As many kicked off the holiday season last week, here at FUND Consulting the end of November also marked the end of what our team has dubbed “FA Application Season”. The application round opened on September 29, 2014, and closed with an application submission deadline of November 24, 2014. During this time, the FUND team worked with Annual Service Package clients to finalize the applications based on the results of strategic assistance and application preparation work throughout the year. In addition to providing comprehensive application preparation services to our current client base, FUND was proud to work with NeighborWorks America, providing application support services to 37 NeighborWorks affiliates nationwide. As a result of the depth and breadth of our work with CDFIs, FUND Consulting gains insight into the best practices of CDFIs, as well as the challenges faced by CDFIs working to hone their business models.
The CDFI Fund application requires an extensive amount of information. When a client cannot provide the detail requested in the application, it helps the FUND team pinpoint areas in which the CDFI needs to build capacity. This year, the FUND Consulting team observed the following common challenges from applicants:
- Most applicants had difficulty linking the award request to their strategic goals.
- Many applicants had a difficult time identifying competitors and how marketing is designed to address competition.
- Some applicants felt challenged by the concept of leverage, and how the FA award would help the CDFI attract additional funding sources.
FUND Consulting services are designed to help our clients identify capacity needs, develop strategies to address them, and link strategies to award requests. While the application season is over, FUND Consulting is looking forward to beginning its cycle of strategic services to help clients increase efficiency and maximize community development impact.