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Water: Watershed Funding

Targeted Watershed Grants Funding Workshop Notes Feb 1, 2008

Purpose of the Workshop
The goal of the workshop was to provide Targeted Watershed Grantees resources to create long term, sustainable funding plans. The two main objectives were:

  • Build the capacity of participants to develop a realistic, sustainable funding plan
  • Familiarize participants with funding resources and tools

This workshop took place as a post-conference event, and the facilitators for the workshop were Tim Jones (EPA) and Rakhi Kasat (Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education) from EPA Headquarters Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds Sustainable Finance Team. The workshop was attended by Targeted Watershed Grantees, as well as EPA Headquarters and Regional Staff. The workshop was developed through collaboration between the finance team and the Targeted Watershed Grantees Conference organizers.


For more information on this workshop, please contact Tim Jones at (202) 566-1245 or Rakhi Kasat at (202) 566-1644.


I. Introductions

  • Reviewed workshop agenda and goal and introduced presenters (Tim Jones and Rakhi Kasat)

II. Step 1: Establish Funding Priorities (Rakhi Kasat)

  • Main message: Be clear about why you are raising money to gain buy-in fromyour entire organization and ensure you are moving towards your goal.
  • During the planning process, a watershed organization will break down their mission into goals, goals into objectives, and objectives into tasks. Once the tasks have been enumerated, the transition to implementation can be very difficult due to the sheer number of competing objectives most groups face. All objectives cannot be implemented simultaneously. What are the highest priority objectives?
  • Implementation finance (resource allocation) should focus on the highest ranked priorities, but how do you rank priorities?
  • The traditional method groups have dealt with these competing objectives is the “red dot method” where stakeholders members assign importance -- usually round red stickers -- to objectives -- listed on flip chart pages -- they individually think are most important.  This process doesn’t always allow for the sharing of information about the importance of competing priorities, but becomes a more subjective popularity contest.
  • The Plan2Fund Objective Prioritization Tool (OPT) allows for a more transparent, collaborative process, that encourages group consensus.  Plan2Fund OPT is designed to help stakeholder groups save time and energy when moving toward implementation of their strategic plans. It is a web-based decision model that helps you build consensus on the rules you will use in evaluating competing objectives. 
  • Once a group comes to agreement on the decision rules they will use in evaluating their strategic objectives, they can determine the scoring system that will be used to rank the objectives against their rules. 
  • The Plan2Fund OPT consensus process is as follows:

    1) Identify and enter strategic plan objectives.

    2) Identify and gain consensus on decision rules.

    3) Achieve consensus on how decision rules will be scored.

    4) By consensus, assign weighting to decision rules.

    5) Compare results.

    6) Share information.

  • The output of this model (printable sheets of your ranked objectives) can be shared with your stakeholders or board of directors. The process of creating the rankings also allows for a transparent process that can be easily adjusted and revisited year after year.

*For more information on OPT, contact Bill Jarocki of the Boise State Environmental Finance Center at (208) 426-1567.


III. Step 2: Assess Capacity

  • Main message: Assess the capacity of your organization to be realistic about how your organization can capitalize on its strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
  • Activity: Participants brainstormed for the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) analysis specifically for fundraising for watershed organizations. Below are examples that were common to several organizations:

    1) Identify and enter strategic plan objectives.

    2) Weaknesses (internal): Inefficient fundraising, not enough staff, lack of plan, over-extended, lack of fundraising skill, lack of interest in new ideas

    3) Opportunities (external): fee-based, individual support, religious organizations, site specific target groups, sharing contacts with other organizations, partners for fundraising

    4) Threats (external): economy, lack of connect between granters and grantee re: true costs, politics, losing momentum

IV. Step 3: Set Fundraising Goal

  • Main message: Push your staff, board, and volunteers to set concrete short-termand long-term fundraising goals.
  • Basic tips for creating a budget and a concrete fundraising goal were reviewed
  • Activity: Participants practiced committing to a concrete fundraising goal

V. Step 4: Identify Funding Sources

  • Main Message: To find new sources of funding, look at the resources your entirecommunity could provide.
  • Activity: The group learned about “Asset Mapping”, an activity to find resources in your community that you may not have tapped. Through this exercise, participants were encouraged to consider nontraditional groups as partners and to plan mutually beneficial relationships in their community.
  • Demonstration: “How to Develop A Funding Plan” Distance Learning Module (not yet live on EPA’s Watershed Academy)
  • The finance module was developed because we saw a need for a basic introduction to creating a funding plan for watershed organizations. We hoped to cover a broad range of common funding mechanisms and provide real case studies of groups that have used these mechanisms on the ground. These funding mechanisms can be used to build the capacity of the watershed organization and ensure that it is sustained for many years to come.
  • The module was developed through collaboration with watershed organizations such as River Network groups to get on-the-ground case studies, check the accuracy of the information provided, and ensure the accessibility of the module.
  • The module can be used to: 1) Gain new funding strategies for your group, 2) Learn lessons from the case studies, 3) Train new staff and board members, 4) Use the exercises in planning meetings, 5) Point partner organizations to useful resources (there is an extensive “References and Resources” page)
  • The OWOW funding website is a central portal to a variety of watershed finance tools, websites, databases, and funding opportunities. It is a free resource intended for all public and private watershed organizations.
  • The website also includes resources for funders to help them make informed funding decisions.

VI. Step 5: Evaluate and Select Sources

  • Main Message: The four factors that will affect your funding success are: fundingenvironment, diversity of sources, estimated returns, and sustainability.
  • In addition to the four factors, don’t forget to consider feasibility, which can be specific to your group.

VII. Step 6: Write and Implement Plan

  • Main Message: Writing out your plan and integrating it into your annual workplan helps ensure that your group is accountable to the plan and can implement it.
  • Elements of your plan:
  • Statement of Purpose/Case Statement
  • Results of SWOT/Fundraising history
  • Budget and Fundraising Goals
  • Funding options you selected and rationale
  • Calendar and action-oriented spreadsheet
  • What you hope to accomplish (overall goal)

VIII. Conclusion/Wrap Up

  • Reviewed main messages
  • Funding “lessons learned”
  • Incorporate fundraisers into your organization's current activities
  • Capitalize on the strengths of your organization
  • Target a diversity of resources that are sustainable and likely to be obtained
  • Create a finance plan that can be used year after year to guide efforts
  • Diffuse fundraising efforts throughout your organization
  • Importance of partnerships (moving from funding to finance)

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