BIINvestment: Renewed Community Support for BIIN!

Published by Program Manager on

BIINvestment: Renewed Community Support for BIIN!

As a small non-profit organization, BIIN takes pride in being able to do a great deal on a fairly limited budget.  Part of BIIN’s approach is to rely on volunteers to lead and run programs, to serve on the organization’s governing board, and to help at special events.  But in order to continue to provide programs and services at no cost to members of the local immigrant community, BIIN also needs to raise funds each year.  To meet its annual budget, BIIN has traditionally relied on support from three main sources: 

  • one-time or recurring donations from individuals and businesses who support BIIN’s mission, including donations by members of the BIIN board and fundraising activities led by the board, staff or volunteers (accounting for about 73% of the organization’s 2022 goal of at least $78,000 in revenue)

  • corporate donations from local “community partners,” such as churches and other non-profit organizations who support BIIN’s work (representing about 12% of the annual goal for revenue)

  • grants and awards made by foundations and organizations, based on applications written and submitted by BIIN staff, board members or volunteers, or competitions in which BIIN representatives compete (for about 15% of the annual revenue goal).

The end of the month of April brought some good news for BIIN on the grants and awards front.

First, BIIN received a Community Grant for $17,775 from the Strategic Philanthropy program at the Mays School of Business at Texas A&M University, to support on-going efforts to customize and implement a comprehensive database through Salesforce, to purchase laptops and software for staff and program use, and to enable BIIN to offer stipends to select interns who have proven their mettle through a semester of unpaid service. 

BIIN Director Jaimi Washburn and Communications and Development Coordinator Janet Morford had devoted a great deal of time to the process of applying for this grant and keeping BIIN in the running. After crafting and submitting the initial proposal in early February, Jaimi and Janet had to provide additional written justifications and explanations (close to 20 written pages total) in March, and then plan for and host a site visit with a team of student evaluators.

Jaimi Washburn and Janet Morford worked together to provide an overview of BIIN’s history and programs and to justify the request for funds to improve the efficiency and reach of BIIN’s services to immigrants across the Brazos Valley.

The Strategic Philanthropy program at TAMU is unique, in that through a class led by Professor Kyle Gammenthaler, students learn about philanthropy and then put these principles into action.  Working in small teams, the students evaluate grant proposals and follow-up materials submitted by a range of Brazos Valley nonprofit organizations, make site visits to talk with staff and learn more about their programs and operations, and finally decide together how to allocate the funds provided to the program by its sponsors.

In spring 2022, the Strategic Philanthropy program gave about $108,000 in grants to 7 area nonprofits, including BIIN. The organization has been fortunate to receive a Community Grant from the Strategic Philanthropy program several times in years past, but the 2022 award is notable, as the most generous grant BIIN has received from this program so far. Perhaps not incidentally, several of the students in the spring 2022 class were already familiar with BIIN’s work, as they have volunteered regularly with BIIN in various capacities and could personally attest to the impact that BIIN has on the people who participate in our programs.

Professor Kyle Gammenthaler (left) explained the principles of the Strategic Philanthropy program, highlighting the hard work and sustained reflection that students bring to the process.  At the check celebration, Mariana Hernandez Quiros (right) was invited to share a student perspective on the process of evaluating proposals and allocating grants. Mariana, a native of Mexico who graduated in May with an honors degree in business, has been consistently involved as a BIIN volunteer over her undergraduate years, working with citizenship and Conversational English classes, Allies in Action, and helping administer the BIIN CARES Fund. Mariana also worked with a TAMU faculty member, Cinthya Salazar, to create a bilingual handbook for undocumented youth interested in college in Texas, which is available digitally and in print. 

Several students from the Strategic Philanthropy class bestowed the celebratory check at an on-campus event on May 6. Representing BIIN (holding the check) were Janet Morford, BIIN volunteer Sarah Rutherford (who has written another grant application for BIIN, volunteered with BIIN’s English classes, and was part of the Strategic Philanthropy class), and BIIN board members Nan Reichel (treasurer) and Maria Perez-Patron (secretary).

On April 30, the same day that BIIN learned it had received a Community Grant, we also had another reason to celebrate. On the basis of an application submitted by staff in March, BIIN was invited to participate in the 180 Degrees Consulting Nonprofit Pitch Competition, as one of five finalists chosen among local nonprofits by leaders of the TAMU branch. 180 Degrees Consulting is a global university-based consultancy program that supports nonprofit organizations and social enterprises by offering professional guidance and funding opportunities. The TAMU branch held its nonprofit pitch via Zoom on April 30.

Staff member Janet Morford prepared and presented a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation about BIIN and its programs, emphasizing the need for additional support for BIIN’s IRA program, which has provided information, referrals to community resources and assistance with a wide range of issues since BIIN’s earliest days. Jaimi Washburn helped Janet edit and practice delivering the presentation to stay within the required timeframe, and attended the pitch in a show of solidarity. To our surprise and delight, BIIN won first prize, receiving an award of $5000. In addition to these funds, BIIN may have the opportunity to benefit from consulting from the TAMU 180 Degrees team in regard to strategic planning and other long-term goals, in the fall 2022 term.

Janet’s pitch drew attention to the unique nature and deep impact of the IRA program in providing essential services at no cost to immigrants across the region.

With these two recent wins for BIIN, we have garnered about 29% of the organization’s baseline revenue goal for 2022, almost doubling the original target for income from grants and awards.  But needs in the community are great, and BIIN must redouble its efforts, in order to raise funds and build support from a wide range of donors, partners and organizations across the Brazos Valley and beyond. We hope you will join us in celebrating these achievements and in continuing to build the financial foundation that is necessary to sustaining BIIN’s mission. Donating or revising a recurring donation is easy to do;  just visit the BIIN website and click on the big blue button that says “DONATE.” All gifts are appreciated and none is too small!