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How do Foundations Approve Nonprofit Grants? Nonprofit MBA Podcast 2.11

Summary: Understanding what foundations look at when approving grants for nonprofits before you apply can give you an inside advantage. Each organization has its own decision-making models, so tailor your application and proposal to fit the organization’s requirements effectively. In today’s podcast, Sarah Miller will offer insight as to what the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation looks for in their applicants to award nonprofit business grants. 

The Dental Trade Alliance Foundation

The Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) Foundation is a charitable organization for a national trade association, meaning they are a foundation that fundraises the dental trading partners within the oral health field. Most of their main donors are the manufacturers or distributors, not so much the people giving you dental care in a chair. The DTA Foundation fundraises and works with different means of philanthropy within this industry and gives out the money they receive from donors in form of grants and scholarships. They help initiate projects that advance oral healthcare in a way that is beneficial for multiple communities throughout the nation.

The Dental Trade Alliance typically receives about 70 to 80 applicants for a grant and they usually award about 10 of these applicants. They do not ask applicants to complete an application at first and instead ask for a preliminary proposal so that way they can determine if an organization is a good fit for the grant rather quickly.

After reviewing these proposals, they will cut about 20 applicants from the choosing and then ask the remaining 60 or so applicants to submit the full application. All these applications go through review with the grants chair, Sarah, and public health and oral health experts. The remaining 20 or so applicants then go to through to the grant committee who ultimately decides who will receive the grants. The committee also double checks on the process of choosing the top candidates, inducing lots of conversations to make sure that every applicant who has been cut from consideration has had an equal chance.

Tips for Grant Application Process

1) Search Opportunities Online

A quick Google search may allow an applicant to find a foundation that aligns perfectly with their goals. One can also find announcements of major initiatives of charitable organizations that are spending down their money trying to provide to nonprofit organizations that align with their goals.

Some online resources that can help you locate any grants being offered include www.charitywatch.org, www.charitynavigator.orgwww.guidestar.org, grants.gov, and www.usa.gov/grants. There is not one website where you can view all the grants available, however, the closest resource to get this would be Candids Foundation Directory Online website.

2) Sing up for Google Alerts

For example, if you wanna work with the DTA foundation, you can choose to get alerts once a week when those keywords were mentioned in a press release or elsewhere online. Reading the press releases in regards to your supporting organizations will help you identify the grants that align with your organizational goals the best. If a grant looks fitting for you, give the place a call and see if they are willing to talk to you, allowing you to get some additional inside information about the grant opportunity.

3) State Charitable Activities on Application

One of the first things that are examined on a grant application, is the level of a potential grant recipient’s involvement in communal partnerships. Many times, larger funders will not want to give money to a grant recipient unless the organization has tried a pilot program and has numbers to show its success. The best-conducted projects then get sent to the board members, board of directors, and grant committee for consideration. Once an organization has been chosen, a grant agreement can be made to provide the organization a chance to continue the positive impact of their project even more.

2 Biggest Mistakes a Grant Applicant Can Make

1) Not Follow up on Application

The biggest mistake that applicants make when applying for grants is not calling or reaching out to follow up on their application. By mistake, an applicant may not include all of the requirements causing the applicant to make a few simple mistakes, hurting their consideration. They then fail to reach out to the corporate foundation to ask for advice and feedback. Many times, the applicants will poorly word their plan for the grant money, causing the grant committee to misinterpret whether that organization will use the money most efficiently. However, if the applicant had called to follow up, this confusion could be fixed by providing the grantmaker some additional information about their project. If an applicant is going to spend the time and resources on a grant application, doing research on the organization and reaching out to them is such a necessary step that a lot of people overlook.

To effectively research what is needed for the grant application with the DTA Foundation, it is recommended that you read their website in its entirety. There is a separate tab for their grant program where you can review all of their previous grant winner applications.

2) Customize Your Application

It is very obvious when applicants are applying for multiple grants using the same application for all opportunities. You should have a template that is flexible enough to plug-in updated numbers and information that is more personal to each organization, but you should not send a generic application to every company.

Most times, potential grantees create materials that are not necessarily trying to establish relationships or find the best fit for grant funds. Instead, they are just trying to get their project or organization in front of as many funding opportunities as possible by using generalized wording and missing application requirements. In doing so, they are sending out information that is not updated and tailored to the opportunity in front of them, costing their nonprofit organization the chance to win foundation grants.

The Different Operating Foundations

In the United States, there are many different laws set by the internal revenue service for grantor organizations. This can require the charitable organizations to spend a set expenditure, establish their tax-exempt status, internal revenue code, tax deductions, and tax return structure. A private foundation is required to give out a certain percentage of their earnings from donors, in which state laws can also play a key role. A family foundation may require more work when deciding the grant winner because you have more people that are part of the decision making process. In this case you not only have to honor your organization’s goals, but you also have to honor the family’s wishes.

A public charity, like the DTA Foundation, is not required to give out any specific percentage in grants or scholarships. Of course, if the organization does not give much away and instead keeps it for themselves, the donors will stop donating. Therefore, it is in their best interest to provide grants and scholarships to those that deserve it. Overall, the IRS and states have different tax laws on an organization’s tax exemptions. Some factors that different community foundations may need to track include how much of your fundraising has to be given out for charitable purposes and how much is used directly on grantmaking programs and services. Some organizations, including the DTA Foundation, have donor restrictions. In a grant program that is an endowment, known as the “legacy gift,” they are only allowed to take 5% off the earned money from donors to use for the organization’s purposes.

Factors the DTA Foundation Considers

For the DTA Foundation, it is very common that the same organization will win multiple grants for a charitable contribution. These nonprofit organizations are really great at getting innovative oral health projects up and running and working collaboratively with groups across the country to scale their impact, information, and resources. On the other hand, they also have organizations who have been applying for years never winning a grant, and then finally winning one. If you keep applying, you will eventually have a project or a research initiative that’s going to really resonate well with the committee, leading you to win the grant money. It is very possible that an organization that has won a grant in the past won’t receive it again because there are only so many grants available and other organizations or projects may stand out more.

Educating people about oral health is very important for overall health. As a result of the COVID pandemic, many functions are virtual. Oral educators have been trying to figure out how they can deliver the same education to vulnerable groups effectively. Since their dentist office may now be shut down, the vulnerable groups will struggle even more for quality dental care. In this case, funding TeleDentistry becomes a new opportunity that is very promising, and even so, may receive charitable funding.

The DTA Foundation aims to have a great expenditure responsibility of their donor’s dollars and having well-established donor-advised funds. If they fund organizations that ultimately do nothing with the money, then it is not fair to them or the donor when they could have given another organization that money. Maybe the very organization that was skipped over could have helped 200 people in one senior care center get oral health, and then have that model replicated in 10 other communities, missing a great chance to make a difference on oral care.

When awarding grants, the DTA Foundation does their due diligence of making sure their money is spent in a way that’s gonna help as many people as possible by looking at an organization’s stability to ensure they have the infrastructure necessary to dominate their project. Sarah’s organization has a lot of first-time applicants that win grant money. It is not about being good at applying for grants, but instead is a trust that the grant winner will help people and help advance oral healthcare in an impactful way. At the end of the day the charitable organization wants the project to be complete, they want the resource to be available to people, and they want the grantees to be as successful as possible.

Conclusion

I would like to thank so very much Sarah Miller from the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation for joining me on today’s podcast.

If you liked today’s podcast, please feel free to share it with a friend and also subscribe on your favorite podcasting app. Of course, if you are looking for a line of credit for your business, you can call us at 862-207-4118 or visit our website at www.nonprofitmbapodcast.com.

To get in touch with Sarah, find her on LinkedIn: Sarah Miller at Dental Trade Alliance Foundation, or through email: [email protected]

Thank you all for making the world a better place.

About the Guest Sarah Miller, Dental Trade Alliance Foundation

Today, I am excited to be speaking with Sarah Miller who is the Director of Philanthropy and Foundation Operations for the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation. With a Master in Public Administration and Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Sarah is dedicated to nonprofit service. She currently serves as the Director of Philanthropy and Foundation Operations for the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation, running the charitable arm of a national trade association in Washington, DC. Sarah has years of experience leveraging institutional, individual, and corporate philanthropy for the benefit of nonprofits, along with general nonprofit and organizational management work. She spends her free time writing about nonprofit strategy and serving within volunteer nonprofit leadership roles.

About The Host Stephen Halasnik, Financing Solutions

Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders. Mr. Halasnik is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions. Financing Solutions is a leading provider of Lines of Credit to nonprofits and small businesses. 

Mr. Halasnik is a graduate of Rutgers University and has an Executive Masters from the MIT Birthing of Giants Entrepreneurship program. Mr. Halasnik is a best selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. Mr. Halasnik lives in New Jersey with his best friend, his wife Gina. Mr. Halasnik’s number one purpose is raising his two boys, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men. 

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