Author Archive: Stanley

Funding and Hurricane Florence

Many people want to donate after a hurricane and it is certainly appreciated by nonprofits, churches, and organizations overwhelmed with those who need help. In a catastrophe like Florence, money can come from:

  • Politicians (don’t count on it)
  • Government agencies (fill out paperwork to populate their databases)
  • Businesses (sometimes for business purposes)
  • Foundations (what about next year’s funding)
  • Individuals (sincere giving)
  • Probably others I may have missed

Regardless where the money comes from, nonprofits should review the conditions for accepting any money. Most of the time, the conditions only require supporting those in need after the catastrophe. However, conditions can be more restrictive and bind the nonprofit to future initiatives that may not be in their best interest. If there are any concerns with the conditions, do not negotiate and reject the money.

This may be hard to do with someone trying to give money for a worthy cause, but it will be harder to later meet conditions that violate the nonprofit’s mission. If the money is accepted, the details should be recorded in a spreadsheet.

All money associated with the catastrophe should be kept separate from money for operations. It may be tempting to delay this recording of income and expenses with everything happening almost at once. But, take the time and don’t just dump everything into the general account.

More important than anything, a nonprofit should not get involved in recovery efforts beyond their mission or capabilities. This catastrophe should not be used as a means to expand into other areas of need, despite the pleas to do so. It will only lead the nonprofit off the side of a cliff with a guarantee of failure for all involved.

Many people want to give money after a catastrophe. Nonprofits should focus on what they are capable of doing, accept money that will temporarily increase their services, partner with other organizations, and then return to normal operations.

Editing Again?

I’m finishing another edit of my novel. Before I wrote the book, I had been thinking about the story for almost a year. When I finally started writing, it came out fast and easy. I liked what I wrote, until I read what I wrote.

I have gone through numerous, much needed edits. While the basic story remained the same, I made a lot of changes such as in the characters, how the story started, and the ending. All right, maybe more than I thought. After each edit, I thought I had written a bestseller until I read it again. It was a non-seller.

I tried different ways to edit such as starting with the last chapter and going backward chapter by chapter. I wouldn’t recommend this. It’s very confusing and I don’t think people were meant to read a story backward. At least not me.

On this, my final edit (I hope), I focused on each scene within a chapter. I questioned everything and whether the words belonged where they were placed. I was not kind to my words. I think some were hesitant about being written down since they had a good chance of being deleted. Some took the chance, anyway.

This process required many re-readings on the same chapter, yet it seemed to work better for me. I also joined a critique group who have been great at finding things wrong. Yet, we meet too infrequently.

My method is slow, but when I’m done with each chapter I feel better at what I had written. Until, I re-read what I wrote.

P.S. The picture is Harry, a friendly Sasquatch from the 1987 movie “Harry and the Hendersons” and my recent toy.

Florence

Nice name, not a nice storm.

This blog is about the hurricane since I live in New Bern, NC. My wife and I evacuated on Wednesday to Richmond, VA where we had family. We came home Sunday afternoon to no electricity and piles of rubble and debris everywhere. Flood waters were not far away.

The picture is an 80 foot pine about 35 feet from our house. If it had fallen the other way, it would have destroyed part of our house. While we were fortunate, I feel bad because several houses in our neighborhood were flooded and many homes had trees leaning on them or through them. Fortunately, no one got hurt because many in the neighborhood evacuated.

The big debate of whether to stay or go happened on Tuesday when Hurricane Florence was a category 3. Some did not evacuate, although they had money and places to go.

A thousand theses can be written on why people choose to stay during a hurricane. I have been in category 2 hurricanes and it is stressful when trees are coming down outside. I have sat in a dark house wondering if the next tree to fall will come through the house or some debris slam through a window.

New Bern and the surrounding area will recover thanks to people across the U.S. who came to volunteer and many others through their donations. An interesting note: This afternoon, the remnants of Florence brought tornadoes near Richmond. The hotel we were staying in became a shelter for those seeking safety.

Grant Reporting

When a nonprofit receives foundation money, it is critical they provide a report to the foundation on how they spent the money.

Almost all foundations require some type of report. What is required and the due date is usually explained in the acceptance letter that comes with the check. Not reporting back to the foundation means no more funding from future requests. Also, the foundation can notify other foundations of noncompliance in reporting.

But, let’s assume the positive and the nonprofit staff eagerly read and understand the reporting requirements. As much care should be taken in preparing the report as writing the grant. Many foundations use the reports they receive as a measure of the nonprofit’s ability to operate effectively.

Even if not requested, a nonprofit should provide at least one story of someone, a family, or a community being helped by the funding. The report’s data and information should relate to the story, which should be the highlight of the report.

If the foundation does not require a report, send one anyway. Even if it is a letter, the foundation should appreciate the feedback. Reports are beneficial to the nonprofit for many reasons:

—  They continue the communication between the nonprofit and foundation.
—  The report assures the foundation that the money was spent for what it was meant to do.
—  The foundation can use the information and stories to showcase that their grants were helping people. Showcasing the nonprofit, too.
—  A report gives the nonprofit added points for getting future money

A timely and accurate report helps to build a relationship between the nonprofit and the foundation. This relationship can sometimes mean more than the money received.