like Google can be the best bet. Search for queries using your mission focus, geographic region and words like “gift,” “grant,” “allocation” and “award.” You may also want to look at the websites of organization similar to yours and seek out online annual reports that might give you an idea of sources you have not yet uncovered. If you are familiar with the IRS form 990, set up a free login with Guidestar.

Types of Sources
Grantmakers are likely to fall into one of three categories:

  • Corporate Foundations/Corporate Outreach – Some companies develop a separate 501c3 foundation to operate as a channel for grant making. These are typically large companies that want to separate gift making from sponsorships, where they are likely to receive sponsor recognition in return. Most companies do not have a foundation, though they may also allocate gifts to support causes. Corporate foundations will often have a designated contact along with a board of directors. Companies without a foundation will designate a Director of Corporate Communications, External Relations, or Corporate Outreach to be the initial contact. In both cases, internal contacts at high levels of the company have the ability to introduce projects for support, and overlap with sponsorship efforts are common.
  • Process Foundations – Foundations where the founder is no longer the sole decision maker are more likely to operate with a very defined process. A gatekeeper is apt to be defined (either an Executive Director or Foundation Director), and the foundation’s board of directors are each involved in determining which organizations receive support. These foundations are attractive because they seem to be cut-and-dry regarding the application process. However, many factors contribute to whether your organization will receive support, and relationships are key to success.
  • Family Foundations – Though they are formed as 501c3 entities, soliciting family foundations is often akin to soliciting an individual – there is typically no defined process for applying for support, and the decision is made by a single or handful of individuals who are related. Relationships are the single most important factor to receiving support, either through direct interaction with foundation directors or gatekeepers connected to decision makers.

Determining Likelihood of Support
Like most forms of fundraising, successful grant seeking typically boils down to three motivations:

  • Mission-Suitability – This seems obvious, but grant makers usually tell you what they want to support. This information can be found online, but you might have to look of the foundation’s Form 990 to figure out where they tend to allocate funding. However, not all missions are created equal. Knowing that a foundation supports education programming is useful, but it is also important to figure out whether there is a preference for direct service or systemic change, or if there is a geographic focus to grantmaking. Even when an organization’s mission is very appropriate, the foundation may already be supporting an organization with a similar profile, and may choose not to duplicate support.
  • New/Latent Relationships – As indicated throughout this post, relationships are singularly important – an organization must understand the importance outreach plays in securing grant support. These may be relationship that already exist, as in a board member who is friendly with a member of the foundation’s staff or board. Or is may be a relationship that does not yet exist, and requires intentional outreach by your organization’s leadership to establish connection. The first stop is typically a program officer or lead contact – it is perfectly acceptable to seek a meeting to discuss programming. Board members may also be successful at connecting with other decision-makers, particularly important in influencing corporate giving.
  • Self Interest – It may be not be obvious, but self interest is a very important factor. For family foundations, recognition opportunities play prominently, particularly in capital asks. In corporate giving, while it may not be considered pure sponsorship, the recognition plan for a charitable gift should be described in detail.

What Next?
In the next installment, Josh will review the process of cultivating gatekeepers and decision makers. To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe to the blog!