ROI Measurement: A Key to Successful Foundation Relations
In business, people invest in companies that show attractive gains, and potential for growth and expansion, knowing that these successful companies could become profitable investments. People want to see a return on their investment.
The same goes for foundations. They expect to see proof that their dollars are well invested, and that the community will see a return on their investment. Their dollars are precious and in demand by many truly great organizations making differences in our communities. Foundation dollars are especially important since the government cut back on its funding.
So nonprofits…..line up, stand up straight, and put your best face forward. Show the foundations what you are made of, and be organized and ready to show them that you will be and have been successful as stewards of their funds.
They say the proof is in the pudding. And what do you need to do to make sure foundation donors are up-to-date and informed on your project?
Receiving good facts, at the time the funding is applied for, and after the proposal has been awarded, will verify that contributed dollars will be and were well spent by the foundation. This is essential for them to know and report, whether the project was successful or not.
When you are writing a grant proposal, the following guidelines are helpful.
Give measurable goals regarding the project
Most foundations will hope to see at least three goals and then explain the methods you will use to get there. Remember to give your actual baseline data to create a future frame of reference. And answer these questions (examples only):
Prepare to Give an Interim Report
This is always a nice way to let the foundation know you appreciate them and want to keep them in the loop. An Interim Report can report how you are doing and give your current status half was through the program. This is a time that you can show your appreciation.
Prepare a Final Report
This is much like your Interim Report – except that this is it. You have an opportunity to show your donor what you have accomplished and how you have helped the community. If your news is not good news, you must let them know that news as well.
This is also the time to tell then what transpired as a result of this project. Many times good ideas come from other well intentioned ideas. It’s a process that is healthy to go through. And, this is progress.
1) Use phrases or descriptions with fuzzy meanings. For example, you may want to describe your goal as this:
We will feed the homeless.
This is too ‘all over the place’. But here are some questions to ask:
- Where are the homeless? (the homeless under the bridge in South San Antonio)
- How many homeless? (you have researched the numbers and have found that there are an average of 200 each day)
- What meals will you feed? (2 meals per day)
- What kind of food will you provide? (nutritious and healthy food)
- For how long? (every day for one year)
2) Do not exaggerate your numbers or your predictions! This will only cause trouble when you cannot reach your goals.
3) Do not create unattainable goals.
This seems like a lot of work, but it is really a great exercise. When you look at your goals, and then use a standard of measurement to see if you succeeded or not, you will learn how to conduct the project better the next time and improve your relationship with your donors. Good luck!