Grant Ideas: Look Here!

Grant Ideas Progressive Multiplier Fund

Since the early days of the Progressive Multiplier, we have come across a lot of innovative grant ideas. While we’ll continue to steer organizations towards techniques that we discover that work (e.g. Free Will), we’d be loath to over-steer, because we truly want your best ideas, not ours. In that spirit, we thought we’d share some of the questions that you can ask yourselves when coming up with your proposal, and share examples of grants that we believe fit the line of thinking raised by these questions.

Question 1: What worked in the past that was not part of your plans, and therefore you didn’t pursue? Could this idea be your idea for a grant?

I still recall the day that Frank Canata returned to my door-to-door canvass office in Chicago in 1998, gregariously shouting towards me that I had not given him enough houses, but that he’d still beaten his daily goal by standing on the street corner and asking for money. I thought “only Frank could pull that off” and brushed past his surprising success. Years later, after someone had paid attention to a similar, accidental success in Austria and launched street canvasses, door-to-door canvasses were largely replaced with the street canvass. I even launched a street canvass for Greenpeace, which raised $23 million per year. Since then, I’ve always asked what has worked that wasn’t in the plan, and should that surprising success be tested further.

Paid Leave for the US (PL+US) is an example of an organization that discovered something unplanned that worked, and now they’re testing it more fully. PL+US found that they were the beneficiaries of Facebook crowdfunding hosted by people who were sharing birth announcements and paying their own paid leave “forward” by asking their friends and family on Facebook to donate to PL+US. Their Test & Innovation Fund grant is helping them build lookalike models, target them through Facebook Ads, and recruit them to host crowdfunding campaigns on Facebook.

Question 2: How can you play to your strengths, and test one new thing at a time?

Many organizations approach the PMF asking for funds to test lead generation and test email fundraising for the first time at the same time. Trying too many new things that don’t play to your strengths is likely to fail. Don’t get me wrong; the PMF aims to fail 80% of the time with the experimental grants we provide. But the kind of failure we like is by organizations, staff, and their partners who have experience testing one or two things that stretch them, but aren’t all brand new to them.

Texas After Violence Project (TAVP) is a great example of an organization playing to its strengths — legal training — and testing one new thing with its grant idea — marketing legal trainings — as an experiment. TAVP designed three legal trainings that are qualified to be Continued Learning Education Credits. The trainings are focused on preventing future traumatization from the criminal justice system, and promoting restorative, nonviolent responses, all while generating income from attorneys paying for the courses. With TAVP’s grant, they are testing a wide array of marketing techniques to determine the best methods for generating paying customers. Their objective is to find successful, replicable marketing techniques that TAVP and other organizations can use to market CLE courses.

Corporate Accountability International based its grant idea on its expertise in house party fundraising and distributed organizing. With their grant, CAI is activating and training their volunteers to host fundraising house parties. Through these house parties, they are building their monthly giving program and engaging their current base to be even better advocates for their cause.

Question 3: How can you take what you’re doing well to 11 to design your grant ideas?

PushBlack is building off of their 1,000,000 Facebook Messenger list and their experimentation sprint culture. Through a series of 2-4 tests per week over a year, PushBlack will very quickly learn and adapt to what increases and engages their audience and what doesn’t. With each test, they’ll look at subscriber engagement, acquisition cost of new subscribers, viral growth, format and campaign ask effectiveness, and adapt accordingly. All of their tests seek to optimize the cost and return on investment of increasing their subscriber count and income per subscriber.

Let’s Go Negative

If you were to ask these questions in the opposite way, you’d get a great list of things not to do in your proposals:

  1. Don’t ignore things that surprisingly work when thinking of an idea for a grant. Those are the best next things to test;
  2. Don’t propose to do a big plan that includes multiple new things, none of which play to your strengths. Stretch yourselves or test one new thing in your tests, but do it with staff or consultants who have skillsets that can be applied to these new ideas;
  3. Don’t rule out improving your current programs. Just optimizing them, in some cases, could lead to millions of dollars.

For more examples of grant ideas we’ve funded, check out the Center of Excellence. If you aren’t registered yet, go here to sign up.

For a full list of our guidelines and our FAQ, please click here.

PMF is Hiring: Program Director

PROGRAM DIRECTOR POSITION OVERVIEW

The Program Director of the Progressive Multiplier Fund is the perfect position for a fundraising specialist who would find meaning in making a broader, movement-wide impact; enjoys exposure to the most cutting edge ideas; and thrives in a data-driven decision-making environment. They will be joining a rapidly growing start up organization and part of a four person senior team that is thinking and acting dynamically.

The Program Director leads the Progressive Multiplier Fund’s (PMF) grant selection process, tracks and publicizes best practices in non-profit revenue generation, manages marketing efforts for the PMF, and manages relationships with grantees.

The best candidate for this position will possess excellent analytical skills, have experience creating and assessing small donor and fee for service financial models, be an enthusiastic convener of best practice and respectful in communication with grantees, and act as a strategic partner with the senior team in designing the overall grantmaking strategy of the PMF. They will be capable of moving seamlessly from high level strategic planning to detailed analysis of business models and motivated by working on a wide range of progressive causes.

ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW

The PMF is a non-profit organization that finances small donor and fee for service 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.

PROGRAM DIRECTOR ESSENTIAL DUTIES

Grantmaking

  • Partner with the Executive Director to develop and implement a strategic framework, objectives, and outcome measures across the Progressive Multiplier Fund’s various funds;
  • Manage the evaluation process of grant applications, screen applications, and participate as a final decision-maker in the Progressive Multiplier Fund’s investment committee;
  • Review grant proposals; provide clear, concise and insightful feedback to applicants and recommendations to the finance committee, including drafting and editing proposal summaries and progress reports for review by the board;
  • Manage internal processes and portfolio progress while ensuring appropriate documentation, grant budgeting and reporting. Improve operational efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Consult with grantees and other partners to maximize impact of projects and ensure grants are meeting strategic goals. This may include: regular phone calls, site visits, providing operational guidance, connecting grantees with resources or support, and convening meetings of key stakeholders;
  • Partner with the Development and Executive Directors to structure and manage recoverable grants in a way that positions the PMF to attract donor advised funds, program related investments, loans, or loan guarantees;
  • Stay up-to-date on best practices for targeted fundraising channels.

Marketing and Communication

  • Manage the Center of Excellence, a resource center for progressive organizations on fundraising best practices;
  • Manage webinars and online marketing of the Progressive Multiplier Fund, educating potential grantees on proposals that qualify for the PMF, and educating progressive organizations on revenue generation breakthroughs;
  • Represent the Progressive Multiplier Fund at major fundraising, donor, and non-profit conferences.
  • Create content for PMF including articles and summaries for the Center of Excellence aggregating lessons learned;

Fundraising

  • Co-Design the grantmaking strategy with the Development Director and Executive Director to align our work to raise resources from funders, PRIs, and lenders with grantmaking activities;
  • Participate in the design and execution of small donor fundraising projects for the Progressive Multiplier Fund in future years.

EXPERIENCE AND SKILLS

  • Minimum 5 years’ experience leading direct marketing or digital fundraising teams;
  • Highly numerate with experience in data analysis, strategic decision making, and a relentless focus on results;
  • Experience in developing a robust digital acquisition program leveraging all digital mediums to grow the program through a variety of platforms, including Facebook and Google;
  • Familiarly with data segmentation and analysis;
  • Proven ability to lead, collaborate with, and influence others in a constructive and inclusive manner; and to build and sustain collaborative relationships;
  • Strong interpersonal skills;
  • Demonstrated evidence of leadership ability and/or entrepreneurial behaviour;
  • An ongoing passion for lifelong learning and new ideas;
  • Strong written and oral communication;
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • Humility, integrity, passion, motivation, and a self-starter attitude;
  • Culture contributor: can endorse, model, and reinforce creation of the team’s culture in the areas of developing trust, showing respect, being transparent, and creating energy;
  • Experience in grantmaking a plus.

To Apply

Prospective candidates interested in applying should contact our search partners Perrett Laver. For an informal discussion about the role, contact Daniel Flynn (Daniel.flynn@perrettlaver.com) to hear more or address any questions you may have.

Completed applications comprised of CV and cover letter should be uploaded at http://www.perrettlaver.com/candidates quoting reference number 3638 or sent to Daniel Flynn directly at Daniel.Flynn@perrettlaver.com.

The deadline for applications will be Friday, June 21, 2019.

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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.

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.