Human Energy: 3 Principles for Changing the World

Human energy image

Introduction to human energy

The great scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla coined the term human energy in an essay he wrote in 1900, in which he related all human progress to simple physics.

This idea has largely gone unnoticed amid his myriad other inventions and original thoughts. But it shouldn’t any longer. We are going to re-examine his ideas on human energy andqu find ways to relate them to actually making a difference in our world. After all, that was what he was aiming for.

Though we may never be able to comprehend human life, we know certainly that it is a movement, of whatever nature it be. The existence of movement unavoidably implies a body which is being moved and a force which is moving it. Hence, wherever there is life, there is a mass moved by a force. All mass possesses inertia, all force tends to persist.

Human Energy book image

Owing to this universal property and condition, a body, be it at rest or in motion, tends to remain in the same state, and a force, manifesting itself anywhere and through whatever cause, produces an equivalent opposing force, and as an absolute necessity of this it follows that every movement in nature must be rhythmical.

In other words: The human mass is moved forward by an accelerating force and slowed by an impeding force that is both partly negative and partly frictional.

Tesla believed the fundamental goal of all scientists should be to solve the problem of increasing this human energy—something we will explore now.

Click here to read Nikola Tesla’s original essay The Problem of Increasing Human Energy.

A little science

Tesla’s idea was grounded firmly in the principles of thermodynamics. He advised that we should conceive of man as a mass that is urged on by some force. The energy of this mass can be measured by well-known principles.

Energy equation image

Man, however, is not an ordinary mass, consisting of spinning atoms and molecules, and containing merely heat-energy. He is a mass possessed of certain higher qualities by reason of the creative principle of life with which he is endowed. His mass, as the water in an ocean wave, is being continuously exchanged, new taking the place of the old. Not only this, but he grows, propagates, and dies, thus altering his mass independently, both in bulk and density. What is most wonderful of all, he is capable of increasing or diminishing his velocity of movement by the mysterious power he possesses by appropriating more or less energy from other substance, and turning it into motive energy.

But in any given moment we may ignore these slow changes and assume that human energy is measured by half the product of man’s mass with the square of a certain hypothetical velocity. However we may compute this velocity, and whatever we may take as the standard of its measure, we must, in harmony with this conception, come to the conclusion that the great problem of science is, and always will be, to increase the energy thus defined.

What does this mean?

Man, or mass, is pushed forward by some force. This force is resisted by a second force, partly frictional and partly negative, which acts in a direction exactly opposite.

Mechanically, think of a train moving up a hill. Gravity acts as the resisting force. Socially, think of a student moving through the school system. Poor schools act as the resisting force. Making sense?

Human energy image

In this diagram:
       M represents the mass
       f represents the force acting positively
       R represents the resisting force

Tesla describes these variables in physics terms:

In accordance with the preceding, the human energy will then be given by the product: ½ M * V2 = ½ * M * V * V, in which M is the total mass of man in the ordinary interpretation of the term “mass,” and V is a certain hypothetical velocity, which, in the present state of science, we are unable exactly to define and determine.

To increase the human energy is, therefore, equivalent to increasing this product.

There are three ways to increase this human energy:

       1. Increase the mass
       2. Reduce the resisting force
       3. Increase the velocity or impelling force

Each solution involves different degrees of effort and impact, each of which will now be discussed in detail.

1. Increase the mass in human energy

Back to the concept of mass – remember, we equate this to population, in human energy terms.

Viewed generally, there are obviously two ways of increasing the mass of mankind: first, by aiding and maintaining those forces and conditions which tend to increase it; and, second, by opposing and reducing those which tend to diminish it.

In other words: the greater the population, the greater the human energy. Naturally, we need to do our best to preserve this population and increase it. Assuming the same level of production per capita, a greater population on its own will be good for society. Although we know greater populations require more land, resources, jobs, food, etc., if we can assume positive returns in productivity per person, then growing populations are good for the human energy system.

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More workers, more output, more customers, and so on. This is what we want. How do we achieve this?

The mass will be increased by careful attention to health, by substantial food, by moderation, by regularity of habits, by promotion of marriage, by conscientious attention to children, and, generally stated, by the observance of all the many precepts and laws of religion and hygiene. But in adding new mass to the old, three cases again present themselves.

Either the mass added is of the same velocity as the old, or it is of a smaller or of a higher velocity.

Tesla relates this to a train running with 100 locomotives on a track. To increase the energy of this moving mass, you decide to add 4 locomotives.

If the added locomotives are of the same velocity, the total train energy will increase 4%.

If, however, you add 4 locomotives of half the average velocity of the first 100 to this train, then the total energy will increase by 1%. On the other hand, adding 4 locomotives at twice the velocity as average will increase the total train energy by 16%.

While this is a critical piece of the human energy equation, velocity will be examined in the third part of this guide. For now we will focus simply on the addition of compartments to the train.

How do we increase the mass?

Things that harm our bodies and shorten our lifespans can be though to reduce the human mass. A combination of voluntary vices like drugs, alcohol, and harmful activities as well as involuntary events like disease and natural disasters all play a part in reducing the mass.

It makes sense then that reducing the frequency of these activities would be in the best interest here.

While voluntary vices have a significant impact on society, reducing the involuntary things like disease provides a much better long-term return on investment.

For every person who perishes from the effects of a stimulant, at least a thousand die from the consequences of drinking impure water. This precious fluid, which daily infuses new life into us, is likewise the chief vehicle through which disease and death enter our bodies.

Ensuring people have clean drinking water in sufficient quantities should be a top concern in all areas. Along the same lines, we should concern ourselves with feeding everyone healthy food at reasonable prices.

A person’s health is made up of a combination of internal and external factors. Beyond mere genetics, a person’s choices and environment greatly impact the long-term health he can expect to achieve.

Healthcare components image
Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review

So in addition to minimizing tobacco and alcohol use, a person should focus just as hard on supplying her body sufficient water and food.

How to provide good and plentiful food is, therefore, a most important question of the day. On the general principles the raising of cattle as a means of providing food is objectionable, because, in the sense interpreted above, it must undoubtedly tend to the addition of mass of a “smaller velocity.” It is certainly preferable to raise vegetables, and I think, therefore, that vegetarianism is a commendable departure from the established barbarous habit. That we can subsist on plant food and perform our work even to advantage is not a theory, but a well-demonstrated fact. Many races living almost exclusively on vegetables are of superior physique and strength.

There is no doubt that some plant food, such as oatmeal, is more economical than meat, and superior to it in regard to both mechanical and mental performance. Such food, moreover, taxes our digestive organs decidedly less, and, in making us more contented and sociable, produces an amount of good difficult to estimate. In view of these facts every effort should be made to stop the wanton and cruel slaughter of animals, which must be destructive to our morals. To free ourselves from animal instincts and appetites, which keep us down, we should begin at the very root from which we spring: we should effect a radical reform in the character of the food.

Bottom line: Beyond merely increasing the population, we must ensure the population is of sufficient health. This can be achieved through clean water, healthy food, and reduction in unhealthy activities.

How do we quantify mass?

Mass is the most easily quantified component of human energy. It is basically population. Or more specifically it can be broken out as the number of residents, taxpayers, businesses, and so on. Residents make up the basic population count in any area. In addition to this, they add production value through buying things, working, and paying taxes. Similarly, businesses employ individuals, sell things to people, and pay taxes.

To increase the energy in any given city or state, it therefore makes sense to increase the number of residents who pay taxes and stimulate the economy through working and buying things.

You might also want to count the number of residents who are home- or land-owners, because this aids in property and other tax development.

Types of activities that increase population:

To increase the mass, we must attract people to an area. Rising property values, good schools, safe neighborhoods, and job opportunities are all attractive qualities in an area that wants to attract permanent residents.

Americans move image
Source: Active Rain

Naturally, the degree of each of these characteristics will vary depending on the type of people you want to attract. A bustling city looking to boost its economy will look to improve its infrastructure to attract business investment and property purchases. These will tend to increase job opportunities and the number of people who flock to fill them.

A quiet town, on the other hand, might look to keep its overall mass down, in order to preserve the lower overall costs of running the government and to keep the property values relatively high so as to reduce the number of people moving in.

Any place that wants to increase its mass must focus on improving the qualities that people will most likely move for. On the other hand, a place that’s content with its mass must focus on maintaining the qualities that keep the current people in place.

2. Reduce the resisting force on human energy

The simplest way to increase the human energy in any system is to increase the overall mass. But earlier we explored the priority of adding mass of a higher velocity to increase the energy at a higher rate.

The velocity has to do with both the force moving an object forward and the impeding force applied against it.

As before stated, the force which retards the onward movement of man is partly frictional and partly negative. To illustrate this distinction I may name, for example, ignorance, stupidity, and imbecility as some of the purely frictional forces, or resistances devoid of any directive tendency.

On the other hand, visionariness, insanity, self-destructive tendency, religious fanaticism, and the like, are all forces of a negative character, acting in definite directions. To reduce or entirely overcome these dissimilar retarding forces, radically different methods must be employed.

One knows, for instance, what a fanatic may do, and one can take preventive measures, can enlighten, convince, and, possibly direct him, turn his vice into virtue; but one does not know, and never can know, what a brute or an imbecile may do, and one must deal with him as with a mass, inert, without mind, let loose by the mad elements.

Tesla was clear in distinguishing between frictional and negative forces.

Frictional force acts in an unpredictable manner and cannot be counted on to be reversed or used to increase mass in a positive way. There are certain disabilities that are inherent in man that serve to limit specific individuals’ capacities (whether they be physical, mental, psychological, whatever). These limitations cannot typically be reapplied in a positive way, but their negative impact can certainly be reduced.

Negative force, on the other hand, acts in a directionally opposite way from positive forces. Think of things like hate, violence, and war. These typically surface through ignorance between groups of people. The inability or unwillingness of one group to understand another, often builds tension and conflict that leads to destructive forces in society.

Unlike frictional forces, these can be reversed. The energy is real with hate, it is just misdirected. Opening up a hateful person’s eyes to the other side’s perspective has the power to turn that negative force positive.

A negative force always implies some quality, not infrequently a high one, though badly directed, which it is possible to turn to good advantage; but a directionless, frictional force involves unavoidable loss. Evidently, then, the first and general answer to the above question is: turn all negative force in the right direction and reduce all frictional force.

There can be no doubt that, of all the frictional resistances, the one that most retards human movement is ignorance.

Think of your ordinary, every-day language barrier. You may know some people who speak English as a second language, and you may find it harder to engage with them. Maybe communication is a little choppy. Certain cultural cues are lost in the exchange. This is exaggerated many times over among two people who don’t have any way to speak the same language.

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Without the ability to communicate effectively with another person, the relationship suffers inherent friction.

Now add to the mix differences in religious beliefs, customs, work habits, priorities, and other things. You end up with a situation where it is near impossible for many multiple societies to see each other’s perspectives and deal effectively on a large scale. Even differences in currency have the ability to spark massive economic reforms across countries. Naturally, energy is lost translating meaning between people.

Not without reason said that man of wisdom, Buddha: “Ignorance is the greatest evil in the world.” The friction which results from ignorance, and which is greatly increased owing to the numerous languages and nationalities, can be reduced only by the spread of knowledge and the unification of the heterogeneous elements of humanity. No effort could be better spent.

The ability to see other peoples’ perspectives is the ultimate way to reduce this ignorance, and in turn reduce the friction holding back human energy. Breaking down the ignorance that separates people of different races, nationalities, religions, and anything else, will enable the impelling force behind human energy to face less resistance.

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Now, let’s take the example of war. Every prudent country funds a standing army—a line of defense to protect itself in international conflicts. The mere presence of a military implies something bad is going to happen, typically resulting in a loss of population (or mass).

But however ignorance may have retarded the onward movement of man in times past, it is certain that, nowadays, negative forces have become of greater importance. Among these there is one of far greater moment than any other. It is called organized warfare.

When we consider the millions of individuals, often the ablest in mind and body, the flower of humanity, who are compelled to a life of inactivity and unproductiveness, the immense sums of money daily required for the maintenance of armies and war apparatus, representing ever so much of human energy, all the effort uselessly spent in the production of arms and implements of destruction, the loss of life and the fostering of a barbarous spirit, we are appalled at the inestimable loss to mankind which the existence of these deplorable conditions must involve. What can we do to combat best this great evil?

I mean, would we really need armed forces if we actually had complete and total peace worldwide? Of course not. Law and order absolutely require the presence of organized force.

If peace could be attained among societies, or even within our cities and towns, we could re-direct the wasteful energy spent on defense and criminal justice toward something more “velocity-adding” to society.

How do we quantify frictional and negative forces?

This is a much more difficult task than quantifying mass. Examining the activities that work against societal progress requires counting the number of negative events impacting the population.

Things that act in a negative direction against the human mass include crime, fires, natural disasters, and other destructive events. Things that act as friction toward progress include disease (mental, physical, and emotional), poor infrastructure, and anything that stands in the way of clear communication and dealing between different groups of people.

Types of activities that reduce the friction:

According to Adam Smith, governments serve three major purposes:

       1. Defense against foreign powers
       2. Law, order, and justice among its own people
       3. Enabling of commerce through education and infrastructure

Certainly the first two categories address needs related to frictional and negative forces. And a good portion of the third category does as well.

General administration in governments allows for their continuing operation. Thought typically seen as a cost center for taxpayer dollars, it is important that some minimum level of government exist to maintain and enable a certain amount of public services.

Public safety departments help ensure the maintenance of the current population. Fire, police, and emergency medical services all work together to keep people alive, reduce crime rates, and limit destruction from negative events.

Health and welfare departments (including hospitals) also help maintain the mass. By keeping people healthy, governments reduce the friction that ends up surfacing among sick people unable to provide the same level of value to society as before.

Human services are part of a much broader category that typically addresses myriad frictional issues. Think about a homeless shelter. People who use this service are in desperate need of a home, without which, makes it hard for them to engage in value-adding activities in society. When the obstacle of finding a roof to put over their head is removed, they can more proactively find a job and a permanent place to live.

Criminal justice systems also address frictional and negative forces but in a much more balanced way. Whereas hospitals exist to heal people and bring them back to “full value,” oftentimes courts decide that someone is not a value-producing member in society and must be incarcerated. This is a costly decision, as the person cannot earn a wage, pay taxes, and contribute productively to society. However, these decisions have the ultimate value of society in mind, deeming the person more dangerous (a negative force) than productive (a positive force). So the marginal cost of removing this person from society should be a net positive in the long run, if done correctly.

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The establishment of permanent peaceful relations between nations would most effectively reduce the force retarding the human mass, and would be the best solution of this great human problem. But will the dream of universal peace ever be realized? Let us hope that it will. When all darkness shall be dissipated by the light of science, when all nations shall be merged into one, and patriotism shall be identical with religion, when there shall be one language, one country, one end, then the dream will have become reality.

3. Increase the velocity affecting human energy

Onto the most important solution to consider for increasing human energy: increasing the velocity.

Of the three possible solutions of the main problem of increasing human energy, this is by far the most important to consider, not only because of its intrinsic significance, but also because of its intimate bearing on all the many elements and conditions which determine the movement of humanity.

When discussing velocity, we should revisit the example presented earlier. Remember, we wanted to increase the overall energy of a train by adding compartments to it. When compartments of higher energy are added to the train, the train’s overall energy is increased, and in turn so is the average energy of each compartment.

Acceleration velocity image

When compartments of lower energy are added, however, the train’s overall energy is increased, but at a much lower rate. And the average energy of each compartment is actually decreased.

Apply this example to society. Naturally we want to increase the mass. But additional mass added (again, additional population) will increase the overall energy of the system at varying rates.

Think of a person being born. Either this person will grow up to be of a “higher” or “lower” velocity than her parents. The overall opportunity of this person can be compared to those offered to her parents. Maybe she will be exposed to a better education. Maybe she won’t be forced to work at a young age. Maybe she will have more technology to aid in her learning and development than her parents.

This simple illustration shows that it is of greatest importance to add mass of a higher velocity. Stated more to the point, if, for example, the children be of the same degree of enlightenment as the parents (that is, mass of the “same velocity”), the energy will simply increase proportionately to the number added. If they are less intelligent or advanced, or mass of “smaller velocity,” there will be a very slight gain in the energy; but if they are further advanced, or mass of “higher velocity,” then the new generation will add very considerably to the sum total of human energy.

How do we add mass of higher velocity?

Society is driven forward by the ability of individuals to work. Since the beginning of time, technological innovations have allowed for economizing of day-to-day tasks. Farming allowed for people to source food in centralized locations instead of hunting and gathering. Marketplaces allowed for people to buy their clothes instead of making their own. Even the concept of a corporation has allowed people to pool their resources in order to provide greater value than any one individual can.

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What we have, as a result, is a collection of resources specializing in individual tasks that contribute to the overall system. One person makes shoes. One person slaughters animals. One person repairs furnaces. And so on.

This specialization has created an economy based on a much more efficient supply chain than one in which every family provided everything for themselves. Anything designed to make providing for oneself easier, can be said to increase the velocity at which mass moves forward.

But looking at all this busy world about us, on all this complex mass as it daily throbs and moves, what is it but an immense clock-work driven by a spring? In the morning, when we rise, we cannot fail to note that all the objects about us are manufactured by machinery: the water we use is lifted by steam-power; the trains bring our breakfast from distant localities; the elevators in our dwelling and our office building, the cars that carry us there, are all driven by power; in all our daily errands, and in our very life-pursuit, we depend upon it; all the objects we see tell us of it; and when we return to our machine-made dwelling at night, lest we should forget it, all the material comforts of our home, our cheering stove and lamp, remind us of how much we depend on power.

And when there is an accidental stoppage of the machinery, when the city is snowbound, or the life sustaining movement otherwise temporarily arrested, we are affrighted to realize how impossible it would be for us to live the life we live without motive power. Motive power means work. To increase the force accelerating human movement means, therefore, to perform more work.

For simplicity, we will assume that the amount of work or output a person contributes to society equals his overall productivity and energy pushed through the system. Technological advances, in any form, tend to increase this amount of work, no matter the field. Farming, industrialization, vaccination, and many others help contribute to more efficiency and higher productivity for people.

In the same way that people can contribute ideas and effort to the overall human energy system, outside sources of energy clearly contribute to its increase as well. Coal, oil, wind, and solar are just a few of the many ways that we harness energy from our environment and use it to make our lives easier and more productive.

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From the very beginning three ways of drawing energy from the sun were open to man. The savage, when he warmed his frozen limbs at a fire kindled in some way, availed himself of the energy of the sun stored in the burning material. When he carried a bundle of branches to his cave and burned them there, he made use of the sun’s stored energy transported from one to another locality. When he set sail to his canoe, he utilized the energy of the sun applied to the atmosphere or the ambient medium.

There can be no doubt that the first is the oldest way. A fire, found accidentally, taught the savage to appreciate its beneficial heat. He then very likely conceived of the idea of carrying the glowing members to his abode. Finally he learned to use the force of a swift current of water or air. It is characteristic of modern development that progress has been effected in the same order. The utilization of the energy stored in wood or coal, or, generally speaking, fuel, led to the steam-engine. Next a great stride in advance was made in energy-transportation by the use of electricity, which permitted the transfer of energy from one locality to another without transporting the material. But as to the utilization of the energy of the ambient medium, no radical step forward has as yet been made known.

Finding ways to harness energy from our environment and use it to enable commerce, education, and overall improvement of society is the easiest way to increase the velocity moving human energy forward.

How do we quantify velocity?

Velocity is probably the most difficult aspect to quantify in the human energy equation. At a high level, it is represented by anything that facilitates increased value or production in society.

We can attempt to quantify this measure by looking at social outcomes related to human achievement. Graduation rates, job attainment, wage growth, purchasing power…they’re all possible indicators.

In their own ways, these kinds of measures indicate efficiency and effectiveness in a society—the higher they go, the better off the people are, and the more able they are to produce and add value for the overall system.

Types of activities that increase velocity:

Several government services exist to improve the capabilities of its individuals.

Schooling is the first thing that comes to mind here. Typically making up over two thirds of a municipal budget, education is the primary spending category among local governments. They exist to teach children and prepare them for the real world, providing real life skills and theoretical knowledge to back them up. The better the schools, the more productive the students should become.

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Other government services exist to facilitate commerce and the ability to do more work.

Public works ensure bridges and roads are in working order.

Transportation departments ensure people can get where the need to go.

Conservation and development agencies invest in programs to increase economic activity and sustainability.

Parks, recreation, and library departments help educate and entertain citizens while increasing property values for those living in a certain area. Again, if property values go up, the human energy equation is bolstered by increase tax receipts and resulting public spending on programs or increased spending power for the property owners.

A Note on Human Energy and Collaboration

Hopefully this type of thinking can help relate the many different components acting in society. Instead of seeing everything as competing agents, we can start to see the interplay of different activities and how certain shared outcomes are typically desired by many overlapping organizations.

A more collaborative business and political environment should help cut through some of the competitive tension that hurts many industries—perhaps none more-so than the nonprofit sector. Like the way businesses compete on the ground level for customers, nonprofits often battle over every little bit of funding they can get, creating waste and misalignment of outcomes.

But how can collaboration help remedy this? Imagine the following scenario:

Five similar nonprofit agencies, that each would produce the same general outcomes, compete for the same government grant. To win this much-needed funding, each organization submits bare-bones proposals in attempts to underbid the competition and win the contract.

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This creates a major problem: agencies have a harder time meeting the original intended outcomes on such stripped-down proposals.

So instead of creating a cohesive strategy to split funding among five complementary agencies, all the money goes to one which is now unable to deliver based on the low costs proposed.

Nonprofits exist to create better outcomes for society in areas where profit-driven enterprises can’t compete—essentially picking up the slack left by public services but, overall, serving the same purpose.

Tying back to the human energy idea, we can see how this works. The most basic element of the energy equation is mass (or population). Mass ties very nicely to financial measures in the form of taxpayers versus tax receivers from a government perspective. So, in a way, to grow the human energy in any given city, it makes sense to calculate the total mass of taxpayers funding the government.

For example, removing people from prison and enabling them to lead productive, taxpaying, value-adding lives obviously benefits the community in which it takes place.

Human energy can quantify these types of outcomes and financial tools like social impacts bonds can be used to fund them.

Now, what if the other elements of human energy (which, admittedly, are much more difficult to quantify) could be tied to dollars in the same way that mass is? Outcomes achieved by nonprofits represent either increases in the force accelerating human progress or decreases in forces slowing progress.

Again, nonprofits already know their missions seek to achieve these goals, whether or not financial measures are easily attached to them. But without tangible proof of societal improvement, few governments have incentives to increase current funding without commensurate increases in taxes.

By taking the concept of human energy, we can bring together the many different agents in society to help produce better outcomes and a better life for everyone.

Partnership for Strong Communities

Partnership for Strong Communities

Connecticut is making progress on reducing chronic homelessness. This headway can be credited to a statewide effort by both social advocates and government officials. Local nonprofit Partnership for Strong Communities is one of these players, making a significant difference across the state.

The Partnership’s HousingInCT2017 assessment points out that Connecticut has achieved a 62% reduction in chronic homelessness since January 2014.

Chronically homeless include those with disabling conditions who have been homeless either long-term or repeatedly.

The state’s median monthly housing cost declined by 2 percent to $1,366 in 2016, but still remained the nation’s sixth highest, making it hard for homeless to get out of the perpetual cycle of despair. Despite this slight improvement, an overall increase in rental demand over the past decade combined with the $25/hour wage required to rent in Connecticut, fighting homelessness is harder than ever.

Leading the charge in Connecticut, the Partnership for Strong Communities is a local leader in policy development, advocacy, and research on homelessness and its causes. It is responsible for conducting many important studies, informing state and local officials, and bringing together scholars, practitioners, business executives, and government officials toward creating change.

The Partnership staffs two statewide campaigns – Reaching Home, the campaign to build the civic and political will to prevent and end homelessness in Connecticut, and HOMEConnecticut, a statewide campaign aimed at creating more affordable housing throughout the state.

Here are some of the organization’s critical mission objectives:

Ending Homelessness
Homelessness comes in many different forms. For some, an episode of homelessness is a once-in-a-lifetime event and can be ended by an increase in their income or access to affordable housing. Others experience episodic homelessness – they may experience homelessness sporadically throughout their lives, but tend not to be living on the streets or in shelters for long periods of time. These individuals and families may have a short stay in a homeless shelter, but are also likely to be “doubled up” – living with families and friends willing to offer a temporary home.

Other homeless individuals experience chronic long-term homelessness, which requires a more holistic response. Often, those experiencing chronic homelessness have physical disabilities or mental illnesses that make it difficult for them to stay employed or housed. Many rely on emergency rooms for healthcare and are repeatedly incarcerated for minor offenses. They may also shuttle in and out of the shelter system, which offers temporary relief but cannot adequately address the root causes of their homelessness.

Affordable Housing
Affordable housing provides a solid foundation for a strong community. Residents who live in a home that is affordable have funds to purchase food, provide healthcare, and satisfy other living needs. Residents of affordable homes also have the economic means to purchase goods and services in their communities. Affordable housing helps to create economic stability.

Strong Communities
The ability to afford a residence – to not have to spend more than 30 percent of one’s income on housing so that enough is left for other necessities – is undeniably important. But an affordable house or apartment must also be linked to good schools, adequate community services, convenient transportation, access to affordable high-quality food and other necessities. The Partnership for Strong Communities has worked hard to focus the attention of policymakers on the creation of not just affordable homes but also vibrant neighborhoods and communities.

Visit the Parternship’s website here and learn more about the great work they continue to do and find out how you can help.

What is a Social Impact Bond?

Future city image


Around the world, innovative financing methods are being used to tackle social issues. Programs and organizations typically funded by grants are constantly at the mercy of governments who have trouble thinking past the next election cycle.

As a result, when spending cuts need to be made governments typically look for the quickest fix – cutting social services.

What’s wrong?

Think about it. In your city, you may have a $100 million budget allocated primarily to:

– Schools: $60 million
– Emergency services: $15 million
– Public works: $15 million
– Human services: $10 million

Tax receipts are expected to decline by 10% next year. What do you do?

The majority of the first several categories (schools, emergency, and public works) are used on an as-needed basis. They are there to serve public needs in the moment.

Human services, on the other hand, typically comprise both rehabilitative (immediate things like food banks or homeless shelters) and preventative (down the road things like job training for unemployed or after-school activities for at-risk youths) benefits.

Now back to our problem of decreasing tax receipts. Aside from broad reductions, you’re not typically going to close a school, or cut back on your police force – they’re much too important to a town’s immediate value (not to mention the unions involved…).

As a result, you would turn to social services as an area to cut. And all things being equal, the preventative services are viewed as a relative “luxury” compared to rehabilitative services…again, because they provide benefits down the road, as opposed to right now.

So you’d cut those preventative services. After-school programs, job training, and collaborative work spaces would get the ax before food banks, homeless shelters, and unemployment benefits. They’re simply easier things to cut.

Now imagine this scenario playing out in thousands of cities and dozens of states across the U.S. each of the past 8 or 9 years. Naturally, many health and human service organizations struggle due to lack of funding. So despite the fact they do quality work, they are unable to provide the full potential value of their work.

Bottom line: Results are determined not by the quality of the organizations doing the work—but by the amount of funding governments are able to grant them.

Governments fund short-term services over long-term ones. They favor less complexity to more. And they reward risk aversion at the expense of seeking out truly innovative and high-quality programs.

The root of the problem

Social services are funded by tax dollars (typically through government grants) and donations. They are often provided by nonprofit organizations (if not governments directly). Why is that?

They offer value in a down-the-road or not immediately profitable manner.

Take a business that sells computers. It makes a product. People need the product. They pay immediately for that product. Value is created instantly upon receipt of the computer. And because that value is created instantly, it is easily quantified and paid for by a customer, making the value realized by both seller and buyer at the same time.

Now take a mental health organization. It provides a service. People need that service. They often can’t pay for that service, even though society deems it necessary for the overall good (through increased tax revenues, lower prison costs, etc.). Value is provided instantly to a patient but not realized instantly by society. It happens “down the road.”

Social Impact Bond image

Naturally, investors flock toward ideas that provide easily quantifiable returns. There are demonstrable data that prove the returns they can reasonably expect, corrected for risk of course, even though some investments are extremely long-term in nature (think of real estate or long-term bonds).

The further an investment is from concrete, quantifiable returns, the further it is from attracting funds. Something like mental health service is extremely hard to quantify. We know there are tangible benefits to providing this service. But who exactly benefits financially from it?

This creates the great divide in funding. There needs to be a way to bridge the gap from social returns to commercial returns on investment.

How do we solve this?

Traditional methods of funding lead to services delivered in isolation from each other, with inadequate focus on preventative services known to produce better outcomes.

Coupled with inadequate resources and rising need, many cities and states are seeing rising poverty, growing need for job training, and a host of other negative social outcomes, many of which could be prevented with adequate investment in prior stages of these problems’ development.

Introducing: pay for success.

Also known as pay for performance, this describes service payment models that offer financial reward to providers who achieve or exceed specified quality, cost, and other benchmarks. In other words, you only get paid if you do good work.

Social impact bond

These models offer a blended return, accomplishing both financial and social payback.

Return on taxpayer investment

Governments spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year on crisis-driven services. These programs help a great number of people, but fail to make much headway in solving social problems that have become too complex for one-dimensional, prescriptive solutions. Although they recognize the economic and social benefits of prevention, government agencies generally cannot afford early intervention services as their funds are already committed to high-cost remediation programs.

Even if they fund prevention, governments risk having to pay for both prevention and remediation if their chosen prevention programs fail to improve participants’ outcomes. The short-term imperatives of the election cycle exacerbate this tendency to shy away from potentially risky, longer-term preventative investments.

social impact bond image

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

Economic recession and shrinking budgets have forced governments to cut many programs providing prevention services, and as a result, nonprofit providers and their clients are struggling to survive.

The social impact bond

The social impact bond (SIB) is a financial device that integrates the needs of governments, service providers, and charitable investors under one concept: pay for success.

The bond is an outcomes-based contract in which government officials commit to paying private service providers for significant improvement in social outcomes (such as a reduction in offending rates, or in the number of people being admitted to hospital) for a defined population.

Funds are raised by charitable investors looking to make a difference, and their return on investment is defined by the degree of success in the program invested in. If a program is successful, the government repays the investment plus a variable rate of return based on performance. If the program fails, no payment is earned.

The government repays investors only if the interventions improve social outcomes, such as reducing homelessness or the number of repeat offenders in the criminal justice system. If improved outcomes are not achieved, the government is not required to repay the investors, thereby transferring the risk of funding prevention services to the private sector and ensuring accountability for taxpayer money.

social impact bond image

By leveraging SIBs, governments can transfer the financial risk of prevention programs to private investors based on the expectation of future recoverable savings. They also provide the incentive for multiple government agencies to work together, capturing savings across agencies to fund investor repayment.

– Common belief that prevention is less expensive AND more effective than remediation

– Prevention also takes longer to realize tangible benefits and is naturally harder to measure

– SIBs transfer the risk of funding preventative programs from the government to private investors – government (and taxpayer) payment is contingent on success

See the complete list of all active social impact bonds going on today.

The mechanics

social impact bond mechanics

Source: Social Finance

1. An intermediary issues the SIB and raises capital from private investors.

2. The intermediary transfers the SIB proceeds to nonprofit evidence-based prevention programs. Throughout the life of the instrument, the intermediary would coordinate all SIB parties, provide operating oversight, direct cash flows, and monitor the investment.

3. By providing effective prevention programs, the nonprofits improve social outcomes and reduce demand for more expensive safety-net services.

4. An independent evaluator determines whether the target outcomes have been achieved according to the terms of the government contract. If they have, the government pays the intermediary a percentage of its savings and retains the rest. If outcomes have not been achieved, the government owes nothing.

5. If the outcomes have been achieved, investors would be repaid their principal and a rate of return. Returns may be structured on a sliding scale: the better the outcomes, the higher the return (up to an agreed cap).

How it works

Future State wants to invest in programs to reduce prison recidivism – the number of people who re-offend and end up back in prison once released.

The obvious benefits include:

– Lower prison costs. Obviously fewer prisoners means lower expenses spent on prison facilities, staff, services, etc.

– Increased income tax revenue. Fewer prisoners means more people available in the workforce. Ultimately this benefit is realized only if the majority of those released from prison do in fact re-enter the workforce, instead of staying unemployed.

While not necessarily easy to quantify, you can ballpark it. Say each prisoner has a variable unit cost of $25,000 per year when behind bars. Say also that Future State loses out on $1,000 a year in income tax with each prisoner not working. These figures alone equal a net $26,000 per year cost of a prisoner.

The state releases 2,000 of its total 10,000 inmates each year. Those released have a 50% chance of re-offending and ending up back in prison within 3 years. Reducing one year’s released inmates’ recidivism rate to 40% would reduce the number of people returning to prison by 200 by year 3.

This carries with it an additional 200 people eligible for work in the state. Assume in this case that everyone who remains out of prison becomes employed.

JobTraining Corp has a program that promises to reduce recidivism by the nominal 10% described above. This includes job training and re-integration services for prisoners. The annual cost to run such a program at the scale required to achieve this 10% reduction is $3,000,000.

Every 10% reduction ends up benefiting the state $5,200,000 over three years. That equals a 20.1% annual return on a $3,000,000 investment.

social impact bond example

social impact bond example

What this means

In this example, the net benefit to society, or in this case the government, is 20.1% per year.

These benefits are tangible from a financial perspective. They just take multiple years to materialize. That’s why these programs are typically funded by governments in the first place.

Take an outside investor now. Say they want to invest $3,000,000 into this prison recidivism program. For a social investor like this one, they may be enticed by a 5% return on investment for their funds.

By year 3, with Future State realizing $5.2 million in total benefits, it can afford to pay out an investor the 5% annual return plus initial investment for their efforts. This equals $3.5 million.

This leaves $1.7 million net profit (in the form of higher tax revenues and lower prison costs) to the government.

social impact bond example

The beauty of this arrangement

Circling back to the earlier concept, pay-for-success, this kind of deal only gets paid out by the government if the program succeeds. No matter what happens, the investor fronts the money to a service provider (in this case, JobTraining Corp). The service provider has no other obligation in the financial workings of this deal—merely to provide a service.

The government then reimburses the investor if, and only if, success is achieved.

Because in this case success was defined by hard outcomes with real financial rewards attached to them, it is easy to see that the government will realize the gains in its own bottom line.

The government can subtract from these gains and pay out the service provider a cut of the “profit.”

If on the other hand, the outcome isn’t achieved (in this case, recidivism doesn’t drop 10%), then the government is off the hook. Nothing is returned to the investor. The funds remain with the service provider.

The service is still provided, which means positive outcomes could still be achieved, but probably at a lower rate of return. In this case, the government still earns some financial benefit without being required to reimburse the investor.

See the numbers in an alternate scenario. Download a PDF of both scenarios here.

social impact bond example

social impact bond example

social impact bond example

The investor is on the hook for any risk associated with delivering on these outcomes.

In other words…a government can fund a public service with no up-front capital. Additionally, it needs only to actually pay for such a service if the financial reward it sees is tangibly greater than the cost. A classic win/win.

Looking ahead

This example is a very simplified form of a social impact bond. It assumes a straight yes/no basis for successful outcome triggering repayment. In reality, a social impact bond will have a scale of returns an investor can achieve based on a sliding scale of outcomes.

As more of these deals pop up across the United States, it is important to determine how effective they are at not only providing a social service, but also providing a return on investment.

The more success that is achieved on the ROI side, the more investors will eventually flock to these types investments.
Governments, if planning properly, can fund outcomes completely risk free. If they have good data to support the financial impact of social outcomes, they can prove to investors a financial return on their end.

Until data exist in the quantity and quality that support these outcomes though, investors will bear a greater risk in funding these types of deals. In these early stages of this industry, it is more likely to be seen as a donation than an investment. But once deals start proving financially viable for all sides, the social impact bond industry has the chance to really take off and make a difference across the world.

Middlesex County Coworking Space

In October 2017, the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce announced plans to move ahead on an innovative entrepreneurial concept that would bring a coworking space to downtown Middletown.

What is cowork space?

Cowork is a style of work that involves shared workplace and independent activity. Employees are typically not a part of the same organization, but merely share in the office space and other equipment shared at a location.

Coworking is especially attractive for work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, and workers who travel frequently.

A major benefit of coworking is the possibility of knowledge share. Because people from all different organizations and backgrounds congregate at these locations, it is possible to share ideas, discuss concepts, and fine-tune theories without being limited to coworkers of the same business. Sense of community is a large, and essential, part of the coworking process.

Planning stages

Middletown Entrepreneurs Work Space (or MEWS+) is being led by the chamber’s VP Jeff Pugliese.

“Support from the city of Middletown can be a catalyst for additional funds coming into the community,” Pugliese said. “If we are fortunate enough to secure the city’s support, we will then apply for additional support through a statewide network of entrepreneurs, mentors, service providers and others involved in helping Connecticut’s most promising startups succeed and grow.

“We’re essentially looking to take money pledged by Wesleyan, Middlesex Hospital and Liberty Bank to get the city’s support to really make that initiative sustainable — for a couple years at least,” Pugliese said.

Source: Middletown Press


MEWS+ partners image


The MEWS+ is an exciting concept that will serve as a key component to economic development initiatives underway in Middletown. It will also act as a bridge to the manufacturing and engineering industries in Middlesex County.

Working with local property owners, the program aims to find “cool” and accessible locations for business meet-ups. Prioritized locations will have the requisite layout and logistical capacity to be co-working spaces.

Connecting to local manufacturers and engineering firms will be a critical part of this initiative. We hope to work with Pratt & Whitney suppliers and vendors. The Middletown Engine Center is critical to the economic health of Middlesex County, and we hope to strengthen our already strong relationship with Pratt & Whitney through this important initiative.

The MEWS+ will also work to foster local health care innovation by collaborating with Middlesex Hospital, which works in partnership with Mayo Clinic by sharing the latest lifesaving research with Mayo Clinic Specialists, and Community Health Center, which is building a world class primary healthcare system by serving more than 145,000 patients since its inception.

Source: MEWS+ pres release

Will it work?

Coworking is growing in popularity. As of 2016, New York led all cities in the U.S. with 330 coworking centers. Los Angeles had 263, San Francisco 180, and Chicago 123.

Though Connecticut is in the earlier stages of exploring this concept, but hopefully Middletown can provide a replicable and scalable model for other cities in the state.

See the following infographic for more statistics on coworking and the potential it could offer the state.

Cowokring infographic image
Source: OfficeVibe

Immediate next steps

Middletown Entrepreneurs Work Space will open thanks to $70,000 in funding provided by the common council, Wesleyan University, Middlesex Hospital and Liberty Bank. The Middlesex Chamber is currently outfitting a portion of its second floor that can provide a work place for 10 to 15 people.

The Chamber will serve as the headquarters for MEWS, which will also offer networking events and other services to provide resources for small businesses outside of the office setting.

It will be interesting to follow the progress of this program and see if it gains scalable traction in a state that certainly needs to reinvest in industry.

More information

See the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce for more info here.

Visit MEWS+ directly here.

Find Free Money: The Top 6 Grants Databases for 2018

Top 6 online grants databases 2018 image

Is your organization looking for new sources of funding? Are you overwhelmed with where to start? Then look no further!

Whether you’re a nonprofit seeking program grants, or a startup seeking seed funding, there are significant sums of free money out there waiting to be picked up.

This guide describes and reviews the top grant databases available for your small business or nonprofit.

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, enter your email address and download the one-page summary here.


You might be asking, How much money is available? And that’s a great question!

Grant funding is the most popular type of free money for many businesses and nonprofits. Grants are non-repayable funds disbursed or gifted by one party (grant makers), often a government department, corporation, foundation or trust, to a recipient.

To receive a grant, some form of Grant Writing often referred to as either a proposal or an application is required. Most grants are made to fund a specific project and require some level of compliance and reporting.

Public and private trusts and foundations in the United States award over $40 billion every year, according to Foundation Center.

The following databases are designed to direct you to this money as efficiently and effectively as possible. Here are the top 6 online databases and resources to find, analyze, and apply for grant funding for your business or nonprofit.

Federal grants are issued by the United States government out of general revenue funds. is a comprehensive database housing all available and forecasted funding opportunities across major government agencies.

Grants Learning Center

This website includes all sorts of useful information including a Grants 101 section that summarizes what Federal grants are and how their lifecycles work. It also provides eligibility information, a directory of funding agencies and programs, and guidelines for grant reporting.

Staying up to date

The database is updated daily and currently consists of over 2,000 open funding opportunities. Aside from visiting the website regularly, users can subscribe to email notifications for news posted on the site, updates to specific opportunities, or broad summaries of new opportunities posted that day.

Information available

The site categorizes funding into major groupings (e.g., health, income security, and environment). It also identifies eligibility criteria (e.g., small business, nonprofit, and different types of government). image

Other information attached to each grant includes deadline dates, estimated funding award, and links to the funding source and application.

Access: Free to everyone

When to use this source?

Ideally, you should be synced up with all federal funding opportunities at all times. Because account registration is free and requires almost no information about you or your organization, it costs nothing to stay on top of all available U.S. government grant opportunities.

Use this system to understand what types of funding government agencies are trending toward at any given time. Use the forecasted filter to plan and look for grants that may fit your mission over the next quarter or year, if not necessary yet.

Grantsmanship Center

The Grantsmanship Center is an organization focused on serving nonprofits with a number of services in addition to its grant database. Its stated mission is:

To help private and public nonprofits make better communities. We do that by offering training and publications to help organizations plan solid programs, write logical, compelling grant proposals and create earned income opportunities. We succeed when you succeed at helping those you care about most.

Resources available

The site has a host of hard-copy and digital publications available for purchase, as well as articles, blog posts, and webcasts available for free.

Much of the content is related to program planning, proposal writing, and grant seeking, and the site can act an outsourced development consultant for your nonprofit.

Consulting services

In addition to online resources, the Grantsmanship Center has a consulting practice focused on professional development for grant-writers and development managers. General consulting is priced at $200 per hour. However, a core part of this business is focused on proposal writing, which offers a variety of services at different costs.

Grantsmanship Center image


GrantDomain is the Grantsmanship Center’s proprietary funding database. It is comprised of foundation, corporate, and federal grants.

The federal grants database is continuously updated by examining, the Federal Register, and other government sites to ensure that the most recent funding opportunities are included.

The foundation grants database is more nuanced in that the Grantsmanship Center screens foundations for size and capability, and posts grants that are likely to be awarded and serviced. In their words,

“We’ve targeted foundations that actually consider applications for funding. We want you to avoid plowing through mounds of data from small foundations that give only to pre-selected recipients and likely won’t make grants to organizations like yours.”

The corporate giving database is focused on geographical area. You are able to search a database of over 1,200 corporations and 1,000 corporate foundations looking to fund programs in your area.

All grants can be searched based on date, program area, geography, funding agency, and other characteristics. While the site does not advertise how many grants populate its entire database, judging by its price tag, it appears to include a relatively large amount.

Access: Annual and multi-year subscriptions

GrantDomain account access costs $495 for one year, $695 for two years, or $795 for three years.

When to use this source?

Grantsmanship Center is a valuable resource that should be used if you’re a nonprofit organization with a regularly funded development department. Because it is among the pricier grant-seeking tools out there, make sure you are likely to use some of the other features, such as grant-writing help and other best-practice publications.

Consider subscribing to this database if you plan on using some of the consulting and grant-writing tools associated with the site. Because they have knowledge of each of the funders in their database, they should be more helpful in preparing applications and proposals for these specific grants.

If you’re unsure of the value they may offer, take advantage of their 30-day free trial. Browse the database and decide if it’s something you want to base your grant searching on for the next year or more.


GrantWatch is a website providing regularly updated grants and funding opportunities for nonprofits and small businesses.

GrantWatch updates its repository daily and archives grants that have gone past due. Additionally, it allows for searching based on geography (search by country or U.S. state), eligibility, award amount, and other grant details.

Enter a Grant

What makes GrantWatch somewhat unique is its crowd-sourced database. Its dedicated portal, called Enter a Grant, allows government agencies, foundations, and corporations post details of the funding opportunities directly into the database.

Combined with GrantWatch’s team of dedicated researchers regularly searching for new grants, this provides a distinctive experience for grant-seekers compared to other databases.

Customer service

GrantWatch touts its customer service and even has a live chat feature where you can instant message an expert ready to help you with the service. Live customer service can be reached 9:00a.m.-7:00p.m. (EST) Monday through Thursday, and 9:00a.m.-5:00p.m. (EST) on Friday.

GrantWatch Customer Service image

The grants database

As of December 2017, there are over 18,000 total grants in GrantWatch’s worldwide database, however only fewer than 3,000 are accepting applications. This is due to the site’s archiving feature which pulls back grants that have been awarded and scheduled to return in a later period. It also allows for grants to be posted for future time periods in the event they aren’t ready yet.

For organizations in the United States, the database has over 2,500 total grants, with over 400 grants currently accepting applications.

GrantWatch image

As you can see in the screenshot, the sleek interface allows for easy searching and filtering.

Small business grants database

A sister site to GrantWatch is MWBEzone offers the same features except for small businesses.

There are limitations to this database however – its focus is primarily on minority- and women-owned small businesses. That being said, it’s hard to say if most or all of the grants in this database are limited to these types of organizations only, but it’s a reasonable question to ask before purchasing a subscription to the site.

Certainly because of this tool’s specific focus, if you are a minority- or women-owned business, this site offers the same great features that GrantWatch offers, but for your small business. If you don’t qualify as either of these types of businesses, you may be better off using a different grants database to stay up to date on funding opportunities – many of these grants just might not apply to you.

Access: Subscriptions

GrantWatch offers four different subscription models: $18/week, $45/month, $90/quarter, and $199/year. This allows for different levels of access depending on how consistently you plan on using the tool – obviously the annual subscription is the best value if you plan to use it for a while.

GrantWatch subscriptions image

When to use this source?

This seems to be one of the more comprehensive grant resources for the price. Considering the daily updates, good customer service, database accuracy, and other peripheral services, GrantWatch could pay for itself very quickly.

If you run a minority- or women-owned small business, this site could be especially useful. The specific focus could help you with tasks other than finding grants, so check out the resources page to find relevant business-related tools – most of which are free.

Foundation Center

Foundation Center is a nonprofit organization that gathers and analyzes data that enable philanthropy to change the world. As part of this mission, one of the main features of its website is the ability to search not only grants, but funders.

Foundation Directory Online

Foundation Center’s database consists of 140,000 foundations and donors across the world, updated weekly.

Foundation Center image

Aside from its smooth interface with different searching and sorting features, what makes this tool stand out is its ability to find donors based on number of grants given and funds awarded to specific causes.

The grants database seems to focus primarily on previously awarded grants. Detailed grant information, including recipients, descriptions, and types of support, helps you determine which funders are most likely to fund your work. From this information you can tell how much to request and what to highlight in a grant proposal to ensure greater chance of success in winning the funds.


GrantSpace is a service within Foundation Center that provides easy-to-use, self-service tools and resources to help nonprofits worldwide become more viable grant applicants and build strong, sustainable organizations.

These features which are accessible for free include a comprehensive knowledge base of articles and frequently asked questions in the nonprofit industry. Sample documents and popular training courses are also listed on this site, all free of charge if you sign up for an account with GrantSpace.


This feature provides users an interface to work with the funding prospects identified in the database.

GrantSpace image

Assess how strongly your programs align with funders. Manage tasks, contacts, and notes while keeping track of progress toward your fundraising goals. No need for an outside donor management system if you want to handle everything right here.

Access: Monthly Subscriptions

The standard subscription rate of $49.99/month includes access to over 100,000 grantmaker profiles, contact information of over 500,000 key decision makers and leaders, keyword search of 990-PF forms, and access to Workspace.

The main thing missing from this is access to actual grants. For a pricier monthly rate of between $87-$200/month (depending on the length of contract), you can get these features as well as access to over 9.5 million grants and more interactive maps, charts, and search features.

When to use this source?

If your main reason for using a fundraising tool is to find open grant opportunities, then this might not be the best tool for you. Because of its focus primarily on previously awarded grants and not a currently available list, Foundation Directory Online should more be used for broader fundraising and donor management functionality.

While you won’t necessarily find open funding opportunities, you can very easily use the information in the funder database to help create industry reports, fine-tune pipelines, and create a prospect list.

If you’re a nonprofit organization looking for a resource providing more than just grants, Foundation Directory Online could be the perfect tool to help craft your donor development and fundraising strategy.

Chronicle of Philanthropy

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is an independent news organization that serves nonprofit leaders, fundraisers, and grantmakers. Aside from its regularly updated blog and newsletter, the site offers resources that all types of topics nonprofits may find useful.

The resources and data sets cover a wide range of topics from advocacy to communications to fundraising. While some of its content is free, many articles, resources, and data sets are locked under premium subscriptions.

Chronicle image


The Chronicle offers webinars seemingly every couple weeks on all sorts of topics related to nonprofits. After briefly looking at upcoming listings, they tend to run about an hour long and cost $79.

Speakers come from outside the organization and appear to be experts in their fields.

Jobs Board

One of the more interesting features here is the job posting area Philanthropy Careers. You can post openings you may have in your organization for a price based on the functionality you want ranging from $180 to $333 per posting.

If you or someone you know is looking for a job, this service is free to use, and each listing provides contact information and application instructions. Jobs can be searched by location, organization focus, and job type.

Chronicle Jobs Board image


With a subscription to Chronicle of Philanthropy you get access to a third-party grants database called GrantStation. This is a searchable database of private grantmakers, international grantmakers, federal deadlines, and links to state funding agencies.

GrantStation has over 6,000 active grants in its database.

GrantStation image

The database is focused on federal and state funding opportunities only. While it lists other types of private funders, open grants are primarily drawn from publicly available databases such as

Access: Annual Subscriptions

The Chronicle offers annual subscriptions at either $86 per year or $146 for two years.

Interestingly, GrantStation’s website promotes its services for $699 per year or $1,258 for two years. So it is worth ensuring through the Chronicle that you will indeed get full access to GrantStation. It is definitely worth going through the Chronicle to get your subscription to GrantStation than buying it directly from them.

When to use this source?

If you are a nonprofit organization looking for more than just a grants database, this is the tool for you. Its comprehensive industry database and other tools make it a premium source for the nonprofit manager looking to excel.

In terms of strictly finding open grants, you may be better off sticking to the free federal and state databases.

Use this service if you want to search for funders based on their likelihood of granting your organization money. More than providing a database of open grants, this feature allows you to plan marketing and fundraising campaigns and focus on the areas of highest probable success.

Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.

Business resources

The SBA offers help and guidance around several different funding opportunities for your business.

SBA image

The site also offers many different resources including market research and competitive analysis for planning your business, step-by-step instructions for launching your business, and advice and guidance around paying taxes, managing employees, and growing your business.

SBA services image

The SBA does not give grants to businesses or nonprofits directly. However, organizations conducting research and development can apply to a number of different grant opportunities through the Small Business Research Innovation Program (SBIR).


This a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal research and development that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

By including qualified small businesses in the nation’s R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the entrepreneurial spirit is leveraged to meet research and development needs.


Like the SBIR, the Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR) is another program that expands funding opportunities in the federal innovation research and development arena. Central to the program is expansion of the public/private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small businesses and nonprofit research institutions.

Both SBIR and STTR are coordinated by the SBA.

Federal opportunities

Grants associated with SBA are aggregated in a database called Federal Business Opportunities (FBO).

Searches can be conducted based on location, posting date, and agency submitting the grant. Currently there are over 26,800 active grants according to the website. All opportunities provide basic details with links to the funding agencies’ original posting pages.

FBO image

Access: Free to everyone

When to use this source?

Use this source regularly to stay on top of all federal opportunities specifically focused on business funding.

If your business requires funding to support research and development, this source will be especially useful. Because account registration is free and requires almost no information about you or your organization, it costs nothing to stay on top of all available U.S. government grant opportunities.

Also use this source if you need general guidance around any of the different phases involved in launching and running your business. The large library of articles and reports are useful resources that should be consulted, especially if you lack the budget to pay for more sufficient management help.

Additional Information

Hopefully your nonprofit or small business finds some of these resources useful. If you’re looking for more detailed information on how to start a fundraising strategy (especially if you’re a nonprofit), check out the Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Fundraising.

If you’re a business or nonprofit or any other type of organization looking for funding in Connecticut, check out Spera Connect’s funding database which includes almost 2,000 active grants for CT eligible organizations. It is updated daily, includes searches based on subject, eligibility, and other criteria, and allows for custom alert-based subscriptions.

At only $29.99 per month, it is certainly one of the most cost-effective options out there.

CT Addiction Services

Amid the increasingly prevalent opioid crisis happening across the country, one of the biggest challenges for users is finding treatment. A new, stand-alone website launched by Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) can help change the way addicts can get the services they need.

The site,, allows people to see what beds are available at DMHAS-funded facilities. That includes detox programs, residential treatment and recovery houses.

Across Connecticut there are approximately 1,000 state-funded beds that exist for these purposes. With this new website, providers are encouraged to update as close to real-time as possible the status of their facilities.

CT Addiction Services image

Users of the system have the ability to choose which type of program they seek and can see which facilities have capacity so they can make arrangements to check in.

By clicking on one of the providers’ names, users can find more details about the facility including what programs are offered, how many total beds there are, and what types of insurance are accepted.

CT Addiction Services details image

The website is funded through a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant which runs from September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2019 and provides the state $1 million annually to “expand medication assisted treatment as well as strengthen outpatient resources and improve statewide infrastructure.”

An article posted in the New London Patch last September forecasted over 1,000 fatal overdoses across Connecticut for the year 2017—an 18% increase over 2016.

This map attempts to illustrate the density of the problem, with darker colors indicating higher concentration of overdose deaths. (For an interactive version of this map see the original article here.)

CT overdose map image

Seeing how this is a growing problem in Connecticut, this website is a great step toward eliminating at least some of the roadblocks for people stuck in the downward spiral of drug abuse.

With any momentum the site could expand to include non-DMHAS-funded programs and create a sort of hub for all types of services people seek but have trouble finding.