Civic Organizations and You: Finding Alternative Funding
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
By Vince Siragusa
In building a comprehensive grantseeking strategy, the educated grantseeker will work to diversify potential funding options. Considerations should be afforded to the usual suspects, including federal, state and foundation/corporate funding. However, depending on the structure of the would-be applicant and the nature and cost of the project(s) being considered, a number of other funding opportunities may also be at your finger tips.
In addition to some of the more common funding options, consider service clubs and civic organizations as potential supporters of your initiative. Quite often, these benevolent organizations will gauge the proposed project’s potential as a parallel to the capabilities and roles that the applicant plays in the community. For example, rather than strictly measuring potential financial support via a formalized proposal process, the civic organization may rely more upon personal knowledge of the applicant organization in their consideration. Entities already recognized as community assets may have a leg up on organizations not garnering that same level of recognition. Some examples of organizations whose support one might pursue include:
- Lions Clubs: www.lionsclubs.org
- Rotary Clubs: www.rotary.org
- American Legion: www.legion.org
- Elks Clubs: www.elks.org
- Kiwanis Clubs: www.kiwanis.org
The projects these philanthropic organizations look to support vary a great deal but are often focused more on grassroots and humanitarian efforts than capital improvements. Which is not to say that equipment cannot or will not be supported but, similar to any other grant seeking endeavor, you should be sure to position that solution as a necessary project component that allows you to achieve the goals and objectives identified in your application.
Best practice for approaching these types of organizations generally begins with identifying the specific project you have in mind and then locating the local chapter that serves your particular region. Similar to the process involved with soliciting foundations, you will want to present background on your organization and articulate the need for assistance. An email or phone conversation may suffice for a quick introduction or exchange of ideas but the intimacy and potential advantage made possible in a face-to-face discussion should not be underestimated. Additionally, each of these organizations may have a preferred process when being approached for assistance. Gather some information and do your homework before soliciting support. Through that information gathering, you should work to identify the correct contact person or department and the method of contact most appropriate for the request.
Identifying potential contacts or lists of civic organizations in your area often starts with checking your local phone directories or the local Chamber of Commerce. And as important as anything else in this process, utilize previously established relationships with the people and organizations you may run into every day. Survey your internal organization and your network of contacts to see if anyone has a relationship or familiarity with any of these organizations. A person you see at your weekly softball game may be the same contact who helps you get your foot in the door to ensure long-term civic-organizational support.