Author Archive: Stanley

A Nonprofit’s entrance looks like this without volunteers

Salaries are generally the largest cost for a nonprofit. The more paid staff there are, the less funding toward the mission. That is why volunteers are crucial for the continued success of a nonprofit.

A business can pay more salaries by selling more goods and services. Nonprofits usually do not have that capability. They must rely on grants and donations. They need volunteers to keep costs down and to remain attractive for foundations and donors who generally want to fund mission expenses, salaries not included.

Also, grant writers should be careful working with nonprofits who lack volunteers or do not have a program to manage volunteers. Is the grant writer finding money to pay the staff so they have a job or to achieve mission goals?

Also, if a nonprofit has volunteers, why are they volunteering? Is it because they receive benefits from the nonprofit and feel they must “give back”? This enters legal issues a grant writer should be aware of before working with a nonprofit.

When working with a nonprofit, there are several conditions to consider. One of the most critical is their volunteer program. Is there a robust number of volunteers and a program to manage them? Without volunteers, there could be other problems with the nonprofit.

So, I stay away from nonprofits who have few or no volunteers. Every mission requires a certain number of people to succeed. Without volunteers, nonprofits hire staff. The added cost is difficult to justify for funding or ethically.

Which is more important: Book Cover or Interior Design?

The outside of the book is what a reader sees first. The inside is what the reader sees the most.

Which is more important when designing a book? The cover or the interior?

Of course, both are important. But, with limited resources I hear many self-published authors focus more on the outside rather than the interior of their book. (Publishers know to do both or they don’t remain publishers for long.)

There is more to designing the interior of a book. This includes selecting a font type and size; adjusting page margins and paragraph spacing to create white space, and whether to indent paragraphs or not. Other considerations include allowing widowing (preventing a word or end of a paragraph to continue at the top of the next page) and having a new chapter start on the right.

A book’s cover includes images, shades of color, and the font type and size for the title and author’s name.

As I’ve blogged before, I disagree with people who believe the outside design of a book is critical to capturing a reader’s attention. This makes it seem the cover is more important. Over the years, I’ve talked to readers who bought a book because of the title, author, and/or genre. The cover was not that important.

To me, this means the interior of the book is more important than the outside cover. And, the interior should be more important. Readers are going to spend their time inside the book rather than on the outside. Along with the story, the interior should be one of the most important features of the book.

If I ever get my book published, I will pay attention to the cover. However, I intend to spend much more time on the interior design.

I got behind on grants

I did not post a blog last week because I got behind in writing grants for two nonprofits and the deadlines were a week away (today).

It was my own fault. I knew about the deadlines, but I procrastinated. Well, that is not entirely true. I was working on my novel and trying to finish the editing by the end of this month (self-imposed deadline). Somehow September will stop being September sooner than I thought.

I realized I needed to finish writing the grants so I would have time to send them around for comments and signatures by Thursday. I always schedule extra time before a deadline to take care of any problems like getting signatures.

The grant applications I worked were not online. The completed application and supporting documents had to be printed, tabbed, and packaged for delivery to the foundation office. Although these types of applications are more work than online applications, I like them better.

Non-online applications feel more personable to me. Like letter writing before emails. Also, fewer people make submissions that are not online, reducing the competition.

I did successfully complete and deliver both grant applications by Thursday. However, I will not be successful in finishing the edits of my novel by the end of September. This makes me wonder:

I volunteer to write grants, but my desire is to write my novel.

Be Kind to Your Donors

Recently, a small foundation wanted to know what happened to the donation they made to a nonprofit’s special project. The foundation had contributed a substantial amount of money and had not heard from the nonprofit.

The foundation had also wanted a small plaque posted at the project site stating they donated. The nonprofit agreed and accepted the money.

I directed the foundation to those making the decisions. In the end, the nonprofit did not explain the progress of the project, but stated that the foundation’s name would be listed on a plaque along with many other donors near to the project site.

This is where nonprofits fail. First, they do not provide updates to people who have donated substantial amounts of money and have asked for updates.

A simple way for a nonprofit to keep donors updated is recording everything in a spreadsheet. All the details should be listed including a date six months after the nonprofit received the money. This is when a letter should be sent explaining the nonprofit’s progress and successes.

Whether a foundation requested an update or not, always provide one at least six months later.

Second, once a nonprofit agrees with a foundation’s requirements and accepts the money, the nonprofit should treat this as a contract. Any changes need to be negotiated with the foundation.

I have found that many nonprofits do not realize they are bound by a foundation’s or donor’s requirements or restrictions. To change anything requires the nonprofit to negotiate with the foundation or donor. If the change is reasonable, I think most foundations and donors will understand.

The theme of the blog post is be kind to your donors. The foundation who made the substantial donation has vowed never to contribute again.