Who is an HLAA Leader?
- Chapter presidents
- State association and state office leaders
- Chapter coordinators
- Anyone who holds an office or heads a committee
- Potential leaders being groomed to step up when the time comes for a change in leadership
The Hearing Loss Association of America and its state organizations (associations and offices) and chapters are all one organization. States and chapters are a critical part of the national organization and carry out the mission of HLAA within states and communities while they represent HLAA. This reach into the grassroots across the country is crucial to creating awareness about hearing loss through local programs and outreach. HLAA is dedicated to helping our leaders across the country to start and grow a successful state organization, chapter, or chapters within a state.
Stay informed by subscribing to HLAA’s online communications:
- Chapter and State Development Blog designed to help leaders stay up to date (go to the blog and subscribe to receive HLAA News in your email)
- Hearing Life e-News for breaking news about hearing loss and HLAA
- HLAA Official Leaders List for current and future presidents/leaders and coordinators
- HLAA Newsletter Editors List for the editors of chapter or state newsletters
We highly value the work of HLAA State organizations and Chapters because they improve the lives of people with hearing loss. Thank you for working with HLAA to ensure that people with hearing loss participate fully in life. We could never accomplish our mission without dedicated volunteers like you.
Below you will find a wealth of information – everything from starting a chapter, to promotion and publicity and everything in between! A dedicated staff person, National State and Chapter Coordinator Erin Mirante, is here to support you. Call 301.657.2248 or email whenever you have questions or concerns.
Although I've lived with hearing loss for over 30 years, it wasn't until I attended an HLAA New York City Chapter meeting that I met so many people who openly embrace living well with hearing loss. They advocate for themselves and for others. Many have become cherished friends.
Start a Chapter
Thank you for your interest in starting an HLAA Chapter. You are joining a distinguished core of volunteers who have brought HLAA to their communities to reach out to people with hearing loss. A chapter begins as a support and information group. Step-by-step with your efforts and our guidance, the group will develop into an HLAA Chapter.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if there is anything you don’t understand or have questions about.
Guide to Developing an HLAA Chapter
- Join HLAA if you are not a current member.
- Find at least three HLAA members in your community invite them to help organize with you. (We provide you with a list of other area members to contact.)
- Contact email@example.com. The National Chapter Coordinator will walk you through all of the paperwork necessary to begin your local chapter.
Start an HLAA Support Group
- With the help of founding members, identify a physically accessible meeting place near public transportation to schedule a meeting.
- Publicize the meeting by contacting the local newspapers. You can often list an event yourself on their online calendars. Place fliers in local gathering places such as public libraries, grocery stores, coffeehouses, restaurants, etc. using the Sample Meeting Flier as a template. View a sample meeting announcement flier.
- Hold a meeting to introduce the Hearing Loss Association of America and discuss the possibility of forming an HLAA Chapter in the community. If there is interest, proceed with the steps to start an HLAA Chapter.
Find a Location, Promote & Hold Meetings
With the help of those founding members, identify a physically accessible, public meeting place near public transportation and major roads, then schedule a one-hour meeting there.
Publicize the meeting by contacting the local newspapers. View a Meeting Announcement Sample Flier. You can often list an event yourself on their online calendars. Place fliers in local gathering places such as public libraries, grocery stores, coffeehouses, restaurants, etc. using the Sample Meeting Flier as a template.
Hold a meeting to introduce the Hearing Loss Association of America and to discuss the possibility of forming an HLAA Chapter in the community. Along with the other three HLAA founding members decide whether the public’s response warrants the formation of an HLAA Chapter. If so, contact Erin Mirante at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Build a Strong HLAA Organization
- Make meetings communication accessible by providing CART.
- Initiate community outreach through awareness and publicity.
- Promote HLAA membership at chapter meetings and in the community.
- Within the first year, hold elections of officers and leaders. Make sure that leader nominees are current HLAA Members by contacting the HLAA National Chapter Coordinator by email. See a list of Board Position Descriptions.
Ideas for Meetings
HLAA Chapters meetings draw people in to come and learn about hearing loss and meet others who share in trying to live well with hearing loss. Peer support always underlines meetings, but interesting meeting topics will get people to come and keep coming back. In general, any time you involve everyone in the room in an activity or discussion, they feel recognized and are more likely to come get involved.
Share your ideas with other leaders and program committee members!
Easy and Popular Meeting Formats
Hold a moderated, round table discussion about a topic such as coping with hearing loss during the holidays or traveling with hearing loss. People can share their stories and what works.
Show a captioned DVD such as HLAA’s Learn About Hearing Loss or Sound and Fury, a documentary about the Artinian family’s struggle over the decision to provide a cochlear implant for their son who was born with hearing loss. You can follow the video with a discussion about them. Create some discussion questions ahead of time. Replaying an HLAA webinar could also provide the basis for discussion.
Show “Invisible No More,” a PowerPoint presentation developed by Michael Eury, past president of the HLAA-North Carolina State Association and hearing loss advocate. Follow up with discussion.
Invite HLAA Board of Trustee members and staff (executive director and others) available to speak at state organization and chapter meetings. HLAA staff members request a stipend to defray travel costs for their visit. To request such a speaker, please contact HLAA.
Advocacy: update on HLAA advocacy projects, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), hearing aid affordability, communication access
Alcohol/drug abuse and hearing loss
Auditory training/hearing in noisy situations
Communications: assertiveness versus aggressiveness; coping strategies (taught through skits/role-playing), family panel discussion, hospital/skilled nursing stays, oral interpreting, speechreading/sign language/Cued Speech (alternate methods of communication)
Community service organizations: speakers from Lions Clubs, Sertoma, Optimists, etc.
Children with hearing loss: how to educate and support them and their parents, going to school with a hearing loss, teachers and speech-language pathologists working with children
Employment: concerns and issues, workplace accommodations; see the Employment Toolkit
Games related to hearing loss – Bingo, Jeopardy, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Health: psychological/emotional/mental health and hearing loss (invite a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, rehabilitation services representative or counselor to speak), surviving the holidays with hearing loss
Hearing assistance dog demonstration (Paws with a Cause; Canine Companions, Inc.; etc.)
Hearing Assistive Technology (beyond hearing aids and cochlear implants): hands-on/show-and-tell); movie captioning/captioning glasses, invite a supplier’s representative to speak, captioned telephones, cell phones, audio loops, neck loops, telecoils, and more.
Hearing health care professionals (audiologists, otolaryngologists [ENT doctors],and hearing instrument specialists]: “Ask the Audiologist” audiology panel (“bring in your audiogram and ask questions”), audiograms (how to read them), latest developments in hearing aids and cochlear implants, ototoxic drugs, the latest research on causes of and treatments for hearing loss,
HLAA: programs and projects, Convention preview and wrap-up, www.hearingloss.org, publications and resources (HLAA and other; all HLAA Chapter and State organizations receive a subscription to Hearing Life for use at monthly meetings)
Local or state issues of concern
May – Better Speech & Hearing Month – arrange for hearing screening for the public
National parks/communication access
Noise pollution and hearing loss prevention
November – HLAA Founder’s Month: HLAA was founded in November 1979 as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People by Founder Rocky Stone. Today, the organization now known as the Hearing Loss Association of America is well known as the premier consumer organization for people with hearing loss. Throughout the month of November, HLAA State organizations and Chapters remember Rocky and our beginnings of the national office and the chapter network across the county by reading excerpts of his book titled An Invisible Condition.)
Personal experiences – hold a moderated, round table discussion –“tell us about the funniest/most frustrating/most enlightening experience you’ve had with hearing loss,” best memories of chapter events/meetings or other topic, share successful strategies
Safety — crime prevention, police and/or fire department, emergency preparedness
Self help: what is it? How to educate oneself and in turn, help others. How does the chapter practice self help?
Speech therapy — how the voice is affected by hearing loss
State and federal offices/agencies: what they offer to people with hearing loss such as telecommunication relay services
Tours of a hearing aid manufacturing plant, speech and hearing facility, museum, wildlife sanctuary, etc., using assistive technology
Traveling with a hearing loss – include laws and personal experiences
Just the term “Annual Requirements” may sound daunting, but the requirements are critical since our network of Chapters and State organizations is the backbone of HLAA.
IRS Filings Due May 15 Annually
In 2006, federal legislation was passed requiring most nonprofits, regardless of gross income, to file at minimum a 990-N (e-postcard) annually. This requirement applies whether your chapter is included in the HLAA Group Tax Exemption or not.
The IRS will revoke the tax-exempt status of all organizations required to file that have not filed for the past three years. This could significantly impact the chapters’ and state associations’ ability to raise funds or solicit donations. It is not something you want to happen.
Here is the information you need to know as an HLAA Chapter or State Organization to file the IRS 990: Tax Exempt Status Filing
Memberships, Form Deadlines & Leadership Changes
HLAA State organization and Chapter leaders/officers must be current HLAA members while in office. State organizations and Chapter represent HLAA nationwide in their states and communities, hence this requirement. Please check to make sure your membership is still current if you are in a leadership position. If not, renew your membership.
Chapter/State Update Forms Due October 1 Annually
Accurate and up-to-date information about our affiliates (chapters, state associations, and state offices) provides us with an information snapshot that helps us to strategically support our affiliates.
All HLAA Chapters and State organizations must complete a Chapter/State Update form and send it to the HLAA National Chapter Coordinator every year by October 1. This update form is used to list states and chapters on the Find a Local HLAA Chapter page. Current information on the website is essential when people look for support. We don’t want to give people dormant leads, especially when they are seeking peer support and local help. Download the Chapter/State Update form Chapter State Update Form.
Report Leadership Changes as They Happen
Please send address and leadership changes throughout the year to the HLAA National Chapter Coordinator via email or mailing to HLAA, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200, Bethesda, Maryland 20814.
Unified Membership Program (UMP)
The Unified Membership Program (UMP) is an exciting way to combine the benefits of membership in the HLAA national organization with the benefits of membership in a local HLAA Chapter. How? Anyone who joins the HLAA National organization automatically receives a membership in the local HLAA Chapter closest to them or any chapter they choose to designate as their home chapter. Joining creates a unified membership at both the national and the local level. No more paying dues to both a local chapter and the national organization. One small annual dues payment of $35 does it all!
HLAA is one organization – national office, state offices and associations and HLAA Chapters – all working to open the world of communication to people with hearing loss through information, education, support and advocacy. HLAA offers the most comprehensive array of local and national resources that help people live successfully with their hearing loss.
Many people join HLAA directly through the national website (hearingloss.org) or send in a hard copy membership form, or email/call the national office. Often, they either are not aware there is a chapter to support them nearby or they are not yet ready to take another step. The Unified Membership Program is a way to welcome them as HLAA members, and if they are interested, connect them with a local HLAA Chapter for the kind personalized support a chapter can offer.
How does the HLAA Unified Membership Program differ from past Chapter Rebate Programs?
The HLAA Unified Membership Program differs from past Chapter Rebate Programs in several important ways:
- It is a not a one-time payment rebate program like prior chapter rebate program, but rather a program that shares revenue with chapters on an on-going basis for all new and renewed memberships for individuals and professionals.
- It also shares revenue with all new and renewed members from people in your market area (established by zip codes) who join HLAA directly through the national office and who might not even know about an HLAA Chapter in their area.
- Chapters benefit from gaining the HLAA membership of anyone joining HLAA who lives in the chapter’s area, whether or not that person has ever attended that local chapter’s meeting!
- HLAA members pay regular rates to join HLAA and become members of both HLAA National and a local chapter determined by proximity or personal member preference.
- HLAA national shares membership revenue with the chapter for each and every new membership that comes directly to HLAA from interested people in the chapter’s zip code areas.
- HLAA national shares revenue with the chapter for each and every renewed membership that comes directly to HLAA from interested people in the chapter’s zip code areas.
- Revenues are shared with chapters enrolled in the Unified Membership Program and following the procedures every time a new member joins or a current member renews. Some chapters are receiving revenue sharing checks on a monthly basis!
How Does A Chapter Join the Unified Membership Program?
To enter the program, a chapter in good standing with HLAA completes the Unified Membership Program application process. HLAA will accept Unified Membership applications from chapters that are current on their Chapter’s annual filing requirements. Please click here to review HLAA annual requirements for chapters.
The Unified Membership Program Application process consists of three documents:
- Unified Membership Program Agreement [ Word ][ PDF ]
- List Use Agreement [ Word ][ PDF ]
- Unified Membership Program Awareness Agreement [ Word ][ PDF ]
To be approved for the HLAA Unified Membership Program, the chapter completes the three forms mentioned above and emails them to email@example.com for processing.
Once those three forms are processed, HLAA notifies the Chapter of its acceptance into the Unified Membership Program and sends two forms to use in promoting membership in HLAA and membership in the individual chapter.
Thank you for being a part of the Unified Membership Program. We greatly appreciate all the work that goes on in HLAA chapters to reach out to people with hearing loss. Chapters are an indispensable part of the HLAA mission to open the world of communication to people with hearing loss through information, education, support and advocacy.
HLAA Founder Howard E. “Rocky” Stone (1925-2004) once said “Hearing loss is a daily challenge you can overcome. You do not have to hide your hearing loss. You do not have to face hearing loss alone.” Chapters form the unique link to not facing hearing loss alone by providing peer support, a personal sense of community with others who live with hearing loss, and much more.
We often hear, “HLAA has saved my life.” Our hope is that the Unified Membership Program will give your Chapter additional tools with which to build more robust chapters and provide more pathways for members to live better with their hearing loss.
For questions or additional details, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal and Governance
As an established entity, HLAA Chapters have certain obligations as they represent all of the Hearing Loss Association of America in their states and local communities. At HLAA’s national office, we work to keep the number of requirements for the state organizations and chapters to a bare minimum. We have listed below those legal and governance requirements.
Conflict of Interest
A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest. Primary interest refers to the principal goals such as the duties the officer.
Let’s suppose a hearing aid specialist wants to start an HLAA Chapter. HLAA advises against anyone who might stand to reap a financial benefit from starting an HLAA Chapter. Anyone wishing to start an HLAA Chapter must first be a member of the national HLAA and there must be at least three other HLAA national members on a chapter start-up steering committee or on the chapter’s leadership roster that have no possible conflict of interest. HLAA recommends that persons who make their living selling goods and services to people with hearing loss avoid chapter startup roles if at all possible, given the appearance for a potential conflict of interest.
There are, of course, a myriad of possible situations. For specifics, please consult the HLAA National Chapter Coordinator by email at email@example.com.
In connection with any actual, perceived, or possible conflict of interest, a chapter or state organization leader must disclose the existence and nature of his or her dual interest or conflict of interest to the HLAA Director of Chapter Development. HLAA Chapters and State Organizations should have all leaders complete an initial and an annual disclosure of any opportunity for financial gain that might accrue as a result of their participation in Chapter or State Organization leadership role(s). The HLAA Board of Trustees Initial and Annual Disclosure Statements serve as document templates and Chapters and State Organizations may use them for this purpose.
Download the Conflict of Interest Initial Disclosure Form: COI Initial Disclosure
Download the Conflict of Interest Annual Disclosure Form: COI Annual Disclosure
Documents & Requirements
IRS, State and HLAA Requirements: Initially and Yearly
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Does the state organization or chapter you help lead have a bank account? Does the organization receive income from membership dues/newsletter subscription fees, newsletter advertising, contributions, or Walk4Hearing funds? If so, the organization needs to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), described below, from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Each state organization and chapter must have its own EIN even if they are covered by the HLAA group exemption. (Getting an EIN is separate from obtaining tax-exempt status under section 501(c) (3) of the IRS tax code.)
Each state organization and chapter needs organizational and operational documents as a foundation. Standing rules or bylaws provide details that explain the chapter’s mission (which is identical to the HLAA mission) and are useful in preventing and solving governance disputes. Standing rules and bylaws may be interchangeable depending on the laws of the state.
HLAA State Associations or Chapters that are incorporated must have bylaws on file with the appropriate state government agencies or offices.
Check with your state government concerning any registration requirements for nonprofit organizations. The government entity may be the Secretary of State, the State Franchise Tax Board or other entity with a similar name. For help with this, please contact the HLAA State and Chapter Coordinator.
All HLAA Chapters and State organizations must complete a Chapter/State Update form Chapter State Update Form and send it to the HLAA State and Chapter Coordinator by October 1 each year. Organizations that submit the Chapter/State Update form on time are listed on the HLAA website. (Neglecting to send in the form on time may mean that your organization has ceased to exist. Our webmaster needs to know your status to keep the website current so people looking for help don’t have dormant leads.) HLAA encourages all State organizations and Chapters to email changes in leadership (or revised bylaws/standing rules) at other times to the HLAA State and Chapter Coordinator.
If the state office or chapter gained exemption from federal income tax under IRS tax code 501(c)(3) through HLAA (known also as “group exemption” see Tax Exempt Steps), it must submit their annual budget to the HLAA State and Chapter Coordinator by October 1 each year. Failure to submit the budget (and Chapter/State Update form) will result in the organization being dropped from the HLAA application for federal income tax exemption.
Most HLAA organizations hold regular meetings or special events such as libraries, community centers, senior living facilities and churches. The business manager at the facility may request a certificate of liability from the organization. The certificate is proof that the organization has liability insurance, called a “certificate.” You may obtain this certificate through HLAA headquarters by completing the Liability Insurance Application form [Word] [PDF] and sending it with payment of $25 to HLAA.
You can fax the form with credit card information to 301.913.9413, email the completed form with credit card payment as a PDF document, or mail the form and payment to HLAA, 7910 Woodmont Ave., Suite 1200, Bethesda, MD 20814.) Please see form for details.
State organization or Chapter meeting and/or special event venues are added as riders to the HLAA headquarters’ liability policy. The policy provides some limited coverage for personal injury, medical expenses and damage to the property at the chapter meetings or event specified in the agreement. The associated fee our headquarters incurs ($25) is passed along to the requesting state organization or chapter. The person requesting the certificate receives an email containing the certificate; it is that person’s responsibility to provide it to the requesting facility manager or contact person.
There are two, basic models of governance: operating by planning or steering committee, and or by a formal board of trustees. The formal board is the best known and most structured governance type (see Board Position Descriptions).
By contrast, the planning or steering committee model requires members to elect only a leader, treasurer and secretary. (HLAA recommends that each person serve a minimum of a year in the role.) Participants may join and rotate off the committee at will. The job of the leader is to help motivate and track the activities of committee chairs and/or participant leaders. The leader is also the main liaison between the organization and HLAA National.
State associations are incorporated and are required to operate with a formal Board of Trustees. Some chapters are incorporated and therefore also operate with a formal Board. State offices may have a leadership team or operate solely by the director. Most chapters are run by a formal Board or by steering committee.
HLAA is organized as a nonprofit corporation and qualifies for exemption from federal income tax under IRS section 501(c) (3). An HLAA State Office or Chapter may apply for exemption under HLAA’s federal IRS application or they may apply individually as a state office or chapter.
About 501(C) (3) Organizations
The benefits of nonprofit status are exemption from most federal income tax and, in some cases, exemption from state and local income taxes and from sales taxes. The greatest benefit is the assurance that donors who itemize their tax returns may legally claim donations as a tax deduction. Most foundations, corporations, and individuals who make significant contributions will only give to recognized tax-exempt organizations.
To apply for exemption from federal income tax, the organization must include financial statements showing income and expenses for the current year. It must also submit its organizing documents such as bylaws or standing rules. The third document is a list of officers/leaders which we ask for in the Chapter/State Update form annually or semi-annually.
For Your Information:
A Section 501(c) (3) organization’s activities are exclusively educational, charitable, religious and/or scientific. It may not participate, directly or indirectly, in any campaign for any electoral public office, federal, state, or local. It may engage in non-partisan activity such as voter registration, voter education, and sponsorship of candidate forums and debates. The organization should not maintain a political action committee. While lobbying cannot be a substantial part of an organization’s activities, the amount of lobbying must be measured against the totality of an organization’s work. Generally, tax experts agree that spending less than five percent of an organizational budget on grassroots lobbying activities is not considered substantial.
All of the information above could change at any time. Be sure to get the latest IRS publication/forms at irs.gov and follow the instructions carefully.
How to Fund a Chapter's Needs
Every chapter needs at least $3000 to cover basic necessities like CART, info materials and refreshments. But a growing chapter never ever has enough money because it can always do a lot more for its members and community with leadership, a vision and more funding. It all starts with a wish list. See the HLAA State and Chapter Grant Guidelines below.
Income Ideas for State Organizations and Chapters
Our state organizations and chapters have a definite need to have money on hand. As a nonprofit organization with a mission to educate, support and advocate, it is critical to reach out to the community with programs to not only welcome people with hearing loss, but to also create awareness. We understand this need and while the goal for any nonprofit organization is not to make a profit or build up hefty bank accounts, we want to fund high-quality programs and outreach efforts. Making our meetings communication accessible can also cost money.
HLAA State organizations and Chapters strive to make a positive mark in their communities and to reach out to as many people as possible, and this all takes some amount of funding. At the same time we say this, if the chapter you help lead is small and your available funds are few, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a big impact by helping people learn to live well with their hearing loss. Peer support that happens at chapter meetings is priceless.
Here are some suggestions. We welcome your ideas. Any time we can share what works, it benefits the entire organization. Join the HLAA Official Leaders List and post a message requesting additional ideas or sharing what works for the organization you help lead.
Conserve limited resources by taking the following steps:
- Ask a local printer, including Staples, Office Depot, and OfficeMax, to donate photocopying and/or printing services. Many companies like to support local organizations for the good will (and a possible charity donation expense for the company).
- Ask CART providers to donate their services for chapter or state meetings. Some providers receive Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for their CART services.
- Use a low or no-cost source for hosting the organization’s website through such sources as org or GrassRoots.org. There are many people in the community who do simple websites for low cost.
- Use a low or no-cost source for hosting the organization’s main telephone number through providers such as org, Phone.com and VoiceNation Care2Call.
- Contact the local Lions International Club or Sertoma Club to solicit start up funding and/or the cost of looping a local library.
Some fundraising suggestions:
- Participate in a Walk4Hearing if there is one in your area. Chapters can be designated to receive funds if you qualify. For more information, contact Walk4Hearing.
- Apply for grant funding using the guidelines HLAA has developed. See HLAA Chapter and State Grant Guidelines in the Financial section below.
- Ask the local Lions Club or another service group for a yearly donation to the organization. Many organizations budget for such donations.
- Request voluntary contributions from members and visitors. Some organizations call them membership dues or fees or subscription fees. Other organizations put out a small, wooden box with a slot on the top, marked Donations, along with literature and snacks, at their meetings.
- Ask local audiologists and businesses to advertise (for a fee) in the organization’s newsletter (which, after all, is circulated locally and possibly nationally).
- Hold a garage sale, silent auction (where the goods are donated), wine tasting, barbeque or other fundraiser. (Make sure to conduct the event with a professional appearance and demeanor and consider getting liability insurance if needed. If you have speakers, make the event communication accessible.)
- Have “White Elephant” items at each meeting for people to purchase. (One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!)
- Hold a 50/50 raffle with 50 percent of the proceeds going to the chapter or state organization.
- Host a fundraiser through an independent distributor of a network marketing company such as USANA, Thirty One Gifts, Scentsy, etc., who will contribute a portion of the sales to the state organization or chapter.
- Coordinate a “Bowl-a-thon” with a local bowling alley.
- Sell popcorn or other edibles through Popcorn Palace Fundraising or other companies.
HLAA State and Chapter Grant Guidelines
Local Funding Opportunities
HLAA State organizations and Chapters are encouraged to seek funding from state and local sources including community foundations and local family foundations that underwrite programs and events on the local and state levels. Additional sources of funding can come from local businesses. Before getting started, here are some guidelines:
- Foundations and some businesses will require a 501(c)(3) or a fiduciary agent with a 501(c)(3) to handle the funding distribution. A 501(c)(3) is a status granted by the Internal Revenue Service and allows an organization to accept tax-exempt charitable donations.
- Boards of Trustees- Foundations require an active Board of Trustees which HLAA has. Information on your national board can be found here (Board of Trustees page).
Where to Start
Identify what you want to fund. There are two types of funding:
- Short-term: For example – local sponsorships for the Walk4Hearing, newsletters, health fairs, CART services, hospital kits
- Long-term: For example – programs, projects, outreach, technology
Where to Locate Funding Prospects
- Step 1 – Research
- Foundation Center
The Foundation Center, a nonprofit organization, has offices in several major cities which you can visit and use for free. It is also available online and at some public libraries. The Foundation Center offers free courses on proposal writing, budgeting, and other helpful funding topics. This is a great source to research foundation and corporate grants.
Search corporate websites for funding. Go to the corporate website and search under social responsibility, community outreach, or sponsorship/grants. The information will outline the type and level of support, eligibility, and the application process to follow. Most have online applications.
- Community Foundations
Go to Council on Foundations to locate community foundations in your geographic location. Community foundations support the type of programs and projects HLAA Chapters and State organizations are involved in and are the most logical source of funding.
- Annual Reports
Review the annual reports of nonprofit organizations that are similar to HLAA and/or located in your community or state. Annual reports will list their foundations and corporate supporters. You can find the annual report on an organization’s website or you can call and ask for a copy; they are free.
- Public Sources and Word of Mouth
Talk to other folks in your community, read newspapers and review other organizations’ websites to see where they are getting funding and whether these sources might be a good match for your chapter or state organization.
- Foundation Center
- Step 2- Narrow the field
After you put together a list of prospects, narrow the list to determine if the foundation or corporation is a match with your funding request. Review:
a) Interests, eligibility, criteria, and grant guidelines
b) List of past and current grantees and grant amounts
c) Financial background of the foundation and annual giving
d) Staff and board list
Step 3 – Contact the Foundation
- The person to contact is usually a program person and that information can generally be found on the website along with other contact information. If not you can ask for the person who handles program grants.
- Be prepared to speak about what you want to get funded – both the program and the funding levels in specific terms
- The point of the call is to introduce yourself to the foundation, to discuss the viability of the funding request, and to get advice on next steps
- The foundation will have the application process, eligibility, and other information on their website. FOLLOW THE APPLICATION PROCESS EXACTLY AS THEY REQUEST. IF you have any questions contact the foundation – don’t guess or leave out the information.
Step 4 – Write the Letter of Inquiry or Proposal
Letter of Inquiry (LOI)
Some foundations will require a LOI which is generally a one-to-two page letter outlining the funding requests and information about the chapter or state organization. Follow the directions set by the foundation. The foundation will contact those organizations they select to develop a full proposal to submit for funding.
Some foundations skip the LOI process and want the full proposal.
- Cover page (summarizes request and organizational information)
- Organizational Information
- Statement of Need (Problem)
- Program Description
- Budget (line item)
- Funding Request/Summary
- Attachments (per foundation guidelines)
- Allow sufficient time to write the proposal
- Tailor the proposal to the funder
- FOLLOW THE RULES
- Keep it short and concise
- Make the proposal reader-friendly
- Ask for a reasonable amount of funding
- Make the proposal flow
- Put first things first (be clear and concise)
- Involve the funder, when appropriate
- Proofread carefully
Publicity and Promotion
Basic business and marketing tools are necessary for a nonprofit to create credibility. Presenting a professional and wholesome image online as well as through marketing resources such as pamphlets, brochures, and newsletters allows the organization to gain trust with donors and members. Accurate and professional presentation allows a nonprofit to increase funding through direct financial contributions and in-kind donations. All communications made on behalf of the organization must project the desired professional image.
Publicity is created when the public or media outlets (such as newspapers, magazines, television news programs, etc) give attention to a cause or organization. An example of publicity would be the Walk4Hearing being mentioned in a local newspaper. Promotion, however, entails communicating the purpose of the organization or cause to current or potential members, advertisers, etc. An example of promotion would be a billboard advertisement for the Walk4Hearing.
By having a plan for how to publicize meetings and events, state organizations and chapters will be able to promote the organization to people with hearing loss, as well as their friends and families.
HLAA Logo and Chapter Logos
In order to help establish the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) as a household name, it is vital to create and maintain a “brand” for the organization. HLAA extends this “brand” through the State organizations and Chapters; therefore, HLAA requires them to adopt the logos HLAA has created for them. Please read and implement the guidelines and policies for using the HLAA National, State organization and Chapter logos.
HLAA has created logos for all state organizations and chapters that can be downloaded or emailed to the main contact person for HLAA at the state organization or chapter and the newsletter editor. To request a logo, please contact HLAA by email or phone at 301.657.2248.
Creating an Identity and Professional Image
Establishing a permanent telephone number and mailing address for the organization would allow it to keep the same materials even after leaders change. Additionally, a personal internet domain name would be helpful as it would allow the organization to have its own email address.
The contact tools listed below can help reinforce the organization’s “brand” and invite others to come to meetings or events, join, help and/or donate to the organization. It is important to maintain a consistent professional image throughout all publicity efforts.
- Business cards
- A simple brochure
- A flier listing meeting topics for the coming year, publicizing a specific event, etc.
- A website and e-mail account for the organization
- A telephone number for the organization
- Social media pages
- News bulletins or newsletters (To see basic guidelines for newsletters, email the National Chapter Coordinator)
- Posted signs in public places like libraries, community centers, grocery stores and coffee shops
View HLAA member Ann Thomas’ PowerPoint called Getting the Word Out: Promoting Chapter Identity & Creating Advertising Collateral.