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Meet-the-Donors: Central MA 10/30/18


Chris O'Keeffe, Vice President of ProgramGreater Worcester Community Foundation


Allen Fletcher, ChairmanFletcher Foundation and, TrusteeStoddard Charitable Trust

Michealle Larkins, Vice President, Philanthropic Administrator, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management

Bethany Kendall, Executive DirectorAmelia Peabody Charitable Fund

David Nicholson, TrusteeFred Harris Daniels Foundation

Carolyn Rau, Foundation AssistantGMA Foundations



Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund


Amelia Peabody established the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund in 1974. The Fund is dedicated to continuing her legacy of philanthropy through grants to qualified non-profit organizations existing and operating in Massachusetts in the areas of medicine (human and animal), social welfare, visual arts, historic preservation, and land conservation. Grants are made exclusively for capital projects and capital purchases.

Fletcher Foundation

The Fletcher Foundation is focused on Social Services, primarily in the City of Worcester. Applications should be made by letter in quintuplicate, summarizing a request, together with background information and include a copy of applicant’s tax exempt letter. Submissions should be received two weeks prior to distribution meetings held in June and in December. Send applications to: Warner S. Fletcher, 370 Main Street, 12th Floor, Worcester, MA 01608.

The Fred Harris Daniels Foundation


Established in 1949, The Fred Harris Daniels Foundation supports sustainable, creative solutions to Worcester’s most pressing social challenges by funding programs that help people become more self-reliant in their lives and communities. The Foundation provides grants to the Worcester, MA service area in the form of program and operating grants, strategic grants focusing on girls ages 10-14, and capital grants. The foundation does not make grants to individuals, political or religious organizations. The foundation has 12 board members and meets 4 times per year.

GMA Foundations



GMA Foundations works with individual donors, families, and private, corporate and community foundations to establish and achieve philanthropic goals. They partner with their clients at every stage of growth with services ranging from mission development and grantmaking strategy to day-to-day administration, bookkeeping and organizational support. In over 35 years of practice, they have earned insight into the field of philanthropy and expertise in managing effective giving and understanding successful nonprofits.

GMA represented:

  • The Ludcke Foundation


The Ludcke Foundation supports organizations that provide needed resources and services to children and families, with an emphasis on emotional and physical health, education and social development.The Foundation devotes its grants to the fields of education, medicine, and human services. The trustees have a special interest in programs that focus across two or three of the foundation’s areas of interest and in partnering with other donors with similar objectives to enable more ambitious projects.The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals.  Only organizations invited by the trustees may apply.


  • The Nordblom Family Foundation


The mission of the Nordblom Family Foundation is to inspire parents and caregivers to build self-awareness and essential capabilities required to nurture positive family interactions. Drawing from the science of child development, we know that children and families become stronger when they are in supportive and responsive relationships, when sources of family stress are reduced, and when core life skills are strengthened. Our goal is to positively impact the trajectory of families for generations to come.

Greater Worcester Community Foundation


Greater Worcester Community Foundation awards Community Grants to support nonprofit organizations that build healthy and vibrant communities in Central Massachusetts. Community Grants are made possible by donors who have set up endowment funds with us for this purpose. The typical grant range is $5,000 to $25,000.


U.S. Trust/Bank of America Philanthropic Solutions


U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management is a leading private wealth management organization providing vast resources and customized solutions to help meet clients’ wealth structuring, investment management, banking and credit needs. Clients are served by teams of experienced advisors offering a range of financial services, including investment management, financial and succession planning, philanthropic and specialty asset management, family office services, custom credit solutions, financial administration and family trust stewardship. Trusts managed by U.S. Trust distribute over $300 million in grants annually. Trusts focused specifically on the Greater Worcester area include the Albert W. Rice Charitable Foundation, George W. Wells Foundation, The Nathaniel Wheeler Trust, and Hoche-Schofield Foundation. Numerous other trusts support organizations in Massachusetts, most of which can be accessed through the website.


What is the best way to establish a relationship with each foundation?

  • There is an online application for the Fred Harris Daniels Foundation that prospective grantees should use.
  • Ludcke and Nordblom – make contact through GMA staff, ie Carolyn Rau. Ludcke requires an LOI and a full application if invited. Nordblom is fairly new and still working out its grantmaking practices, but anyone can submit to this very mission focused foundation.
  • For trusts under Bank of America, you can find the list of funders in MA on the grantmaking website. You can apply to one a year, but there is an exception list to cross reference.
  • Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund – do your research on the website first and then if it seems like a good fit, reach out by email to schedule a call.
  • Greater Worcester Community Foundation – tries to respond to calls, read what you can from the website first

What’s your approach to repeat funding?

  • Ludcke – Trustees have a mindset of funding for 3 years in a row, but they don’t necessarily consider that a multi-year grant.
  • Daniels Foundation will consider capital grants but doesn’t want an organization to come back requesting money on the same capital project.
  • Amelia Peabody – Organizations must wait 3 years to apply again if they receive funding and they won’t fund the same project.
  • Fletcher – A bit more flexible, they say they don’t want to be in operating budget but they will if the relationship is fostered well.
  • Bank of America trusts –will fund same organization again
  • Greater Worcester Community Foundation will provide multi-year support

How do you make the case for increasing funding?

  • Ludcke and Nordblom  - they will consider it based off of mission alignment and how the organization is changing and growing
  • Bank of America – if organization shows an increase in need in population, they will consider increasing funding
  • Fletcher – doesn’t have the capacity to go on site visits, so applicants must demonstrate the increase of need in population in their application
  • Greater Worcester – Make a strong argument, justify the increased request, make it clear to foundation what value their money adds. If the case is made, it has a better shot.
  • Important to right size your ask, ask should be consistent with the asks to others

How can we demonstrate effectiveness?

  • Provide information on money spent and correlation to outcomes, this will help when you ask for more money in the future
  • The more information on the success of the organization, the better
  • Reminding trustees what original goals were when you are reporting outcomes is particularly helpful, especially for trustees for whom this is twice a year job

How does the size of the balance sheet affect your funding?

  • Bank of America – if budget is over 10 million, they won’t give operating support but will fund a program, no particular bias otherwise
  • Fletcher – the bigger the operating budget, the less convinced they are that you need their help, wary of statewide projects and how much they actually support Worcester
  • Amelia Peabody – size of the budget is only one piece of information to consider, not the only
  • Ludcke – does pay attention as they fund mid-size organizations, smallest grant size is $25,000 and so smaller organizations aren’t quite ready, will also consider org with very large budget if there’s a demonstrated reason (eg housing projects etc)

Does your organization primarily fund operating support or programs?

  • Bank of America – will typically do both, they prefer that you don’t get too specific when applying for operating support because they prefer to be supporting the whole organization. Tell them what you do and then apply for operating
  • Fletcher – acknowledges high admin costs and will support those admin costs within a program application , 15% of a grant request – to be used for operating expenses, is acceptable to their foundation.
  • Ludcke and Norblom will fund both
  • Daniels – will fund operating capital but make sure it makes sense within the budget
  • Amelia Peabody – generally does not fund staffing
  • Chris O’Keefe shares that the overhead myth (that nonprofit effectiveness is based on how low admin costs can be) is damaging. Overhead is actually organization capacity, so articulate what the true cost of delivering the program is. You are doing no one a service by bragging about how low your admin is and reinforcing bad behavior from funders.

What appeals more to you data or emotional stories?

  • BOTH
  • Bank of America applications have an additional details section to include stories
  • Fletcher – should be able to explain “I believe” in 3 pages, thicker applications rife with data do not mean better applications
  • Ludcke – if you have chatted with GMA and used emotional stories that pull on heartstrings, do it again in proposal for trustees who will be making decisions
  • Think about appealing to the well-disposed but somewhat skeptical customer when sharing information

Do you support organizations looking for money to build internal capacity?

  • Amelia Peabody – don’t fund capacity, but do fund technology upgrades, think broadly when you think about capital

How does your organization feel about giving feedback?

  • Ludcke and Nordblom – talk to GMA Staff members first, they make the partnerships between grantees and foundation clients, prefer phone calls before submission and will give you real feedback after
  • Bank of America – will take phone calls before, if you call after for feedback if you are rejected, do it shortly after – 6-8 months after is too late
  • Amelia Peabody – will take calls before and after and let you know why it didn’t work out that year
  • Greater Worcester – will take calls and encourages you to call if denied

General takeaways:

  • Worcester grantmakers are very connected and communicate with each other to find out information about grant applicants
  • All foundation are different – become familiar with everyone’s preferences, it’s very important to build those relationships
  • Funders have different personalities and successful grant writers will know for whom they are writing
  • It is okay to call to ask questions and establish a relationship after going through a foundation’s website to find out all the information you can
  • Be sure to right size your ask, funders often like to be among funders, make sure you are asking consistently across different foundations



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