Funding strategies

Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.

HANK ROSSO

AARP Challenge - Advice from Maine GRantees

On January 12, we gathered to discuss the 2024 AARP Challenge Grant. Four Maine communities told us about their projects, the impact on the community, and offered some hints and tips for completing the application and managing the project after you receive funding.

Funding - Getting Started

Most Lifelong Communities need funding to successfully meet goals in their action plan. It can be intimidating to develop a fundraising strategy but there are advantages--beyond getting the money you need. A strategic fundraising plan leads to sustainability by raising awareness of your impact on the community and generating interest in your activities from residents, partners, and funders.  

At the local level, friendraising and fundraising go hand in hand. Friendraising can include community events, such as a fishing derby, murder theater, dessert auction, or a vintage car event. Lifelong Maine communities told us that funds raised from a single event ranges from $25 - $2800. The biggest impact was on recognition of age-friendly as doers; the increase in good will was countless.  For example, Danforth Livable Communities raised a portion of the money needed for the Danforth Livable Community Center through friendraising. In the process, they also increased community engagement in the project. 

Age-Friendly communities have also partnered with their municipality and other organizations for in-kind donations, such as printing or mailing, the use of space for meetings and events, and staff time. Whether monetary or in-kind donations, fundraising leverages and builds on your relationships within the community.

Grants effectively support lifelong community goals with funding for impact-focused projects.  Effective grant makers share your vision and appreciate your unique approach to addressing unmet needs in your community.  

For small amounts of money, check with local civic organizations, such as Rotary, or local businesses, including banks. Some local bank managers and credit union presidents have discretionary funds (generall $500-$1000) that they can give to local groups. Walmarts and Sam's Clubs are able to provide small grants ($250 - $5,000) to community groups (must be tax-exempt). Grocery stories are often able to provide food or party-ware for events. The application process is often simpler and processed more quickly than those at large funding entities. The best way to find out if funding is available is to ask. The decision to fund your project, will often depend on the relationships you have built and your reputation in the community as a committee that gets stuff done. 

Another potential source of funding is a community-specific foundation. Occasionally, a benefactor chooses to establish a foundation specifically for the benefit of residents in one community or in a region. A number of age-friendly communities have benefitted from this type of funding. The best way to find these opportunities is to brainstorm with your committee. Another source of information is the Attorney General's Office, Search for Tax Returns of Private Foundations

To stay informed about national grant opportunities, subscribe for free to the GrantStation Insider. A resource for Maine communities is the weekly Aging Policy Newsletter distributed by Teague Morris (teague_morris@king.senate.gov). 

Below, we have gathered resources to support your fundraising journey, starting with a list of funders that Lifelong Maine communities have successfully accessed. If you have questions, we will link you to communities that will share their lessons learned. 

Note: Below, and throughout our site, underlined text indicates a live link.

The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Fundraising.pdf

Fund RaISING

HubSpot's Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Fundraising and the  National Council of Nonprofit's Fundraising Resource List provide a great introduction to the topic. 

LLF_Grant-Writing.pdf

Grant Strategy

We recommend checking out Dr. Holly Korda's excellent presentation, Grant Writing for Lifelong Communities before you make connections with grant makers. When you are ready to start developing grants, take a look at the 2024 list of grant opportunities for Maine communities.

For advice from six of Maine's Lifelong Community leaders, read How We pay to Get Stuff Done, from our January 2024 Lifelong Maine News!

Additional Resources...