A New Fundraising Strategy Turns to the States

Fed Grant Associations Now July-August 2018 Issue By: Emily Bratcher

When a critical federal grant dried up, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists developed a 50-state strategy to keep funds flowing to maternal and infant health programs.

Two years ago, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists received a federal grant that allowed the organization to launch the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM). Eliminating “preventable maternal mortality and severe morbidity across the United States” is ACOG’s goal for the alliance, and to date, AIM is successfully running in 16 states, including California, Maryland, and Mississippi.

But that means there are 34 states where ACOG has not yet made the progress it’s aiming for on its goal to eliminate the preventable deaths of mothers across the entire country. It needed some more funding.

“After running the program for several years and having significant success with it—reducing both maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in all of the states where they ran the pilot program—the next step was to do a 50-state rollout and try to get funding for a series of programs in all 50 states,” says Dan Miller, a fundraising and grant-writing consultant working with the Foundation Management Group (FMG), which is partnering with ACOG in this effort.

Different foundations all have very different approaches, very different funding priorities, very different deadlines.
— Dan Miller

To make matters more challenging, ACOG’s federal grant will terminate at the end of 2018. With federal money running out, ACOG needed a state-focused strategy.

Miller notes that, generally speaking, organizations have three options when trying to get funding, if they’re not applying for federal grants: large private foundations, community foundations, and individual/family private foundations.

“Those three different foundations all have very different approaches, very different funding priorities, very different deadlines,” he says. “And as you can imagine, the smaller family foundations give smaller grants; the great, big, giant, behemoth foundations give really big grants, so you have to tie all of that together in an approach state-by-state.”

ACOG has determined the cost of the 50-state implementation, and FMG is working to create a plan for each state to fund the expansion of the program. Managing grants can be tricky, especially since each foundation has its own requirements. For instance, some community foundations require that ACOG recruit a local partner to be eligible for funding.

ACOG turned to its vast network of hospitals, health departments, and other organizations across the country to meet that need. The association has partners in all 50 states, Miller says. “And they’ve got experts as a part of their organization in all 50 states, so they have a unique ability to bring people together.”

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "When a Fed Grant Ends.”]

Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a contributing editor at Associations Now.