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With more than 30 million Americans suffering from some degree of hearing loss the need for non-profit organizations to provide assistive listening devices to their patrons is greater than ever.
Additionally, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) signed into law in 1990 requires public facilities to provide assistive listening devices for hard of hearing people. This includes many non-profits.
While many organizations provide an assistive listening solution to be in compliance with the law, it is important to note that providing assistive listening is not just about the hearing impaired. Assistive Listening products help solve frustrating but common sound problems caused by distance, background noise, or poor room acoustics. Everyone deserves the chance to fully experience an event whether they are hard of hearing or not.
Your organization may have a need for an Assistive Listening System but you’re not quite sure how to finance it. There is an infinite number of ways to raise the $500-$2,000 you might need for this project. If you are seeking ways to fund such a system, read on.

Getting Started
There are many ways for non-profits to raise money but most organizations rely on grants and individual donations to fund their projects and programs. Though the best long-term solution for ensuring ongoing funding is cultivating an individual donor base, it is the most time-consuming method of fundraising.
For that reason, many non-profits find approaching foundations for grants and more recently, corporations for sponsorship, the best use of their limited staff resources. The following is a short primer on how organizations might find funding for small projects such as an assistive listening system.

Approaching Potential Funders
Regardless of the type of funding source you approach, first ask your board, staff and key volunteers if they have a personal connection with the funder before contacting them.

Banks

Talk to your bank. The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requires banks to make services and loans available to their local communities. In this spirit, many banks also form a special department to respond to this requirement. The CRA Officer of the bank often handles the community giving program whether you ask for sponsorship or a grant.


Professional Associations

Regardless of your mission, there is almost always a national and/or local professional association affiliated with what you do. If your goals are similar, those associations have a vested interest in the success of your organization. As an example, if your organization is a nonprofit spay and neuter clinic, Google: spay and neuter + professional association and you will find, the American Humane Association, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) or your local or national Humane Society.

Many professional associations give small grants to their constituent organizations; others only fundraise for themselves and use the funds for their own programs. If you have similar missions, it’s still worth looking over their website to see who they are partnering with to identify potential funders for you.


Limited Staff Resources?  

Consider the many ways to get yourself some help to write grants. Even if they do not have a specific grant writing background, student interns and volunteers of all ages can help with research and initial writing of the proposal. Pulling together the pieces of a grant is the most time-consuming part of the project. Get to know your local college Internship Program Coordinator and the professors who teach the areas where you need help.

 

Relationships Rule   
Regardless of how you choose to fund your project, the strength of your relationship with a business or funder is directly proportional to your chances of receiving financial assistance. If your resources are limited, building relationships are the place to focus them like a laser.

Talking Points for Funders
Whatever method you employ to raise funds for your ALS system, you will want to have some key points handy when you make your ask. Try some of these:
  1. 36 million Americans suffer from hearing loss.
  2. 17 in 1,000 children under 18 have a hearing loss
  3. 1 in 5 teens is showing a degree of hearing loss – up 30%
  4. Room acoustics and noise compromise participants’ ability to understand.
  5. Using microphones and an ALS system ensures that all participants fully experience the acoustics.
  6. Investing in high-quality technology such as a sound system and assistive listening products ensure that your guests won’t suffer every time the system is used and the effectiveness of presentations will be maximized.
  7. It’s the law– the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990.
  8. Assistive listening systems can also be used for other applications like language interpretation, audio description, and tour groups. Having a system like this allows venues to accommodate people with broader needs.
Follow-up
In the spirit of cultivating long-time donors, be sure to send a handwritten note of thanks to any funder who helps you get your ALS system. Let them know how your new system will help your organization and invite them over for a site visit to ‘experience it.’ While they’re onsite, they will have a chance to better understand your mission. A little thanks and special attention to donors goes a long way!

The next blog post in this series will focus on background information for grant writing.

Read “Background For Writing Fundraising Proposals”

Three separate ListenTALK receivers in a row with different group names on each display screen.
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