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Funding Opportunities — Extension Development


Resource Development / Fund Raising Vehicles

Fund raising can be carried out through different vehicles. When relating these vehicles to Extension, it has been found that special events, direct mail, and personal solicitation more readily fit with the methods Extension employs to deliver programs. These vehicles usually meet the fund raising goal and tend to generate the best income versus the time and expense invested.

1. Direct Mail

Direct mail is a written request for a gift distributed and returned by mail. Direct mail usually means a mass mailing sent to individuals not known to the signer of the letter. Direct mail has four primary uses.

  • Acquiring first time donors
  • Renewing and upgrading present donors at least once a year
  • Seeking gifts, in addition to renewals, from present donors for special purposes
  • Identifying potential planned gift prospects

Successful direct mail programs yield three important benefits. They provide a dependable, renewable income; broaden the individual donor base, and expand the constituency. Four essential elements make up the direct mail package: outer envelope, letter, response device, reply envelope.

2. Special Events/Friend Raisers

A special event is a fund raising strategy which happens at a specific time and place, and raises money because of what is happening. Money can be raised prior to the event, but the event is the axis around which everything happens. The purpose of the event is to generate publicity, increase visibility, raise money, reward donors, or involve volunteers to build morale, say thank you, and encourage people to keep working and giving.

Generally it is best to use events to raise money from people who don’t currently give money, or who wouldn’t give you money under other circumstances. Events are a way to involve these individuals in a positive way that will eventually lead to them becoming a larger donor to your organization. Some of the most common special events include luncheons, dinners, movies, dances, showcases, gala parties, sales, auctions, “thons” and tournaments.

3. Personal Solicitation

The most effective way to attract new donors is by personal solicitation. It is better for volunteers rather than staff to meet in person with a donor or a donor prospect. Volunteers are the key to providing the doors and making the case for support.

There are ten fundamentals to personal solicitation.

  1. Know the goal, purpose and the organizations role
  2. Know the cause
  3. Know the case
  4. Know the prospect
  5. Make the appointment
  6. Make the call
  7. Know what to ask for and why
  8. Be ready to handle objections
  9. Follow-up
  10. Don’t get discouraged. Most no’s are just maybe’s.

4. Grants and Proposals

Locating funding sources that are interested in your programs and have a linkage in some way takes time. However, taking the time to explore and do research will often result in a win-win situation. Areas to look for linkages include federal and state government grant opportunities and foundation grant opportunities.

Government grants come in many forms. Applications and guidelines for government grants should be requested in writing or can be researched through the Federal Register. There are project grants which define an area of specific interest to be addressed. Formula grants are determined based on a certain set of criteria and often go through a state or county. Block grants are the response of the federal government for states to have more control over their federal dollars. Contracts inform you as to what the government wants done and you bid on accomplishing the task. State grants are either block federal grants or can be from strictly state funds. These grants typically require a lot of paperwork and quarterly reports.

Foundations are different from government grants and have different guidelines. Most foundations have application forms as well as written guidelines for submitting a grant or proposal. There are five types of foundations: community, national-multipurpose, special purpose, family and corporate. Community foundations address the problems and concerns of a geographical area where the foundation was created. National foundations grant projects that will have a greater or more global impact. Special purpose foundations are those that fund projects of a specific nature. Family foundations generally fund projects that reflect the values of family members or a board of directors. Corporations often use a foundation through which to administer their charitable contributions. They invest money; they do not give it away.

The correct procedure for application of grants by ACES/4-H employees is to confer with the appropriate administrator. ACES employees should direct their request to the Contracts and Grants Specialist. 4-H grant requests should be directed to the Treasurer of the Alabama 4-H Foundation for review with possible forwarding to the ACES Contracts and Grants Specialist.

5. Phone Solicitation

Telephone solicitations allows for a more personal contact than newsletters or direct mail. It is second only to personal solicitation. The response rate is higher than for direct mail. Whereas direct mail secures around 2 to 4%, phone solicitations can generate 25 to 30% return on investment. It can be a simple, short term program or an elaborate, year-long campaign. Use phone solicitations to:

  • Acquire first time donors
  • Renew and upgrade donors
  • Convert donors into major donors
  • Stimulate year end giving
  • Solicit for a specific campaign
  • Improve communication
  • Express gratitude
  • Improve and check information on data base

6. Newsletters

Newsletters serve as a way for the charitable organization to communicate to donors about specific needs, programs, projects, donations, and for annual reporting. Effective charitable organization newsletters always include some type of ask and a way for the recipient to respond. Look at the Alabama 4-H Foundation Pathways newsletter as a point of reference.