Join a Writers’ Group

Writers’ groups are opportunities to encourage and inspire writers along with providing a means to network. As president of a writers’ group, we provide benefits to motivate people to join. We have luncheons with guest speakers, on occasion writing events, and a discount on our writing contest. Member dues help pay for these things.

Our group, like many others, offer author representation on the website, a monthly newsletter, and we support several critique groups. More things member dues support. Yet, even with being in a large population area with a vibrant writing community we struggle with membership.

Writer groups are needed so a writer has a place to go to for support. Yet, I know many writers who do not belong to a writers’ group.

I think it is important for writers to join one. Most membership fees are reasonable and the opportunities to join can mean more than the money. There are opportunities to make writing friends and learn from other writers.

I belong to several groups, some too far away for me to attend the meetings. Yet, they still provide a way to network and learn. They are an outreach asset with diverse benefits.

I would encourage all writers to support at least one writers’ group in some way. However, I won’t suggest starting one unless you are so motivated. As a president of a writers’ group, it can be rewarding, but also challenging.

In-Kind Costs

There are many definitions for in-kind costs. For this blog post, I’ll define in-kind costs as non-cash contributions from individuals or organizations to a nonprofit for a specific project.

I do not consider in-kind costs as non-cash donations. While the definition between in-kind and donations can be similar, I consider donations as supporting a nonprofit’s operations. Like donating clothing, food, or books. In-kind costs help a project become successful. Such as a washing machine and dryer, a stove, or a bookshelf. Also, in-kind costs can include volunteers and donations never.

On some grant requests, foundations ask for in-kind costs in the budget. I identify these costs in the narratives where I write about the number of hours a volunteer worked or the benefits of a donated product.

I avoid reporting in-kind costs in the budget because putting a value on non-monetary resources is subjective. As an example, what is the salary of a volunteer or should a product be priced retail or wholesale or other? While, there are cost guidelines, they are not exact.

Second, in-kind costs can mistakenly inflate a project’s budget and cause a foundation to misunderstand the need for funding. As an example, a nonprofit may receive less funding if they identify donations as in-kind costs. The former helps with operations, but does not support the long-term goals of the project where funding is needed.

Third, donations are not guaranteed while in-kind costs are obligations to the project. Donations may or may not come. In-kind costs usually do arrive.

In the budget portion of the grant request, I stay away from any costs that can be subjective. I provide only cash figures in the budget and cost areas. All other non-monetary resources I leave to the narratives.

Writing in a Diary

For me, writing in a diary is a stress relief. My diary takes less work to express myself to me than writing something for other people to understand.

And, I listen to myself when I write to me. If I tell something to someone, they may not be listening or understanding. Writing in a diary could also be called free writing. It encourages creativity.

I think people should keep a diary. It is like having a conversation without talking to anyone. For me, the process and act of writing in a diary creates a sense of order in my thoughts, like it could for other people. It can certainly help anyone who needs to be a friend to themselves.

What I write in my diary is not what I would write in a journal.

A diary exposes deeper thoughts and it is easier to write out my thoughts. I think many writers create a journal instead of a diary. They are careful with what they write, believing that people would want to read their words one day or fearful that someone would read their words one day.

There are options. A writer can keep a journal and a diary. Let people read the journal and they will not look for a diary. Whichever way you go, the purpose of a diary and a journal is to communicate with yourself honestly.

If you are not writing a diary or journal, try it out. You certainly do not have to do it every day or even on a schedule (I don’t). You can write in a notebook or pieces of paper when you have the need and/or desire to talk to yourself.

If you are keeping a diary, that’s pretty good.

RISK

When a foundation funds a grant request, they are making more than an investment in the nonprofit’s mission. The foundation is also investing their reputation in the success of the nonprofit.

When a nonprofit receives grant money, they receive more than money. They make a commitment to the foundation that the money would achieve success.

Investment and commitment come with risk that success is achievable. While reputations are at risk (including the money), it is the nonprofit who stands to lose the most if some measure of success is not found.

I think most foundations know about risk. It is usually a determining factor when awarding grants. However, I discovered some nonprofits do not understand that their future investments are at risk when receiving a grant.

If a nonprofit achieves success, the foundation will likely continue with future funding. Also, other donors are likely to invest in the nonprofit’s mission. How is success determined?

People evaluate success, not facts and data. The nonprofit staff should ask themselves if the mission caused positive change in people’s lives. I hope it did.

In a follow up post, I will write about measuring success. Most of the time, success is hard to determine and it is never absolute.

Yes, I missed a blog post last week (for December 9). My problem is that I write a blog post on the weekend with a Monday posting. I have ideas to use, but nothing prepared if life envelopes my time. This is what happened last week with a trip to a wedding, painters in the house, and volunteer stuff. I should have several posts ready ahead of time, but I don’t. You think I would learn.