5 tips to getting your grants matched
By Janet Smith
Very often, grant monies for an emergency medical services organization won’t be given unless someone else jumps in your funding pool; literally. A big grantor may want to know there is support for your EMS organization on the local level. Getting one of your organization’s local “friends” to put their money where their mouths is, in terms of donating to your EMS organization, requires some computer acumen and PR savvy. So, pool your leadership and line level resources for the task at hand. (This engagement for small EMS organizations without an IT resource may mean soliciting someone from the workforce. Find someone who can set a keyboard on fire for social media, database management and email campaigns).
Here are 5 tips for persuading local funding sources to match grant funds or just donate to your EMS agency. Grant writing expert, Pamela Grow at email@example.com provided some of the wisdom and inspiration for these tips.
1. Design and test the “ask”
Persuasively written, not spoken words will be at least the first step in your pursuit for matching funds. And, more than likely your organization will be reaching out to more than one potential donor. Pick a match funding campaign theme so that all communications will have a consistent spirit. Make sure your personalized presentation or letter (email or snail mail) tells the recipient exactly what you want them to do, the amount needed and some facts (statistics) about why your “ask” is so urgent. You may want to split your list and use face-to-face presentations, email and snail mail to test which communication pays off with small segments of your list of potential donors before you rely on any one media.
2. Find out who pays
Every EMS organization is deluged with databases, CAD reports, marketing reports, billing and collections reports. So, it’s time to ferret out the list of potential donors from multiple organization departments’ databases. Additionally, seek out the contact information for known local donors, local physicians’ groups, hospitals, big business owners, business organizations, etc. Asking those who will benefit personally are also good targets. (HIPAA rules apply; of course).
3. Determine Social Media (by the donor)
Not-for-profit EMS organizations and/or publicly funded EMS providers are most likely going to consider the least expensive means of connecting with potential donors- the Internet. While social media is inexpensive, it can be a waste of time if you’re not matching the “ask” and the donor with the right social media outlet. Personal desk-side visits, presentations and email campaigns are the most successful media for the above 50 aged “ask” recipients. However, an internal strategy for your 20 to 40 something employees using Kickstarter, Facebook or Twitter might increase buy-in and support for the “ask” among those who are most likely to receive the benefits of working with new equipment, training or ambulances. Don’t forget to add a link for more information with a page on your organization’s website regardless of which media you use to communicate your “ask”.
Some of the email campaign software programs like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp have a cost associated. However, there are month-to-month plans available so your organization can opt in or opt out between fundraising campaigns.
4. No Red Tape!
The process for giving shouldn’t be a bitter pill to swallow. Accept cash, checks, and credit card donations. If someone wants to give a little every month; don’t say “no”. Pay Pal and other online banking / credit card software can make donations easy money for your organization. Take the time up front to facilitate multiple or regular donations. There are a lot more monies to be raised when you make it easy for donors to make repeat donations without having to enter their credit card number on an Internet form every time.
5. Say “Thank You” often, publicly and as a surprise
There is significant power in a sincere “thank you.” Have your crews pose for and sign a group photo featuring the equipment or training class the grant and match funding provided for your organization. Frame the photo and have it personally delivered to your match donor by ambulance. Ask first and then publicize the new equipment, training or ambulance, etc. made possible by the grant and match. (Some donors don’t want an avalanche of new causes to address). With permission, make sure the grantors are mentioned in press releases and during public appearances. Invite match funding donors and/or their logos to appear on your organization’s banners or signs. Smaller donors can be thanked individually, by snail mail and/or on the Internet via your organization’s website.