Grants are a benefit in the watershed world, but wise watershed groups do not put all of their eggs into the grant-seeking basket. Instead they build a foundation of individual donors (via memberships, donations, major donors programs, special appeals campaigns, etc) to support their mission, then supplement this income with grants, contracts and one-time gifts. Don’t know where to get started? Check out these resources:
- U.S. EPA’s Watershed Academy Developing a Sustainable Finance Plan module:
- This web-based module tells you what you need to know to prepare a budget, identify potential funding sources and strategies, and include non-monetary returns in your funding strategy. Upon completion of this module, you should be able to write a financial plan for your watershed group.
- National Council for Voluntary Organizations: Funding and Finance for Voluntary and Community Organizations Sustainable Funding [PDF]:
- Sustainable funding is more than just getting the money in hand. This webpage provides the context that a group needs in order to be successful in carrying out its mission.
Is your group ready to seek funds for the projects on your wish list? Use the Fundraising Readiness Checklist [XLS] to determine whether or not your organization is ready to start fundraising. If it turns out you are not, the checklist helps to outline what you need to do first. If your organization is philosophically and logistically ready to jump into fundraising, take a look at the Individual Donor Development Plan [DOC], an outline designed to help you build your individual donor contributions as part of a sustainable watershed effort. If you’d like to seek corporate donations, this sample Corporate Appeal Letter [DOC] might provide some helpful hints on how to sell your program and word an "ask."
After the Award
You’ve got the money, now what? You need a tracking system to keep tabs on how much funding you’ve received and how much you still need to complete your goals. Plan2Fund is an on-line project/funding tracking system for watershed management plans you might use. You must already have your plan written (including goals, objectives, and tasks) and have cost-estimates for each task to use this system. Though specifically created for watershed management plans, this system may have use as a strategic plan tracking system, as well. With regular updates, this tool could be very useful for reporting purposes, as well as keeping track of plan and funding source status.
Additional resources for Watershed Funding are available in the Watershed Toolkit.