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How to Find Seed Money for a New Nonprofit Agency

Some foundations specialize in nonprofit “seed funding” for new projects and new organizations. A seed proposal has two key ingredients: careful assessment of the problem to be addressed and special qualifications its founders bring to its creation. Here’s a quick outline of a proposal for a new endeavor:

  • Background information introduces the people who are creating the organization, their vision, how they identified the idea, and steps they’ve taken to realize their vision.

  • The problem statement thoughtfully presents what the founders have observed and learned about the needs to be addressed.

  • Although the goals may be lofty, stated objectives and outcomes should be reasonable considering the developing state of the organization.

  • Methods present plans for the first year or two of activities. They include discussion of how the organization will be structured and how services will be offered.

  • Evaluation plans may “go easy” during the organization’s initial phases. Founders may be testing basic ideas for their feasibility and efficiency for a year or two before studying a program in depth.

  • The budget is likely to be the entire organizational budget. Some seed grant funders are willing to cover such start-up costs as equipment purchases or deposits for renting an office.

  • The sustainability section should outline basic plans for supporting the nonprofit in the future (unless it addresses a discrete problem that may be solved within a few years).

The foundation may be willing to support a feasibility study that tests the viability of the seed project — how distinctive it is and who its likeliest sources of support might be.

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