The scope and scale of your program will determine the initial investment goal you will want to test with prospective donors. Before seeking support, you will need to determine how much you want to initially commit to annual program grants distributions, the costs involved in running the program and the extent to which the community foundation can commit its own financial and human resources to the program.
We strongly recommend that the amount of annual grants distributions be substantial, i.e. at a level that will attract serious attention from local nonprofit organizations, elevate the impact of the program on the community and provide a more robust experience for the students. A total of $25,000 is recommended.
Barring the creation of a self-sustaining endowment from the start, you should set a short-term initial investment goal consisting of donor commitments (cash and/or pledges) that will cover grants distributions, fundraising costs and operating expenses for the first 5 five years.
Donor prospects might include:
✓ Current fundholders whose enthusiasm for the program would lead them to re-direct a portion of their fund assets into the program fund,
✓ Donors who would cover the amount of annual grants distributions and/or program operating costs by being recognized as a named sponsor of the program (a corporate partner in particular),
✓ A supporting organization, family or independent foundation, some of which might be under your management, who would underwrite the annual grants distributions and/or program operating costs,
✓ Donors who would agree to create a challenge or matching grant toward the student’s annual fundraising campaign efforts.
LOCAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
Local nonprofit organizations, many of whom you have funded previously, need to be ready to submit grant proposals in response to the RFP the students will distribute. They must be willing to invest time in submitting well-written and compelling proposals that meet the guidelines of the RFP. The number of proposals and quality of programs for which agencies make their requests for funding depend in large part on amount of grant funds made available. Obviously, the higher the amount, the more likely nonprofits will take a serious interest in applying. Creating a scenario where teens are fully responsible for making tough funding choices is a critical part of the leadership development goal.
Following the submission of their grant request, organization representatives will be expected to meet with the students who will conduct a site visit. The following year, the same students, now seniors, will conduct a site re-visit to evaluate the impact of the funds they granted. Local organizations should indicate a willingness to get involved in these activities.
HIGH SCHOOL ADVISORS
Student advisors or counselors serve as important partners in the program. They can help identify students and encourage them to submit an application. They can help shape a diverse mix of student applicants based on such factors as gender, ethnicity, socialization level, grade point average and extra-curricular activities. Advisors can promote the program in a variety of ways such as making brief announcements in junior class homerooms or study halls, handing out fliers to teachers and administrators and posting information in the teacher’s lounge. Advisors can also help identify any school activities that may conflict with dates set for program activities.
We recommend that you set a goal of accepting 25 juniors into the program. While it is possible to deliver the program with a smaller number, the program curriculum and activities are designed for 25 students and the long-term goal of creating a pipeline of future leaders in community philanthropy will better materialize.