Sopranos Slay

Part
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Part
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Non-Profit Project Presentation Examples

Research shows that successful grant applications include highly-specific and detailed information about how a program/project meshes with the grantor’s focus, information about how the nonprofit has already made an impact and the additional impact that will be made by funding their current project, how the grant monies will be spent and by whom, and how the program/project will be quantitatively measured for success. Additionally, proving that the nonprofit has strong leadership in place and a solid financial base are also important. The more detailed and specific that these applications are, the more likely they are to earn the grants. Anecdotal evidence shows that applications that include evidence in the form of videos or photographs will be more likely to catch grant reviewers’ eyes, though no quantitative data to prove this could be found.
Examples of award-winning grant applications that have earned nonprofits significant awards include those from The Hidden Genius Project, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Citizens’ Climate Education, The Museum of Flight, the Center for Community Progress, and Working Films.

LARGE GRANTS FOR US NONPROFITS: OVERVIEW

Our research showed that the majority of large grants, like those of $1 M or more, are most often awarded to major organizations or institutions, like universities, national charities, or nonprofits serving in multiple regions (or serving multiple or typically under-served populations). The MacArthur Foundation, which awards a large selection of grants of varying amounts across a wide range of projects, is an example. In 2018 so far, their largest grant awards have gone to institutions like Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry ($500K) and Yale University School of Law ($800K).
Larger grants are much less likely to be granted to smaller, more-localized organizations serving smaller regions or populations. Of the organizations receiving the larger grants, many times these organizations received grant funding from the same grantors in lower amounts in previous years. For example, Kartemquin Films has won 10 grants from the MacArthur Foundation, including their first two awards, $200,000 and $75,000, which were both awarded in 2010. The film company received its largest grant from the foundation in 2017 the $750,000 award for their Filmmaker Programs, “which provide holistic support to nonfiction filmmakers at all stages of their careers”. Since they are a film company, their proposals each included not only the required paperwork (typical grant proposal info), but also video representations of what the grant would support. Video seems to be one of the most common (added) elements seen in successful grant proposals, so we’ll talk more about this later within our case studies.

More information on what types of programs and organizations for the arts are funded in the US as well as how they are funded and by whom can be found in this publication from the National Endowment for the Arts. Though last-published in 2012, this publication is the premier informational for nonprofits to utilize in discovering the best ways to get funding for their programs.

FINDINGS

In researching grant recipients, it became clear that there were very few granting organizations that provide the actual proposals submitted by organizations seeking grants, and the organizations submitting the proposals do not publish these either. Many of the full proposals publicly available for other organizations to use as examples for writing their own successful grants are from years outside the scope of your interest, like these from AZA for Conservation Grant Funds (CGF), which range from 2005 to 2013, for example. Additionally, others are for grant amounts much smaller than your identified target ($1M), like these from Brandeis ($350) or these from Imagine Fund ($5000).
Despite these findings, we were able to track down three proposals that met all your requirements. In each of these case studies (detailed in the first section below), both the granting organizations and the recipients are US-based, with the recipients being nonprofits, and the awards being $1M or more. We have detailed all publicly-available information on the proposals submitted to win these grants for you below.

LARGE GRANTS: PROPOSAL CASE STUDIES

These include grant recipients The Hidden Genius Project, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Citizen’s Climate Education. As noted previously, all publicly-available information is provided for you below.
- GRANT YEAR: 2017
- GRANT AMOUNT: $1 M
- OVERVIEW: In late 2017, The Hidden Genius Project, “an organization working to increase the representation of young black males in the [tech] industry, ” won a $1 M grant from Google Grants. This money will go toward helping the program expand into new cities, to hire/train additional staff, and to help the program grow. Google Grants learned about this project when they were in the Bay Area Top 10 for the 2015 Google Impact Challenge. The Hidden Genius Project won $500K in that competition (like many other large-grant recipients, they have won multiple grants from the same institution), and caught the eye of Google.org Principal Justin Steele leading to the 2017 award.
- ELEMENTS OF THE PROPOSAL: In addition to acing the traditional grant application (which was not publicly available), The Hidden Genius Project created a nearly-5-minute video detailing what their organization does and why they are worth funding. The video included testimonials from young men involved in the project and those working with the project (like the founders and educators), as well as specific information about what the participants learn about and experience during the 800-hour, 15-week program. It is professionally produced and includes video of the program in action, and explores how the participants not only get the tech-related experience they need to be successful, but also about how the program gives them a greater sense of belonging to a community and skills that will help them create success for the rest of their lives (like entrepreneurship). No other information could be located on the grant application submitted to win this award.
- GRANT YEAR: 2015
- GRANT AMOUNT: $4.5 M
- OVERVIEW: In 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an organization “devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social, and health outcomes,” won a $4.5 M Social Innovation Fund Grant from the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS). This grant provided funding for the organization’s “Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential” program.
- ELEMENTS OF THE PROPOSAL: The Corporation for National & Community Service provides full information on all submitted applications, including the Application Cover, the Application Narratives, and the Feedback given on their application. The narratives included 53 pages (of standard grant language) detailing everything about the program, including: program design (with rationale and approach), the reasons the program is necessary, the activities involved in the project, the expected outcomes, and what strategies and evidence will be used to gauge success. CNCS Reviewers provide specific feedback to organizations on the strengths and weaknesses of their applications, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their overall programs. For this application, strengths included: (A) Providing exceptional evidence the organization has the capacity to ensure the success of their program; (B) Having clear understanding of the steps necessary for the program to be successful with a clear outline and plan relating to the steps; (C) Having a strong plan for providing technical assistance where needed; (D) Having a clear, detailed budget that includes projected costs; (E) Having a “well-defined narrative describing the history of their experiences in managing and supporting evaluations of past funded program models”; (F) Having identified and strong methodologies for evaluating the success of their program against the stated goals. Note: It does not appear that any other information or items were provided with the application for this grant.
- GRANT YEAR: 2018
- GRANT AMOUNT: $1 M
- OVERVIEW: Citizens’ Climate Education, a “nonprofit that helped organize a bipartisan Congressional caucus on climate change,” won the $1 M, two-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation “to educate and empower citizens working on national solutions to climate change”. Like many other organizations, this large grant comes on the heels of a $500K grant awarded to the nonprofit from the MacArthur Foundation the previous year. The earlier grant allowed for the support of 1644 meetings with congresspersons, 4308 publications on the topic, and helped to triple congressional membership in the caucus in 2017.
- ELEMENTS OF THE PROPOSAL: Although a search of the nonprofit’s website, the MacArthur Foundation’s website, Probublica’s and Guidestar’s profiles of the nonprofit, no application could be found. It is clear that the nonprofit completed the standard grant application, and likely provided other media (like videos introducing their Citizens’ Climate Lobby, or other videos) to supplement it, but it is not clear just what they submitted. However, since this organization has won several MacArthur Foundation Grants, we turned to the grantor to find out what they require from organizations to which they award grants, in hopes of providing useful information for you. The MacArthur Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions are significant grants given to advance progress and foster long-term impact on some of society’s biggest issues. These organizations must be working in fields related to the foundation’s goals, must show long track records of being successful, must “exhibit strong leadership and governance, have demonstrated impact that is likely to continue into the future, and are ready to implement a plan for expansion or sustainability”. Additionally, the organizations must prove they are financially secure and under “stable financial management,” as well as being “equipped to deploy resources at the scale of these grants” (in this case, this was provable through the nonprofit’s GuideStar and ProPublica profiles, as well as included in detail on the application). Organizations’ applications that detail each of these items clearly, and with plenty of proof, are sure to be successful in receiving the awards. No other information could be found on the application submitted by Citizen’s Climate Change for this grant.

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS / GRANT PROPOSALS

To augment these findings, we have included several other (less-detailed) case studies of nonprofits who have received smaller grants, along with the publicly-available information on their proposals. Although these grants were for lower amounts than you requested, as noted previously, our research showed that it is much more likely that a nonprofit of your size / focus will be likely to win smaller grants than larger ones. It is our hope that you find these additional case studies helpful.
- GRANT YEAR: 2017
- GRANT AMOUNT: $150k
- OVERVIEW & ELEMENTS: GrantStation provides several examples of grant proposals that were successful in winning the grants. One of them, for The Museum of Flight Campaign, earned the nonprofit $150K toward refurbishing part of the museum. Their proposal was in the form of a letter (response to proposal) and included a detailed overview of the museum’s history, what the monies would be used for (why funding was needed), and the population served by the museum. It included a projected budget of the refurbishment project (though not very detailed, admittedly), images of previous restorations done at the museum, and an outline of the museum’s operating budget for the previous year. This was the least-detailed grant proposal we found, and it only included the basics, though it was enough to win the nonprofit the grant award.
- GRANT YEAR: 2017
- GRANT AMOUNT: $894K
- OVERVIEW & ELEMENTS: The Center for Community Progress won a 2017 Arts & Culture Award from the Kresge Foundation. The Center for Community Progress is “the only national nonprofit dedicated eliminating blight … [and] works to ensure properties viewed as liabilities are transformed into assets that benefit vulnerable populations. This three-year grant provides project support to the center’s work to improve policies and programs that tackle vacant, abandoned and deteriorated properties in Detroit to strengthen traditional residential neighborhoods.” Although no submitted proposals could be found for this grant, it is clear that this organization’s application included information as detailed as what’s found on their website. It is certain they were easily able to prove that they have made a long-term impact already, are highly active in the areas in which the grant is focused, are led by a strong team, and are hold to high standards of accountability. Each of these is an important element in being successful in winning a grant.
CASE STUDY: WORKING FILMS
- GRANT YEAR: 2017
- GRANT AMOUNT: $900K
- OVERVIEW & ELEMENTS: The Wilmington-based nonprofit, which “uses short films and documentaries to raise public awareness on important issues” facing society, was awarded the grant “to launch a program to impact communities across the US through the use of film”. (WILMINGTON) The grant will focus on a new program, “Docs in Action” which prioritizes funding for minority filmmakers and will allow the nonprofit to fund its filmmakers for the first time. This nonprofit is “one of only 15 nonprofit organizations nationwide selected for the grant from the MacArthur Foundation Journalism and Media Program”. According to the MacArthur Foundation, to win this grant, the program would have had to prove, among other standard elements, that it encourages and supports “participatory civic media” or films that are “designed to expand and accelerate citizens’ participation in our democracy”.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AWARD-WINNING GRANT PROPOSALS

In addition to the best practices provided in your other query, we strongly suggest that your grant proposals meet the following recommendations:
(1) ENSURE COMPATIBILITY: The most important aspect of successfully winning a grant is to ensure that your program or project is exactly-compatible with the grantor’s requirements. Identifying this information from the grantor’s website (like this example from the Arts.gov site) and the grant submission documentation then tailoring your approach to show direct compatibility is key. For example, let’s say your organization was applying for a Culture Grant from the Hearst Foundation. Begin by reading the overview of what the grants fund, then check out the funding priorities of the grantor, as well as the funding limitations. Then, review the evaluation process grants will undergo, and review past grant recipients to see what they’ve done. Each of these steps will ensure that you are the best-prepared for writing your own grant application.
(2) MIRROR THE LANGUAGE: In addition to ensuring compatibility, your application should mirror the language in grant documentation as closely as possible. This allows grantors to see the direct correlation between what they want to fund and your program/project.
(3) INCLUDE ALL NOTABLE ITEMS: Ensure that your application includes every item noted in the proposal documentation. For each item, make sure that you have included detailed explanations of how your program meets the requirements of the grantor, as well as specifically outlines how the monies will be used (and when / by whom), and how you will prove that you have met your goals as intended. Proving that your organization has already made measurable impact and that your application includes how this has been done and how it will be done if these grant monies are awarded will be imperative to reaching success.
(4) BE SPECIFIC W/ GOALS & MEASUREMENTS: The more specific you are with your goals, not only in what you intended to achieve, but in how those goals match the grantor’s foci, is also highly important. Additionally, specifically proving how you will measure your achievements and ensuring that your methods are sound, logical, and quantitative are the keys here.

ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS

Research does not turn up any significant findings about the types of proposals that are most successful in earning nonprofits large (or even small) grants. Alternatively, research shows that ensuring your grants meet specific qualifications (like those listed in the Recommendations section above) and thoroughly outline that information within the application has proven to be the best strategy for winning grants. One item of note is that several of the major grants found in our research included videos within their grant applications (along with the standard application documentation), though we were not able to find any definitive proof that this strategy is more successful than others.

SUMMARY

There is no research to support that a particular type of application is more likely to win a grant than any other. Instead, grant-seekers should ensure that the grants they are vying for mirror what their intentions are with the monies, and that their methodologies in undertaking their projects and proving those projects are worthwhile are sound and thoroughly explained using language that mirrors the grant submission documentation.

Part
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Part
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Project Funding Solicitation Best Practices

The best practices for a non-profit to solicit funds from a foundation are a series of widely-accepted steps that have been listed below. Each step is different, but each of equal importance in the securing of funds for a non-profit from a foundation. The non-profit needs to identify the specific areas or reason funds are needed. From here, the non-profit will research foundations to find ones that are interested in funding their specific needs. The non-profit will want to do their best to find out as much as they can about foundations they plan to apply to and establish relationships with people within. Next, the non-profit will send a letter of intent and lastly, a final proposal. The non-profit must keep in mind that they are working to establish a symbiotic relationship with the foundation that will further both parties’ missions.
FINDING THE RIGHT FOUNDATIONS TO SOLICIT
Soliciting foundations for funding for a non-profit project is just as much about finding the right foundations to apply to as the final presentation given. That is why the first step in this process is to thoroughly research different foundations to find the best match for the work to be funded.
The Non-Profit’s Needs
A non-profit realizes that they are in need of funding for a new project, or to keep the budget in the black. Either way, there is a need to seek money from outside sources. The first step to doing this is to identify specific areas where funding is needed. What operational and program categories does the non-profit have to specifically fill? Once these areas are identified, the non-profit can move on to researching different funding programs offered through foundations.
Researching Foundations
The beginning of this process will look like some simple searches. Non-profits will want to search foundation databases looking for foundations that fund they type of non-profit project, operations or programming the non-profit is looking for. Following are two links that may be used as part of this process: the Find Funding page through Foundation Center and 6 Places to Find Grants for Your Non-Profit through The Fund Raising Authority.
Once foundations that hold interests in the non-profit’s areas of need are identified, the next step is to learn as much as possible about the foundation, including projects or non-profits they have funded and what they are up to now. First the non-profit should identify if they fit the funding profile of the foundation. This can be done by requesting the foundation’s tax return information to directly see what non-profit projects they have given to over the years requested. Much of the time, projects will be listed on the foundation’s website and there will be press release information on the web about funds given. This information should tell the non-profit if they should proceed with anyone foundation or not.
If the non-profit fits the foundation's funding profile, the non-profit will want to gain a better understanding of how the foundation itself is funded. This is especially true for smaller or affinity type foundations. This information will be gathered through building relationships with the people behind the non-profit's foundation of interest.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN FOUNDATIONS OF INTEREST
The research process should narrow the number of possible funding foundations down. In the next step, the non-profit should learn how to develop some sort of rapport with the foundation(s) of interest. Find out who board members are, what their connections to funding may be, attend events they go to and invite them to any events put on by the non-profit. Contact these people and ask them if they would like to join the non-profit’s mailing list. In this step, the non-profit must remember that the foundation has similar interests to their cause, which in turn means that members of the foundation should too. Garnering interest in the non-profit through these tactics will enable board members to put a face to the grant application when they finally receive it.
Even in the case of a mega-foundation, some of these tactics still apply. For example, access to people or information in the mega-foundation can be acquired by contacting the people in charge of projects similar to the non-profit’s project. The non-profit should do their best to get some exposure to people within the foundation that could have an influence on a funding decision.
OFFICIAL CONTACT
Depending on the foundation, timing is a huge piece. For mega-foundations, they will likely have dates published on their website for different types of funding applications. For smaller foundations, the research put into understanding where and how their money comes from will tell the non-profit when is the right time to apply. Something to note about obtaining funding from foundations is that many foundations prefer to look at these relationships as partnerships rather than handouts. Contact from the non-profit should be structured as though it is looking to form a symbiotic relationship with the foundation over simply selling an idea.
LETTER OF INTENT (LOI)
This is the first step of official contact a non-profit should take in soliciting from a foundation. A letter of intent can be considered as a “preproposal” to the project of interest. The letter of intent allows a foundation to screen numerous funding proposals to find ones that fit with the foundation’s mission in a short amount of time. It is important to get ideas across clearly and convey how the non-profit plans to progress the foundation's mission through this piece of the solicitation.
Some foundations will have specific guidelines for submitting a letter of intent, others will not. There are some general guidelines for LOIs and they are as follows:
- Be sure to type out Letter of Inquiry at the top of the page to make it clear what the document is.
- An LOI should not be more than 3 or 4 pages with a budget.
- It should have a title and a brief summary description of the project near the top. Be sure the summary hits on the reason why the foundation should take an interest in the project. Otherwise, LOIs are going to need to be specially crafted for each foundation depending on their specific mission.
- Following the summary, write out an explanation of the project.
- The next section should describe the non-profit organization.
- The last part of the LOI will be the budget. A general outline should suffice here, but do put in enough detail so it is clear where money is going.
- Throughout the LOI, just give the facts, leave out pieces of puff and buzzwords. There is a lot of information to succinctly get across here, so be sure it is delivered in a way that can be understood.
Once this is sent in, the non-profit is left to wait patiently for an invitation to send in a full proposal. Non-profits that have done their homework to find a good foundation match, followed guidelines of the LOI and demonstrated that they have the ability to be successful with asked for funds have a good chance of being invited to apply further.
FINAL PROPOSAL
The final proposal will look different depending on the foundation guidelines and what the project is. Generally, these are grant proposals. Grant proposals commonly consist of the following sections:
9. Budget
During this step, it is absolutely paramount that the non-profit exactly follows the final proposal guidelines for the foundation to which they are applying. Any missteps and the proposal could easily be denied. Most foundations will have preferred structural guidelines for this part of the solicitation.
The non-profit must communicate why a particular foundation would benefit from extending them funds. In the tailoring of a final proposal to a foundation, the non-profit should remember that they are looking to garner a working relationship with the foundation. The working relationship between the foundation and the non-profit is to drive both toward the attainment of goals within their missions. Each proposal should tell the story of how this relationship is going to be beneficial for both parties throughout each section. In other words, as mentioned above, the non-profit is not merely selling an idea, but rather a vehicle to be used in furthering both parties’ missions.
CONCLUSION
Soliciting funds from a foundation for a non-profit is a multistep process, each step carries the same weight in the success of gaining funds. The first step is to identify the non-profit’s specific needs. The second step is to figure out what foundations would be the best fit for the non-profit. The third step is for the non-profit to establish relationships with people inside of the foundation. The fourth step is to figure out when the best time to submit a letter of intent is and submit it. The fifth step is to submit the final proposal. If this all goes well, the non-profit will soon be hard at work on their projects and both the non-profit and the foundation will be furthering their mission.
Part
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Part
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Sources That List Funding Foundations

Sources that provide foundations that fund non-profit minority entertainment projects include Foundation Directory, GrantSpace, Idealist.org, GuideStar, United Philanthropy Forum, Charity Navigator, and Animating Democracy. They list numerous foundations, and their search platforms help to narrow down the search to foundations that financially support non-profit entertainment projects such as the performing arts and projects that support issues such as minority and race advocacy.

The source gives information on more than 100,000 foundations that provide funding and grants to non-profit minority entertainment projects. These are numerous organizations that make it easier to find the best foundation that can fund the Sopranos Slay Concert. It also provides information on corporate donors and the detailed profile of the organizations offering funds. The profile information on the funding organizations includes their contact information and address, financial information, the fields they are interested in, and their programs. The source offers basic free searches but requires free registration of the user. However, the more detailed information on the corporate donors and how the organizations disburse their funds require user subscription.

GrantSpace is free to use and does not need any user registration, and this makes it more accessible. It also provides resources, and simple self-service tools that increase the viability of grant applications. The sample documents and insights on how to get funding make it easier to write proposals that will be considered for funding the non-profit entertainment projects. GrantSpace also has regional offices in Atlanta, New York, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Washington, and this will make it easier to physically visit the offices and seek information on organizations or corporate donors who can financially support performances in the respective states. It has a Nonprofit Collaboration Database that contains over 600 profiles of organizations and the nature of their collaboration in various projects. This will help to select the best collaboration that benefits the entertainment project and ensures its sustainability.

The source is free to use and provides a platform that allows searching for organizations that can fund non-profit entertainment projects nationally and in every state. It lists over 120,000 organizations that fund projects making it possible to narrow down to those that fund non-profit entertainment projects. The search platform of the organization also allows narrowing down to the specific type of entertainment to select the most appropriate organization that can partner and collaborate with Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts to ensure a successful performance of the Sopranos Slay Concert in the different states and cities.

The source provides comprehensive information on charities and organizations in the United States that fund non-profit projects. Its database has about 1.8 million organizations and foundation supporting charities and non-profit organizations. The organizations are identified by the IRS, and this portrays their authenticity. The search platform of GuideStar provides the option of narrowing down the search to organizations that support performing arts and different groups such as minorities. Its platform will make it easier for the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts to identify organizations can help to fund its entertainment project.
The source provides a network of regional and national donors, grantmakers, and philanthropist organizations. It has 67 philanthropy associations that represent over 7,000 foundations in the United States. United Philanthropy Forum has members in different states, and this makes it easier to seek financial support from the foundations in the specific states and cities. Its members include family, private, business, and community foundations, and this provides a range of foundations that the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts can choose from based on the type of partnership it seeks with the funding foundation. The information is freely provided and does not require user subscription, and this makes it easy to access.

The source lists more than 9,000 organizations and charities in the United States and rates them based on their transparency, financial health, and accountability. The rating will ensure access to only the reputable foundations that can support non-profit entertainment projects successfully. Its free search platform allows the narrowing down of searches to minority groups and performing arts and then lists the organizations that support such activities, their location, and details. This makes it easier to track the records of the organizations, the specific services they offer, and their financial information before making a decision to seek financial support from them.
The source offers a free search of organizations that support non-profit entertainment projects. It allows the narrowing down of search by region, state, city, issues, and the type of funding, and this will make it easier to select foundations based in the specific states where the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts seeks to perform. Animating Democracy also has specialized databases that list art-based foundations that support projects with specific goals in performing arts.
CONCLUSION
In conclusion, GuideStar, Animating Democracy, Charity Navigator, GrantSpace, Foundation Directory, Idealist.org, and United Philanthropy Forum are the sources that list foundations funding non-profit entertainment projects. Their search platforms help in narrowing down the organizations to those that support specific causes and groups, making it easier to identify the foundations to approach for financial support.

Sources
Sources

From Part 01