An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Collaborating with communications

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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Collaborating with communications

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by the development team at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time programs.

As fundraisers, we know that projecting the best information about our organizations is a key way to win new supporters and keep existing ones. The right messaging strategy can bolster support from donors and funders, and establish and increase your organization’s credibility. A close partnership with your organization’s communications team can make that happen.

Here’s a few ways collaboration with communications professionals can bring keep your fundraising strategy sharp or bring it to the next level.

Consistency is key

When writing a grant application, an annual letter of appeal to donors, or an email to a prospective new donor, it’s crucial to produce fundraising messaging that is consistent and aligned with the overall language and messaging of your organization. Delivering clear, consistent, and accurate messaging builds interest and trust in your organization while keeping current donors connected and loyal to your mission.

Because effective fundraising materials aim to inform prospective or current donors about the work of your organization, make an effort to coordinate with your communications, media, or quality control team to review your content. These staff are skilled in message framing, proofing, and polishing, and can review the accuracy of the information you’re presenting. Additionally, they can ensure your fundraising materials use the organization’s color palette, images, and logo. Details like visual branding and effective copy are foundational to conveying the best possible impression of your organization to prospective funders and external audiences.

Current events lead to currency

Another reason to loop in your communications staff is to make sure you’re including the most current news about your organization. For example, let’s say your organization has been responding to an urgent issue that is impacting your stakeholders or constituents. The urgency of the issue might mean that your organization will be rapidly responding with new talking points, data, or stories from your particular field.

Collaboration with your communications team ensures you’ll capture the latest and most compelling information in your fundraising materials. These efforts will keep your current donors engaged and informed about your work, while also piquing the interest of new donors.

For year-end appeals in particular, a common strategy is to use short stories or quotes from your field to demonstrate the need for your organization’s services. This is a compelling way to show the impact your organization has on communities, and can effectively motivate donor interest and support. In using this strategy, make sure to obtain approval from the individual(s) you will be quoting or highlighting in your stories.

Crunch the numbers

Infographics are effective tools that provide compelling information in an easily digestible, visually appealing format. When using them, it’s important to double-check the accuracy of numbers and statistics referenced in your materials. Data accuracy is especially critical when you’re citing your organization’s impact and accomplishments (i.e., number of people served, number of workshops conducted).

Communications professionals work with these numbers on a regular basis in their marketing and outreach tasks and should be able to help you confirm the data you’re using in your materials.

Fundraising and communications are a natural fit for cross-departmental collaboration. Communications professionals can bring their skillset to bear on your materials and help you present prospective and current donors and funders with the best possible version of your organization’s messaging and voice. When planning your next initiative, reach out and see what you can create together! 

Grant opp.: Support for STEM, arts, community service, and more

Established in 2005, the Henderson Foundation seeks to provide support to community organizations across the country. Nonprofits (including afterschool and summer learning programs!) are encouraged to apply for funding that would support initiatives in the following areas: Education and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/08/18

Got a green thumb? Get a grant!

If your program features a youth garden, Green Education Foundation and Gardener's Supply Company want to help it thrive! To enter the Green Thumb Challenge, schools and youth groups (including afterschool programs) are encouraged to to submit chronicles of their garden projects...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      09/04/18

Grant opp.: Funding for hunger relief, environmental stewardship, and more

Looking for grant opportunities that will help your program do even more in your community? Save-A-Lot can help! Save-A-Lot supports organizations whose primary mission addresses the following focus areas: Hunger relief: Comprehensive hunger relief organizations and non-profit...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      08/13/18

Grant opp.: Fund a digital learning center for your program

Afterschool is an excellent opportunity to provide quality digital and computer science learning experiences to students who may not have the chance to get online during the school day – but only if the program has the resources to connect them to computer science education. If you’re...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/22/18

Grants for eco education from Captain Planet Foundation

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/16/18

Tips for applying to the New York Life Foundation's 2018 Aim High Grants

We here at the Afterschool Alliance are once again excited by the opportunity to administer the New York Life Foundation’s incredible Aim High Grant Program. For those of you who may not be aware, the Aim High program is part of the New York Life Foundation’s ongoing...

BY: Dan Gilbert      01/16/18

Grants up to $100,000 for middle school OST programs

The New York Life Foundation is seeking applicants for $1,050,000 in grants to middle school afterschool, summer or expanded learning programs serving disadvantaged youth. This is the second year of the Aim High grant competition. In all, 26 awardees will be selected based on their ability to help...

BY: Ursula Helminski      12/12/17

Up to $500 for creative programs from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is offering funding of up to $500 to design and implement a creative program for your school or library! Public schools, public libraries, and public preschool programs are encouraged to apply. Previous successful projects have included a public story walk, a...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/04/17

New funding opp: Discretionary grants up to $20,000

Looking for a way to inspire the youth in your afterschool program? Want to start a project but don’t have the necessary funds to start? The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation offers grants of different amounts for projects big and small! Through a fairly simple application process, you...

BY: Marco Ornelas      10/02/17

Grant opportunity: Start a garden or wildlife habitat at your local school

If your program focuses on local beautification efforts or gardening and ecology, the Wild Ones Seeds for Education program has a creative way to fund your projects! Your program could be awarded up to $500 to start a garden or wildlife habitat for native plants and animals in your local school....

BY: Marco Ornelas      08/15/17

Grant opp.: Support for STEM, arts, community service, and more

Established in 2005, the Henderson Foundation seeks to provide support to community organizations across the country. Nonprofits (including afterschool and summer learning programs!) are encouraged to apply for funding that would support initiatives in the following areas: Education and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/08/18

Up to $75k for innovative initiatives and ideas to benefit kids

Take a moment to think about the work your organization does in promoting information and resources to your colleagues in the field. If you’re a communication and information leader in your community, apply for the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation’s 2018 grant...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/05/18

Up to $500 for creative programs from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is offering funding of up to $500 to design and implement a creative program for your school or library! Public schools, public libraries, and public preschool programs are encouraged to apply. Previous successful projects have included a public story walk, a...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/04/17

New funding opp: Discretionary grants up to $20,000

Looking for a way to inspire the youth in your afterschool program? Want to start a project but don’t have the necessary funds to start? The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation offers grants of different amounts for projects big and small! Through a fairly simple application process, you...

BY: Marco Ornelas      10/02/17

Funding opportunity: Up to $1,000 for environmental service-learning

The future of the planet belongs to our kids, and afterschool programs offer one of the best opportunities for students and youth to engage in environmental stewardship projects that connect classroom experiences of environmental science with the real world. If your afterschool program has a focus...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      06/15/17

An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Collaborating with communications

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by the development team at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time...

BY: Maria Leyva      05/16/17

8 firsthand tips to win the sustainability battle

Sustainability: it’s an ongoing struggle in the nonprofit world. Afterschool and summer learning programs are no strangers to writing sustainability plans and working tirelessly toward this goal. For many, sustainability is elusive. For all, it’s hard work. In...

BY: Jen Rinehart      12/16/16

An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Year-end appeals

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by Mike Burke, Director of Development at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and...

BY: Michael Burke      12/13/16