October 2009

by Jule' Colvin on November 22, 2010

Welcome to the GrantPathways newsletter. Here you will find updates in the industry, quick links and stories of clients with whom we are working. I hope you enjoy this edition of GrantPathways newsletter. As always, your comments are welcomed.

Featured Client  

GrantPathways has been privileged to work with the staff and board of LifeCare of Brandon, formerly Brandon Care Pregnancy Center, for the past 2 years.  This agency provides critical services to women with an unplanned pregnancy and is the only agency of its kind offering these services in a 20mile radius in eastern Hillsborough County.  LifeCare has recorded over 50,000 contacts with women facing a crisis pregnancy since its inception 22 years ago and serves between 400 and 500 women each month.
The mission of LifeCare of Brandon is to guide those they serve to the unconditional love of Christ through the ministry of prevention, intervention and restoration.  LifeCare offers support to women, couples and families during a critical time of life-changing decisions, by providing a wide variety of free services.  The services include pregnancy testing; adoption counseling and referrals; doctor referrals; support groups; childbirth and parenting classes; and an educational sexual abstinence program.
The services of LifeCare are vital to helping women to receive the early care that they need physically and emotionally, and to safeguard the future health of their babies.  It is critical for women encountering a crisis pregnancy to have a safe and caring place to go in which to learn more about the options that they have at this difficult time and to receive support in the future. 
GrantPathways has worked with the board and staff of LifeCare of Brandon in numerous capacities.  We began our relationship by conducting an agency and board assessment followed up with an in-depth report detailing the weaknesses identified in the assessments and a plan to address these issues.  Our staff worked with LifeCare to develop a 5 Year Strategic Plan.  We then worked with LifeCare staff to improve financial reports, outcomes measurement and policies and procedures.  We researched potential funders for LifeCare and provided grant writing services.  Recently, we hosted a brainstorming session with LifeCare’s staff and board to provide a detailed analysis of their fundraising events.    
We are honored to work with the incredibly dedicated board and staff of LifeCare.  The agency has taken great care to operate with the utmost integrity and professionalism while making every woman who enters the center feel loved and important.  They are a shining example to all who know them.  

Non Profit Know-How

Successful nonprofit leaders understand that to be competitive in today’s fundraising world they must operate as a business – a business whose difference is that it has a big heart.  This concept is at the center of what capacity building is all about.  With the idea of operating as a business in mind, non-profit leaders must learn to analyze their agency using many of the same tools as a for-profit business might utilize. 
A great place to begin this process is to evaluate the true cost of your organization’s fundraising efforts using more than just hard cost net numbers.  To calculate the real return on your fundraising efforts remember to multiply the number of staff hours allocated to the activity by the hourly pay rate of the staff member.  Staff time spent on  planning and implementing fundraising activities represents the opportunity cost to the organization in terms of time taken away from their regular duties, which often negatively impacts the operation of the agency’s mission.  The burdens brought on by these extra duties may adversely impact the level of job satisfaction of staff members.  In fact, over the years, we have heard many non-profit staff members state that they often feel like they are frantically moving from one fundraising event to the next.  While staff time spent on an event can be considered a “soft cost”, you cannot truly evaluate your Return on Investment with a fundraising effort without fully considering these costs. 
We also recommend that you use this same process with volunteer time.   While the volunteer time is not costing your agency in actual dollars and cents, there is still a cost involved, especially over time.  Consider that in the non-profit world we are told that in 2008 to calculate in-kind donation of volunteer time we can use the hourly rate of $20.25/hour (www.independentsector.org).  This number represents the value of the time a volunteer spends each time they volunteer for your agency.  While this number doesn’t represent a cost to your agency, it is the cost to that volunteer.  This number is important in your evaluation of your fundraising efforts for two principal reasons. 
First, it helps assign a value to the activity, or what the cost would be as a contracted service..  (By the way, your agency should be collecting this information for ALL activities in which volunteers participate, not just fundraising in nature, so that you can accurately show funders the true costs of the services that you provide.)  Secondly, an activity that utilizes intensive volunteer labor can be in future danger of “tanking”.  We have seen this happen many times when an agency relies too heavily on volunteers.  A prime example is a golf tournament in which one or a few volunteer leaders spend many hours planning the outing and recruiting people from their friendship network to golf.  Finally, one year, the volunteer(s) will decide that the cost to them (the $20.25/hour plus the stress and headaches) is no longer worth the benefit.  The agency is then left to fill the void left by an overworked volunteer to conduct an event it has become reliant on for funding. 
After you have gathered the staff and volunteer time information, we suggest that you compile a table or graph to analyze this information along with your gross income and hard costs.  Seek input from staff and volunteers on the effectiveness of each fundraising activity.  Then, take all of this data and ask yourself the hard questions.  What was my true bottom line on this activity?  Was the return worth the investment of time for staff and volunteers?  What does this activity cost in terms of opportunity cost to the achievement of our organization’s mission?  How can we improve this activity?  Should we do this activity in the future?
Should you decide that you would like further help with these types of analyses, please call the professional staff at GrantPathways.  We would love to be of service!  

Meet Our Staff                                                    

Tamara Dickey is a Grants Specialist for GrantPathways, Inc.  Tamara possesses a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Toledo and has over 10 years of experience working in the non-profit world as a financial analyst for a large non-profit.  She has been working as a grant writer for GrantPathways for over 2 years and is dedicated to helping clients raise the support necessary to fulfill their missions.    Tamara brings a great business perspective to all that she does.  Tamara is a married mother of three and enjoys serving as a volunteer for her church and the PTA of her children’s school.   

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