Let’s Have a Grant Writing Party

When I’m writing a grant, I prefer to have as many people in the nonprofit helping as I can. Diversity is a good thing all the time.

Yet, too many times the nonprofit staff and managers provide little input. While I encourage them to be involved in putting the application together, I just receive smiles. As if they are thinking, “thank goodness someone else is doing this grant thing.”

It’s too easy for a grant writer to ask for input, get nothing, and finish the grant themselves. I find myself sometimes doing this and I tell myself, “Self, don’t do that.”* Except, by this time the grant deadline is approaching and I have to do the grant myself, anyway.

Grant writing should not be a solo operation. Yet, getting people involved can be difficult. To make it easier on myself, I give out sections of the grant application to people with the most knowledge of that area. As an example, finances goes to the business manager, volunteer data to the coordinator, and I ask for data from the program director.

I treat my role as the coordinator where I put everything together for consistency. Of course it doesn’t work this easily, but I try. And I keep trying.**

The best grant writing process I’ve read about was when the grant writer got all the input they needed and put everything together. In the end, everyone involved met in a sit-down and talked about the application. This nonprofit had the most success with grants.

As a grant writer, what is your process for getting grants written?

* Yeah, I know. Bad joke.
** Hope dies last. (Studs Terkel)

Grant Updates

This is an update on two grant projects I recently blogged about.

The first, “Getting Emergency Grant Money” involved a nonprofit that was renovating an historic building and experienced a sudden problem. Work stopped for two weeks while experts evaluated the situation and permissions were renewed. During this time, the nonprofit contacted a local foundation for additional money.

The nonprofit had a long relationship with this foundation. After getting information from the experts and permission givers, we presented a way out of the problem. This was key to winning the confidence of the foundation members. While the amount of money is still to be set, the foundation will contribute as part of an out-of-cycle grant. Help is on the way.

All nonprofits need a foundation they can go to in emergencies because there will always be an emergency. However, these relationships should be nurtured when there are no emergencies. Get to know each other when it is not necessary to do so. (See my previous posts about relationships.)

I also recently blogged “PowerPoint for Money” about developing a short presentation explaining a nonprofit’s project. Nonprofit managers can then give the presentation to people with influence over a business or a foundation.

Recently, a nonprofit member gave our presentation to a local politician. The politician had influence with a foundation that generally did not support the nonprofit’s mission area. The verdict is still out, but things look hopeful. At least the presentation started a relationship.

One of the many jobs for grant writers is helping nonprofits develop multiple and diverse ways to get resources. Many times, this requires creativity. The more different ways to receive resources, the better prepared a nonprofit will be to meet emergencies. As Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

A Checklist for Formatting the Inside of a Book

Since my book has been published (only on KDP so far), I will start to share the steps I took to arrive at publication. If anyone wants to know more details, please email me. This list is something I could not find elsewhere and I hope I captured everything.

The first thing I looked at to prepare my book for publishing was the inside of the book. I wrote my novel in MS Word, which is where we will start.

  • Justify the document so all the words are in an even line on the left and right side of the page (except for paragraph indents on the left).
  • Choose a serif font large enough to be read easily. There are a lot of fonts. To make it easy, I chose Garamond which is in Word. I kept the font size at 12.
  • Put line spacing at 1.5 which makes it readable and does not take up too much space.
  • Turn off window/orphan control so the text goes to the end of each page. Otherwise, words on some pages will not go to the end of the page.
  • Number the pages in the upper right as “Page #.” I also kept the page numbering when a chapter started. I like to know what page I’m on and it’s annoying to me not having a page number. It’s also more complicated taking the page number off one page.
  • After the cover, the first page has the title and author centered on the page. Select “section break” for the next page so this first page can have different formatting from the rest of the book. The title page takes up most of the page with a larger font.
  • The second page will be on the left (after turning the title page). It has:
    • Copyright
    • Place of publication (if not a publishing company, I put my city)
    • “All Rights Reserved” paragraph
    • “The book is a work of fiction” paragraph
    • Credits to anyone
    • Library of Congress control number
    • ISBN for Print and ISBN for ebook
  • The third page, on the right across from the copyright page, starts chapter 1.
  • If the chapters have no titles, do not put in a table of contents. If there is a table of contents, it goes on the third page, next is a blank page, and the fifth page starts the first chapter. First chapters always start on the right page (I don’t know why). Other chapters can either start on the left or right. Ebooks must have a table of contents that can be put at the end.
  • Start each chapter on a new page by using page breaks. Center the chapter title and start the text about one third down the page.
  • Margins at the top, bottom, and inside should be 0.76 inches all around. Outside should be 0.6 inches with Gutter at 0.14 inches. Headers are 0.4 with footers at 0.3 inches.
  • Under “Multiple pages”, select “Mirror margins.”
  • Paragraphs should be indented 0.3 inches. Do not use the tab character to indent. If it is there, do a global search and replace it with the paragraph indent.

The steps in the list can be done in any order. I kept everything as simple as possible since this is my first time. Being creative on fonts, sizes, and other things can be entertaining; however, the point of the inside formatting is to make the words enjoyable to read.

Defining Success

If a nonprofit achieves success, foundations and donors are more likely to continue investing and the mission can continue. But, what is success?

Among the many definitions of success is the accomplishment of set goals. The key to meeting established goals are the measurement of specific objectives aligned with the goals. An example of a goal is to feed the hungry. Objectives would include receiving pounds of food so people will have something to eat.

Yet, most of the time there is limited or partial success. As an example, during the week there will be days when everyone is fed, some days when most of the people are fed, and days when some or none of the people are fed. Also, the variety of food on any day may not be enough. Was the week a success?

There is no absolute success in anything. Instead, there are different levels of success. While the goal could be to feed all the people all the time, there is still success if most of the people are fed some of the time.

Just setting goals and tracking objectives is rarely enough to determine success. It is the people working the mission who know if success has been achieved. Yes, there may not be enough food on some days and the variety may be lacking. However, the people in need could have other resources to get food. It could be that just helping them some of the time was enough to not go hungry.

The point of this blog is for nonprofits to put value in what is accomplished and relay this back to foundations and donors so they will understand. Numbers tell only part of the story. The people involved tell the other part.