BUSINESS QUARTERLY: For local nonprofits, variety is the key in fundraising

  • Grapevine Executive Director Melissa Gallagher at Hancock’s town meeting in 2020. File

  • Roy Schlieben, executive director of the MAxT Makerspace in Peterborough, said an organization is doing well if it wins half the grants it seeks. File

  • Maggie Baribault gets ready to head downhill during an Avenue A sledding excursion in Hancock in 2022. Avenue A is a program run by the Grapevine Family & Community Resource Center in Antrim. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/24/2023 9:01:42 AM
Modified: 1/24/2023 9:01:28 AM

The Grapevine Family & Community Resource Center in Antrim was founded in 1996, and Executive Director Melissa Gallagher said, “We have sort of this donor base of people who have supported The Grapevine for a very long time.”

However, Gallagher said it is important to attract new supporters such as families who participate in programs and come to use The Grapevine’s services.

“How do we kind of draw them in and get them to participate in financially supporting our organization?” she said.

Both Gallagher and Roy Schlieben, executive director of MAXTMakerspace in Peterborough, cited the importance of being able to attract grants, donations and business support.

“The important thing for every nonprofit is to have multiple sources of revenue,” Schlieben said. “Every grant is very competitive. You can’t expect to win them all. If you win half the ones you’ve applied to, you’re doing really, really well.”

Schlieben said MAXT – which offers 10,000 square feet of offices, studio spaces and workshops for woodworking, metal working, jewelry, textiles, printmaking and other art endeavors – has some big programming goals in 2023, including summer camp for high-schoolers this summer. As part of the effort, the organization is looking to raise money for scholarships to help students in need.

MAXT also has events like its Night Market and equipment purchases for which it needs to raise money.

“We always do well with NH Gives,” Schlieben said, referring to the 24-hour statewide fundraiser organized by the NH Center for Nonprofits. “That’s our biggest fundraising campaign every year.”

MAXT also participates in a day of giving the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, as well as a month-long annual campaign at the end of the year.

The Grapevine, which works “to promote family and community health and well-being through support, education and the sharing of resources,” gets more than half of its budget of just under $400,000 from grants. The organization also gets support from Antrim, Bennington, Francestown, Hancock and Hillsborough, so it’s important to spread the word in those towns and let the people know what they’re doing.

“It adds up to more than $40,000 in our annual budget every year,” Gallagher said of the support from the five towns.

The Grapevine also gets grants from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and a new source is the New Hampshire Children’s Trust, through which state money flows to the 18 family resource centers in the state, including The Grapevine and The River Center in Peterborough.

“That’s been really helpful to us,” she said.

The Grapevine also applies for private grants such as from the Gilbert Verney Foundation, which is associated with Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington.

“They’ve been supporters for a really long time,” she said.

The Grapevine’s programs include Avenue A Teen + Community Center, which offers after-school and evening enrichment programs for teens in fifth through 12th grade. Gallagher said Avenue A provides another opportunity for people who are interested in supporting youths.

“There are a lot of people who feel really passionate about that,” she said.

Concerns over inflation

Both Schlieben and Gallagher cited concerns over inflation and the potential for a recession in the coming year.

“The Great Recession had a big impact on the ability of grant-makers and donors to give,” Schlieben said.

Although he admits he might be pessimistic, Schlieben is concerned enough that he said this year’s budget has a smaller fundraising goal, although he would not give specific numbers.

“I’d love to be wrong,” he said.

Schlieben hopes user fees from increased membership will help fill the gap, along with other income-generating projects.

“Hopefully, we can at least reach those goals this year,” he said.

Gallagher said the challenges surrounding inflation and affordability are to the point where The Grapevine makes sure grant applications mention the challenges people face paying their bills.

“We need to be able to offer families help when they’ve exhausted other resources,” she said.

Gallagher said it is sometimes hard to make the case for what The Grapevine does to keep families healthy, but the organization has a strong reputation and people want to give locally.

“I think people take comfort in that,” she said. “Wherever they are, people know we’re close by.”


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