April 4, 2016

How to Secure Government Funding for Your Nonprofit

After ten years of invitations and visits to his office, the governor is visiting Opportunity Village, a nonprofit serving people with intellectual disabilities in Las Vegas, Nevada. The CEO and chief development officer stand at the door. They’re armed with facts and stories. When the governor arrives, Rosalie, one of the people Opportunity Village serves, preempts all plans. She rushes to the governor and grabs his hand. “You must come,” she begs, “and meet my friends.”

When the governor departs 30 minutes later, he tells the CEO that Rosalie has done more for Opportunity Village than all staff visits combined.

You, like Opportunity Village, can grow your government funding. In the United States, from 1993 to 2013, fees from government agencies for community rehabilitation programs and residential providers increased by 1 percent per year. With inflation at about 3 percent, service providers faced a 20 percent decrease in buying power. During the same time, Opportunity Village’s state funds have increased, adjusted for inflation.

How Does Opportunity Village Do It?

When Ed Guthrie began his tenure as CEO twenty years ago, he and the board adopted a strategy. It was to help elected officials to make Opportunity Village services one of the top three priorities for government funding.

To achieve this, they encouraged the families of those served to educate others about Opportunity Village.

They also sought to get influential people to tour the facilities. This includes legislators, commissioners, governors, and officers from both sides of the aisle. “I pick everyone,” said Ed Guthrie, CEO. He regularly invests time visiting Washington, D.C., and Carson City. Visits change everything! Experience, as Rosalie shows, changes everything.

Finally, they invited influential people to join one of two boards. A total of 90 people serve on one of the organization’s and related foundation’s boards. Opportunity Village retains influential board members like university system boards. When a key industrialist joins a university board, they rarely step down because of term limits.

Are you serious about securing reliable government funding? If yes, Opportunity Village provides a replicable model. Meet with elected officials. Build a community of influential supporters. Invite people for tours. You will generate great revenue, and you won’t have much competition. Few people will consistently work this hard.

This story was collected as part of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams. To find more models and develop your customized income strategy, get your copy today.

For more answers, check out this Nonprofit  CEO Library.

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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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