Fundraising can be a challenge for the not-for-profit community even in the best of times. During a recession, the financial crunch can almost seem insurmountable.
With that in mind, the Indiana University Northwest Center for Regional Excellence Non-Profit Institute (NPI), in cooperation with GRANTS, Inc., Lake Area United Way, and a variety of other community partners, will present its Third Annual Open House and Resource Fair on Thursday, June 18, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Savannah Center. This event is free to the public. Representatives of area non-profit groups that attend will have the opportunity to qualify their 501©3 organizations for a $1,000 raffle sponsored by The Legacy Foundation, Inc.
Sandra Bowie, co-project director for NPI, explained that there is no cost associated with the raffle; instead, non-profits will be issued a passbook and asked to visit a predetermined number of vendor tables in pursuit of potential partnerships. Vendors at those tables will stamp the passbook and identify the type of partnership it will explore with the non-profit. Once the passbook has the required number of stamps, it may be turned in for the raffle, and contestants must be at the open house at 1 p.m. for the time of the drawing in order to win. The more representatives from any given non-profit group that turn in their passbooks, the better that organization’s odds of cashing in on the raffle. The tax ID number for the non-profit organization being represented must be on the passbook in order to qualify.
“This is an excellent opportunity for area non-profit representatives to visit the year’s resource fair and have a chance to benefit from this very generous donation by The Legacy Foundation,” Bowie said. “I know that finances are tight for most of our local non-profits, and that $1,000 prize is going to be a great help to some group.”
Other highlights of this year’s event include the presentation “Nuts and Bolts Grant-Writing for Educators,” which will review important tips for putting together successful grant applications. Educators and other professionals who have need of grant-writing knowledge are encouraged to attend this highly informative presentation. There will also be an “Advocacy Roundtable” discussion that will focus on how to advocate effectively for an organization and why it is critically important for non-profits to become involved in the legislative process. At the “Ask The Professional” roundtables, experienced consultants will be on hand for informal roundtable discussions on topics such as marketing, fundraising, strategic planning, and ethics.
Danny Lackey, the director of diversity programs for Merrillville High School, attested to the value of NPI’s grant-writing assistance. Lackey oversees the student group STAND (Socially Together and Naturally Diverse), which provides its participants with diversity training and programming, as well as many extracurricular activities related to diversity.
Lackey said that STAND’s recent month-long series of programs, which was entitled “What’s the Difference?” and focused on issues of tolerance and bullying in schools, was made possible in part by grants written by students after taking NPI’s grant-writing training with Bowie. A Teaching Tolerance grant written by one student netted the group $2,000, he said.
“I hate grant-writing. I don’t consider it to be one of my strengths,” Lackey said. “I do it because I think it’s necessary. What Sandra Bowie has done for me is to give me the confidence and direction necessary to do a good job with it. And she’s been a great help in training the kids, as well.”
While concerns about financial resources are paramount in a recession, Bowie emphasized that non-profits must also take a holistic approach in evaluating their needs and resources. That is something that NPI has been assisting local organizations with for more nearly three years, she said.
“It’s not always about the money,” Bowie said. “It’s about using the resources that you have, and using them most effectively. Where can we find those bridges to other organizations that have missions similar to your own? The days of doing everything by yourself are over. You’ve got to work on building partnerships. As the economy goes down, it’s hopefully forcing organizations to make this paradigm shift.”
The perennially popular NPI resource fair is a good place to seek out those partnerships, Bowie said. It’s also the right place to learn more about how to make the tough decisions — and the right decisions — in uncertain times, and about how best to utilize existing financial, human and community resources to continue meeting the greatest needs of those served by non-profit groups. Also, Bowie said, the June 18 NPI resource fair will provide opportunities for the general public to learn more about services and information that are available to assist them during the current economic downturn.
The NPI was formed three years ago through a partnership involving the IU Northwest Center for Regional Excellence (CRE), the non-profit, capacity-building consultant GRANTS Inc., and the LAUW, which provided a three-year, $150,000 startup grant. NPI’s mission is to serve as an informational clearinghouse and professional development center for Northwest Indiana non-profit groups. It is a place where board members, staff and volunteers can learn how to apply for grants, increase revenue and maximize their fundraising and operational effectiveness. Bowie and CRE Executive Director Debbie Thomas, Ph.D., are co-project directors of the Institute.
Sponsors for the Third Annual Non-Profit Institute Open House and Resource Fair include: the IU Northwest Center for Regional Excellence; the IU Northwest Non-Profit Institute; GRANTS, Inc.; the Lake Area United Way; First Midwest Bank; Opportunity Enterprises, Inc.; Porter County Community Foundation, Inc.; Ancilla Systems, Inc.; Tradewinds Rehabilitation Services; In-Pact, Inc.; Powers and Son's Construction; Gregory Reising; HealthVisions Midwest; Miller Bakery Café; Peoples Bank; Bauer Latoza; Ayers Realtors; Klein and Hoffman, Inc.; Rogge Insurance; Algonzi Masonry Restoration; Mr. Chris Julsrud; Mr. Tom Collins; Mr. Gary Johnson; Mr. John Peterman; Mr. Mike Baniak; and Mr. Jake Wagner.
The IU Northwest Savannah Center is located at the southeast corner of the main campus parking lot at 33rd Avenue and Broadway in Gary, less than one-half mile south of I-80/94. There will be free parking in the campus parking lot for open house visitors and vendors.
For more information about the CRE Non-Profit Institute and the services that it can provide non-profit organizations, contact GRANTS Inc. Program Coordinator Gabrielle Gill at (219) 981-5673, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.