When a Crisis Creates Special Funding

These past few weeks, many foundations are quickly offering grant money to help with the impact of the coronavirus. This is good news since the Federal money will not be coming for weeks or months.

I’ve written a few grants already and read over a few others. The foundations do not require much information. Some grant requests are by invite only and a few foundations are sending money to nonprofits they know are directly impacted without needing a grant request. I expect more foundations will offer money to cover coronavirus related expenses.

There are good and bad things about quick money during any crisis.

The good news is that foundations want to help and they make money available easily long before the federal government can respond. The bad news is that a nonprofit could find it hard to justify receiving money in a crisis, such as the coronavirus, when their programs are not impacted.

For many nonprofits, the impact is a loss of income such as in donations.

Nonprofits should resist the urge to justify receiving coronavirus money unless their programs were impacted. Chasing after crisis money, like coronavirus funding, can force a nonprofit to become what they were not meant to be. When the crisis is over, the nonprofit can be labeled something else, future money cannot be justified, relationships get broken, and the path forward could be lost.

More importantly, the reputation of the nonprofit could be hurt if they received money outside of their mission without a logical reason.

Yes, some nonprofits can readjust their resources to accommodate a specific crisis and they should receive crisis money for doing so. In the end, I think the responsibility is more on the nonprofit than the foundation to rationalize accepting crisis money or not.

Channeling a Character

I will sometimes finish a scene, sit back, and wonder who wrote that. The characters appeared to write themselves. They did and said what they wanted, despite what I had in mind.

I heard writers admit how their characters seemed to take over a scene, as if they came to life. I agree with writers that channeling could be the reason.

People think of channeling as psychics or people sensitive to the spiritual world. As background, a writer is limited in their writing by education, culture, environment, personality, and other traits linked to their life and mindset. When a character goes against these traits, I think the writer can be tapping into the spiritual world.

Whether or not the writer believes it, there are times when the writer becomes so focused on a scene that a connection is born and someone from the other side expresses themselves onto the page. Much like automatic writing. No, the writer is not seeing dead people like in The Sixth Sense. I think of it like this:

Channeling is possible when a writer focuses so much on a scene and characters that the writer enters a meditative state. I focus on writing a scene to the point I feel I am a part of it. Like in automatic writing, someone else comes through.

I know, you can’t wait for the catch or the joke to this blog. There isn’t any. I don’t think channeling is common, nor does it happen to everyone. Or, if it happens it comes briefly without the writer realizing it. But it exists.

Of course, many people would think this is nonsense. Yet, some stories could use a little collaboration. What better collaboration than people who do not ask for a byline?

Try this when you get stuck on a scene:

    • Get comfortable
    • Breath
    • Concentrate on the page without worrying you need to type something.

If you fall asleep, at least you’ll have a good nap. If you say awake, you may be happy about what had been written.

A Nonprofit’s Need for Stability

Nonprofit operations need to continue in a consistent manner each time and every day. Without this stability, mistakes occur and, when a problem happens, the people struggle for a solution.

Most of the time, nonprofits (and other organizations) rely on people staying in their same position over time to maintain stability. Unfortunately, when these people leave, the operations must be relearned. This costs time and other resources and could be a significant point of failure in the mission or a program.

A simple list of what to do is sufficient to keep operations stable when people leave. As an example, when receiving grant money, the instruction should state what spreadsheet to use, what information to enter, who to inform about the grant, and who will be accountable for spending the money (receive, record, inform, and establish accountability). The instructions do not have to be long.

While it can seem daunting to write instructions for each activity and process, they can be written without many details. Do not write about every possible contingency that may come up. Keep the instructions simple so they can be used as a baseline for what to do. Keep the instruction to one page or two at the most. Make sure there is plenty of white space on each page, maybe use an outline form. The reader does not want to feel like they are reading War and Peace.

I am trying to follow my own advice with the nonprofit I’m involved with. While I already keep records of everything, I am writing out the steps I take to accomplish each process. Now is a good time for everyone to do this since most of us are home. I’m also doing it because I do not plan to stay with the nonprofit the rest of my life.

Does There Need to be a Hero and a Villain?

Many authors and people in the publishing industry claim that a story is not a story without a hero and a villain. I disagree.

The thinking behind this claim is that opposing sides create conflict which keeps the reader’s interest. Suspense builds toward the resolution of the conflict. Historically, opposing sides have been between good and evil or a hero and a villain. However, I don’t think a hero or a villain is always necessary to make a story. Nor, is good and evil needed.

To make a story, something needs to happen. At least one character should exhibit some type of change that does not come from facing an enemy. A scene, environment, or events can create challenges that make a character become a better or worse person. Yet, writing this way can be difficult for writers.

Many writers find it easier and simpler to create a hero and a villain where the boundaries are well defined and the conflict is clear. Such as in the Hero’s Journey. Except, this can lead to flat characters who have no complexity, deep emotion, or distinct personality.

Flat characters are clichés who stay within the boundaries of what the writer defines as good or evil. The story becomes more about chasing after something like an object or a goal than about who is doing the chasing. To avoid flat characters and give more dimension to the story, a writer could question the good and evil of the characters.

As an example, chase scenes and quests could change the hero into a villain and vice versa. Or, there could be no obvious hero or villain. Just average people confronted with challenges that makes them into something different than what they were at the story’s beginning.