Leading Philanthropies Launch Progressive Stimulus Project

The $15 Million pooled fund will provide progressive organizing and advocacy organizations financial and technical support for revenue producing projects

Washington, DC – More than a dozen major U.S. foundations announced today the launch of the Progressive Stimulus Project, a 36-month, $5 million-dollar annual initiative that aims to strengthen the financial sustainability and agency of local, state and national nonprofits.  In this watershed moment, these nonprofits are being called to quickly advance civic engagement and social justice while they reframe their work against a backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession.

“Philanthropy should be giving more, not less, in this time of crisis. And even if donors do give more, creative new fundraising strategies are vital to a sustainable future for progressive organizations. Wallace Global Fund is spending 20% of our assets this year as part of our efforts to fund the vital work being done right now to protect vulnerable families, communities, and organizations as individual giving collapses. We are honored to help support this innovative new program and call on our peers in philanthropy to recognize that supporting our nonprofit partners is far more important than protecting our endowments,” said Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund.

In addition to Wallace, the fund, managed by Progressive Multiplier (PM), is launching with the support of The JPB Foundation, Ford Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Four Freedoms Fund, Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, The Resilience Initiative (a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors through a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation), the Overbrook Foundation, Amalgamated Foundation, The WhyNot Initiative, Resilient Democracy Fund and Rosenberg Foundation. To date, over $1.5 million have been contributed to the first year’s goal of $5 million. The Stimulus Project will support a new round of revenue generation projects with an initial cohort of local, state and national nonprofits, beginning in July of 2020.

The Progressive Multiplier provides financial and technical support for independent revenue generation projects to progressive nonprofits that are working towards systemic change. To date, for every dollar they have granted, their grantees are on track to raise an average of more than five dollars for their funded projects.

The idea of the Progressive Stimulus Project was first popularized when Gara LaMarche, the president of the Democracy Alliance, Philip Radford, executive director of the Progressive Multiplier, and Sonal Shah, the executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University wrote a piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy calling on philanthropy “to do what Congress does: adopt a stimulus package.”

  • Expected projects supported by the new pooled fund this year include:
  • Rapid response fundraising to support racial justice work and those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Pivoting fundraising efforts to align with increased public awareness
  • Rapid diversification from fundraising streams lost to the pandemic, like face-to-face canvassing or galas
  • Expanded financing for existing successful fundraising at risk of getting defunded in upcoming budget cuts due to the recession

The JPB Foundation stated, “in economic downturns, we must work with others to strengthen the community-led organizations that fight for a strong social safety net, to alleviate poverty, and rebuild our society in a just and sustainable way. We are proud to support the Progressive Stimulus Project as one key element of investing in community organizations during this turbulent time.” For more information on the Progressive Stimulus Project, please write Mina Devadas at mdevadas@progressivemultiplier.fund.

A Philanthropic Stimulus Plan for Progressive Nonprofits

Gara LaMarche is  president of the Democracy Alliance, Philip Radford is executive director of the Progressive Multiplier Fund, and Sonal Shah is professor and executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University.

Progressive Multiplier Fund Stimulus Package Progressives

Originally published in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 3/18/2020

The novel coronavirus — and the likely economic recession it will touch off — affects not only individuals but families, organizations, and small businesses.  Grant makers have stepped up to help with this pandemic — including the Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationRobert Wood Johnson Foundation, and others. Their work alongside governments, universities, and public-health facilities will help stem the spread and support research for a cure and vaccine development for Covid-19. But even as we focus on the science, this pandemic has exposed and exacerbated our communities’ needs and demonstrated the urgency of calls for a better health-care system, paid family leave, and real protections for workers and their ability to earn a decent income.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s latest Interim Economic Outlook, Covid-19 presents the greatest danger to the global economy since the financial crisis of 2008. Recessions affect the most vulnerable in our society the hardest – the sick, the elderly, people of color, and low-income Americans. This increases demand on nonprofits serving these people to do more with less. But that is not a solution. Instead we need systemic change — and that means empowering the nonprofits that can successfully press for it.

But nonprofits, especially groups providing and advocating for a social safety net, are typically underfinanced. A report released by Candid shows that half of all U.S. nonprofits are operating with less than one month’s cash reserves, leaving those organizations particularly vulnerable.

If normal patterns follow, we won’t see them getting the help they need from grant makers. Generally, foundations give 5 percent of the average value of their endowment from the previous three years, meaning a steady decline in giving during and after a recession. 

What’s worse, according to data provided by Candid, foundation investments in helping nonprofits achieve financial sustainability after the last recession dropped more precipitously than their overall giving. During recessions is precisely when we should be both supporting and strengthening nonprofits, especially those that serve the neediest and advocate for them.

Deepak Bhargava, a veteran social-justice leader and former executive director of Community Change, told us that “in economic downturns, we must do everything in our power to protect and expand the social safety net that offers a lifeline to those who are most deeply impacted and also strengthen the community-led organizations that advocate for that safety net. The community-based nonprofits that serve, organize with, and advocate for low-income people are on the front lines.  They are and yet are also most at risk during an economic crisis.”

What is putting these groups at risk?

Undiversified revenue.

Many nonprofits depend heavily on grants from federal, state, and local governments or foundations, which means most of their revenue is restricted for specific purposes. This means that nonprofits have little funding to test new revenue-generation ideas or expand what’s working. Research by the Progressive Multiplier, an organization that works to improve fundraising by advocacy groups, shows that organizations need the ability to test new approaches to earning revenue in ways that go beyond government aid and philanthropy, and they need funds that will allow them to build on what they learn.

Ups and downs of election-year funding.

Civic engagement and advocacy organizations face extreme boom and bust cycles. They receive excess funding in even years when elections are underway but inadequate funding in off years. This prevents organizations from building their reserves during off cycles to more effectively expand their reach during boom times. 

Limited investment in revenue generation during recession years.

 Candid data shows a significant drop in funding for financial sustainability and fundraising during and after the last recession. Nonprofits should not have to sacrifice long-term fundraising investments during economic downturns by cutting their budgets for recruiting and keeping donors. These investments are critical to helping groups learn new approaches to earning money and raising it; sustainability doesn’t happen without startup support.

What Philanthropy Can Do

Now is the time to put an end to these concerns. As the coronavirus spreads and the downturn deepens, philanthropy has the opportunity now to fund organizations to push Congress to mitigate the economic burden on Americans. One crucial way that philanthropy should support these organizations is to do what Congress does: adopt a stimulus package. Here are the components that would strengthen nonprofits in 2020 and beyond:

Help groups quickly test efforts to improve their fundraising efforts.

 During recessions, some individual donors give less or less often. For organizations that already run successful fundraising programs, investing in improving and expanding those now is paramount and lessens the blow from any future declines.  As examples, Progressive Multiplier provided $25,000 to PushBlack, the nation’s largest nonprofit media platform for black people, which engages 4.6 million subscribers with emotionally driven stories about black history, culture, and current events.  The grant allowed PushBlack to develop a model to “supercharge” its experiments with subscriber donations. As a result, the organization increased the number of people who make recurring gifts from 2,000 to 8,000, and is now generating $50,000 a month from those supporters.

Another grantee, People’s Action Institute, advances racial, economic and gender justice by investing in state and local organizations and campaigns to win real change in people’s lives. Thanks to experimentation, People’s Action has expanded its fundraising program to build a more robust planned-giving program.  It has secured more than $400,000 in planned gifts.

Show  groups how to turn increased public awareness into long-term financial viability.

While none of us would have hoped for this moment, the current pandemic places a spotlight on many of the issues that progressive nonprofits are working to improve — such as paid leave and universal health care. Moments like this offer a great opportunity to recruit new donors. However, organizations can only capitalize on this moment and turn new donors into an active power base if they have the funds, expertise, and capacity to do so. 

That trifecta is rare for most small and medium-size progressive organizations. Linda Wood, senior director of Haas Leadership Initiatives at the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, told us, “This is a time of great experimentation in fundraising, but grantees need to be able to take risks to try them out. We can help by releasing restrictions on grants.” Rachel Baker, the fund’s director of special initiatives, added: “And we can make additional grants so grantees can try out new fundraising and revenue-generation strategies and get the expert support they need to succeed. Now is the time to act.”

The National Immigration Law Center, which defends and advances for rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants, gained unprecedented visibility helping fight the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. Its very small pool of individual donors grew from 280 to 15,500 over 18 months. With a grant from the Haas Jr. Fund, the center’s leaders developed strategies to build long-term relationships with new donors and  a stronger pool of supporters to help with future policy fights. 

Tiffanie Luckett, the center’s senior officer for individual giving, said, “We caught lightning in a bottle by acting quickly in the aftermath of the Muslim ban, but our subsequent work to integrate fundraising and communications strategies while developing relationships with this newly mobilized audience has allowed us to turn this moment into a long-term strategy to strengthen our supporter base and diversify our revenue streams.”

Enable organizations to diversify their revenue streams based on what is “shovel-ready.”

An effective way for nonprofits to quickly develop new revenue streams is to play to their existing strengths. The Progressive Multiplier has been working with several grantees to create these new revenue streams based on available assets.

The Texas After Violence Project works to reduce the trauma created through the criminal-justice system. The organization has developed expertise in legal training so it created a continuing-education program that lawyers pay to attend. At the same time, the organization is creating a network of pro bono lawyers to support its mission.  The organization’s executive director, Gabriel Solis, said that support from Program Multiplier “allowed us to experiment with this concept without compromising our already limited funds.  Without it, this new channel would have never opened up for us.  [Now I’m] incredibly optimistic about the long-term viability of this organization.” 

Increase flexibility and loosen restrictions on low-interest loans and other program-related investments.

Remove restrictions on existing grants and make it easier for organizations to use foundation support to experiment with ways to generate revenue. Foundations should invest in revenue-generation projects like an investor, picking the important mission-focused projects most likely to allow nonprofits to produce new income streams rather picking a small number of grantees based solely on their program work. Going beyond making direct grants also makes a difference: Program-related investments allow foundations to give nonprofits the capital they need to make a difference; what’s more, they are often repaid in part or in full. It’s a lot better to get 50 percent of an investment returned than just making a grant that offers no return.

Economic downturns are inevitable. They create moments for leadership and change.  This is the time to invest in people and organizations. We know that every nonprofit organization will not survive a recession. But when we act with courage and rigor, we can drive change in the reach and capabilities of advocacy groups. If we expect to strengthen the social safety net, which has atrophied over the past three decades and especially during the Great Recession, then philanthropy must adopt a new strategy.

As Bhargava, the veteran advocate told us, “This is a time to stretch to support vulnerable communities and the organizations that support and fight for and with them.”

Gara LaMarche is  president of the Democracy Alliance, Philip Radford is executive director of the Progressive Multiplier Fund, and Sonal Shah is professor and executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University.

Stand Signs up Email Activists via Facebook for $.64

Stand, a 501(c)(3) environmental organization, recently had an exciting breakthrough in their work to build their email list using Facebook ads. Many organizations pay $1.50 to purchase emails or $1.00 or more for new subscribers via Facebook ads. By refining their audience and testing several ads, Stand has been able to bring that down significantly to $.64 and continues to bring this cost down even further.

The Progressive Multiplier Fund is honored to be supporting Stand’s work through a recoverable grant to generate revenue for its campaigns. Stand advocates for a cleaner environment and does so by “challenging corporations and government to treat people and the environment with respect.”  Their work over the last twenty years has had great impact, ranging from changing the environmental practices of huge corporations, to protecting rain forests and forests around the world.

Stand’s recoverable grant focuses on recruiting people to join their email list via Facebook ads and subsequently raising funds from those subscribers via email. They achieved a major breakthrough by reviewing existing email list subscribers who take three or more actions, and loading them into Facebook. They then can find people who behave similarly in Facebook and advertise to those people. They have found that these acquired subscribers mirror the same engagement metrics of their original audience in terms of online activism. As more of these subscribers and target audience donate, Stand leverages Facebook’s machine learning capabilities to refine its look-alike model to advertise to people who are even more likely to donate.

While refining their target audience matters, the message and ad content matter just as much. Below are three of the top performing ads that they have used so far in their campaign.

You can read more about the incredible work that they do to protect the environment on their website

Facebook Lead Generation and Fundraising Grows in Popularity

** Note — all links point to the Center of Excellence. If you don’t have access, apply here.

Summary

Organizations are increasingly using Facebook ads to target audiences that look like their donors or members (sample grants for this here). In general, organizations applying to the PMF have tested and refined their look alike models to generate a lead (someone who opts in to their email list or to being called) for about $.70 per lead. This is an excellent way for organizations of all size to scale up quickly.

Building Look Alike Models

If you have not mastered this technique yet, a good first step would be to apply for a small grant ($5,000 or less) to build and test a look alike model for fundraising purposes. You can enter 1,300+ donors’ email addresses into Facebook to build a model, or rent direct mail lists from organizations that are similar to yours to get the sample size that you need.

Telemarketing and Email Leads on Facebook

Once organizations have created their look alike models, they use several techniques to raise funds:

  • Email Communication – many organizations incorporate the leads into their regular email streams, first including the leads in a welcome stream that culminates in a fundraising appeal, and then incorporating the leads into their normal online fundraising program;
  • Telemarketing – this is perhaps the least used and the highest ROI technique, calling people within 12-24 hours. Some non-profits with proven in-house telemarketing teams are able to generate new monthly donors for under $100 per donor, including staff and marketing costs;
  • Immediate Asks – After signing up for their email list, some organizations redirect leads to a donation landing page, where a fraction of leads immediately convert to donors. This is not the primary method of fundraising from these new leads, but provides a nice bump in income; and
  • Peer to Peer Fundraising — Some organizations are using Facebook ads to recruit people to host peer-to-peer fundraisers for their organization on Facebook.

Recruiting Leads to Facebook Messenger Lists

Several organizations are exploring building Facebook Messenger lists with Facebook Ads. Facebook Messenger fundraising is currently less competitive than email, signing someone up does not require the person to leave Facebook messenger and go to a different landing page, and the viral nature of Facebook Messenger means that the effective cost per sign-up (i.e. people who sign up from paid ads and viral content) can be as low as $.35. Accelerate Change is working with several organizations to pioneer a set of fundraising techniques on Messenger, including:

  • Real people messaging new leads to ask them to donate;
  • Incorporating financial asks into welcome series and after advocacy asks; and
  • Sending fundraising appeals during times of crisis to support multiple local organizations.

Applying for Grants for Facebook Marketing

If your organization (or consultant) does not have a track record of running Facebook ads and generating leads or subscriptions for under $1, then you are welcome to apply for a mini-grant (i.e. $5,000 or less) to run a series of tests to reduce your lead generation cost.

If you do have a track record in generating inexpensive leads via Facebook, but do not yet have a proven track record in generating $2 for every $1 invested over time via emailing or phoning these leads, please consider applying for a grant to test the follow-up fundraising techniques.

Finally, if you have proven that your organization and team (including staff and consultants) can do both of the above, please consider applying for a recoverable grant with the Progressive Multiplier Fund.

Take a look at past grants and the key performance indicators that are tracked to measure success (and learn as we go) when drafting your grants.

PMF is Hiring: Marketing and Communications Internship

MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS INTERNSHIP OVERVIEW

Progressive Multiplier Fund is looking for a Marketing and Communications intern to help expand its reach to potential grantees and grantors. This internship is an excellent opportunity to exercise marketing tools and techniques and to learn about breakthrough methods of helping progressive non-profits. The successful candidate will be a driven and creative individual who wants to pursue a career in media and content marketing. We offer a flexible schedule and provide extensive guidance and support, as well as the opportunity to explore the world of non-profit fundraising and grantmaking. This opportunity is for 30-40 hours a week.

As our Marketing and Communications intern, you will hone your skills in researching target audiences and developing multi-media strategies on how to connect with them. You will assist in developing content for blogs, newsletters, and other marketing avenues. You will also have the opportunity to review grant applications and fundraising techniques and tactics, helping develop your communications and marketing strategic skills.

ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW

The PMF is a non-profit organization that finances revenue generation projects for the progressive movement.

The PMF gives grants from two funds, the Test & Innovation Fund and the Growth Fund, which have different funding criteria and priorities.

  • The Test & Innovation Fund provides grants to nonprofits interested in testing new revenue generation models, as well as testing the replication of revenue generation programs that have worked in other organizations. Grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, with an average grant size of $10,000. Successful revenue generating projects can be scaled up with funding through the PMF Growth Fund.
  • The Growth Fund is a valuable resource for organizations that wish to scale up existing revenue projects. The Growth Fund provides recoverable grants and market rate loans to support organizations seeking to expand their revenue streams and have a greater impact.  Recoverable grants and loans from the Growth Fund can be as large as $120,000.

Of equal importance, the PMF works to share everything it learns with all progressive organizations, equipping the whole community to grow more quickly.

MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS INTERNSHIP ESSENTIAL DUTIES

  • Create content for our non-profit social media accounts and websites, including organizing cross-platform content strategies
  • Develop marketing campaigns considering our target audiences & their progressive causes
  • Monitor social channels for relevant trends, ideas and memes; apply analysis to drive traffic
  • Assist with capturing and analyzing social media and website metrics
  • Other responsibilities as assigned

EXPERIENCE

Marketing and Communications Internship candidates should be:

  • Hard workers;
  • Committed to progressive causes;
  • Familiar with social media tools and wordpress;
  • Able to demonstrate a track record of research and finding solutions to challenges; and
  • Determined to find solutions.

PAY AND BENEFITS

  • The internship is unpaid;
  • Internship perks are:
    • Working for great progressive causes
    • Fantastic networking opportunity (nonprofit orgs all over the country will know who you are)
    • Great first hand experience in a startup nonprofit
    • Collaborating with and learning from a diverse team, including Phil Radford, former ED of Greenpeace

To Apply

Send cover letter and resume to info@progressivemultiplier.fund with “Marketing and Communications Intern” in the subject line. Visit our website, www.progressivemultiplier.fund.  No phone calls please.

Progressive Multiplier Fund is an equal opportunity employer strongly committed to diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Women, People of Color, LGBTQIA individuals, and other historically disenfranchised populations are encouraged to apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

About the PMF

What is the mission of the Progressive Multiplier Fund?

The PMF finances revenue generation projects for progressive organizations, and in turn, shares fundraising knowledge gained with the progressive movement.

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What does the PMF do?

  • We offer grants for experimentation in revenue generation, as well as recoverable grants and loans for nonprofits to scale projects; and
  • Provide a resource center, the Center of Excellence, for progressive nonprofits on earned revenue techniques.

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How do I access the Center of Excellence?

Please follow these steps to sign up for the Center of Excellence:

  • Sign Up – Sign up for the PMF mailing list here.
  • Screening – All PMF mailing list subscribers are screened to ensure that they work on progressive causes.
  • Webinar – Once we determine that your organization is a fit, you will receive an invitation to an informational webinar, where we will discuss our funding priorities and the types of grants we offer. Please have the staff who would manage this program attend the webinar.  After you attend, you’ll receive an automatic invitation to the Center of Excellence.

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Who will Center of Excellence resources be available to?

The Center of Excellence is open to 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations, projects housed in these entities, LLCs in which a 501(c)(3) or (c)(4) are the only members, and their consultants that work on the following issues: Clean Energy, Climate Change, Corporate Accountability, Criminal Justice Reform, Democracy/Voting, Disability Rights, Economic Justice, Education Justice, Environmental Justice, Gun Control, Health Care, HIV/AIDS, Housing, Human Rights, Immigrant Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Mass Incarceration, Minimum Wage, Neighborhood Issues, Protecting Medicare, Protecting Social Security, Puerto Rico Justice, Racial Justice, Refugee Crisis, Reproductive Rights, Gender Equity, Social Justice, Wilderness Protection, Women’s Rights, Workers Rights, and other progressive issues.

You do not need to be a grantee of the PMF to have access to these resources.

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About Grantees and Grants

About Grantees

What is your Grantee Criteria?

Grantees must:

  • Be US based, nonprofits and subsidiaries with 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, projects housed in these entities, or LLCs in which a 501(c)(3) or (c)(4) are the only members.
  • Do some form of domestic policy or legal advocacy, civic engagement, or are a media organization in one of PMF’s issue areas.
  • Should have an operating budget of $500,000 or more (organizations that are smaller should email info@progressivemultiplier.fund to see if they qualify).

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Does the PMF fund Coalitions, PACs, or Political Parties?

The PMF would consider funding coalitions, but not for the purpose of those organizations acting as regranting organizations. We fund our grantees directly. The PMF does not fund PACs, political parties, or organizations that do not meet the criteria above.

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What issues do you fund?

Clean Energy, Climate Change, Corporate Accountability, Criminal Justice Reform, Democracy/Voting, Disability Rights, Economic Justice, Education Justice, Environmental Justice, Gun Control, Health Care, HIV/AIDS, Housing, Human Rights, Immigrant Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Mass Incarceration, Minimum Wage, Neighborhood Issues, Protecting Medicare, Protecting Social Security, Puerto Rico Justice, Racial Justice, Refugee Crisis, Reproductive Rights, Gender Equity, Social Justice, Wilderness Protection, Women’s Rights, Workers Rights, and other progressive issues.

If your organization does not consider itself progressive, but works on multiple issues above in a way that would be considered progressive while reaching out “across the aisle,” you may qualify for PMF funding.

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How do I know that my organization fits the PMF’s definition of “Progressive”?

We understand that it is not for a small group of people to define progressive; if the issue you’re working on is not listed, please write us at info@progressivemultiplier.fund to see if your mission fits.

Please note: as long as your organization works on the issues above, you fit our mission. Your particular revenue generation program does not need to be focused on any particular issue above.

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About Grants

What types of funding does the PMF Offer?

The PMF gives grants from two funds, the Test & Innovation Fund and the Growth Fund, which have different funding criteria and priorities.

  • The Test & Innovation Fund provides grants to nonprofits interested in testing new revenue generation models, as well as testing the replication of revenue generation programs that have worked in other organizations. Grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, with an average grant size of $10,000. The Growth Fund is a valuable resource for organizations that wish to scale up their existing successful revenue projects.
  • The Growth Fund provides recoverable grants and market rate loans to support organizations seeking to expand their revenue streams and have a greater impact.  Recoverable grants and loans from the Growth Fund can be as large as $120,000.

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What are the Grant Application Deadlines?

Our 2020 open call for grant applications will begin in February with application deadline in March.  Please contact bethany@progressivemultiplier.fund with any questions.

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How do I increase my chance of getting a grant?

The Center of Excellence has a leaderboard on the right side of the front page, and each person in the CoE is granted points. Having the most points can result in the following:

  • Getting your grant. We review grant applications in order of the points earned by organizations collectively. The higher you are on the leaderboard, the more visible your grant application is to us.
  • Getting more grants. When we learn more about your organization’s capacity and your expertise, you gain more points. When we see great funding opportunities that need a certain expertise and organizational capacity, we can reach out to those who match based on their shared info.

We have limited funds; participating in the community gives you the best chance of receiving a grant. So how do you get points?

  • Fill out as many fields as you can on your account
  • Ask and answer questions on the CoE
  • Endorse or be endorsed as an expert of a topic

Step by step instructions for getting points can be found here.

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What are the grant obligations?

The PMF has the right to share all lessons learned, techniques, overall results and materials used from any form of grant given with ALL other progressive organizations. Best practices and lessons learned are shared through the Center of Excellence.

  • Recoverable grants are repaid monthly with all income from the project that the PMF funds until the grant is fully repaid, plus a 10% administrative fee within 18 months. Your organization retains the remainder of the earnings after both the grant and fee are repaid.

Any funding awarded through the Test & Innovation Fund is given in the form of a traditional grant without any repayment obligation.

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Grant Criteria

What are your grant criteria?

  • Your project should focus on engaging individuals who can be members, consumers, or donors (under $1,000).
  • You have the right team and capacity (in-house or in-house with partners or vendors) to execute the program.
  • A strong case that this effort can return a 2:1 return over three to five years, meaning if you were to spend $100 this year to acquire donors or customers, the income from those people over five years (without you spending more) would be $200.
  • A strong case that your program, if scaled, could raise your organization over $1m per year OR could be replicated by other organizations to generate millions for the movement.
  • The PMF has the right to share lessons learned, techniques, overall results, and materials you used with ALL other progressive organizations
  • Will only fund technology if it is a small part of the project.

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What infrastructure or capacity is required in each organization to receive funding?

The PMF will evaluate the proposal you submit, and ask if you have the capacity to do that type of project.  For example, if you are generating interest on Facebook and calling interested people to ask them to join your organization, we would review your team’s background in Facebook marketing and telemarketing.

You can cover staff costs with PMF funds, but we evaluate your grant proposal based on the leadership and team that you have in place, including your consultants, and your vendors. If your proposal does not identify the staff person who will run this program who has a proven track record of success, we are unlikely to fund your project. If you need to use funds to add additional, junior staff, this may be acceptable.

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Can I use funding from other sources to support my project?

No. Your requested grant amount should cover the entire cost of your fundraising effort, so that you can determine if this effort can truly return a 2:1 return over three to five years. This includes consultants, vendors, tools, staff time, and other direct or indirect expenses of the project (running ads, purchasing lists, renting lists, etc).

The Progressive Multiplier Fund does not suggest any specific vendors or technology.  However, the vendors that organizations have worked with on different projects are available in the write-ups of fundraising tests and projects in the Center of Excellence.

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What can funds not be used for?

  • Matching Grants
  • Hiring of senior staff
  • CDFI Loans for Business readiness

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Why can’t we use funds for hiring senior staff?

We evaluate your grant proposal based on the leadership and team that you have in place, including your consultants, and your vendors. If your proposal does not identify the staff person who will run this program who has a proven track record of success, we are unlikely to fund your project.

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Can Grants be Used to Test Successful Techniques Used by Other Organizations?

Yes.  About two thirds of all Test and Innovation grants are used to test techniques that have worked for other organizations but haven’t been tried yet by the applying organization. One third of our Test and Innovation grants are used to fund wild new ideas that haven’t been tested yet.

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Do I Need to Apply for a Test and Innovation Grant to Apply for a Bigger Recoverable Grant?

No. If your organization has a proven track record of running a revenue generation program that generates a 2:1 return, you can apply for a recoverable grant to expand that project. But, if you apply for a test grant, and it works, we would welcome an application for a Recoverable Grant to expand the project.

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If an organization has more than one idea to test, will you consider more than one proposal from the same organization?

Yes, but the total budget requested for the different tests should not exceed the maximum grant amount (i.e. $25,000).

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Can we reapply for grants?

Yes, with some caveats.

  • No one organization can receive more than 10% of the funds available from the Progressive Multiplier Fund’s different pools of money at any one point in time.
  • If you apply for a test grant, and the project works, we would welcome an application for a Recoverable Grant to expand the project.
  • Organizations that have had a proposal rejected can reapply with new or modified proposals (based on the feedback from the PMF).
  • Organizations that have not fully repaid recoverable grants are unlikely to receive additional funds from the PMF.
  • The PMF would give additional recoverable grants for the same project in future years if the project is succeeding.

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Grant Process

What is the Application Process?

  • First you must be a member of the Center of Excellence.
  • Log in to the CoE. Poke around!
  • Schedule a call with the PMF – After you have attended a webinar, please send an email to info@progressivemultiplier.fund to schedule call where you can ask follow-up questions or share proposal ideas.
  • Application – After you attend the webinar, you will be able to create one or more applications through the Center of Excellence portal.

Future Applications – Once your organization has access to the CoE, you can apply for future grants by logging in to the CoE here.

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What makes a good application?

  • A revenue generating project that is a test, a wild idea, or a proven successful project
  • A sound financial model showing 2:1 ROI – explain your assumptions with text, but really focus your energy on the numbers
  • A good team

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How Does the Budget Document Work?

  • Costs – Please outline the costs of the project, broken down into the different budget categories, by month of the year. The income your organization receives from the PMF should not appear in the project budget as income.  Your costs should be greater than or equal to the grant provided by the PMF.
  • Income – Please outline the income from the expenditures in this project monthly for 60 months following the expenditures (i.e. if you recruited monthly donors, how much money will they give in future years based on what you spent during the grant period).

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How does the PMF track what revenue comes from the project you’re funding?

For testing and innovation grants, we will ask you to create a separate budget in your financial software, and to track your expenses and income. For recoverable grants, we may ask you to open a separate bank account in addition to creating a separate budget and tracking your expenses and income, and have all funds from the project flow into that account

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What is the Turnaround Time for Grant Decisions and Funding?

  • We decide on grants within two months, and distribute funds within one month after the decision.
  • To move your application up in the grant review process, increase your activity on the CoE! This gives your profile more points, and moves your application up in the order of being reviewed.

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Inside Philanthropy features Progressive Multiplier Fund

Inside Philanthropy: Need to Raise More Money For Social Change? Apply For One of These New Fundraising Grants

Inside Philanthropy

A group of foundations and other donors have pooled their resources to provide grants and loans that help progressive causes test new fundraising ideas or expand existing fundraising efforts.

The Progressive Multiplier Fund, as the new grantmaking entity is called, has raised more than $2 million to be distributed in the next 12 months. Already, the six-month-old fund has made two grants totaling $50,000 to test new fundraising ideas.

It will make larger loans to organizations seeking to expand promising fundraising programs. In those cases, a charity would repay the loan, which is called a “recoverable grant,” and keep anything over the amount it borrowed. If an organization fails to earn enough to repay the loan, the Progressive Multiplier Fund will forgive the shortfall.

The next deadline for grant and loan applicants is October 19.

“The challenge social change groups face is that they need new ways to generate revenue,” says Linda Wood, a senior director with the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, which donated $125,000 to the Progressive Multiplier Fund. “Smaller groups are especially limited,” Wood says. “Midsize groups underinvest in fundraising, and even large groups leave money on the table. A lot of boards and nonprofit executives are reluctant to invest in fundraising.”

Read more at Inside Philanthropy here.

Fundraising Innovation: Study Shows Need for New Non-Profit Finance

Most progressive organizations can dramatically increase unrestricted, sustainable revenue through disciplined financing and information sharing according to a recent study on fundraising innovation.

In 2016, a group of fundraising innovation thought leaders conducted a six month study that unearthed a critical mass of progressive organizations that are ready to launch small donor and fee for service tests, and to roll-­out proven programs, but cannot find the needed financing. Of the 35 organizations interviewed for the study, each organization was testing an average of two scalable revenue projects. These project were primarily focused on small donor fundraising, fee for service, and certification programs. Half of the organizations surveyed could raise $500,000 more annually from proven models if they had the funding to invest.

The Results: Fundraising Innovation is Widespread, Financing is Inadequate

  • Widespread Fundraising Innovation, particularly among smaller organizations. Smaller progressive organizations are doing a higher volume of innovative experiments, which could benefit significantly from increased funding. While some of these non-profits lack the capacity to scale, there is no shortage of consultant and intermediary support organizations to complement non-profits’ existing capacities.
  • Proven Scalable Revenue Programs. A critical mass of larger progressive organizations have developed scalable fundraising models that, if expanded, could raise significantly more revenue. Unfortunately, the organizations lack the financing to expand these initiatives.
  • Experimentation and Innovation. A small number of foundations provide limited grants to progressive groups to conduct scalable revenue experimentation. Unfortunately, this form of financing is neither readily available, nor abundant enough, to optimize scalable revenue testing. Strikingly, the study found that smaller social, economic, and racial justice organizations conducted a higher volume of innovative experiments that could benefit significantly from increased funding.
  • Best Practice Sharing can Accelerate Learning and the Scaling of the Progressive Movement. While organizations share some best practices, there is no progressive-wide hub where results and techniques from rigorous tests are widely shared. Indeed, because the field is changing rapidly, even general best practices around grassroots fundraising are not easy to find for organizations with limited experience.

A New Path for Fundraising Innovation and Scalable Revenue

We designed the Progressive Multiplier Fund (PMF) from these findings to provide the following three core services:

  1. Create a Test and Innovation Fund to turbocharge experimentation and knowledge dissemination. An essential component of scaling progressive groups is to fund experimentation and prototyping. When such experiments succeed or fail, the next step is to share that information across the progressive movement. Small donor fundraising needs constant innovation as older methods (e.g. on-line, direct mail) lose steam. The Test and Innovation Fund will incentivize progressive groups to experiment more creatively. The fund will ensure that a diverse range of progressive organizations are able to participate.
  2. Create a Growth Fund that leverages donor dollars. Our research demonstrated organizations need a relatively unavailable type of funding: recoverable grants. These investments are risk-­free to the grantee. Any income returned to the Growth Fund will be reinvested in future projects. The grantee would pay back the Growth Fund (or not) out of gross revenue from the scalable revenue project proceeds, not out of its general budget. All net income after the loan repayment would go to the non-profit organization. This model leverages funder dollars in two ways: First, the Growth Fund would re-grant this money several times in the future. Second, as the Growth Fund builds a track record, it may take out commercial loans against its track record and balance sheet – which many organizations are unwilling to do – using its cash on hand as a guarantee to leverage larger sums to invest in progressive organizations; and
  3. Create a Center of Excellence on Scalable Revenue. Our findings support the need for a Center of Excellence (CoE). The CoE will share best practices in small donor, fee for service, or sales efforts across the progressive movement.