by Marie Palacios

Call me crazy but I absolutely love the process of designing an incredible new program for a growing nonprofit.

Here at Funding For Good, we field calls each month from nonprofits who are looking for help writing a grant for a new program. While most have great intentions and are serious about creating a program to meet an important need in their community, most are still in the baby stages of program design and development.

Before the grant writing process can even begin, we ask the organization to paint a comprehensive picture of their “dream program.” We listen as they describe how many people their program will serve and how each of their already overloaded staff members and volunteers will assume just “a few extra responsibilities” to keep the program running. As much as we love sharing the excitement of potential community changing programs, it is our job to take that vision and evaluate exactly what the organization will need to make it a reality.

We recently walked through this process with a local nonprofit who is excited about the prospect of expanding their educational programs. Their small staff realized that even though the program fell within the mission of the organization and staff/volunteers would facilitate the majority of the work, it was still important to get buy in and support from the board of directors (BOD).

To make sure your organization’s staff, volunteers, and BOD is on the same page, consider using the following points of conversation as a starting point for your new program design. (A more comprehensive version of this document can be found on Funding For Good’s website under the Resource Library Tab.)

1. What is the primary purpose of the program?
2. Is there a need for the program? Describe the need using statistics/community reports.
3. Who is the target population?
4. How will the program design help meet the community need?
5. What are the true costs associated with program development, implementation, and reporting?
6. What resources are critical for both the short-term and long-term success of the program?

a. Financial (program fees, grants, donors, etc.)
b. Program materials and/or services
c. Community Partnerships/Collaborations

7. How will the organization sustain this program?

a. What is your organization’s current/long-term capacity?
b. Diversified funding streams
c. Financial systems/procedures

8. Does the Board of Directors agree there is a need for the program and commit to supporting it?

Do you need a sounding board for a program you are hoping to design, or maybe one you are designing right now? Do you need someone to help you design a program or tweak on that already exists? Funding For Good has a few spaces open for coaching and would be happy to help you through this process.  Send us a email to set up your program today.

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