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Fundraising Toolkit

Grassroots organizations working to change maternity care need funding to advance advocacy efforts. Whether you are going to seek funds from grantmaking organizations or sponsor a fundraising event in your community, these tools are designed to help you maximize your bottom line.

Please refer to the submission guidelines of the Grantmaking Program to which you are applying.

Information and Resources

Fundraiser Ideas

  • Open a boutique in your home or in a mother/baby-friendly location (such as a birth center or lactation support center) and sell donated maternity and baby clothes.
  • Hold a craft fair or garage sale.
  • Host a Karaoke night. Charge $5 for admission and have a competition for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th places. After all performances are completed, winners will be determined through an auction and awarded prizes solicited from local businesses and organizations. Further Karaoke nights can be planned with winners competing. Have snacks donated and if possible, find someone willing to let you use their machine and songs.
  • Sell raffle tickets for a Spa Day or “Pamper Me” baskets.
  • Sponsor a miniature golf tournament.
  • Develop and sell a cookbook through Morris Press.
  • Create custom calendars with inspiring photos of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and healthy parenting with advertising sold to local mom-baby-friendly businesses.
  • Have a blind auction, silent auction, or dinner auction.
  • Sponsor a favorite photo competition. Photos can be baby photos or pregnant mom photos, etc.
  • Specify the maximum size acceptable and have applicants submit a card with a few sentences as a description. Photos are mounted on a display board in your community such as a local baby store or in a sponsoring merchant’s window, during a sidewalk festival, baby show – whatever will draw the most people and particularly families of the participants. Each photo is numbered and a jar is numbered for each photo. Votes are in the form of coins, bills, or checks made payable to your organization. A prize will go the best photo’s owner – solicit your prizes from businesses or organizations and put the winning picture in your local newspaper if it is not cost-prohibitive.
  • Have a Guessing Game. Participants are given the opportunity to guess something and they pay for each guess, how many M&M’s in a jar with seasonal candy at each meeting, or guesses related to events such as birth delivery dates, weight and length of baby, etc.
  • Make corsages for a special event such as Mother's Day. Take orders ahead of time and collect the payment in advance.
  • Sell T-shirts and infant apparel with your Birth Network’s name. See
  • Have a potluck dinner with a donation basket.
  • Hold a movie night.

List of the Top U.S. Foundations

List of U.S. Foundations by State

These have been taken from the Grantsmanship Center. For more detailed information and other foundation possibilities, click on “Funding Resources”, then click on “Grant Resources by State” or “Community Foundations”. The following foundations indicate an interest in health and human services and/or women’s issues. They may or may not fund your project but are possibilities that warrant further exploration. If your state is not listed here, refer to the Grantsmanship Center website.


  •  David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  •  The California Endowment
  •  Marin Community Foundation
  •  The California Wellness Foundation
  •  Weingart Foundation
  •  California Community Foundation
  • The Ahmanson Foundation
  •  The San Francisco Foundation
  •  The San Diego Foundation
  •  Stewart Foundation
  •  Community Foundation of Sonoma County
  •  The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
  •  Tenet Healthcare Foundation
  •  East Bay Community Foundation


  •  The Anschutz Foundation
  •  Rose Community Foundation and Affiliates
  •  The Denver Foundation
  • The Adolph Coors Foundation
  •  Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation
  •  The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County
  •  The Kenneth Kendal King Foundation
  •  Daniels Fund Foundation


  •  Publix Super Market Foundation
  •  The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation
  • The Ahmanson Foundation
  •  The Latner Family Foundation
  •  Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties
  •  Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice
  • Community Foundation of Sarasota County
  • Quantum Foundation
  •  Community Foundation of Tampa Bay
  •  Scaife Family Foundation
  •  Roberta Leventhal Sudakoff Foundation
  •  Harry Sudakoff Foundation
  •  Jerome and Mildred Paddock Foundation
  •  John S. and James L. Knight Foundation


  •  The Latner Family Foundation
  •  Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
  •  North Georgia Community Foundation


  •  The Chicago Community Trust
  •  Polk Bros Foundation
  •  The Fry Foundation
  •  Dr. Scholl Foundation


  •  The Latner Family Foundation
  •  Kansas Health Foundation
  •   The Hutchinson Community Foundation
  • Wichita Community Foundation


  •  Baton Rouge Area Foundation


  •  Freddie Mack Foundation
  •  The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  •  The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
  •  Baltimore Community Foundation


  •  Boston Foundation Inc.
  • Community Foundation of Western Mass.
  •  Greater Worcester Community Foundation
  •  The Cape Cod Foundation


  •  TheW.K. Kellogg Foundation
  •  Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan
  •   Fremont Area Community Foundation
  •  Irving S. Gilmore Foundation
  •  The McGregor Fund
  •  Grant Haven Area Community Foundation
  •  Battle Creek Community Foundation
  •  Community Foundation Muskegon County


  •  The McKnight Foundation
  •  Bush Foundation
  •  The Minneapolis Foundation
  •  The Saint Paul Foundation, Inc.
  •  Medtronic Foundation
  •  Saint Paul Foundation
  • Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation
  •  F.R. Bigelow Foundation
  • United Health Foundation
  • Butler Family Foundation
  • Curtis L. Carlson Family Foundation
  •  Mardag Foundation


  •  Hall Family Foundation


  •  Nebraska Community Foundation
  •  The Kearney Area Community Foundation
  •  The Kimmel Foundation

New Jersey

  •  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  •  The Victoria Foundation
  •  The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey

New Mexico

  •  McCune Charitable Foundation
  •  J.F. Maddox Foundation
  •  The Frost Foundation. LTD
  •  The Albuquerque Community Foundation
  •  The Santa Fe Community Foundation
  •  Daniels Fund Foundation
  • El Paso Community Foundation
  • New Mexico Community Foundation

New York

  •  Ford Foundation
  •  The Rockefeller Foundation
  •  Commonwealth Fund
  •  The New York Community Trust
  •  William Randolph Hearst Foundation
  •  The Starr Foundation
  •  New York Community Trust
  •  Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
  •  The Nathan Cummings Foundation

North Carolina

  •  The Duke Endowment
  •  Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust
  •  Community Foundation of Gaston County
  •  Community Foundation of Western North Carolina
  •  Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro
  •  The Cemala Foundation
  •  Cumberland Community Foundation
  •  North Carolina Community Foundation
  •  The Blumenthal Foundation
  •  Community Foundation of Henderson County

North Dakota

  •  North Dakota Community Foundation
  •  MDU Resources Group
  •  Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation
  •  Tom and Frances Leach Foundation


  •  The Columbus Foundation
  •  The Dayton Foundation
  •  The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
  •  The Stranahan Foundation
  •  The Stark Community Foundation
  •  The Raymond John Wean Foundation
  •  The Akron Community Foundation


  •  The Annenberg Foundation
  •  The Pittsburgh Foundation
  • The Connelly Foundation
  •  The Erie Community Foundation
  •  Dominion Foundation

Rhode Island

  •  The Latner Family Foundation


  •  Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
  •  Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga
  •  The HCA Foundation
  •  The Assisi Foundation of Memphis


  • El Paso Community Foundation
  •  The Latner Family Foundation
  •  Houston Endowment Inc.
  •  The Brown Foundation Inc.
  •  Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc
  •  The Moody Foundation
  •  The Meadows Foundation, Inc
  •  The George Foundation
  •  The Coastal Bend Community Foundation
  •  The Cockrell Foundation
  •  The Abell-Hanger Foundation
  •  The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
  •  San Antonio Area Foundation
  •   Kimberly Clark Foundation
  •  Moody Foundation
  •  Austin Community Foundation
  •  Sid Richardson Foundation
  •  The Cullen Foundation
  •  The Dallas Foundation
  •  The Meadows Foundation
  •  The Brown Foundation
  •  Communities Foundation of Texas
  •  Houston Endowment Inc.


  •  Freddie Mack Foundation
  •  The Gannett Foundation
  •  Community Foundation serving Richmond and Central VA
  •  The Norfolk Foundation
  •  The Robins Foundation

Washington, D.C.

  •  Community Foundation for the National Capital Region
  •  Meyer Foundation
  •    Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
  •  Prince George’s Community Foundation
  •  The Foundation Center database
  • Washington Grantmakers
  •  The Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation
  •  Freddie Mac Foundation
  •  The Gannett Foundation

Washington State

  •    Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  •  Casey Family Programs
  •  Marguerite Casey Foundation
  •  M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust
  •   The Seattle Foundation
  • The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation
  •  Community Foundation for Southwest Washington
  •  The Nordcliffe Foundation
  •  The Ben B. Cheney Foundation
  •  Foundation Northwest


  •  Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation
  •  Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region
  •  Madison Community Foundation
  •  Community Foundation of South Wood County
  •  Greater Green Bay Community Foundation
  •  The Faye McBeath Foundation

Glossary of Terms

When you're new to fundraising, it may seem that there is a whole vocabulary of grant-making that you aren't familiar with. Use this glossary to get your bearings.

Activities: the actions you will take in order to reach your objectives and goals (i.e. hold a baby fair in order to reach your objective of educating local expectant parents about normal birth options)

Authorized Signature: the signature of the person who is legally responsible for your organization

Budget (Project):  a breakdown of revenue and expenses by category (salaries, supplies, equipment, etc.) of the amount of money that is required to complete a project or series of projects.  This may be for one year or multiple years.

Budget (Organizational): a breakdown of revenue and expenses by category for an organization as a whole.  This is typically developed for a fiscal year and incorporates all sources of revenue (project grants, operational funding, individual donations, etc.)

CFDA: the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (federal grants). Go to for information on applying for federal grants.

Community Foundation: a 501(c)(3) organization that makes grants for charitable purposes in a specific community or region.

Direct Costs: all items that can be categorically identified and charged to the specific project, such as personnel, fringe benefits, consultants, travel, equipment, supplies and materials, etc.

Donee or Grantee: the recipient of a grant

Donor or Grantor: an individual or organization that makes a grant or contribution to a donee.

Executive Summary: also called a cover page – briefly summarizes the project and gives basic “who, what, why, where, how” information.  It is often the only page that will be read so it is crucial to state your case in a very succinct and professional manner.

501(c)(3): the section of the U.S. tax code that defines nonprofit, charitable (as broadly defined), tax-exempt organizations; 501(c)(3) organizations are further defined as public charities, private operating foundations, and private non-operating foundations.

Financial report: a report detailing how grant funds were used by an organization. Most grantmakers require this kind of report from grantees. A financial report generally includes a listing of all expenditures from grant funds

Fundraising: the process of soliciting money or items by requesting donations or applying for grants

Fundraising Plan: an organizational plan over a specific period of time that defines all fundraising activities, events, and grant applications

General operating support grant: a grant made to further the general purpose or work of an organization, rather than for a specific purpose or project (project support); also called an unrestricted grant

Goals: what you intend to accomplish.  A goal is more abstract than an objective in that it does not always have measurable outcomes (i.e. a goal might be “to decrease the rate of unnecessary medical interventions in the birth process”.  An objective would be “to educate medical personnel in your community on the value of normal birth”.  An activity you would use towards accomplishing this objective might be to “set up appointments with 10 doctors and their staff to show them the latest best practices and research that address the importance of normal birth”.  The measurable outcome would be the “statistics that you keep on the number of normal births vs. intervention within those doctor’s offices”.

Grant: an amount of money or objects given to an organization or individual to fill a need that the grantor supports.

Grassroots fundraising: efforts to raise money from individuals or groups from the local community on a broad basis. Grassroots fundraising activities include membership drives, raffles, auctions, benefits, and a range of other activities.

Indirect Costs: overhead costs that your organization would have to pay in order to support a grant project (i.e. utilities, rent, secretarial or coordinator time).  Some funders are very specific about not allowing overhead costs to be built into the grant while other funders realize that these costs are essential to the project and may fund a certain percentage.  Be sure to clarify this issue before building indirect costs into a grant budget.

In-kind contribution: a contribution of equipment, supplies, or other tangible resources, space, or staff time that shows good faith support for the project and is not part of the requested funds.

Matching Funds: a dollar amount that another party agrees to contribute to the project in the same amount as the funder.  Sometimes the dollar value of in-kind contributions may be considered to be matching funds.

Monitoring: the methods you will use to ensure that your project activities are being completed as stated in the grant, in the timeline specified in the grant and within the budget

Narrative: the written portion of your proposal that describes who, what, where, when, why, and how.  Most funders are very specific as to format and content of the narrative.

Needs Statement or Justification: the part of the grant in which you explain why you should be funded and specifically what the need is, using supporting data whenever possible

Objectives:  specific, measurable aims for the project with matching outcomes to measure them

Outcomes: Expected results of the project which can be used to measure its success

PI: an acronym for Principal Investigator – the responsible person and contact generally in federal projects

Project Director or Coordinator: the individual responsible for activities involved in the project, including the evaluation and follow-up

Proposal: a written application, often accompanied by supporting documents, submitted to a funder in requesting a grant. Most foundations and corporations do not use printed application forms but instead require written proposals; others prefer preliminary letters of inquiry prior to a formal proposal. Consult published guidelines.

Letter of Inquiry: a brief letter outlining an organization's activities and its request for funding that is sent to a potential funder in order to determine whether it would be appropriate to submit a full grant proposal. Many funders prefer to be contacted in this way before receiving a full proposal.

Letter of Interest: a very short summarization of your project written to a potential funder that will allow them to determine if they would like to see a full proposal. Similar to a letter of inquiry but more brief.

RFP: an acronym for Request for Proposal. Sometimes referred to as an RFA (Request for Application).  When the government issues a new contract or grant program, it sends out RFPs to agencies that might be qualified to participate. The RFP lists project specifications and application procedures. While a few foundations occasionally use RFPs in specific fields, most prefer to consider proposals that are initiated by applicants.

Tax-exempt: refers to organizations that do not have to pay taxes such as federal or state corporate tax or state sales tax. Individuals who make donations to such organizations may be able to deduct these contributions from their income tax.

How to Write an Executive Summary

The executive summary (or cover sheet) introduces your proposal to the funder.  This is where you state your case and summarize your proposal. It is also your chance to make a great first impression and set your project apart from other applicants.  Be organized, write clearly and concisely (but passionately!) and provide all of the requested information.  Note: the format will vary depending on the funder.  Be sure to follow specific guidelines.

Elements to include:

  • Date of application
  • Name of your organization
  • Address and contact information for your organization
  • Your tax-exempt status (If your organization is a 501(c)(3) give your IRS tax exempt number.)
  • A one-sentence summary of the purpose of your request
  • The nature of the request: project support or general operating support
  • Project name (if requesting project support)
  • The project/budget period (Provide specific dates the project will begin and end.)
  • Total project budget and amount requested from this particular funder

Some executive summaries may include more detailed information as follows:

  • A summary of the problem or need that you hope to address and the proposed solution
  • Information about the population (characteristics and number) that will benefit from the project, where it will operate, and how long the project will take
  • A description of how your request fits the funder’s priorities
  • A summary of staffing and funding requirements
  • Explanation of why your organization is qualified to conduct this project
  • Specific project outcomes
  • An explanation of how you will evaluate the project and how you will sustain it after the funding period ends

How to Write a Letter of Inquiry

Many funders will request a Letter of Interest or Letter of Inquiry before reading your full proposal. This allows them to quickly determine if your project meets their requirements and specifications for funding. A Letter of Interest is generally quite brief (no more than 2 pages) and gives basic information without a lot of detail. A Letter of Inquiry is a longer summarization of your proposal (3-5 pages) with more detail. The elements to include are listed below but may vary depending on the funder. Be sure to follow specific guidelines if provided.

A sample Letter of Interest might include:

  • Name of your organization, address, phone number, fax number, email address and contact person
  • The total project cost, the amount requested from this funder, and the amount and sources for the remainder of project costs
  • A very brief description (one paragraph) of the project along with a list of collaborating agencies and the numbers and characteristics of the target population or community to be served
  • Your definition of “success” for the proposed project and the methods you will use to measure the tangible results
  • Your mission statement and narrative as to how this grant would further your not-for-profit mission
  • A copy of your 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS may be required.

A sample Letter of Inquiry might include:

Cover Sheet

One page with the following information: 

  • Name and address of the organization
  • Name of executive director and contact person(s), telephone and fax numbers, e-mail and web addresses
  • One paragraph summary of the organization’s mission
  • One paragraph summary of the purpose of the request
  • One sentence describing how the request fits the funders’ priorities
  • The organization's fiscal year
  • Dollar total of project budget (if not general support)
  • Dollar amount being requested
  • Dollar total committed from other funding sources
  • Beginning and ending dates for which grant funds are requested
  • Tax exempt status


Three to five pages with the following:

  • The purpose of request
  • The problem or need being addressed
  • The population or community involved in the organization, and how it is involved in the design and implementation of your work
  • How you will address the problem or need you have identified
  • How your work promotes long-term change

Financial Information

  • For project support requests, include a project budget detailing anticipated income and expenses and an organizational budget detailing anticipated income and expenses.

Grant Application Checklist

There are many components to a complete grant application.  Before you submit any application, use this checklist to make sure everything is in order.

Are your familiar with the grant-making organization’s mission?  Does your proposed project advance that mission? It doesn’t matter how impressive your project is if it doesn’t match with the funding organization’s priorities.  Your organization’s mission may be to advance Mother-Friendly Childbirth in your community. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to grant-making organizations that want to protect women’s rights, improve children’s health, lower the preterm birth rate, or prevent family violence. But make sure that you are explicit about how your proposed activities will advance their mission, not yours.

Does your funder have preferences or requirements about the population or geographic region served? It may be that the funder is only interested in projects that help underserved populations. They may be bound by by-laws or legal restrictions that prevent them from giving to certain causes or applicants outside of their service area. Don’t waste your time if it’s not the right fit.

Are your budget and timeline realistic and are they within the limits the funder has specified? Do your homework and be sure that the money you are requesting is realistic for the activities you propose and the time it will take to achieve your goals. Have you thought about your methods of accounting and reporting revenues and expenditures?

Have you accurately reflected the value of in-kind contributions and volunteer labor in your budget? Don’t take these for granted. Valuing these contributions shows your funder that there are dedicated people and some amount of infrastructure behind your organization.

Did you propose goals and objectives that are realistic and achievable? Goals are the method of achieving your needs. Objectives are the specific ways you will attain your goals and activities are the actions needed to reach your objectives. If you are a small, grass-roots organization, no funder will expect your proposed project to decrease the cesarean section rate, preterm birth rate, etc. But perhaps it will reach 200 expectant women with key messages about normal birth, provide one-to-one breastfeeding support to 75 nursing mothers, or match 30 low-income women with volunteer doulas. Think big with your mission but be realistic about (and proud of!) what you can achieve with your current resources.

For each objective, are you able to monitor and evaluate your progress? The evaluation techniques and ability to sustain a project beyond funding are key elements of consideration for a funder.

Have you provided all requested attachments such as budgets, current biographies or “CV’s”, and by-laws? Have you followed application instructions and formatting requirements?

Have you double and triple checked spelling and grammar? Have you edited your application for redundant or unnecessary words and sentences?

DON’T FORGET: Be clear and concise, follow the funder’s guidelines, and always double check everything.  It is a waste of your valuable time to submit a grant that will get rejected because you didn’t follow directions.

Fundraising and Organizational Management Links

Templates and Samples

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