State & Local Programs

CASA: A Guide to Program Development

Section 1 - Planning a Quality Program (Chapters 1- 9)
Section II - Volunteers (Chapters 10- 12)
Section III - Managing the Program (Chapters - 13-15)

<Manual HomeIntro Chapters1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Section I - Planning a Quality Program
Chapter 6: Funding the Program

Developing the First Budget
Developing the Right Approach to Fundraising
Possible Funding Sources
Federal Funding for CASA Programs
National CASA Resource Development Protocol
  - Introduction
  - Research
  - Submission of Funding Requests

One of the great challenges facing the steering committee is finding the money needed to get the program off the ground. The court and community leaders may embrace the concept wholeheartedly, but they will still ask, "Who is going to pay for it?" Regardless of the enthusiasm for CASA, the commitment of those involved or the careful planning that is done, if the funds are not available, the program can never train the first volunteer.

Finding funding for a new organization that does not have a local track record, has little visibility in the community and doesn't have staff, requires creativity, and the willingness to try multiple approaches. The first step in securing funds is to determine how much you need and what for. Creating a budget of expenses for the first year of operation is the best place to start.


Developing the First Budget

To determine what the actual costs of goods and services will be, take a look at other similar nonprofit organizations in your community. Members of the planning committee may be able to provide information based on their personal knowledge or experience in other organizations. The local United Way may be able to provide cost information from their member agencies. Your state CASA organization can share what other developing programs in your state have budgeted for necessary items (see samples of Start-Up Budgets in the Tools section).

Although you might need to include other categories or distribute the items within these categories differently, the expenses of launching a CASA program usually fall into the categories below:

  • Personnel ? Includes federal and state taxes, the employer portion of social security, and employee benefits.
  • Equipment ? Includes a computer and printer, small duplicating machine, desk, chair, locking file cabinet for confidential records, a telephone and answering machine.
  • Volunteer Support ? Includes the purchase or printing of recruitment materials such as brochures and posters; training materials and other costs associated with training.
  • Facility - Includes office space, maintenance, utilities, and cleaning.
  • Supplies ? Includes paper, pens, computer cartridges, business cards, letterhead, etc.
  • Travel ? Includes cost of mileage reimbursement for volunteers and staff, plus travel expenses such as meals and hotels associated with training and meetings for staff.
  • Telephone/Internet Service ? Includes the cost of installing the initial telephone line for the program, as well as funds for long-distance. Explore the need and cost effectiveness of installing a phone line for internet or fax access. It may be cheaper than adding one later.
  • Administrative costs ? Includes legal, accounting, and other costs of administering the program.
  • Insurance ? Includes professional and general liability, directors and officers coverage for the board, and liability coverage for volunteers (if you anticipate that you will have volunteers active on cases during the first year).
  • Staff Training ? Includes the registration cost for workshops or conferences, such as conferences sponsored by National CASA and your state organization.
  • Dues & Publications ? Includes program membership dues for National CASA and any dues for your state association. You might also include publications and training videos for the volunteers.


Developing the Right Approach to Fundraising

Once you have identified the kind and amount of financial resources you will need to start the CASA program, you are ready to begin developing your funding plan. If people on the planning committee have experience in fundraising, they will be helpful during this phase of planning. If not, you will need to identify successful fundraisers who are willing to assist or would agree to provide training to members of the planning committee.

Funding sources want assurance that they are being asked to support a carefully researched and well planned program that fills documented community needs. Funding for human service programs - especially children's programs - is limited, and competition is stiff. Funders want to know that they are not throwing money away on a program that will fail because of poor planning, lack of coordination with those who will be affected, or duplication of efforts. You must be able to show a solid plan to support your request.

Three fundamental rules of successful fundraising are:

    1. Know who you are asking.
    2. Know what you are asking for.
    3. Ask and ask again.

The success of any fundraising project will hinge on how well you know the person/agency/corporation you are soliciting. It is essential to have a clear, precise understanding of who the potential funder is, what types of programs it likes to support, and its funding history. Your request might be a good one, but if it does not fall within the funder's philosophy or budget parameters, you probably will not get funded.

A good strategy is to narrow your request to specific needs. It is rarely effective to approach an institution or organization with a blanket request. Funders usually prefer to fund defined projects rather than general operating expenses. It is also helpful to have a list of items, such as office furniture or computers, that the program needs. Use the budget as a blueprint for determining what your specific requests should be.

At the same time, you must be flexible. A potential donor might decline your original request, but offer something else that is needed. It is a good idea to prepare two or three alternative requests, based on what the donor is able to offer. The key to successful solicitation of in-kind contributions is to be clear on what specific items you need, and to be willing to ask for them - again, and again, from several different sources.


Possible Funding Sources

In-Kind Contributions. Donated goods and services are a major source of support for CASA programs, especially programs in the early stages of development. Many organizations that would like to support the development of CASA do not have cash to donate, but would be more than willing to provide in-kind support. Any goods or services donated to the program should be included in the budget as revenue. The contributor should determine the value of the contribution and provide the program with a written letter stating its value. In turn, the program, if tax-exempt status is in place, should provide a letter documenting the contribution for tax purposes.

The following are common sources of in-kind support for CASA programs:

  • The Court - Office space, telephone, clerical support, supplies
  • Community Service Organizations - Office and meeting space, printing, training materials
  • Bar Association - Pro bono legal services, office space
  • Corporations, Businesses, Law Firms - Paper, printing, computers, graphic design, office space, volunteer recognition materials

The Court. If the program is court-initiated, funding may be available through the court or its funding agency - either the county or the state. If attorney guardians ad litem are currently being appointed at court expense and the statute in your state does not require that the GAL be an attorney, it may be possible to negotiate for a portion of that funding to be channeled into the CASA program. You should anticipate some resistance to this idea, and the support of the presiding judge would be essential to counter objections that will likely arise.

The State. A number of states have passed legislation requiring or enabling the development of CASA programs and with funding appropriated in the state budget. Your state organization can provide information about how to qualify for these funds if they are available.

Community Service Organizations. Other organizations committed to child welfare have supported the development of CASA programs in numerous sites around the country. Both the National Council of Jewish Women and the International Association of Junior Leagues have been instrumental in bringing CASA programs to many communities. If you have chapters or sections of these organizations in your community and have not already involved them in a planning committee, they should be contacted. Usually, these organizations set their funding priorities a year or two in advance, so contact them early in the planning process.

Churches, and service clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Women?s Clubs, can also be a great resource to help establish a CASA program.

Kappa Alpha Theta. This national women's fraternity has adopted CASA as its National philanthropy and both alumnae and collegiate chapters have been helpful in supporting CASA programs throughout the country. Local chapters have helped CASA programs with financial and volunteer support, and sponsor community awareness events. Call the Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation (1-800-KAO-1870) for the name of the nearest Kappa Alpha Theta chapter, or visit their website at

Corporations and Private Businesses. Charitable contributions from corporations or businesses in your community may be available for new programs. The dollar amount and the application criteria will vary according to corporation or business philosophy, practice, and resources available. Investigate business sources on an individual basis. If planning committee members have had experience applying for contributions from local corporations, they may have valuable information on how to approach a company.

If you are unable to find anyone who has had experience with the particular company you want to approach, call and ask to speak to the person in charge of charitable contributions. Request information on their guidelines and priorities and be prepared to give a brief overview of the CASA program. If their stated purpose makes a cash contribution unlikely, you may consider a request for an in-kind contribution such as printing services or office equipment.

United Way. Some United Way agencies have venture grants to assist new programs with startup needs. These grants are separate from United Way agency membership, but may be available to member agencies starting new programs. If the CASA program is starting under the umbrella of an already established nonprofit agency in the community, start-up support may be available from the umbrella agency.

Private Foundations. Private family, community and corporate foundations are sometimes open to funding new CASA programs, particularly if the foundation's field of interest includes family services or improvement of judicial responses to youth. Foundations generally prefer specific projects with clearly defined outcomes, time lines and indication of support from other sources. Some foundations will not fund operating expenses, but will consider requests for funds to produce or purchase the materials required to train CASA volunteers.

The reference departments of most local libraries have foundation directories available that provide contact information and funding priorities. There is also a wealth of information about foundations and other funding opportunities on the internet. Check with your state CASA organization for suggestions of foundations that are likely funding sources within the state.

A word of advice: well-known national foundations, such as Kellogg, Ronald McDonald Children?s House, Annie E. Casey, and Edna McConnell Clark, prefer to fund national organizations or projects that have impact broader than one community or even one state. National CASA staff is regularly in touch with most of these funders and seeks grants that will benefit local programs when they are available. The best bet for local CASA programs is to focus on the many local foundations that are interested in funding programs at the community level.

  • In 1991, National CASA, in agreement with state directors, established a protocol for approaching prospective funders who are not located within the immediate geographic area, and with whom they do not already have an established relationship. The program seeking funds should contact the CASA program located in the State or community of the funder, to learn if that program already receives financial support, or has a proposal pending with the prospective funder. Likewise, local and state programs should first check with National CASA before approaching a national funder. Please refer to the Resource Development Protocol at the end of this chapter to review the policy.

IOLTA. The "Interest on Lawyer?s Trust Accounts" program funds CASA programs in many states. The CASA/GAL State Director, or other local CASA/GAL program may be able to provide you information on how it is administered in your state. Through the IOLTA program, attorneys place nominal or short-term client trust funds in an interest-earning account. An administrative body, usually the State Bar foundation, awards and administers the interest earned on the lawyers trust accounts.


Federal Funding for CASA Programs

The National CASA Association Grants Program. This is federal funding authorized by Congress specifically for the expansion of CASA advocacy for abused and neglected children. It is contingent upon an annual appropriation from Congress to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and administered by the National CASA Association. An announcement is made by National CASA, typically at the beginning of each calendar year, of the grant opportunities and applications available for that year. In every year, grants are made to establish new CASA programs, expand existing programs, as well as fund some demonstration projects. Be sure to contact National CASA for details of upcoming grant cycles. Funding for the CASA Program has been authorized by Congress through fiscal year 2005.

Other sources of federal funding for CASA programs are typically awarded by the federal agency to state agencies or commissions, for disbursement within that state. Wide discretion is usually given to the state to determine which agencies will receive the federal funds in any given year. Your State CASA/GAL director is probably the best source of information on what federal funds are made available to CASA programs in your state.

The following are the primary federal programs applicable to CASA programs.

Children?s Justice Act. The Children?s Justice Act (CJA) provides grants to States to improve handling of cases of child abuse and neglect, particularly sexual abuse and exploitation. A priority is programs which serve child victims and their families in order to minimize trauma. Up to $20 million is available nationally for CJA state activities. Check with your State Director or National CASA Association for the name of the CJA Coordinator in your state.

Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). VOCA funds support criminal justice advocacy, emergency legal assistance, information and referral services, personal advocacy, and assistance with filing crime victms compensation claims. VOCA grant funds can only support services to victims of crime, so that extensive documentation and reporting is required by grant recipients. The Office of Victims of Crime, the federal agency which administers the funding, gives states maximum discretion to set priorities and to determine which programs within the states are funded. For this reason, there is wide variance among states funding CASA programs. In the year 2000, 144 CASA programs, in 19 states, received VOCA funds. Your CASA/GAL State Director should have a good idea whether your state agency is amenable to funding CASA programs. To locate the VOCA contact in your state, and what activities were funded in the previous year, you can go to the following website: (click on your state).

Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides formula block grants to all states and territories. States must submit their plan to OJJDP detailing how they will utilize the funds, which can be support for programs to reduce or prevent delinquency or improve the juvenile justice system. A Juvenile Justice Specialist in each state is designated to coordinate the block grant, and State Advisory Groups (SAG) made recommendations on how the funds should be utilized. You should contact your CASA/GAL State Director to learn if federal juvenile justice funds support CASA programs in your state. It is best to work with your state organization to build a relationship with the state?s Juvenile Justice Specialist and SAG, to pave the way for future funding of CASA if it is not already happening.


National CASA Resource Development Protocol


Not-for-profit organizations must strive to obtain and sustain an optimal funding mix of public and private support to secure their future. However, in this decade we are experiencing escalating human service needs and costs, while the availability of government funds is being sharply curtailed. As a result, more organizations than ever before are appealing to the same foundations and corporations for private support.

Several funders across the country have acknowledged that they receive grant requests from multiple CASA programs. This is reasonable when the prospective funder?s guidelines are appropriate for CASA program support, and the funder does not restrict giving to a specific geographic area. Even so, the best approach to a prospective funder should be made in coordination and cooperation with other CASA programs. That way the funder will not feel overwhelmed and disinclined because of numerous requests from CASA programs in a single grant-making period. Additionally, through a coordinated approach it is far less likely that one program?s request could jeopardize the outcome of a pending request from another program.


NCASAA routiely send inquiries to funders throughout the country, requesting information such as annual reports, giving guidelines, funding priorities and eligibility of national organizations to receive funding.

When NCASAA learns of a prospective funder whose priorities are appropriate for CASA program support, yet restricts giving to a specific geographic area, NCASAA should provide lead to the member CASA program in that area.

Likewise, when state or local programs discover a funder which is not appropriate for its own program support, but may be appropriate for national projects, the program should provide that lead to NCASAA.

When a prospective funder is identified which provides funding for national projects as well as specific community support, through the same office or funding mechanism, NCASAA will proceed with respect and consideration for the member CASA program located in the state or community of the funder, whichever is more appropriate as described in the next section. Written guidelines provided by a prospective funder generally define the tiers of support which the funder will provide (i.e. support for projects with a restricted geographic area, regional projects or national projects). When the guidelines clearly restrict support to just one tier (local, regional or national), there is little potential for conflict between National and local CASA program requests. The guidelines may also describe separate mechanisms to support giving at two tiers. That is, a national corporation may, through its regional office, provide support for nonprofit agencies within that geographic region. At the same time, the national corporation, through its headquarters office or a corporate foundation, may provide support for national projects. When grant-making is provided for multiple tiers, through separate mechanisms (i.e. regional office and a national office), again there is little likelihood for conflict.


Submission of Funding Requests

  1. Before submitting a request for funding, NCASAA will notify the appropriate CASA program located in the state or community of the funder. If the CASA program has a request pending, or is preparing a request for submission, and it is agreed that a request from NCASAA may affect the outcome of the CASA program?s request, NCASAA may defer any action until the prospective funder acts upon the CASA program request. NCASAA and the CASA program should then come to agreement on the best timing of NCASAA?s request. Certain circumstances may warrant notification after an initial contact.

  2. A funder who provides ongoing support for a CASA program may also consider national projects. The state or local programs and NCASAA offices should discuss this, and may even inquire of the prospective funder if one tier of CASA program support excludes the other (if this is not evident in the written guidelines). If it is appropriate to the project, NCASAA/state/local programs may take the opportunity to team in their meeting with a prospective funder or collaborate on the grant proposal.

  3. State and local CASA programs should notify NCASAA before approaching a national funder, most especially when NCASAA has an established relationship with that funder. NCASAA may have a request pending or ready to submit to the funder. NCASAA may also be able to provide information on the prospective funder or on previous approaches by CASA programs.

  4. The fact that a prospective funder is located within a state or local CASA program?s community is not, in itself, reasonable grounds for NCASAA to defer solicitation. Programs should coordinate their solicitations as described in #1 above.

  5. NCASAA/state/local programs should make every effort to follow this protocol when there is a potential conflict with the development efforts of another program.

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