Creative Edge Consulting
CREATIVE EDGE CONSULTING — Helping Great Non-Profits Change The World! We help organizations of all sizes function at their optimal best. Specializing in the interconnected areas of non-profit DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH, and SUSTAINABILITY…
DEVELOPMENT covers a lot of territory. And so does CREATIVE EDGE. We create and/or improve entire organizations and programs—helping to introduce all the processes, systems, and tools necessary to effectively run… and fund… them. Yup, we are a one-stop-shop.
GROWTH is a never-ending process, and exceptional organizations always strive to serve more people—and in better ways. Funding and program trends, societal needs, and non-profit best practices do change; sometimes abruptly. To survive, non-profits must adapt. We can help.
Funding a non-profit is not easy. We won’t lie. No matter the funding type—organizations are competing against each other for limited dollars. You need to be strategic and forward thinking. CEC can help you diversify funding streams and achieve better SUSTAINABILITY.
Creative Edge Consulting (CEC) helps CHANGE THE WORLD by offering non-profit organizations the support and tools necessary to function at their optimal best. Simply put… the better equipped the helper; the more effective their contribution to systemic social change and direct assistance to those in crisis. As such, CEC offers a wide array of customized support services to help non-profits maximize impact and efficacy. (To a lesser degree, we also serve individuals, non-profit and hybrid social enterprises, For-Benefit corporations, and for-profit companies engaged in human services.)
Led by Mary E. Costello, a Social Worker and former human services administrator, CEC works with non-profits throughout the United States. We specialize in start-up and young organizations, as well as the restructuring, improvement, sustainability, and expansion of more established agencies. Need money? CEC has supported more than 60 non-profits since February of 2005, with many clients more than doubling their previous fundraising outcomes after signing-on with us. In fact, so far, CEC has been instrumental in the receipt of over 14.5 million dollars in grants and other funding among our collective customer roster. We can likely help you too!
What sets us apart from basic grant writers, marketing folks, or other professional fundraisers? Easy answer: our emphasis—programmatic and operational excellence first. You can’t have winning grant proposals or other fiscal successes without solid infrastructure, systems, and processes. You also have no news to report to the public or prospective funders without programmatic or fundraising successes—or, at very least, a concrete, written plan for introducing promising solutions to currently unmet societal needs. Indeed, all of this is interconnected, and highly cyclical in nature. CEC’s philosophy and approach centers on the basic core premise that funding success is a natural by-product of programmatic and operational excellence. We start there, since everything else sprouts from this well-planted foundation. So, be exceptional. And, if you need help to reveal and harness your organization’s fullest potential, …give us a call.
Absolutely, the very best organizations secure more (if not all) fiscal and other support—from individual donations and volunteerism to institutional giving, not to mention grant monies and governmental contracts that are solely merit-based. Like it or not, you are competing against other non-profits for limited dollars. So, yes, CEC can help you pursue all types of non-profit funding. Yet, we intentionally flip the initial focus, since high-quality service provision and innovation are the keys to critically-needed funding.
CEC DOES IT ALL. Whether you need help with the complexities of a single governmental grant application or require intensive organizational development from A to Z, …you have come to the right place!
Let’s explore the POSSIBILITIES.
Organizational & Program Development
Services span the entire life cycle of a non-profit, from start-up and expansion to reinvention. We help develop (or improve) select components of an organization or new program, and/or aid in full design. Frequently, development work becomes necessary in order to meet the requirements of a funding application. Either way, we’ve got you covered! From housing projects to social enterprises, CEC helps bring great ideas to fruition.
Coaching/Training - Founders, Executive Directors, & Boards
Most organizations do not take full advantage of CEC capabilities in this area, which is the only reason why we rated it at only 85%. Be that as it may, CEC offers a full array of services to help Founders navigate unfamiliar territory with regard to forming and harnessing the talents of a Board of Directors—and establishing a new organization as a whole. We also help Boards function in more effective ways, introducing clearer expectations for service and better defined roles. Visit our EXECUTIVE COACHING, BOARD TRAINING, NON-PROFIT RESOURCES, STRATEGIC PLANNING, and COS STORE pages to explore all that is available. Also, understanding that many Do-Gooders cannot afford to actually hire a consultant, CEC created free and low cost educational products to try to help point you in the right direction if you need to do this independently. When it comes to CHANGING THE WORLD, we are all in this together!
Governmental, Foundation, and Corporate Grants
Mary’s grant writing and governmental contracts administration experience started almost 30 years ago. Expertise with foundation and corporate grants began in 2004. Prior to becoming a consultant, she negotiated and won a 2.8 million dollar, 3-year grant contract with the State of Maryland to start-up and operate a residential program she founded for persons with dual diagnoses (developmental disabilities and mental health disorders). Since starting CEC in February of 2005, the single largest foundation grant award, to date, was 11 million dollars. Two highest governmental grants: approximately 1 million dollars apiece. Almost everyone comes to CEC with only grant pursuits in mind when they first call. But, almost without exception, they need MORE—from diversification of revenue streams to program and organizational development/improvement as a gateway to funding success. Grants should be part of your overall strategy, of course. But for most organizations, grants will not be the first or sole answer to your fiscal needs. We’ll tell you why… and help you approach the funding realm with eyes wide open and expectations in check. Provided you are willing and able to put in the work—CEC can help you reach your goals when it comes to grants and other funding.
Fiscal Development Plans & Broad-based Fundraising
An organization’s financial health is directly related to its diversification of funding streams and ability to capitalize on its unique assets. What “works” for one non-profit may not for another—for a variety of reasons… such as geographic region, local duplication of services (and competition for charitable dollars), and person-power to effectively implement development efforts. Regardless, EVERY organization needs a formalized plan that includes ALL fiscal development activities. This plan should reflect a minimum of 12 months, but will ideally cover a 3-5 year period. No one funds TODAY. So, where will you be and what will you need 12 and 24 months from now? We can help you figure this out. CEC will arm you with the plan, the tools, and the enhanced confidence to take things to the next level. We do not speak “for” you with potential donors, which is why this section is rated at only 80%. But we DO help you prepare to build/nurture relationships that will serve you well for many years to come. When you are ready, we can help you maximize all your potential revenue streams, including those that utilize latest trends in donor-centered engagement.
Mary E. Costello
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We've been fortunate to work with some really great people over the last 12 years. Perhaps you will be next!
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Featured CEC articles
One of the challenges of being a non-profit Executive Director or Board President is that these roles can feel a bit isolating. This is especially true for the Executive Director. In my work as a consultant, I do offer Executive Coaching services… which is usually an ongoing part of my typical support of a non-profit[…]
Between comments made by prospective customers and what I often read while surfing the web, the question of “guarantees” is fairly common. At least the majority of people who contact me about my consulting services have come to realize that grant funding involves fierce competition. It is also… a process. For those that don’t yet know[…]
Revisiting this article, originally written in 2007, I found it in need of update. Interestingly, it continues to be the most heavily viewed article on the Creative Edge website. Website analytics show that Founders are extremely concerned about this topic, as indicated by the keyword searches most often used to find both the article and our website. Plus, I[…]
As they say, TIMING IS EVERYTHING. I would never go as far as to suggest that you not pursue grant funding as a brand new organization or that an agency in fiscal trouble is necessarily doomed in grants competition. But there is a window involved where you are apt to have more promising outcomes. That[…]