Fundraising in the form of researching and writing grants can be an overwhelming process for some nonprofit professionals. At first there may be many questions you and your organization are faced with: How extensive are the grant applications? Where do you begin searching for grants? Are you aiming too high or too low in your funding expectations? Leslie Straub of Florida Wildlife Care, Inc. (FWC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the care and conservation of native wildlife and habitat in Florida through education, rehabilitation and study , faced these same overwhelming funding questions and needed answers. Specifically, Straub was interested in funding FWC’s Stewardship Project. The aim of the Stewardship Project is to improve the connection of the public to the organization, to improve the facility, and to expand and develop the education program. However, at first, Straub felt nervous: “Learning how to do grant writing and fundraising is hard,” she recalled.
All of that changed for Straub when she attended the “Making the Ask-Best Practices on Approaching Corporate Citizens for Support” provided by the Nonprofit Center of North Central Florida. At the workshop, she was connected with a representative from Plum Creek. Straub had known about the Plum Creek grants when the organization were only awarding $10,000 grants, but she chose not to apply for a grant at the time. While the representative spoke, she briefly mentioned how Plum Creek planned to change their grants for longer projects that would take longer to develop. Straub immediately approached the representative, introduced herself, and set up a meeting in her office. “The meeting was basically just to help get an idea of how to write the grant,” explained Straub. “What information they’re really looking for, what focus I should take amongst all the different things I want to do. She helped me hone in on the things that Plum Creek would really be excited about.” By the end of the meeting, Straub was encouraged by the representative to follow through with the project and apply for the grant. The grant information wasn’t advertised for the whole world to see: the only way Leslie knew about it was because of the Nonprofit Center workshop.
Ultimately, The Plum Creek Foundation grant was awarded to FWC in the amount of $30,000 over a three year period. The grant will fund the Stewardship Project in all aspects, while specifically focusing on gopher tortoises and sanctuary for non-releasable gopher tortoises for the education program. “[Plum Creek] funded $30,000 of a $120,000 project,” says Straub. “We’re using those contributions to now garner support from our members and our community for matching funds. We put that in the grant too, that the money that we get now will be used as leverage for matching funds for the community.”
Leslie tries to attend as many of the workshops at the Nonprofit Center that she can. She always comes away with at least a small new perspective or a new useful bit of information. “I think every workshop has helped, some more than others of course”, explains Straub. “I don’t have formal training for running a non-profit. I’m a biologist and I didn’t think I would be doing this. Next year is our 20 year anniversary, and I’ve been learning on the job training for 20 years. A lot of that is going to these workshops, taking those opportunities, sitting with people who have the knowledge.”