These are my notes from the February 4, 2010, informational meeting held by IMPACT Oklahoma at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. I’m here on behalf of our Storychasers nonprofit and the Celebrate Oklahoma Voices oral history / digital storytelling project. MY COMMENTS AND REFLECTIONS DURING THIS WORKSHOP ARE IN ALL CAPS BELOW.

IMPACT Oklahoma

According to the organization’s website:

Impact Oklahoma focuses on five nonprofit disciplines: Family, Health and Wellness, Education, Environment and Culture. The fields of interest are those women care about … the ones that make our community stronger and better for everyone.

Impact Oklahoma was started in 2003 by a group of friends who wanted to contribute something significant to their community. These women, while on a “girls weekend,” discussed a magazine article Page Beatty had seen, about Impact 100 — the first Impact group, which was started in Cincinnati. They contacted another friend, a banker, to help them with the financial aspects. After a year of planning and organizing, and an inaugural year of membership recruiting, Impact Oklahoma gave its first grant in 2005.

The workshop started with a welcome from IMPACT Oklahoma President, Page Beatty

Now we’re hearing from Anne Holzberlein, Grant Chair for 2010

This grant workshop is required for any nonprofit applying for an IMPACT Oklahoma grant. Applying organizations are required to be a 501(c)(3). The 2010 Letter of Inquiry (LOI) is due by 5 pm, 19 Feb 2010. The goal is for 500 Oklahoma women to donate $1000 each, and IMPACT Oklahoma will award five $100,000 grants.

There are about 150 people in this meeting. The room is completely full.

Black and white rules:
– all applicants must attend this workshop
– deadlines for submissions are fixed

1 date on our website is incorrect:
– LOI must be received (not postmarked) by 5 pm Fri Feb 19. You must mail it, you cannot drop it off. Mail it

Deadline for submissions: Fri March 26th at 5 pm
– have 1 mailing location, at UCO in Edmond, THAT submission CAN be hand-delivered

There is NOT a downloadable LOI, there is a checklist of requirements

We are still working on the grant application, but you don’t have to worry about that for a couple of weeks
– we are going to limit number of words permitted

THEY SHOULD USE SURVEYMONKEY AND USE CHARACTER/WORD LIMITS!

Be sure to put the correct information in the correct spots on the grant application

LOI is submitted to see if you meet basic requirements
– examples: can’t apply for a project outside our service area, can’t pay salary for your Exec Director, can’t award less than $100,000

late submissions will be declined
– you can just submit 1 application per organization

If you have questions following this workshop, email them to aholzberlein [at] uco [dot] edu

This is a volunteer, grassroots organization, so be forgiving with our website errors and other issues which will be fixed soon!
– our webmaster is a volunteer
– we have no paid staff
– we are very excited about our new website

INTERESTING TO KNOW SOME BACKSTORY ABOUT THEIR NEW WEBSITE AND WEBMASTER, THANKS TO OUR 25 JAN 2010 OKC WORDPRESS USER’S GROUP MEETING!

Among other LOI requirements, you must include your organizational mission statement

501(c)(3) letter MUST be included – you cannot receive funds from us unless you have 501(c)(3) status

We reserve the right to change the grant category in which your application is considered. Generally we do that for your benefit, depending on the number of applications received in each category

Must include 2-3 sentence summary of your project

If you are a statewide organization, you grant project application must focus specifically on our target area: Canadian, Cleveland, Logan and Oklahoma County.
– you don’t have to cover all 4, but you can focus on/in just 1 or fewer.

Identify your target population and the demographics, your timeline
– you have 24 months to expend the money when you receive funding

What are your measurable goals? How are you going to measure success?
– we need to be able to identify the need and also the impact

You will have a full month to work on your application, if your LOI is accepted

Now hearing from Barbara Butner, grant co-chair to go over grant guidelines

(This is the actual grant application on the IMPACT Oklahoma website)

We changed the grant deadline because of Spring Break

In the past few years, we had people manipulate fonts and use font size 6, to fit more text in the provided space
– there will be guidelines about number of permitted words per question
– these will be blocks to fill in, 250 – 500 words per answer
– remember who is reading these applications, this is not a foundation that has 25 years of research experience (10 members of our committee are going to read this, they are not professional grant readers)
– tell us what you need, why you need it, and who you are going to serve

A few changes with grant application
– you have GOT to have 501(c)(3)
– that eliminates a lot of folks, maybe you are going to have it but in this case you HAVE to have it

Third page: description of proposed project
– provide evidence of your need which you propose to address
– describe the community you are going to target, be very specific
– address how the project fulfills your organization’s overall mission
– sometimes organizations become so involved serving very diverse interests, they lose focus on their actual mission statement
– focus tightly on your mission statement for this proposal

Big change this year: we are using the word “need” instead of “situation”

List specific activities for which you are seeking funding
– is this existing or new?

Staffing: will it require NEW people to come into your organization to fulfill this need?
– what are the credentials / degrees / certifications of your staff who will work on this project?

If you have a $20K budget, you are probably not a good candidate for this grant program
– a $100K grant would overwhelm your annual budget, and the requirement to expend those funds in 24 months would be unrealistic

Now telling the story of a past recipient which provides grief counseling services at a center, and wanted to move the provision of those services into schools

Sustainability is very important for every project

There are three key elements to consider when completing your grant:
– Need
– Impact
– Sustainability

IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE NO AUDIO-VISUAL RESOURCES ARE BEING USED IN THIS PRESENTATION FOR 150 PEOPLE. WE ALL HAVE A STAPLED, PAPER HANDOUT.

Past beneficiaries are listed on the IMPACT Oklahoma website

Write as clearly as you can. Be concise, don’t ramble.

Question on “evidence” – do you want statistics?
– yes, statistics are great
– you can compare to other states, if you have proof something is working somewhere else, and it could work here, that is great
– remember these are volunteers reading these applications (some are professionals, some are homemakers, there is a real cross-section in terms of whether they are statistically oriented, or more emotionally

None of the volunteers will look up a website that you provide, so don’t plan on that when you write your grant application

Be sure to discuss your collaborators and partners for this initiative
– every organization here has some overlap with other groups
– those are good things, they show you are not trying to just keep your services within your walls
– collaboration is a great thing

Why is your organization uniquely qualified?
– have you done your homework?
– is that service not already here?
– is this a new thing?
– do you have the expertise?

How many of you are United Way agencies?
– really focusing on “outcome measurements” this year

How will evaluation be conducted?
– how will you know what you are doing will be successful?
– describe plans for sustainability
– have you sent a lot of other grants out to fund this?

How are YOU going to measure this?

Audience question: Is this a reimbursement grant?
Answer: No

You tell us what increments you need this money in, we are not going to dictate that
– we give 100% of our donor’s individual $1000 contributions in these grants

Are your boards supportive of your organization (page 5)
– how much do your board members give?
– how much do your board members give?
– 100% of your board should be GIVING to your organization
– We just want to know IF they gave, not how much they gave (Example: 80% of our board gives, 100% of our board gives, etc. You don’t have to break that down individually.)

Generally organizations have a minimum gift amount for board members, but in many cases board members far exceed those minimums

At our annual membership meeting on Sept 28th, one of your representatives has to deliver an 8 minute presentation before the member vote
– then the winners are announced! (that day)

200 people have attended our workshops this year

March 26th: Applications must be completed
– our goal was to have 3 finalists chosen, and Aug 23rd all site visits finished

We have (probably) 10 people on each committee, they will have guidance but we can’t tell you for sure what each committee will do / decide in terms of their preferences

Once committees have been formed, please do NOT ask committee members about what they read and review
– Each committee member has to sign a confidentiality agreement, maintaining the integrity of the organization and our members

Summary of expenses on page 6 is very standard

March 26th is the deadline, March 19th is NOT!!!! (But you can certainly get it in early!)

10 copies of everything – keep it simple.

THIS REALLY IS A GREAT FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR OKLAHOMA NON-PROFITS. IT ALSO REINFORCES FOR ME MY PERCEPTION THAT THERE ARE WONDERFUL SOURCES OF PRIVATE FUNDING HERE IN OKLAHOMA FOR WORTHWHILE PROJECTS. VERY EXCITING POSSIBILITIES FOR STORYCHASERS! :-)

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