Yes or No to Matching Grants

Some foundations and government organizations require grant recipients to match the grant funding one-to-one. As an example, if a nonprofit is approved for $10,000, they must have another $10,000 before getting the grant money.

The good news about matching grants is less competition. Many nonprofits will not try for the matching funds. The bad news is that the nonprofit must raise the matching funds.

Most of the time, matching funds cannot be in-kind expenses or money from other grants. The nonprofit must raise the money through donations or events, which is not that hard.

Getting a matching grant is a great motivator to raising money and can be central to a fundraising campaign. People are more likely to give a donation if they know their donation is matched. Like a half-price sale.

But don’t get more than one or two matching grants at a time. Any more than this and too many resources could be used to match the grants. Such as multiple ads and events, which could confuse donors.

When submitting for a matching grant, the nonprofit should have reasonable confidence they can match the grant. A nonprofit is not likely to get another grant if they miss the matching deadline. Also, do not plan on negotiating. Foundations and government organizations are usually bound legally to the guidelines.

Given all this, I would recommend every nonprofit get at least one matching grant. The nonprofit usually has two to three years after grant approval to raise the money and the risk is worth it.

Before I submit for a matching grant, I make sure the nonprofit has at least a general plan on how they will raise the money. That way when the grant is approved, there are no worries, but smiles.

The Long and Short of Things

This blog will help creative writers and grant writers. It is about the length of a chapter, whether in a story or a grant.

Editors talk about varying the size of sentences and paragraphs to maintain tempo or pacing. Shorter sentences and paragraphs increase the pace while longer ones slow things down. The opposite is true for chapters.

For creative writers, long chapters allow a reader to settle into the story through dialogue, action scenes, and/or narrative explanations. Short chapters focus on a single event and give the reader time to absorb the experience of the long chapter. As an example, a writer can use a long chapter for the climax where a lot of things happen to wrap up the story (quick pace). This is followed by a short chapter to wrap up the climax (slow things down).

For grant writers, the section describing the project generally allows the most number of words. This section is best divided into segments with headers, similar to chapters. Long segments provide important information for the reader to digest. Short segments allow the reader to take a break and hopefully understand the information in the longer segment better.

Varying the size or length of chapters and segments helps the reader capture the writer’s thoughts and provides a more readable experience.

So, how to do this? Of course, there is no formula or template. One way I would suggest is to think of a long chapter or segment as studying for a test. At some point, the student takes a break and sips on coffee or does some simple distraction to momentarily stop studying. This is the short of it.

Motivation Between Staff and Volunteers

Who is more motivated toward the nonprofit’s mission—paid staff or volunteers? I see them both as having different yet equal motivations.

Salaries are one of the highest expenses in nonprofits and they do not survive without volunteers. While vital to keeping labor costs down, nonprofits should not be all volunteers. There needs to be paid staff for stability and who bring a different motivation to nonprofits.

There is no right answer to what this mix of staff and volunteers should be (cost is a factor, of course). I think the best way to manage the two groups is to have a clear separation of job duties. This is true for any business, and it helps everyone to know their role and the roles of others. Just keep the job duties simple.

The most important part of managing staff and volunteers is paying attention to the dynamics of what motivates each group. To staff, it is a paying job (although little pay). To a volunteer and sometimes staff, it is a desire to help and be involved.

I have seen executive directors have weekly staff meetings, but never meet any of the volunteers. I’ve listened to volunteers say how they never met the executive director or the people working in the nonprofit.

It is up to the executive director and volunteer coordinator to make sure staff and volunteers know about each other. And not only through a newsletter. It could be just a meet-and-greet that takes a few minutes. The more people who feel a part of an organization, the more they are motivated to do their best.

Staff and volunteers may bring different talents and motivations, but they are equally important to the success of any nonprofit.

Publish What You Write

Many people write stories, memoirs, essays, poems, or other work that could be published. Yet, for various reasons they never publish their work. I think every writer should consider publishing what they wrote and making it available for someone to read.

Today, self-publishing a print book* can be done online or through a local printer with varying degrees of cost (they may be free to upload, but will cost to print).

For online printing, there are many companies providing a wide range of support from the writer doing everything to the company doing everything. The main benefit to online is that a reader, such as a family member, can purchase the book and have it delivered wherever they want.

The other way is through a local printer. Most everywhere has a graphic store producing signs and banners or a chain office-supply store, both of whom usually provide print services. This method is good if the writer wants a limited number of books and is concerned about their work being online.

What if the writing is not very good? I think that if the writer can understand it, they have told a story and a reader can be found. The two just need to meet.

With so many services, more writers should print their work in some form. Even a pamphlet will do. It will cost, but the value to the writer of holding something with their thoughts inside is worth it.

* This blog post is mostly about people who write for a specific audience, such as their family, who want something to hold. These writers are not interested in making a profit or even selling their work.