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Approaching Foundations


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Dana Vocisano - The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

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Approaching Foundations

  1. 1. Funders Share What They Know Webinar Panel The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples September 13, 2012 Presented by: Dana Vocisano 1 The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
  3. 3. About foundationsFoundations funders are different from government funders.And there are different foundations: • Public foundation, like Trillium foundation • Community foundations, like the Vancouver Foundation • Corporate foundations • Private and family foundations • Non-granting making foundations or foundations dedicated to fundraising, like hospital foundationsWhat their interests are and how each of them work is different. 3
  4. 4. Like a job search Tips for approaching foundationsSimilar to a job search and tailoring your CVDo your homework• Find out what they fund and how they work• Easiest way is the internet – many now have web sitesHow to present your work• short and dynamic• bring your work alive with stories• lots of eyes 4
  5. 5. Other Advice• Do your homework. Make sure you know the funder inside out: their mission, goals etc.• Ensure applications are written clearly and concisely.• Dont include extraneous information or forms not asked for.• Follow instructions. If a question allocates a certain amount of space or words, for example, stick to it. Be respectful of the funders time.• Pretend youre an assessor when reviewing your own application to ensure youve addressed the criteria as would be expected.• Demonstrate your organization capacity, that youre able to do this project. To help solidify this point, identify your other successes.• Show your willingness to learn from and engage with community partners and share that learning.• Proofread the application before sending.• Make sure to double and triple-check your math.• Whatever you do, do not send in applications as part of a mass mailing. Sourced from: Charity Village Foundations: The inside scoop by Elisa Birnbaum, April 2, 2012 5
  6. 6. Life cycle of a programMany foundations are interested only in specific areas, like environment, health or education.Or only in a specific geographic areaOthers may only consider projects that are at a specific stage in their development. 6
  7. 7. Life cycle of a program • Exploration phase: trying out different ways, models, etc. • Start-up phase: implement, test & evaluate • Development phase: grow & strengthen • Scaling phase: spreading the innovation 7
  8. 8. Why don’t foundations fund operations?• What’s the problem with requests for operations or on-going funding?• Why don’t foundations give operating grants? 8
  9. 9. What’s the difference?• It’s like your chequeing bank account vs your saving bank account; one is for paying your living expenses and the other for big or special purchases• The difference between a United Way and a community foundation and how they complement each other 9
  10. 10. Funding for R & D• In this way, McConnell is like many other foundations – we don’t make operating grants• We see ourselves as funding R & D vs “keeping the lights on” or supporting regular on-going programs and services• For experimenting or trying something new or different that a regular budget usually is too retrained to do 10
  11. 11. A foundation’s niche We try to be strategic –that is, focus on an area where we can create change or have an impact 11
  12. 12. For example:• McConnell Foundation is interested in social innovation - new solutions to old problems• tackling chronic and persistent problems in new ways or with new combinations of ideas or practices• For example, an innovation may be introducing a better service delivery model• Has potential to lead to wider or large-scale change• We are particularly interested in social innovations that can spread and scale because the McConnell Foundation is a national funder• We recently launched a new program, with specific application criteria – The Social Innovation Fund 12
  13. 13. Some Other Resources to Share 13
  14. 14. Getting to Maybe: How the World Is ChangedFrances Westley, Michael Quinn Patton, Brenda Zimmerman, 2007 14
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