| By Diane Granito,
Note: This is to create funding pools. This is not a request
to use a portion of existing funding from the agency. However requests
to use adoption incentive funds received due to improved adoption
rates could be requested for Heart Gallery. This method worked in
New Mexico but may need to be adapted to your area/state.
Find out your legislative funding schedule.
Some may meet for legislative purposes only, without funding. In
New Mexico we have 60 day sessions during odd years (funding sessions)
and 30 day sessions during even years (not for funding like this,
generally). Many states have ongoing legislative sessions. A good
legislative connection/mentor is invaluable and having one on the
Find a government agency liaison to work on this particular issue
Explain that you want to request funding for the Heart Gallery
to go into their budget designated specifically for Heart Gallery
expenditures. Legislators cannot give money to a nonprofit in most
of these cases (i.e. New Mexico) so your agency liaison is very
important. The agency should be able to set up a contract with your
nonprofit if you have one, though there may be caps on the amount
(see below). The liaison should have the authority to set aside
this funding within their budget, to create or authorize creation
of purchase documents, etc.
Find legislators from the Senate and House to sponsor identical
bills and a "memorial" bill.
Check with board members and other high-level supporters for legislative
connections and also target those who support child-related legislation.
A "memorial" bill goes into detail about the Heart Gallery
project but does not ask for money. This is important as the bill's
language is limited/restricted but those who see the "memorial"
bill will know what the money will be used for when the money bills
come up for a vote. Check with your state on the specifics required
for this step.
Draft a budget for your Heart Gallery team and agency.
The budget will let them know what you have in mind so they can
make recommendations or adaptations. Always expect to get less so
include things from your "dream" budget, then when it
is cut you will have enough for the basics. We asked for $260k,
which included an Adoption/Heart Gallery van to move the show and
we received $100k. This covered the basics plus our 4 matching events.
Basic costs should cover portraits, framing, display systems if
used, a web site or web site maintenance, advertising, outreach
materials and other items needed to host your exhibits or web sites.
Draft the legislative bills.
(Very short, see
Be available during the legislative session and be ready to testify
before committees and subcommittees and to accompany the legislators
for the full floor vote.
In New Mexico you just sit next to them for the floor vote. No
questions are asked of you by the legislators but your sponsor may
ask you some. Our New Mexico bills received standing ovations when
the time came.
Work with your agency regarding their procurement rules and regulations
once the money is secured.
In New Mexico we received $100k for our Heart Gallery and 4 other
adoption events. Since anything over 30k has to go out for a bid,
I set up 5 contracts, and used up all the money but kept each contract
under 30k. For most of the contracts I worked out a monthly payment
system to spread the total over 12 months. Most state agencies will
not pay until AFTER goods or services are provided. This can be
tricky so make sure your contractor is OK with this plan. For example,
they may get a payment one month that doesn't cover expenses but
will get a payment every month.
Results of Our Funding Efforts
We now have our display systems, each recruiter received portraits,
our web site is updated, and our matching events were very successful
due to our funding. Now the goal is to get continued funding!
Contracts were with:
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- Framer: Frames for high end opening (with framer who has donated
a lot in the past and discounted his cost)
- Reedy Photo-processing: Multiple sets of prints for statewide
distribution to each recruiter in the state.
- Web designer/graphic designer
- New Mexico Foundation: To facilitate paying other contractors
for the display systems and other specific items.
- CASA: To administer the non-Heart Gallery events so they can
write checks to companies and individuals without us having to
do a Purchase Order each time. I calculated the amount actually
necessary for the events (for which we still get donations and
discounts) and then included a nice amount to go to CASA for their