Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.
– Henri Nouwen
Whether you are planning to open a new shared site or seeking to expand existing services, you will need to invest time and energy into fundraising. Although there are some for-profit and nonprofit organizations that have their own foundations, securing funds for a capital campaign and operational expenses will be high on the list of priorities for most groups.
Fundraising is not a short-term activity; it is a long-term process that requires careful planning and ongoing attention. For intergenerational shared sites, this process is often complicated. Siloed funding streams, age-segregated mindsets, and concerns about bringing generations together, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, are among the challenges you may face. If you are partnering with another organization, there may be competing demands and/or overlapping funding sources. Opportunities exist if you develop a realistic plan with clear goals and get the right people to be part of your fundraising team. The value of intergenerational shared sites as effective vehicles for reducing social isolation, combatting ageism, and fostering healthy development across the life course is more important now than ever!
4.1 Keys to Success
Fundraising is about cultivating relationships with current and potential donors, foundation staff, government agencies, and other community organizations. Investing time in relationship development is critical to your long-term success. Get out in the community, build your reputation, and make connections. Encourage funders to be your partners rather than just providers of money. Listen to their advice and work with them over time to deepen and expand their investment.
Building relationships with other organizations or institutions can help you:
- Expand your programming at little additional cost
- Minimize community backlash and increase the likelihood that your new effort is seen as a welcome addition to the community landscape
- Gain access to new populations
- Open the door to additional funding opportunities
“You can’t count on any funder supporting you forever. Be nimble so you can jump on new funding opportunities that may emerge.”
– Keith Liederman, Kingsley House
Your shared site will need multiple sources of funding to ensure its continued viability. Over-reliance on one funding stream (e.g., foundation or government grants or contracts, individual giving campaigns, planned giving, signature fundraising events) can cause problems when funding priorities change or there is a shift in the economy. Direct service/program funding is a bit easier to secure than general operating or capital funds. Diversification will help you achieve short-term stability and enhance your chances for long-term success.
Intergenerational work is not a priority for most funders, though The Eisner Foundation and RRF Foundation for Aging are notable exceptions. However, using an intergenerational lens to address a funder’s priorities can open many doors and be viewed as a cutting-edge solution to critical problems. Think about how your shared site might fit into major funding trends in the aging or childcare worlds (e.g., social isolation, aging in place, child-friendly communities, family literacy). Frame your projected outcomes so that they are aligned with a potential funder’s priorities (e.g., improving physical health, slowing cognitive decline, increasing social or academic skills, enhancing technological knowledge). There are myriad ways to use intergenerational programming to achieve multiple desired outcomes.
Fundraising takes time and resources. Creating a well-thought-out fundraising plan and developing the capacity to implement it will increase the likelihood of reaching your financial goals. Your organization will need to identify potential sources and write grants, manage your fundraising and/or capital campaign, and navigate a multitude of funding streams. Do your homework – carefully research the priorities of potential donors and funding agencies and make sure you fit their criteria. Having a strategic plan is also recommended, as it demonstrates to potential funders that you have sustainability in mind.
Although you may be very passionate about the idea of a shared site, it is important to combine your passion with clear and concise information about why your shared site is a good investment for funders. The potential to support more than one population, meet important community needs, and help organizations become more cost-effective in their service delivery is appealing to many donors. Don’t forget to share any quantitative and/or qualitative outcome information you may have with prospective funders. What will change as a result of intergenerational programming? For example, explain how this approach impacts mental and physical capacities and social-emotional development.
A good fundraiser is also a good marketer who can deliver a powerful message. In these challenging times, you may want to emphasize the “cost of loneliness” and frame your “ask” in terms of investing in a solution that builds healthy relationships and enhances the well-being of older adults and children. It is important to emphasize the contributions older adults can make, as well as discussing their needs. Telling personal stories about your current clients or the people you will serve can help you connect emotionally with a donor. State the cost benefits of your program in concrete terms, from saving money to saving lives!
Effective fundraisers don’t give up and don’t take rejection personally. If proposals are not accepted, ask for feedback. If donors don’t immediately make a contribution, continue to cultivate your relationship and communicate the benefits of your program. Remember, “No” can be temporary and retooling your “ask” based on the rejection feedback is priceless.
4.2 Funding Needs
Be clear about how much money you need and how that money will be used. Major categories include:
- Architectural and construction costs for a new or renovated building
- Operational costs (g., salaries and benefits, liability insurance, workers compensation, building maintenance, staff training, supplies, program expenses, food)
- Endowment/reserve fund
Each phase of your project will require different kinds and amounts of funding. Building estimates will change as you move from architectural planning to real construction costs. Operational costs will largely depend on the number of clients you plan to serve and the types of services you will offer. In addition to seeking funds to support staffing for age-specific program services, it is important to build an intergenerational coordinator position into your operating budget. This will ensure that cross-age programming is an integral part of your facility and can be sustained over time. Many current shared sites also stress the need to raise additional funds for evaluation and/or to offset any financial challenges that may arise, particularly in the first two years of operation. This is when a development plan comes in handy as a guide to your fundraising.
Talk to major donors early on to get them excited about developing an intergenerational site. Engaging them in an initial vision-drafting process and seeking their advice will deepen their investment in your undertaking. After you decide where your facility will be located, how many children and older adults you will be serving, and your major program components, you will be in a better position to determine exactly how much money you will need, and which funding sources are best suited to help you. Remember – fundraising must be ONGOING. Never rest on your laurels or be complacent; rather, always think ahead about your future funding needs.
A sample fundraising template can be found here.
4.3 Fundraising Roles
Fundraising for an intergenerational shared site typically involves a combination of external consultants, staff, and a strong fundraising committee.
External Consultants: Depending on your financial resources and your capital campaign goals, you may want to consider initially hiring a consultant who can help create a fund development plan that will:
- Determine the programs and services that would be most appealing to potential funders
- Identify potential prospects and champions to help lead the campaign
- Identify past donors who might be able to increase their gifts
- Create a Case for Support and an overall capital campaign plan
When you are ready to start submitting grant proposals, consider investing in an external experienced grants writer.
Staff (Development Director and/or Grants Writer): Building your internal capacity to engage in ongoing fundraising is critical to your long-term sustainability. Many shared sites have dedicated fundraising staff who can prepare the executive director for donor meetings, cultivate donors, identify funding opportunities, prepare grants, and negotiate contracts with local agencies.
Fundraising or Capital Campaign Committee: A strong leadership structure will help you move forward with your fundraising efforts. Reach out to prominent, well-connected community philanthropists, business leaders and others who can help you connect with donors and provide lead gifts. You can put their names on your letterhead, ask them to make phone calls and/or set up meetings with prospective donors. Some current shared sites rotate membership in order to keep the group energized. During its capital campaign for the Bucyrus Campus, St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care asked volunteers for a two-year commitment, and then gave members an option to renew or leave. New members were brought on as others left.
There are numerous roles to play in a fundraising strategy. It’s important to match these roles and responsibilities with individuals who have related strengths.
Engagers: Individuals who will interact, talk, and promote relationships.
Connectors: Individuals who can leverage networks and make valuable introductions.
Askers: Individuals who have the finesse and timing necessary to ask for donations.
Stewards: Individuals who communicate with ongoing donors and nurture the relationships.
This article from Entrepreneur has some tips for becoming an effective fundraiser.
4.4 Sources of Funding
Shared-site organizations can tap a wide range of private and public funding sources. Factors such as your target population, program/service components, partners, and location may influence where you go for specific funding. An intergenerational lens can be particularly appealing to foundations and individuals; government agencies may be more focused on specific services to vulnerable older adults and children.
Individual giving makes up nearly three-quarters of charitable contributions and is the primary source for most capital campaigns. It is important to understand what resonates with donors and to make sure your project aligns with their values, interests, and philanthropic goals. For example, the Mt. Kisco intergenerational shared site was built by a developer in honor of his mother.
Here are a few pointers:
Start with people you know or who know your work.
Soliciting gifts from Board members, current and past donors, staff, and volunteers is a first step. If people have given you money in the past, ask them to renew their gifts or increase their contribution for this special initiative. To build excitement and momentum, ask your large gift prospects first. Large gifts can give your campaign a boost and build confidence. Consider offering naming opportunities to large donors to recognize their generosity.
Cultivate before asking.
Do some initial research on prospective donors. Prepare a profile on each donor. What do they care about? What causes have they supported in the past (e.g., aging issues, childcare/development, caregiving)? It’s important to get to know your donors so you can understand how a shared site connects with their personal values and interests. Older individuals or those with aging parents may be particularly interested in the benefits to older adults. For donors with young children, tapping into memories of grandparents can reinforce the importance of intergenerational relationships. Take time to clearly explain what you are planning and why it is important. Donors are interested in IMPACT and how their money will be used. You might also ask a prospective donor for advice about developing a shared site. People like to be heard!
REMEMBER—only ask for a gift after you have had a chance to inform and educate a prospective donor.
Potential donors can be cultivated through personalized letters and/or handwritten notes, special events, receptions, openings, ad hoc committees, advisory boards, and donor roundtable discussions. Invite them to tour your new facility at various stages of construction. It’s important to keep donors informed of your progress along the way.
Be clear about what you need.
Make sure you stick to your fundraising plan and focus on raising money for the things you designed, not creating new ideas to sound more enticing to potential donors. Develop a realistic strategy and aim for success. Fundraising success builds confidence among donors and volunteers, so you can ask for support again in the future. Everyone wants to be associated with a winner. Your fund development plan can help keep you focused and on track.
People give because they are asked. Asking for a specific amount can take the burden off the donor to determine the size of a gift and help you meet fundraising goals. You might also consider asking donors to pledge their support with smaller amounts spread out over a period of time or create a “matching gift” program that requires you to raise matching funds in order to receive the gift.
Consider online donations.
Online fundraising allows donors to give easily and securely and can increase your visibility. Doing this well requires the same amount of planning, attention, and care as traditional fundraising. Here are a few tips:
- Examine how online fundraising fits in with your overall fundraising plan and make sure it is aligned with your marketing campaign.
- Select the right donation tools to use and consider the cost of each. Facebook is free; however, there are many other fundraising vendors you might want to consider.
- Research best practices for online fundraising (e.g., a simple form, consistent branding, tiered levels of giving, recurring donations).
- Use your website to promote your online donation page. A prominent DONATE NOW button on each page and compelling stories and videos are effective ways to motivate people to give.
Be a good financial steward.
It is important to acknowledge donors, keep good financial records, and maintain ongoing communication with individuals who contribute to your organization. These tasks will increase donor confidence in you and your organization as well as increase the likelihood of continued support.
Many intergenerational shared sites charge for their child care and adult day care services or get reimbursed for part of the cost through government programs. Some develop a sliding scale for services based on a participant’s ability to pay. These funds are critical for the ongoing operation of your facility once it is constructed.
Most shared sites rely on local, county, state, and federal funding to help support service provision. The specific services you offer and your target populations will determine which funding sources are best suited to your needs. The following are some examples of government funding sources.
Government Reimbursements for Adult Day Care Services:
Approximately one-third of adult day care center participants pay out-of-pocket for the services they receive; however, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration (VA) can provide reimbursement for some of the costs.
Medicaid Adult Day Care: Most states have a Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver program that can help pay for adult day care for individuals with limited financial resources. Requirements vary by state and there is usually an enrollment cap. Some Medicaid state plans cover adult day care as well but have more stringent financial requirements.
VA Benefits for Adult Day Care: Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system may be eligible for adult day health care services if they have a medical need for the service and it is available. The VA may request a co-pay based on the veteran’s service-connected disability status and financial situation. Aid & Attendance is another VA benefit that can be used to pay for adult day care, including adult day health care and specialized care.
Medicare/PACE: PACE, a special program for Medicare and Medicaid eligible individuals, provides community-based services such as adult day care to individuals who are authorized by their health care team.
Department of Agriculture (Child and Adult Care Food Program): The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program that provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child-care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers. CACFP also provides reimbursements for meals served to children and youth participating in after-school care programs, children residing in emergency shelters, and adults over the age of 60 or living with a disability and enrolled in day care facilities.
Government Grants that could Support your Shared Site:
Department of Health and Human Services Administration
- Older Americans Act
- Head Start
- Child Care and Development Block Grant
- Community Services Block Grant Program
- Social Services Block Grant
- Faith-based and Community Initiatives
Department of Education
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Community Development Block Grants
- HOME Investment Partnership Program
- Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)
- HUD Unsolicited Proposals for Research Partnerships
- Low Income Housing Tax Credit
- Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program
Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Treasury
For more information on each of these sources, CLICK HERE
Some shared sites secure grants or contracts with local entities that provide services to older adults and children or youth. It is important to explore funding opportunities within your town, city, county, and state. Consider reaching out to the following:
- Departments of Health
- Area Agencies on Aging
- Departments of Human Services
- School Districts
- Housing Authorities
- Area Colleges and Universities
Some states allocate a portion of their annual capital budgets to community-based projects. These funds are normally referred to as state capital outlays and can be significant components of an intergenerational capital campaign. For example, Kingsley House was able to obtain $6.2 million in a state capital outlay fund grant toward its $12.5 million property development and construction costs for its intergenerational facility. Strong relationships with gubernatorial administrations and state legislators are essential in order to be considered for such grants.
Foundations can be a key source of funding for innovative or start-up programming offered at shared sites but are usually not appropriate for ongoing service delivery. Foundations fall into one of three categories:
- Private/independent foundations usually focus on specific areas of interest and can be local, regional, or national.
- Community foundations pool the resources of many donors to support specific causes and are usually locally-based and donor-directed.
- Family foundations tend to address specific issues/activities that perpetuate the founder’s values and often have a geographic focus.
You can use a variety of on-line directories (e.g., fdncenter.org, afpnet.org, charitychannel.com) to help you identify foundations that fit your organization. Local foundations are more accessible to you and more likely to fund local initiatives. In addition to seeking program funds, look for foundations that provide general operating and capacity-building support. These are invaluable as you continue to grow.
With few exceptions, foundations rarely identify intergenerational programming as a priority. However, if you use an intergenerational lens to address a foundation’s priorities, a myriad of opportunities can open for you. Intergenerational programs/activities that focus on school readiness and improving academic skills, teaching English to older immigrants, using the arts to enhance the mental health of frail elders and young children, increasing the technological skills of older adults, and engaging children and older adults in joint exercise/movement activities are just a few ideas that could be appealing to local foundations. You might also seek support for an intergenerational playground at your site.
Many corporations have separate foundations, marketing departments, and/or corporate contributions staff. It is essential that your funding request fits into the corporation’s priorities. Some corporations may be interested in “naming” rights in your new facility. Large corporations may also consider donating equipment, furnishings, artwork, or technology. To build a long-term relationship with a corporation, you might consider asking a representative from a local corporation to become a member of your capital campaign committee.
In every community, there are organizations like United Way, Alzheimer’s Association, and Child Care Coalitions that sometimes provide financial support for specific projects or initiatives. These organizations can also help you market your services to their networks and increase your visibility in the broader community.
A bequest is a financial term describing the act of giving assets such as stocks, bonds, jewelry, property, and cash, to individuals or organizations, through the provisions of a will or an estate plan. Consider encouraging your constituents or their families to make a gift in memory or as a tribute to someone. You could also work with a Trust Company to explore other ideas for planned giving.
The New Market Tax Credits program incentivizes community development with tax credits that attract private investment in distressed communities. It permits individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their federal income tax in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial intermediaries called community development entities. Both St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care and Kingsley House used this funding to build their shared sites in low-income areas. For more information, go to www.cdfifund.gov.
Loans from a local bank or the state may be available once you have raised a sizable portion of your capital campaign funds. It is advisable to raise two-thirds of your capital campaign goal in cash and pledges before securing a loan commitment to proceed.
Several shared sites were able to secure donated property or a low-cost, long-term lease. It is important to carefully investigate donation offers to avoid entering an arrangement that is untenable. Do zoning requirements allow for a shared site? Is the soil toxic and in need of remediation? If you are offered a building, how much will it cost to renovate? You should also investigate the cost of maintaining a large property with extensive grounds.
Farmer’s Market: ONEgeneration in California runs a weekly Farmer’s Market that involves older farmers and student volunteers. This not only provides some earned income but also raises public awareness about ONEgeneration and its services.
Birt’s Bistro: Benevilla, a shared site in Arizona, created Birt’s Bistro, a small restaurant on-site that is open to the community. Although it does not generate a lot of income, it engages adult residents with intellectual disabilities as workers. It has also raised Benevilla’s visibility in the community. During the pandemic, a home-delivered meals program was created.
Gift Shop and Café: In addition to an annual charity cash raffle and Dream Together Gala, St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care in Wisconsin also runs a jewelry store with donated jewelry and an intergenerational gift shop, which sells arts and crafts projects, gourmet food, and wellness products.
Galas and Events: Bridge Meadows, an intergenerational community in Oregon, has coordinated both in-person and virtual galas and ticketed educational events with well-known speakers. They also rent space to the community.
Examples of Revenue Streams
ONEgeneration, Van Nuys, CA: ONEgeneration’s diversified revenue has enabled it to grow since its creation in 1978. Eighty-six percent of its funding goes directly to program services, which includes the intergenerational coordinator position.
The following is a breakdown of income sources in 2019:
- Day care (adult and child): 38%
- Government contracts: 27%
- Foundations: 11%
- Donated facilities: 8%
- Farmer’s market: 7%
- Special events/Rentals: 6%
St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, Milwaukee, WI: Operational income for St. Ann Center comes from the variety of program services it provides for adults and children, grants and donations, and revenue from its retail stores. Approximately 15% of adult clients pay privately; the others receive a subsidy from the government or a St. Ann program. Fees for the child care program are paid primarily by families (65%), while low-income families are subsidized through the Wisconsin Shares Program.
4.5 Starting a Capital Campaign
Most shared sites engage in a capital campaign to raise funds for their new or renovated facility and an endowment. Capital campaigns are intense, time-limited efforts to secure both large and small gifts to reach a specific fundraising goal.
It is advisable to hire a consultant to conduct a pre-campaign feasibility study, which will help you draft your case for support, identify potential campaign leadership volunteers and donors, and set a realistic campaign goal. During the feasibility study, your committee will need to look at several factors:
- The community’s perception of the proposed project and your organization
- The size of your donor base and the ability of current supporters to give large donations
- Available internal resources and where those resources are lacking
- External factors that could come into play during the capital campaign
Once you determine a capital campaign is feasible, the following are some of the tasks that need to be undertaken:
- Form a capital campaign committee composed of prominent members of your community, Board members, staff, and donors who are willing to introduce you to others in their networks. Depending on the scope of your capital campaign, you may want to break your team up into various sub-committees such as:
- Government relations
- Loans and “bridge funding”
- Major gifts
- Funding from religious congregations
- Corporate donations
- In-kind donations
- Special events
- Refine your case for support to make sure it is clear, inspiring and reflects a sense of urgency.
- Choose a theme for your campaign.
- Finalize your fundraising goal.
- Create a computerized database of current and potential funders and review past fundraising successes and challenges.
- Create a gift pyramid with different levels of giving.
- Create recognition/“naming” opportunities for major donors.
- Prepare support documents for your capital campaign.
- Set a realistic timeline.
Before going public, most campaigns raise 50 to 70 percent of their overall goal from major donors during a quiet phase.
For more information on capital campaigns, here are some helpful websites:
EXAMPLE: Kingsley House, New Orleans, LA
In 2013, Kingsley House, a nationally-accredited and state-certified human services organization in New Orleans that supports economically-challenged families, decided to expand the capacity of its early childhood development and Adult Day Health Care programs through a capital building project. This expansion included 24,000 additional square feet on 4.2 acres of vacant property directly adjacent to its existing historic campus location. Over a two-year period, Kingsley House raised more than $12.5 million, half from a state capital outlay fund grant, and another $2 million from a 17-year, 1% interest loan from the state of Louisiana (20% of which will be forgivable at the end of the loan period). An additional $2.2 million came from New Market Tax Credits and $2.5 million from individuals, corporations, and foundations. Successful strategies included:
- Cultivating relationships with the governor’s office and legislators
- Creating an “ask” that focused on an intentional intergenerational campus that served the most vulnerable children and youth
- Offering naming opportunities for classrooms, serenity room, and the infirmary
- Working with a campaign consultant, but also building staff capacity for fund development.