5 articles tagged with 'grants'

Causality Brand Grant -Service-Based Grant exclusively for Nonprofit Marketing and Branding

· 1392 words · about 7 minutes

I know you've heard me talk about the Causality Brand Grant before. In case you missed it, let me refresh your memory. Causality offers full (pro bono) and matching (partial, funding requirement of 50%) service grants to help nonprofits have access to their services at no or low cost. "Causality can help you build your “toolbox” of dynamic and sustainable communications elements and empower you to use them—elevating your brand and enhancing your ability to serve."
Check out my interview with Terri Gaines, President of Causality.

Can you tell me about your organization?

My husband Steve and I started a small branding firm in the late 90s and grew it to an award-winning advertising agency with a staff of 15+. We had clients large and small, from insurance to banking to small businesses and we were very successful.

Over time, we found that our work for nonprofits was the work that we enjoyed most. In 2009, we rebranded to Causality to work exclusively with nonprofits and good causes. We have a core staff of designers and web developers who have been with us since the early days who all embrace our mission. We are grateful to be able to do our part to help make a difference. It is the motivation behind our tag line: Do good, help others, go home happy.

In the 10 years we've been Causality, we’ve also added government agencies and education clients to the mix. We found that their needs and our solutions are very similar to those of nonprofits.

We now provide our branding, marketing, graphic design and web site design services exclusively for nonprofits, government agencies and education clients across the U.S.

Where did the idea for a service grant come from?

Even before we were Causality we had always done pro bono work whenever we could. We found that much of our pro bono work was repeat work. It’s great to develop long term relationships, that’s very important to us, but we also wanted a means to offer our pro bono services to a more diverse audience of nonprofits and to contribute to help solve their branding challenges.

Shortly after we rebranded to Causality, we launched the first Brand Grant offering Full Grants to qualifying nonprofits through an application process. We received 50 applications that first time and we awarded two pro bono projects. We continued by doing this twice a year.

During that first year, we received input from medium to larger organizations who were interested in the program but felt they their needs were different from those of the smaller nonprofits. They typically had some level of funding or the capacity to raise funding for certain projects but were looking ways to extend that funding. In 2011, we added the Matching Grant program which is a partial pro bono grant.

Through the Matching Grant, organizations can receive a project with a 50% reduction in cost. When a Matching Grant is awarded, we discuss the project and put together a proposal that details the project, the deliverables and the full cost for the project. We apply the 50% reduction for the pro bono portion of the Matching Grant and the remaining balance is what is required from the organization to proceed with the project.

Over time, both grant options have become very popular. We now offer the grant four times a year and receive an average of 100 applications, awarding 2-3 full grants and 6+ matching grants each quarter.

Can you tell me about one of your most recent projects?


Rebranding Crisis Clinic is one of our recent favorites. They had been Crisis Clinic since 1964 and had a longstanding history and excellent reputation in the community. However, their 20 year old brand was becoming increasingly irrelevant. The logo had a rotary dial phone and the word “clinic” was being use to describe phone and online services.

Over time, Crisis Clinic’s programs and services evolved and expanded to better meet the needs of people living in Seattle and the surrounding areas. This included the role that smartphones and text messages have in communication.

We dug in and conducted a brand assessment of their Board of Trustees, staff, volunteers and greater community to learn what the perception of their role was in the community. Common key words that people chose were “connector” and “connections.” We initiated the name change to Crisis Connections and visually represented connections with the hand and device forming a heart. This new branding better supports their mission and embraces the ways people connect.

What are three tips for submitting a strong application?

  1. Always have a compelling challenge related to branding. The last and most important question asks what branding or communications challenge your organization faces. For example: Is there a stigma surrounding the work you do or the people you serve? Is your organization being confused with another or is your mission being misunderstood? Do you lack awareness in your community? Lack of funding or shortage of staff is not considered a compelling challenge for this grant, it needs to be something branding or communications related so that we can envision a solution with the services we provide.
  1. Be sure to ask for projects that fall under our areas of expertise. The Causality Brand Grant is not a funding grant, but rather a services grant providing branding, marketing graphic design and web site services. We don’t fund supplies or vehicles or other tangible items (we’ve been asked for a van!). The grant also does not cover hard costs such as the cost to print materials. However, just about any branding or communications service is included.
  1. Be specific about your project. When we evaluate grant applications each cycle, we work to align requests with our predicted capacity for the next three months. It is helpful to know “project specific” details. If your request is for “marketing materials” it is helpful to quantify this as “a series of four program brochures and a pocket folder” so that we can have a good idea of scope. It helps us to not under or over estimate the projects we award that quarter. To be fair, we realize that sometimes, an organization may not know what they need and could benefit from consultation towards identifying needs. That is a valid project request, as well.

Should an applicant only ask for one service?

An applicant may ask for one or more services. It is helpful for us to know the breadth of the needs. We do ask that the organization identify each project and list them in priority order. As mentioned above, when we evaluate grant applications we work to align requests with our predicted capacity for the next three months. So if we have a finalist organization whose first item is something we won’t have capacity to handle, we can move down to the next item in the list to make the award happen.

If awarded a grant, what are the obligations of the recipients? The obligations are really no different from any other type of project engagement. We consider these to be highly collaborative projects where we partner with each client to work towards a mutual solution/result. We ask that we have a consistent point of contact within the organization, that the organization is responsive to requests for feedback, content or any other needs and we ask that once we begin a project that the organization commits to maintaining a reasonable project pace. These are really essential to any successful project.

Is there anything else we should know about the grant process?

It’s a very competitive process. We receive so many applications from great organizations who have interesting projects and compelling challenges. But as a smaller firm, we just don’t have the capacity to award more at this time. We know it can be discouraging to apply and be turned down. Making cuts is the hardest part of the process for us.

We do encourage folks to reapply and are happy to provide feedback on an application. We also keep the questions the same each time to make it easier to reapply. This grant was designed to be accessible for organizations that may not have a grant writer or whose staff may be stretched thin.

To apply for the Causality Brand Grant, click the link to review upcoming deadlines.

Contact Information for Terri Gaines:

Get Ready for the Fall Fundraising Season!

· 294 words · about a minute

Last week, I received a few invitations to local galas and fundraisers happening around my city. I thought to myself, summer is really over! It’s that time of year to finish planning your largest fundraisers and events. I want to remind you about an overlooked area: donor communication.

I could do a whole series on this very subject. It is that important. It’s easy to get into the habit of asking for money, but not communicating with the donor in the interim. I bring up communication because right now is prime time. Almost everyone should be back from summer vacation, and that includes your donors! The months August through October set the tone for the rest of the year. If you don’t have a simple donor communication plan, use this one:

-Identify new prospects;
-Clean your current donor database;
-Gather your volunteers;
-Send an email update to your new prospects introducing your nonprofit;
-Remind your current donors about your organization with news, upcoming events, and current campaigns.

-Call, and thank major donors (determine what is considered a major gift in your organization: $5,000, $10,000, $50,000, etc...) Some people call this a phone blitz. This is an opportunity for your volunteers and staff to thank major donors for their continued support.
-Email personal solicitations to your major donors a week after the phone call;
-Prepare for Giving Tuesday by sending out a "Save the Date" to your database the third week in October

November (Giving Tuesday) and December (year-end giving) are prime donor communication months. It will take more than a bulleted list to cover the months that bring your nonprofit the most funding. I may cover this topic in a video or webinar instead of a newsletter.

Are you getting ready for the fall fundraising season? How are you preparing?

New Classes in 2020!

· 118 words · about a minute

Stay tuned for FundJoy’s 4-week online classes in 2020! We are kicking off the year with one of my most popular courses: Grant Research & Writing 101, followed by Public Speaking Strategies for Fundraisers. If you have ever struggled with speaking about your cause, making the Ask, or just speaking in front of an audience, I can help you! I was an introverted person. Speaking in front of people did not come naturally. It is a learned and practiced skill. Honing my public speaking skills made the difference in my fundraising career. Hey, if I can do it, so can you! Click the link to let me know which topic you’re interested in. You will receive first notification!

Donors Love Stats that Either Highlight Need or Show Impact.

· 351 words · about 2 minutes

For the first time in 50 years, individual giving is less than 70% of total giving. I didn’t want to start the newsletter with bad news, but because we are fundraisers, this information is important to us. There are a ton of webinars discussing the Giving USA 2019 Report. There are also several articles discussing the stats and what has increased/decreased, etc. I want to focus on just one aspect of the report: Individual Giving.

I have nonprofit peers who question the validity of the report. Some fundraisers don’t see the value in analyzing it. The reason for most of my fundraising success is that I study people AND trends. Well-researched statistics matter.

Giving USA 2019 Report Infographic
Image Source:

The Giving USA Report is very detailed, so I rely on infographics. Infographics are good for consuming a lot of information in a short amount of time. This especially helps if you are a visual person. Let me show you how I use giving statistics to my advantage. The first thing I look at is the increase in charitable dollars. Right away, I see that the environment/animal initiatives saw an increase. That is not surprising to me, seeing that this has been the trend over the last few years. What was surprising is the increase in giving to international organizations: 9.6%. This is how I look for trends and what sectors are suffering. I TAKE THIS INFORMATION AND USE IT IN MY ASK MEETINGS. YOU CAN TOO!

Donors love stats that either highlight need or impact.

Use statistics to show how your cause if suffering. For example, here is a script: “In the latest Giving USA Report, it showed a decrease in giving to foundations. Because of this knowledge, my team and I have diversified our funding portfolio and are looking to build relationships with local donors. This works for us because we understand it connects our donors to our cause.”


Use everything you have to close the deal.

Don’t forget about my Prospect Research 101 Class, starting in September. This is one example of how I will teach you how to connect, cultivate and close! Register here.


​ 40 hours to complete a grant application? Is it worth it?

· 332 words · about 2 minutes

MacArthur Foundation is accepting applications for its 100&Change competition. The grand prize is $100 million, with smaller prizes totaling $15 million dollars. Every year I receive emails from clients and peers asking if they should go for it. Hey, I'm an optimist, so I love the enthusiasm. If you ever thought about going after large grants, this newsletter is just for you. We will use MacArthur’s grant as an example.

1. MacArthur Foundation refers to this funding opportunity as a competition. Every time you submit a grant application, you are in a competition. The number one way to submit a competitive proposal is to make sure the funder's values and interests match your organization’s mission and vision.

2. Applicants who applied for the 100&Change grant reported it took 40+ hours to complete the grant application. I will emphasize the "+". Make sure you have the time to devote to an intense and sometimes frustrating process.

3. MacArthur encourages nonprofits with 2 or more representatives to apply. When you're tackling a project of this magnitude, you need a team.

What about local grants?

MacArthur is a grand example, but what about local grants? The same strategies apply. Submitting the grant proposal may not be as time-consuming, but check and recheck your proposal before submission. In my Grants 101 workshop, I always stress asking yourself this one question:

Does the proposed program match the goals, objectives, and priorities of the funder?

Goals: Projects generally should have only one goal. Your goal may include one of these terms: to decrease, to deliver, to develop, to establish, to improve, to increase, to produce, or to provide.
Objectives: Objectives are the specific means of measuring and achieving a goal.
Priorities: What are the funder's priorities? What are their initiatives?

Thanks for joining me on the last webinar: Prospect Research 101. I reviewed the seven steps that outline my prospect research process. If you missed it, sign up for our class: Prospect Research 101, starting September 10, 2019!