The Ally: September 2020 – Mike Ward

Mike Ward
MS Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy

What’s in it for You?

With the pressure on agency budgets caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is only fair to question why an organization should invest its resources in an Alliance membership, and what return it will get on its investment should you decide to join the Alliance.

Every nonprofit organization needs to raise funds to support its work. Having access to timely and relevant information about grant opportunities is critical to the success of fundraising efforts.  Members of the Alliance automatically become members of the Society of Nonprofit Organizations, through which they receive a complimentary membership to GrantStation (retail value $699).  GrantStation ch provides grantseekeers with unlimited access to a database with thousands of current funding sources for your programs or projects, and a weekly e-newsletter on funding opportunities.  Members also have full access to the Network for Good’s Content and Curriculum Library, including hundreds of fundraising templates and sample materials that can be used to design fundraising campaigns.

Members also gain subscription-level access (retail value $1,000) to GuideStar, the most complete, up-to-date source for data on nonprofits.  All members can create custom data sets to support in-depth research of Mississippi’s nonprofit sector, which can facilitate collaboration between organizations with similar aims.  Alliance members have access to training on how to improve their GuideStar profiles, which contain essential information that is increasingly used by donors and funders in making funding decisions.  Philanthropic members can access the full range of GuideStar data on any of the 14,000 nonprofits located in Mississippi, enabling them to assess potential grantees more efficiently and to make well-informed investment decisions.

One of the most valuable benefits of membership, based on surveys of Alliance members, is the access to unique networking, educational, and learning opportunities that increase mission effectiveness.  The Alliance’s quarterly meetings offer nonprofits and philanthropists opportunities for networking, building partnerships, and collaboration. Members may attend programs on relevant topics and have access to a comprehensive resource library, including templates, sample policies, and guidance on fundraising, operations and management.  Our members also enjoy significant discounts on workshops, webinars, forums, events, and other educational programs sponsored by the Alliance and our partners. Additional discounts on products and services, including subscriptions to publications, software, and office products, are available to all nonprofits, philanthropic, or grantmaking organizations.

For more information about joining the Alliance, contact, or visit to complete an online application.

Affinity Groups: Leveraging Membership for Impact

Alliance members have the opportunity to create Affinity Groups or Member Networks that have shared interests or missions. These groups can interact, share information, and develop programs and activities that build their capacity and increase their programmatic and philanthropic impact. Affinity groups also increase learning opportunities through professional development and networking with regional and national resources.  Learning from each other, comparing notes, and exchanging best practices, members of these groups can amplify their collective work as they enjoy the power of a common purpose.

The Alliance’s Community Foundations Network was the catalyst for the first comprehensive report on philanthropy in Mississippi (2015) and a county-by-county assessment of the potential for giving due to generational transfer of wealth in Mississippi (2016).  The Network developed the framework for the Endow Mississippi Program, enacted by the Mississippi Legislature in 2019, to provide tax credits for gifts to endowed funds at the state’s community foundation.  The Alliance now manages the Endow Mississippi Program, which generated $2 million in new endowment gifts to community foundations in 2019.  Members of the Community Foundation Network have now been designated by the state to manage and distribute $4 million in CARES Act funding for nonprofits and another $4 million in CARES Act funding for food pantries across Mississippi.

The Education Affinity Group has been engaged in mapping interests and grants made with respect to specific segments of the “Education Pipeline” in Mississippi and exploring the creation of a pool of funds to support educational innovation across the state.  It is also researching policy initiatives that support educational improvements across Mississippi.

For more information about joining or forming an affinity group, Alliance members should contact