With the arrival of Spring comes the arrival of event season. From Opening Day Parades to Field Lighting Ceremonies, it’s all underway.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is lucky enough to be involved in a variety of events. We understand planning an event can be an overwhelming task, so we thought it may be helpful to have something to refer to when the details feel daunting.
1. Start with a vision – what do you want your event to look like? What image do you want to portray to the media and the guests who attend?
2. Determine where you’re going to host your event. At the ballpark? Inside the new batting cages? A parade down Main Street?
3. Determine a Run of Show. Write down a brief schedule of the event.
4. Create an invite to spark people’s interest. Request that people RSVP and then make a guest list.
5. Designate a photographer and a videographer.
6. Create and distribute a press release to your local outlets.
7. Promote the event on your social media profiles.
1. Arrive early to set up the event.
a. Test the sound system to make sure it works.
b. Do a mock run through.
2. Greet the media and tell them what to expect from the day.
3. Meet with the photographer and videographer. Give them a list of desired specific photos/video footage.
a. TIP: Try to ensure your organization/sponsor signage are visible for photo opportunities.
4. Upload pictures and status updates during the event to your social media profiles.
5. Enjoy the event!
1. Collect all photos and video.
2. Create a photo album and/or recap to post on your social media profiles.
3. Contact media to discuss details or photos they may need.
4. Search and save any articles that mentioned the event or your organization.
5. Make notes for yourself of what worked really well and what could be improved next time.
Events are a wonderful way to celebrate a new season, a completed project or ring in a new program. They are a lot of work but they always prove to be productive, joyous and memorable.
If your organization was rejected for a Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant or is planning to apply, please review this information to gain a better understanding of the most common reasons a request is rejected and for examples to strengthen your request.
KEEP IN MIND: The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (like all grant making organizations) select recipients that demonstrate strong leadership, professionalism, the ability to properly manage a budget, paperwork and oversee a project to completion. As in your job or at school, spelling, grammar, punctuation, organizational and administrative skills count! If your organization’s request is poorly written or incomplete, it does not reflect well your organization’s ability to manage a grant and reporting requirements, complete a project or sustain a program or facility. Take the time to proofread and get help from others before submitting a request.
Do you know your non-profit organization’s current tax-exempt status? Now is a good time to double-check. If your organization’s tax-exempt status was revoked, learn what to do.
For anyone in the process of writing a grant or considering it, this is an informative Q&A with a foundation expert. Great advice!
Now that the summer league season is over, we encourage all U.S.-based, youth baseball and softball organizations (as well as other small non-profit organizations) to confirm the charitable exemption status of your organization with the IRS.
According to the IRS website, “Although they are exempt from income taxation, exempt organizations are generally required to file annual returns of their income and expenses with the Internal Revenue Service. Beginning in 2008, small tax-exempt organizations that previously were not required to file returns because their gross receipts did not exceed a certain threshold may be required to file an annual electronic notice…In addition to required filings, a charity may have other ongoing compliance obligations.”
Therefore, if you have not checked recently, have not filed the appropriate returns (or don’t know if your organization has filed), don’t assume that your organization is still exempt!
Read all about the IRS requirements for charities and non-profits in the U.S. at http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations—Required-Filings
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund application requires a copy of your IRS letter of determination, confirming the non-profit status of your organization. So, make sure your organization has a current copy before beginning the application process.
Know Your EIN
This is also a good opportunity to confirm your organization’s EIN (Employer Identification Number or Federal Tax Identification Number.) All U.S. organizations are assigned this number by the IRS.
At BTF, we require an EIN for all U.S. based applicants — whether the organization is a registered 501(c)(3) or tax-exempt organization, such as a municipality or school. This number is used as an applicant’s unique identification number in our database and is required before any grant award is approved or paid. Without a EIN, BTF will not process or evaluate a request.
The format of a Federal EIN is XX-XXXXXXX. If the number you have on file has more or less digits, it is unlikely to be a Federal EIN.
If you have never written a grant proposal but are considering it, we encourage you to do a bit of research and educate yourself on the basics before jumping right in.
The Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and global grantmakers and operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at all levels. The Center offers an excellent library for free webinars (in English and Spanish) covering topics including grant seeking basics, developing a proposal budget and fundraising planning.
Go to http://fdncenter.sharedby.co/links/LjLBC2 to learn more about grant writing, grant seeking and the world of philanthropy.
…but you can control how you maintain your field. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund helps organizations all over the world, which means at any given time the weather can be drastically different for our grant recipients. Take a look at a few quick tips on how to properly handle different types of weather.
-Always be aware of the forecast. It is vital to cover the mound and home plate areas when rain is predicted. Tarp should overlap the grass by eight inches.
-Just because it’s done raining, doesn’t mean the field is ready for play. Too much standing water can increase field damage and the risk of player injuries. Sometimes calling a game is necessary after rain.
-During periods of extreme heat, you must thoroughly water your turf and keep an eye on the depth of moisture saturation using a soil probe. If the water penetration is slow, it may be necessary to aerate.
-If you’re using artificial turf, be sure to water the field prior to using it to cool down the surface temperature – it can get very warm!
-If you are prone to winter weather, consider using a winter turf cover in the off-season. It not only protects your field from the elements, but also warms the soil and can help grass grow better and greener in the spring.
-Sometimes a simple shovel and teamwork is the best resource. Check out this article about the Colorado Rockies’ Groundkeeper Crew and what happens with the show must go on.
There are many factors when thinking about installing artificial turf. The various aspects can seem overwhelming when making this big of a decision, so we have provided a breakdown of the 5Ws (and the H!) of Artificial Turf. Be sure to also check out the Resources at the bottom of the post to learn more.
What Is It?
Artificial turf is synthetic ground cover. It resembles natural grass and is often used in athletic facilities to provide a consistent playing surface that sustains extended use and weather conditions. Artificial turf consists of more than the grass-like fiber that you can see from the stands; it also includes a drainage system, a backing system, and infill, which is similar to topsoil but is made from sand and/or rubber materials (Synthetic Turf Council).
Photo Credit: Synthetic Turf Council
Who Uses It?
According to the Synthetic Turf Council (STC), more than 8,000 artificial turf fields are being used in North America. With less daily (and less costly) maintenance, a higher level of consistency and a greater ability to withstand more usage, artificial turf has become a popular choice in colleges and high schools.
Why Use It?
Artificial turf can withstand more usage than natural grass, ideal if you envision using the field for various types of sports and events (STC). Your athletes may also sustain fewer injuries that would normally occur due to uneven playing surfaces, mud, and similar problems associated with natural grass.
Unlike natural grass, artificial turf will not attract weeds or bugs, eliminating the need for pesticides or fertilizer (momsTeam). You also will conserve water with an artificial field; in 2010, “between four to eight billion gallons of water were conserved” with artificial turf use (STC). That equates to the annuals water usage of up to 55,000 average American families!
What are some drawbacks?
An artificial field typically needs to be replaced every 8 to 10 years, though that lifespan may decrease with higher usage (STC). On a related note, once artificial grass is installed, it’s essentially a long-term commitment. The impact of the plastic turf on the soil makes it nearly impossible to sustain natural grass in the future without years of soil reformation (momsTeam).
It can also be expensive to maintain (though much less expensive than natural grass). The Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) estimates that maintaining an artificial field can cost approximately $6,000/year, not including equipment, and can require up to 375 of labor hours/year. These estimates vary by field size and usage.
Another element to consider is heat. Artificial turf can heat up faster than natural grass, but this impact can be temporarily minimized by watering the field prior to use (STMA).
Finally, line marking can be permanent on artificial turf, as it can be sewn into the turf during production. This makes it less adaptable for other sports if changing line markings is necessary. With this in mind, however, it is possible to paint temporary lines/logos on the field, but they may more difficult to remove than on natural grass (STMA).
Where Should It Be Used?
Artificial turf is suitable to be used in all settings, but especially when the weather is unpredictable or even predictably hot, in which case artificial turf can be a better, more reliable choice than natural grass (STC).
Another weather note – if you experience lots of rain, artificial turf may be a sound choice. It tends to drain faster than natural grass and maintains its playability. This leads to less maintenance time after rain and also fewer rainouts (STMA).
How much will it cost?
The cost of an artificial field will be greater upfront, but generally pays off in 3 to 4 years (STC). The cost of installing artificial turf varies depending on field size, usage, type of fiber, amount and type of infill, geographic location, irrigation systems, labor costs, and more. STMA provides a typical cost range for $6.50-$11.00 per square foot. A youth baseball field at 60,000 square feet may average out to around $500,000 – but this basic estimate does not take into consideration a number of factors, some of which are listed above.
When I’m ready to install artificial, what do I do?
You may want to hire a consultant who has experience with artificial turf. STMA suggests contacting a sports field manager, sports turf manager, and/or an agronomist to consult on the project. The Synthetic Turf Council also has a list of companies and a Request for Proposal Automator to help with the bidding process.
Securing grant funding can be a vital aspect of accomplishing your nonprofit’s mission, and you may consider hiring a professional grant writer. An experienced grant writer can help you find new grant opportunities, write proposals, review an existing proposal, and even assist with developing a project budget. If you are thinking about hiring a grant writer, review the information below to learn about pros, cons, cost and more.
Should you hire one?
-First, familiarize yourself with the grant proposal process. Do you feel comfortable writing it yourself? -Many grant writers prefer to work with organizations that have a good reputation and enough materials from which they can pull information.
-If you are just getting started, you may consider writing your own proposal and asking a grant writer to review/edit it.
-Grant Space, a service of the Foundation Center, offers many tools to understand the grant writing process and provides various samples.
-Research: A grant writer can help you find new grant opportunities.
-Experience: They understand the process, procedure, language and formats.
-Thorough: With a good grant writer, you likely will have a complete proposal for an on-time submission.
-Accuracy: It is important to find the right grant writer that understands your organization, your project and your voice. Without this, the proposal may not accurately reflect your organization or program.
-Costly: It can be expensive. If you envision writing many grants in the future, you may consider taking a grant proposal writing training course through the Foundation Center.
-Commitment: You need to be willing to provide information. The grant writer may request detailed information throughout the course of the process. Committing the time (and patience!) is key.
Finding a good grant writer
-Start with word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted colleagues and friends.
-Check lists of professional organizations: American Fundraising Professionals has an excellent list of writers, consultants, and more.
-Ideally use a local grant writer that you can meet with in person. They can get a better understanding of your mission and program in person rather than over the phone or email.
-Ask if they have their CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) Certification, an exam-based certification for fundraising professionals to demonstrate mastery of important knowledge areas. However, not having a CFRE does not make them unqualified.
-Always request examples of previous work and a list of references.
-Prices vary based on the services provided. In addition to writing the proposal, some grant writers may provide consultation on best practices, business strategy, and more.
-Price structures can vary based on need and the grant writer. It can be an hourly rate, flat rate, or annual rate (if you are using them more than once). Expect to make a down payment, payments as the project progresses or payment in full.
-Fees should not be correlated with the grant amount. A $1 million proposal should not cost ten times more than someone who prepares a $100,000 grant proposal.
-Generally, expect to pay $40-$70 per hour.
-Always have a written agreement with your grant writer, detailing fees, dates, etc.
Remember: Grant writers do not receive percentage of the grant award. This type of payment is unethical, and many professional organizations revoke membership status if a member takes a percentage.
If you want to learn more about the grant writing process, take a look at the links below.
Find a Grant Writer
Learning More About the Process
Cost of Grant Writers
The BTF offices are always a swirl of activity but there’s one thing we always like to carve a little time out for– tweeting! Interacting with foundations, grant recipients, and you adds extra meaning to our mission. Twitter is an opportunity to learn from each other and lend support to other colleagues.
Here are a few snippets of what’s been happening on the BTF Twitter account:
Equipment Day 2013
We enjoy seeing photos and updates from the Equipment Day collections happing around the League – and it’s especially exciting when the Clubs and our Player Ambassadors join in on the action!
Hearing from grant recipients can make our day!
BTF shares tips and links to articles that can help you with your foundation, groundskeeping, and more. If there is something you’d like us to share, feel free to add it in the comments below.
Head over to our Twitter page to become a follower and join the conversation.