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Hi! If you’re new to these posts, you might want to take a look at the previous two posts where I talk about how acting like an entrepreneur in your development office can save you money and time. This is part three of what I learned from the fabulous RISE Austin conference that took place March 1-5th 2010.

If you’ve combed the Foundation Center Database over and over, it might be time to start thinking big with your nonprofit. What do you do that the government would like done? Whether it’s providing social services or cleaning up the environment, you could get a steady stream of income from your local or federal government for your nonprofit.

For instance, a small nonprofit got a government contract to help seniors, and it provided quite a bit of the agency budget. The process to do full reporting took a little work, but eventually the nonprofit automated it enough so that it wasn’t arduous, and it allowed them to have 6 full time case management and other staff that helped 300 people per year.


I took a workshop with Joyce Scott of Superb Speakers, and she was FULL of advice on how to get federal government contracts. With all of the stimulus money floating around these days, and even after that is gone, government contracts are a good way to keep money flowing into your organization, as fickle foundations would probably not fund you for ten years or more.

0. Find out of you are in the HUB-Zone. This will allow you to be more eligible for grants and contracts.
1. Get a Dunn and Bradstreet number.
2. Ask your Small Business Development Center (SBDC), how do I sign up with the Central Contractor Registry database?
3. Get training from the SBDC, for free.
4. Know your NAICS code.
5. Keep going to SBDC classes, just to get updated on the latest procedures.

In every agency there’s someone who is there to help small business get in. Talk to your HUB coordinator at your state and local level. You are a small business if your nonprofit makes less than $6.5M per year.

Do your homework. They buy far more products than services. Critical to your success are your Capacity, References, Team strength and Past Performance. You need to show them that you provide the Best Value in the Price Factor, Evaluation of your impact, Weighing and Region.

Knowledge is power.
-> Who in your nonprofit cause area wins government contracts? See if you can talk to them.
-> Learn the buying trends in your sector.
-> Competitive analysis is key.
-> Form alliances with your competition, and you’ll both be that much stronger when you set out to win government contracts.

“Never take advice from anyone whose life you wouldn’t want to live.” -Joyce Scott

Want more free advice on fundraising? Follow me on twitter @wildwomanfund