Grants and Other Funding

Fresh Approach to Nonprofit ContentI was thrilled to hear from Getting Attention reader Elizabeth (Betsey) Russell recently, with news of her just-released mystery, Other People’s Money. Betsey, who has written for foundations for more than 20 years, has parlayed that experience into a must-read tale set in the heart of the foundation world.

While fiction isn’t something we usually read in conjunction with philanthropy (or the nonprofit world), Betsey’s note provoked the question: Can fiction about foundations (or nonprofits) make readers think about them differently?


Nancy Schwartz in Grants and Other Funding | 1 comment
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At last—funding for communications!  This RFP is focused on development organizations but I hope more funding will follow from Gates and other foundations, as a recognition of communications’ essential role in achieving organizational and programmatic goals.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a call for communications proposals to “help change the narrative on foreign aid.” For its first-ever Grand Challenges Explorations in communications, the Foundation plans to fund up to 10 “game-changing ideas” that creatively use communications to “motivate the public in the wealthy countries of the world to change their minds about aid, and take actions to demonstrate their support.”


Nancy Schwartz in Grants and Other Funding | 1 comment
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Fresh Takes Goes to ParisThis new bridge is refreshing, delightful and a definite destination for me next time I’m in Paris. The photo alone made me do a double take.

This fantastically imaginative design pushes the envelope — hard. Pedestrian and auto traffic move up and down, in addition to from one side to the other, creating an absolutely new shape for a bridge.

Your Takeaway — How can you change what you’ve been doing the same way forever, to make it absolutely intriguing for your audiences?

Bridge alert thanks to the NY Times.

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Nancy Schwartz in Fresh Takes, Grants and Other Funding, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources | 0 comments

The Knight Foundation is inviting entries to a $5 million competition to find innovative new ways to ensure communities get the news they need. Knight’s 21st Century News Challenge is focused on using online channels to power physical communities much like newspapers (Knight’s heritage) have done in the past.

It’s all about what Knight is calling the need for "community news experiments," says Eric Newtown, Director of Journalism Initiatives. To motivate, "smart, new ways to help communities act in their own true interests," Knight will award a total of $5 million to individuals, organizations or businesses worldwide that can show their ideas will transform community life, Newtown says.

News Challenge awards will be made in five categories:

  • Ideas — Those who receive awards in this category must agree to share their ideas with others, further developing them publicly in a blog on a Knight-designated web site for at least a year. (Individuals)
  • Pilot Projects & Field Tests — To support the development of innovative pilot projects, prototypes, field tests or trials that use news and information to create physical, geographic community. (Individuals, groups, organizations or companies)
  • Leadership — To achieve large-scale impact. (Educational institutions, nonprofits or think tanks)
  • Commercial Products & Investment — To launch products that might not yield the return a venture capitalist is looking for, but are likely to be profitable and address a social need. ("Double bottom-line" products or companies.)
  • Other — Wide open.

Beware though. Knight isn’t looking for the obvious. As stated in the What We’re NOT Looking For section of the contest Web site, "We  love citizen bloggers, but to qualify for one of these awards, you’ll have to show how what you’re doing will transform the field. Blogging about a school board meeting is valuable, but not unique."

This is a great opportunity for community-based nonprofits, or national organizations working on regional or local projects, to be funded to experiment with online communications innovations. I’m interested to see what happens with this Challenge.

PS The communications strategy for the Challenge itself is also a great model. This RFP looks far different from the standard. And the ‘quick and dirty’ application form is designed to solicit key info from applicants, without sucking them dry. Nice job, Knight Foundation.

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Nancy Schwartz in Grants and Other Funding, Nonprofit Communications, Special Opportunities | 1 comment

According to the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Indian Basket Maker’s Alliance–focused on preserving and extending the art of basket making within Maine’s American Indian community–has just received a $63,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture. Who knew that the USDA gave grants for marketing assistance?

"We’re a prominent retail business here in Old Town, and revenue from sales goes back into the organization and support a master apprenticeship program," says Alliance Executive Director Theresa Secord.

In addition supporting the tribes, the crafts also draw consumers to the region, and Secord is doing
everything she can to generate more customers and sales. Grant monies will go to:

  • Marketing efforts for the alliance and individual artists.
  • Identifying business opportunities for enhanced markets for the gallery and individual artists,including export markets.
  • Developing a best practices manual to help Alliance entrepreneurs understand the markets and art presentation procedures.

Take-homes for your nonprofit:

  • Consider ways that your organization can generate an income stream beyond grants and other funding.
  • Learn enough about business to know what help you need.
  • Look to nontraditional sources for marketing dollars (who would have thunk that the USDA funded marketing)?

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Nancy Schwartz in Earned Income/Ventures, Grants and Other Funding, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments

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