Dark Clouds in the Crystal Ball

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A few short weeks ago, I wrote about the new administration in a reserved, but hopeful manner. While our crystal ball for grant funding was pretty cloudy, I remained cautiously optimistic. Since then, the picture has become much clearer, and the future doesn’t look bright.

In the first week following the inauguration, we saw EPA contracts suspended. That’s given organizations typically funded by the NEA, NEH and other federal agencies a reason to hit the panic button. I don’t mean to add fuel to the fire, but their concern isn’t completely unwarranted.

However, even with the doubt and concerns surrounding the future of federal funding, there is a silver lining. Foundation funding and philanthropy are likely to skyrocket in response to the panic. Take the case of Planned Parenthood.

Each time their federal funding is seriously threatened, private grants and donations explode for them. In fact, they’ve seen a 40 percent uptick in donations since the presidential election.  And in the wake of the immigration ban, donations to the ACLU surged to $24 million in a single weekend, much of it pledged by corporate donors. The amount represents $20 million more than what the organization raises in a typical year.

Things like this make me fairly confident that the philanthropic world – private foundations in particular – is going to come out in force to support threatened areas.

That said, there are two important take-aways to consider. First, government grants are typically much larger than even the most generous private grants. And, even with increased giving from the private sector, the landscape will become much more competitive for the dollars that are available.

Now is absolutely the time for every nonprofit to be on its A game. Get to know your private funders. More importantly, know how to effectively solicit their funding from a very crowded field.

Not sure if you can pull it off? We can help. Give us a call today.

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