Welcome to the jungle…

The volatility of the global economy over the past two years has presented tremendous challenges in virtually every sphere of human endeavor, including the charitable work of the social sector.  While donations are starting to pick up for some U.S. nonprofit organizations as the economy inches toward recovery, increasing service demands are still largely outpacing the resources available to provide them.  According to a recent year-end fundraising survey of U. S. charities published by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, 68 percent of participants reported increased demand for their organizations’ services, yet only about 46 percent expect to increase their 2011 budgets.

The ramifications of the fundraising challenges that nonprofits face extend beyond humankind, however.  Among the organizations struggling to stay afloat are those that devote their resources towards improving the lives of animals in need — animals who suffer at the hands of abusive or negligent owners or within the confines of factory farms, circuses, and laboratories, or whose existence in the wild is threatened.   Even in prosperous economic times, only a small pool of funds is available for these organizations, as the majority of charitable contributions in the U.S. are made to religious, educational, and health institutions.

So, people responsible for fundraising at animal-focused organizations are grappling with a tough market  no matter what — and when those organizations suffer, so do the animals.

My goal in creating and maintaining this blog is to provide information that helps nonprofits committed to fostering the well-being of animals to secure and leverage philanthropic support — particularly foundation grants — as effectively as possible.

I work in the development department at The Foundation Center, the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide.  Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed.  I experience the rewards and challenges of foundation fundraising every day; the Center is supported by close to 550 foundations.  You will see a lot of its offerings—the vast majority of which are freely available—referenced throughout this blog.  Having said that, I should note that this blog reflects my own perspective as an individual providing a free service to the field, and is not representative of or endorsed by any specific organization(s).

My first piece of advice for organizations embarking on new projects is to see whether other organizations are already doing similar work that might be accomplished more effectively through a partnership.  A persistent problem within the social sector is that many groups engage in overlapping, duplicative efforts that compete for the same scarce grant dollars.  In fact, many nonprofits needn’t have been formed at all for that very reason, and in the aftermath of the economic crisis, some have been forced to close or to merge with others.  New nonprofits without a well-established track record and donor base tend to have a particularly difficult time garnering financial support.  

To address this issue and help organizations better coordinate their efforts, the Foundation Center has been working with the Lodestar Foundation to provide resources on nonprofit collaboration, including a collaboration database. One interesting example from the database relating to animal welfare was a partnership between the Animal Protective Foundation, Robin’s Nest Rescued Cat Adoptions, Guilderhaven, and the Montgomery County SPCA on a community spay/neuter program.

You can also find potential project and/or funding partners by searching the Center’s profiles of grantmakers and grants in The Foundation Directory Online, a database available for use free of charge at locations throughout the United States and internationally. (If you prefer the convenience of using it from your own office, you can purchase a subscription.)

The Foundation Center’s Philanthropy News Digest includes constantly updated requests for grant proposals and news stories relating to animal welfare, for which you can receive automatic e-mail alerts free of charge.

I also highly recommend exploring GrantSpace.org, the Foundation Center’s new free online learning platform for the nonprofit community that includes a section specifically for organizations whose work centers around the environment and animals.

I hope you find this blog helpful.  Thank you for all you do to improve the lives of animals.

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One Response

  1. This was really informative. I will get this link to our local animal organizations. I know the local Humane Society has struggled with fundraising.

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