Sustaining a NORC Program
Guiding Principle # 2
As a NORC program moves beyond its start-up phase, it continuously pursues more stable and diversified funding.
Actions and Considerations
Develop a three-year financial plan. A financial plan spells out the mix of resources necessary to design, implement, and continue new projects, and to meet milestones. A three-year time horizon encourages senior residents and other community partners, as well as funders, to consider the longer-term resource needs of the NORC program.
Take stock of current funding and available resources for fundraising. Review your revenue and in-kind sources of support, noting what is likely to continue, what may be renewed, and what will definitely come to an end. Identify gaps in the revenue necessary to meet your goals. Be sure that you allow yourself the time and resources—including administrative support, data, and a network of contacts—needed to support ongoing fundraising.
Prepare documentation to support major funding requests. Draw on your financial plan and logic model to develop a short—one to three pages—statement of who you are, what you are doing, why it is important, what impact you expect to have, what you need, and what funds you are requesting.
This kind of document allows you to test funder interest and get feedback before you develop a full proposal. It also prepares you to pursue funding quickly when the opportunity presents itself, rather than having to scramble to develop something from scratch at the last minute.
Identify potential funding sources, and know their areas of interest. A good place to start is by developing a comprehensive list of contacts; these can be funders themselves, or stakeholders willing to share their knowledge about funders and fundraising opportunities. Identify seniors with the skills and interests to track funder interests, maintain records, and participate in outreach as appropriate.
Every funding source has its own areas of special interest and works within its own guidelines. For example, some sources are primarily interested in start-up or pilot projects, and some are not willing to provide general operating funds. These parameters keep changing, so a NORC program should update its background information about funders at least twice a year.
Make funders aware of your work. Even before you submit specific requests, the funding sources in your community should know who you are. Look for ways to promote good will and interest in your program, and to communicate your goals and outcomes (see Sustaining Your Program, Guiding Principle #4). Engage your partners in the outreach process.
Example: Cathy Grimm, of Jewish Family Services, the lead agency for the Crestmoor Downs NORC program, in Denver, helped to create the Aging Dialogue, a quarterly meeting of a group of foundations that fund senior services in the Denver area. Prior to the meeting’s creation, many of its members had little or no contact with one another. Now, they can discuss what they are funding and how they can use their money most effectively, as well as identifying trends in aging. At the same time, Cathy Grimm has the opportunity to raise awareness of the work at Crestmoor Downs and to educate these key players about NORC programs in general.
Be organized about submitting proposals and tracking your progress. Developing and submitting grant proposals in a timely manner is essential to avoid disruptive gaps in funding. Keep track of proposal deadlines, decide what funding you will seek and when, and know how long it takes to get a decision. Create a system for tracking the journey of your proposals.
Keep in Mind
ortune favors those who are prepared. If you know what you want, you can take advantage of both expected and unexpected opportunities to get it. Be ready to ask for what you need.
Your request will compete with many others. You are more likely to win out over alternative requests only if your outcomes are impressive, your track record inspires confidence, and your leadership is reinforced by the enthusiasm of influential individuals within a funding agency.
Funding sources want to know you can get the work done. A multi-year financial plan, a demonstrated ability to implement new projects, and depth of leadership are attractive selling points. Many funders are reluctant to take on fledgling or struggling organizations, so if you already have a good track record, let them know.