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Show Donors the Impact of Their Gifts
Did you know that a $25 donation to the United Way of
Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County (Milwaukee, WI)
can provide five days of emergency food for a family of five?
Alternatively, the same amount can be used to cover the cost of
two classes that improve parenting skills, or 25 adaptive play
toys to improve the motor skills of underdeveloped children.
Thanks to the impact calculator featured on this local nonprofit’s
website, donors can truly understand how their monetary gifts
can improve the lives of families in need. Check it out for
yourself here (www.unitedwaygmwc.org/Impact-Calculator).
“Our impact calculator helps us portray the outcomes we
provide to the individuals who participate in our programs,”
says Brand Manager Melissa Hanon. “Financial support helps
them secure more than just tangible items like meals or
schoolbooks. These donations truly give them the ability to
move forward and live a better life.”
The impact calculator was developed in partnership with
United Way’s current website provider, Northwoods. The
scenarios presented in each calculation reflect annual data from
program participants’ survey responses and information from
partner agencies. United Way has uncovered a unique formula
that, when applied, demonstrates the ongoing impact of every
In addition to calculating item costs, the calculator also
correlates these dollars to specific program outcomes. For
example, if a user chooses a gift of $100, they are shown the
following statistic: “This gift provides four hours of GED
preparation for adults.” When the user clicks “learn more” under
the statistic, the following outcome appears: “Of those that
participated in United Way-funded adult learning programs, 98
percent made progress toward their academic goals.” “Each
outcome also features a success story that showcases the real
people who were helped by United Way funding,” Hanon says.
The calculator is highly versatile, taking into account the
ability of United Way donors to make one-time gifts, weekly,
monthly or payroll deduction (twice-monthly gifts). Users can
select pre-set denominations or enter a custom amount to learn
more about how their donations can drive positive change.
“With this tool we aim to show people how their dollars
are put to work,” Hanon says. “It informs not only the
individuals who stumble upon our website, but also companies
who run workplace giving campaigns. When a company sets a
goal to raise $5,000, they can use our tool to show employees
how even small donations can make a big difference in our
It’s easy for people to understand the price of food, but it
becomes difficult to understand how the money saved on meals
can be used toward personal development, education and the
makings of higher standards of living. “Our calculator blends
all of these elements together to paint a broader picture of our
work while helping to convey the message of impact that we
want to promote,” Hanon says.
Source: Melissa Hanon, Brand Manager, United Way of Greater
Milwaukee and Waukesha County, Milwaukee, WI.
Phone (414) 263-8129. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Researching Grant Funders
When looking for a grant, you’re faced with a staggering
number of choices. More than 80,000 private
foundations exist in the United States, and there are
many additional government sources of grant funds, too.
How to cut through this embarrassment of riches?
Vetting will help. Although it can be time-consuming,
thoroughly examining potential grant sources to see
which provide the best chances for success will save you
time and boost your success rate in the long run, advises
Lydia S. Howie, CEO of Howie Marketing and
Consulting (Somers, NY).
“The vetting process is very, very time-consuming,
but it is very important,” she says. “Your success rate will
go up greatly if you really, really hone in and really
target the right organizations. Just sending cold-call
grant applications is a waste of time.”
Here’s Howie’s formula for success:
1. Conduct an online search at the Foundation Center.
Its premium searches can be expensive, but they are
available free at many subscribing libraries across
the country (www.foundationcenter.org/about-us/
locations). Use the Foundation Center’s advanced
search tools to find funders that are the closest fits
for your nonprofit, looking at factors like subject
area, target population, location and size and type
of support offered.
2. When you have found potentially good fits, look at
their websites and their IRS Form 990s. You can
find the latter for free at the Foundation Center and
at websites like GuideStar.org. “A foundation’s 990
is the single most useful tool when it comes to
vetting for the right fit,” Howie says. “Seeing who
they have funded is probably the number-one way to
vet.” If a foundation has funded a nonprofit in your
region that has a similar mission, it will likely be a
good target, she says.
3. Examine each potential funder’s website “cover to
cover” to review its mission, geographic preferences,
strategic plans or annual reports, list of recent
awards and restrictions on grants. Look over its
board list to see if you know anyone.
4. Often, a website and 990 will provide enough
information. When in doubt, call the foundation.
Although building a relationship is less important
when seeking grants than when making a major gift
ask with an individual, calling a foundation can help
answer any questions you have and potentially build
Source: Lydia S. Howie, CEO and Grant Writing and
Marketing Communications Consultant, Howie Marketing and
Consulting, Somers, NY. Phone (914) 248-1112. E-mail:
LHowie@optonline.net. Website: www.HowieMarketing.com