Friday, July 11, 2014

Grantwriting for Nonprofits at Catalyst Cafe

On Tuesday night, I gave a brief run down of the Pima County Public Library's resources for researching and writing a nonprofit grant proposal to a private funder. The first stop a grant seeker should make is to check out the library's Grants & Nonprofit Info Center page. We have tons of free workshops and trainings related to grant seeking and writing right on the front page. You can also sign up for a free eNewsletter to receive grant opportunities for Pima County nonprofits.

You may also want to do your own research. Access to our grants research databases is available at all of our library branches. You can use a library computer or sign in through our WiFi to access the databases on our website. The Foundation Directory Online profiles over 110,000 grantmakers that give throughout the U.S., and it has data visualization tools available to help determine if a funder gives in the geographic region your project is occurring and what types of projects that they've funded in the past. I recommend that new grant seekers use the "Search Grantmakers" tab and focus on the "Field of Interest," the "Geographic Focus," and the "Types of Support" boxes.

The Arizona Guide to Grants database has over 1,800 profiles of grantmakers who have a stated giving preference in Arizona or a past history of giving to nonprofits in Arizona. One of the key features of this database that I love is the "Upcoming deadlines" link. You can find tutorials for these databases on the right hand side of the page.

If you're ready to write your proposal but aren't sure where to start, take a look at our page. In the presentation, I also highlighted a few of my favorite resources for writing help. Here they are again!

 This resource provides access to free online webinars, sample proposals and other sample documents, a “Get Answers” section, archived live chats and videos that will give you tips on strengthening your proposal. 

Tools & Resources for Assessing Social Impact (TRASI)
Find ready-to-use tools and learn what leading nonprofits, foundations, and others are using to measure their impact. This is very useful for the “Evaluation” section in your proposal.

Arizona Common Grant Application 
This form was developed by a committee of the Arizona Grantmakers Forum to facilitate the application process within Arizona. It effectively streamlines the grantseeking process by allowing nonprofits to create one application that can be submitted to multiple funders.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Grants and Contracts for Small Business

Our July Café featured an expert overview of government grants and contracts by Sandy DiCosola of Summit Contract Management, LLC, a company that manages such contracts for the full procurement cycle.

Sandy has agreed to share her PowerPoint "Grantwriting and Government Contracts for Small Business," where she encouraged small business owners to search and see if there are government solicitations for what your business provides. She is often surprised by the goods and services that the Federal government contracts is looking for.

Here are my notes from her presentation:
  • To get ready: you'll need a 
  • Allow for lots of time to go through the process, at least 6 months.
  • Government Grant vs. Contract: 
    • Grants are for research that leads to commercial products that don't exist yet.
    • Contracts are for existing goods and services.
  • Research the granting agency so you know current news and all about their mission. The library can help you here!
  • Have 2 kinds of readers: a colleague reviewer who is knowledgeable on the subject, and a detail-oriented, non-expert reviewer who can catch jargon and holes in the logic. 
  • If the application is to be submitted electronically, upload it before the deadline to allow for "Murphy's Law."
  • If you are not chosen, you can follow up and ask for a debrief of the reasons.
  • If you're looking for local partners, talk to the UA's Tech Launch Arizona, a clearinghouse for licensed local innovation and products.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

July Café: Grantwriting for Business (yes, you heard that right) and Nonprofits

Grants for business?

Grants for businesses from the government do exist, but they are very limited in scope. The Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs will be discussed at our July Café.

Grants for the nonprofit community will also be covered, including how to use library resources to find funders and write the best proposal possible.

Speaker Sandra DiCosola is the owner of Summit Contract Management LLC located in Tucson, Arizona. The company is dedicated to helping inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses work with local and federal government agencies. The Summit Team specializes in assisting companies prepare proposals under the SBIR and STTR programs as well as Broad Agency Announcements.

Also participating in the discussion will be Kassy Rodeheaver, the Grants & Nonprofit Info Center Librarian for the Pima County Public Library. Prior to working at the library, she worked at University of Arizona Foundation in their Foundation Development office researching, writing, and editing grant proposals to private grantmakers.

Fall/Winter Schedule is here!

Friday, June 13, 2014

How We Innovate, a Presentation by Aaron Eden

Aaron Eden, Innovation Coach
At the May Café, innovation coach Aaron Eden talked to us about how Intuit is building innovation and entrepreneurial thinking into their workplace, and using creative brainstorming techniques to explore solutions.

He led us through an exercise where we interviewed a partner about a product: ladders. We had a couple minutes to ask lots of "why" questions about their most recent experience using a ladder.

Next? Go broad. Think of as many ideas as you can, independently from your interviewee. Aaron handed us fat markers and post-it notes and we scribbled ideas about how to improve ladders -- some crazy, some not.

Then you sort, from most useful to least useful and sketch out the concept using his simple form:

This is a very simplified version of the process. We learned a lot about how to listen to the problem, then capture the broadest set of ideas possible, and then narrow by different criteria.

If you want to know more, Aaron shared his "How We Innovate" presentation with us.

The next Café will cover Grantwriting for Businesses (yes, businesses), and Nonprofits.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Latest on Social Media

What's the latest buzz on social media for businesses, freelancers and nonprofits? Here are some articles I've bookmarked in the last two months.


Top 15 Most Popular Social Networking Sites | June 2014
(eBiz | MBA Guide)
Official numbers for June. Who's on top?

Facebook Still Reigns Supreme Among Young Adults
(Mashable, by Andrea Romano)
Up-to-date stats for those who want to reach teens.

Issues & Opinions

Facebook Is Throttling Nonprofits and Activists
(ValleyWag, B. Traven)
An op-ed on the implications of Facebook's projected move to 99% paid posts.

6 Key Shifts in Thinking About Social Media
(Entrepreneur Magazine, Donna Moritz)
Is blogging coming back? What about Google+? Here is an expert's look at what's coming down the pike.

For Beginners

50 Expert Tips for Getting Started on Social Media
(Ryan Pinkham, Constant Contact)

What experts want beginners to know.

5 Ways to Establish Your Voice on Facebook
(Jesse Aaron, Social Media Examiner)
Is "being human" online harder that it sounds? This may help.

Pinterest Reveals The Most Popular Categories On Each Day Of The Week
(Search Engine Journal, by Matt Southern)

If you've been considering having themed posts on different days of the week, this might give you some ideas.

6 Steps to Build a Social Listening Dashboard
(Marcela De Vivo, Social Media Examiner)
Even if you decide not to maintain an account, It is important to establish listening posts to discover how people are talking about your business (or your competition!)

The Best Free Stock Image Resources on the Web
(Courtney Seiter, TNW)
So images are super-important these days, what if you're not a great photographer? Where can you find images on a budget?

Advanced Help

Twitter Launches An Interactive Guide To Help Small Businesses Reach Their Goals
(Matt Southern, Search Engine Journal)
A new, official guide to business uses of Twitter.

60 Awesome Social-Media Tools for Entrepreneurs
(Jeff Haden, Inc. Magazine)
Are you ready to begin using a management tool for your accounts?

Essential Social Media Design & Sizing Cheatsheet
(Salman Aslam, Omnicore)
Help sizing images for a BUNCH of social media platforms.

Four nifty ways to display and curate Twitter
(Joyce Valenza, School Library Journal)
One advantage of Twitter is how reusable your posts are. Take a look!

Twitter Photo Tips: The Ultimate Guide For Social Marketers in 2014
(Laura Roeder, LKR Social Media)

Twitter is more visual now! Here are some basics about the new best practices.

6 Ways to Get More Pinterest Followers
(Zoe Waldron, Social Media Examiner)
Make your Pinterest presence stronger.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Companies with a Nonprofit Soul: L3Cs and B Corps

What happens when a business develops a non-profit mindset, and wants to use income for social good? Or a nonprofit develops an idea for a profitable business model?

There are a growing number of legal and taxation structures for businesses large and small who want to do good in the world, yet remain a for-profit enterprise.

This post is a companion piece to the panel discussion "L3C: Companies with a Nonprofit Soul" at the 2014 Association of Fundraising Professionals Breakfast.

Panelists speaking: Rob Stenson, Priscilla Mendenhall, and Sy Rotter. Moderator: Lisa Bunker. Organized by Heather Hiscox.

Social Enterprise Structures

501c3: The 501c3 designation allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations. They must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. (Source:

L3C: A low-profit limited liability company, also known as an L3C, is a new kind of limited liability company (LLC) that combines the financial advantages of the traditional LLC form of business with the social benefits of a non-profit entity. In addition, as a variety of LLC, the L3C generally shields its owners from the debts of the enterprise. (Source: Marc J. Lane) Essentially, it is an LLC where the social mission is its primary purpose.

B "Benefit" Corps: B Corps are corporations certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. (Source:

L3C Resources
Local Social Enterprise
B Corps Resources
Panelist Contact information
Priscilla Mendenhall:, tel. 202-746-1022
Lisa Bunker:
Rob Stenson:
Sy Rotter: