Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Perseverance and Mimes

I am thankful for perseverance and the existence of mimes.

There is a new language web site competing head to head with the biggies of learning a new language. Rosetta Stone comes to my mind immediately when I think about adding a second language to my repertoire'. Though I have no experience with the company other than what I read or hear about from others, I have formulated in my mind that they are the BEST!

I wonder how I came to that conclusion?

Great advertisements, you think? Beautiful, sentimental, glossy color advertisements masquerading as editorial pieces in an in-flight magazine in the pouch of the seat in front of me. A freckled-face youngster meets a beauty from Russia because he can speak a few phrases in her native language.

She was impressed!

Well, he was impressed too, with her beauty, love at first sight you might say. What better emotional response for learning something new than an exotic beauty responding to what you have just learned. Talk about International intrigue personified. Youth plus newness equals success where ever love and attraction happen to meet. Is it even necessary to expound on the benefits of marketing in foreign lands because you have a grip on a second language?

Not in this particular advertorial because the emotional value is set in stone in this piece. Set in Rosetta Stone as a matter of fact! Quite a piece of work I think. Certainly makes me want to step out and secure a second language for my self; especially if there might me a chance to win at romance.

Perseverance steps into the equation and almost promises to fulfill your dreams if you but have faith and study, learn, practice and repeat whatever the program suggest for success. The freckled-faced young man will probably win her heart merely because he has the perseverance to see the learning process through to its logical conclusion.

The conclusion is, "you win!"

It is funny how certain advertisements hit a home run for different individuals. This one hits the ball completely out of the park for me because I realized how truly important and key it is to persevere in any endeavor to enjoy the success at the end of the rainbow.

Writing is one of many of the creative arts requiring day to day perseverance. My goal is to write at least 1000 words a day no matter what. In a large part I am successful for just writing those 1000 words. My perseverance to accomplish this task every day literally makes my day an exceptional one. All the other tasks of my day seem simple. I check those tasks off my list in rapid succession having already persevered through my main goal.

Besides perseverance I am so thankful for the existence of mimes. My favorite mime has her own corner in downtown Asheville North Carolina. She can be seen around 3:30 in the afternoons making her way down the street to her corner office. If you try to speak to her while she is in transit you only get a blank stare as she rushes past you. She is already in character.

Once she arrives at the intersection of two busy streets, she sets her wooden crate on the sidewalk, stands on top, moves through a relaxed choreographed bit and then freezes into position. An open cigar box at the foot of the crate has a few dollar bills already inside. The viewer will have to pay to see her play the mime.

Many try to break her concentration without dropping in a bill or two. She never blinks. After a few minutes, usually no more than five, a kindly soul will feed the kitty.

My favorite mime comes alive and auditions for the stars of her show. She focuses completely on those in front of her. Her lips move to the beat of her musical liquidity, sharing the joy of her inner, creative self. She perseveres and gives the donor more than a few dollars worth of entertainment. Finally she freezes into her motionless position, silently waiting for her next admiring fan.

This is true perseverance and admirable behavior of the first order!

Especially this time of year perseverance is necessary to see ourselves through the holidays. Not so much us, as those who we realize put in such Herculean effort to live and learn through the pursuit of their dreams.

Like all of us, I move forward learning new things and persevering every step of the way, one day at a time When I slip a little bit and my faith falters to make it through even one more task, I am so thankful for the courage of my hero on the corner.

She never skips a beat, never falls out of character. I am thankful for the example she sets in my life. I would bet she is successful in whatever she chooses to do.

When it comes to being thankful, make mime, perseverance!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Melancholy Holiday Immersion Begins

 (This piece written over two years ago; always revisits me when the holidays arrive. Thanks for baring with me. Get out and shop today.)
 Compulsive / Obsessive

I’ve been thinking about adding to my canine stable for some time. I lost my last girl several years back. It was a tragic day.

If grief were a tattoo, my Lady Bug, a German Short Hair sporting dog, would be in full color all over my body. She was my best friend in so many ways.

Time has passed rapidly, yet her presence continues to fog my desire to bring a new girl on board. I see and feel the joy that could be recaptured with a new friend in my life, yet I am still a bit reluctant.

I have so many interests. Continually I seek new knowledge, curious how things work and fit in to today’s lifestyle. I get on a subject or process and before I know it I have ten or fifteen books, periodicals and websites galore scattered through my daily life. I am usually not sure how this new knowledge will fit into the big picture.

A friend from the past once said that I knew more about things, people and places than anyone person should. He said that I possessed what he called useless knowledge. Well you know that I took that as a compliment. Not!

It may have been one of the most destructive things that have ever been said to me. He might as well hand me two puppies named Obsessive and Compulsive. It would have been just as clear to me if he had; after a while anyway. I would have discovered the connection on my own in due time.

I wouldn’t have taken it so personal for several days, at least not until the insult was discovered.

Thinking about acquiring a new puppy or two has me second guessing my intentions. Do I actually need and want a couple of new friends that require so great an amount of attention and care?

My inner story continues to play my obsessive and compulsive theme song. Maybe by adding some responsibilities outside of myself I can end my title of Mr. Obsessive Compulsive?

I can see my new friend and me hiking a rocky trail for hours and days at a time. Once she gets use to my hiking routine, it will be just a matter of time before we have constant conversations on a daily basis.

The stories we will tell will have some of the past, present and future automatically built in. I’ll never try to impress her but I will fall in love with her. As the years roll by I’ll expect her to join me on the trail. She’ll nudge me occasionally to hit the road. I’ll just grab my pack and head to the car. She’ll jump in and off we’ll go.

A man and his dog is a relationship about as obsessive and compulsive as it can get. One’s dog is a friend of genuine trust and care, to share where the day goes. Some days the only word shared between the two of a smile. Yet we hear it loud and clear as if it were spoken with a shout.

Maybe my obsessions are on the way out? Could it be that my new friend will satisfy my compulsiveness on a different level?

She sits on my left in my mind today. My thoughts are about warm puppy breath, her velvety tummy skin and a little growl that speaks from gentle sleep.
Since thoughts become things, I’ve been careful to pick this as one of my best. Puppies play at the foot of my chair and I am in wonder of it all.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Slice of Life

How often does everything work perfectly?
You say, "Not very often!"

How about just for today we say every day from this one forward will be perfect?

You okay with that?

Great, OK!

Waiting for news of being funded is one of those time requiring patience of a higher magnitude. You want to go over every detail in your mind. Rereading the entire proposal in the skull cinema distorts the truth quite often.

It seems natural to question your own professionalism no matter what your line of expertise happens to be. The mind is a strange thing, just ask it anytime.

This is a simple blog. There will be one or two parts more later in the week.

I have completed the work necessary to have written a Winning Grant Proposal. If the readers at the funder's offices have followed everything to the letter has I did, it is a done deal, a basketball in the hoop, a bulls eye for funding; and everyone chimes in with a big AMEN!

So guess what? Even if by some small tiny margin the decision goes in the wrong direction, I know, I said I KNOW, I did the very best that I could do to get my client's non profit project funded for the coming year.

How sweet the juice of the lime will taste when the letter arrives in the mail. I see the cover letter in my mind's eye in my right hand. I feel the check fall out and land in the palm of my other. Have you ever seen a lime or the color of funding so green and juicy before?

It is always the best day, the perfect day when the fruit falls from the heavens you have worked so hard to be merely lucky. LUCK is Laboring Under Correct Knowledge.
Share the juice and the taste of winning with your coworkers today. Celebrate always putting forth the best effort. There is never a losing moment unless you give up. Stay out of that club. Welcome to the Victory lap.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Obligation to Learn

Once again I am enthralled with Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist blog post today, 5 Reasons to stop trying to be happy.

Her logic boils down to either you can be interested in the world around you, constantly questioning it and its values or you can be happy. The two do not coexist nor mix with each other.

Interesting to me even more so because I finished reading an article, "What Would Jack Do?" in the December issue of FAST COMPANY. The article is about Willow Creek, a large Evangelical church leading through learning from the business world's best teachers.

One of the speakers at their Global Leadership Summit, Jim Collins, not to be confused with me, told an anecdote about a college professor who told Collins that "instead of spending so much time trying to being interesting, he should try being interested." in what he was talking about.

Today I am interested in so many different subjects I realize I will not live long enough to explore then all. My zealousness for happiness though never ceases. Maybe the reason I am so unsuccessful in following my dreams to fruition is I expect the two to intersect creating happiness and joy because at last I have succeeded in some endeavor that actually supports me financially. 

In my mind anything that supports my need for food, clothing and shelter
would instantly make me happy. I am very interested in finding out where the two ideas intersect and support the reason both can exist at the same time.

My days are filled with exciting ideas. I can hardly stay in my chair because of the possibilities of any number of projects materializing in my mind at any given time of day or night. I reach a certain number of ideas, overload kicks in, then I slide back into pitifully unhappy and uninteresting reality. Unable to finish any of the projects I selected for the day, most always because the big three, (food, clothing, shelter) require attention instead of me expending
valuable funds in the direction of feeding an idea or dream.

Since I am an undiscovered blogger, it seems to matter little what subject I attack here now or even later. I discovered a writing web site posting writing opportunities for those close to starvation. Such as, write 100 blog articles in 2 weeks and receive $1.50 for each one, after they have determined you are a not a plagiarizer. The person keeps your piddly piece of pay in an escrow account in case they actually decide to transfer it to you. The 21st century's version of slave labor has arrived.

Have you seen any of these writing sites?

I don't want to plug any of them for fear someone might actually agree to their terms for submissions, not that anyone might actually be reading this. There was indication that writers had actually signed on for past projects. They had received $30, $40 some as high as $50 for writing an entire week for
some foreign entity trying to appear as if they were a state side blogger.

Maybe writing a blog for a foreign readership has possibilities? I have a feeling I will be hanging sheet rock soon.

The one listing appealing to my own needs asked for someone to periodically post something positive to a blog site using a different moniker each time. You would be paid of course, another $1.50 to $5.00 depending upon your skill to attract other readers to the blog. You might not be paid if this backdoor SEO is not effective in drawing masses of new visitors through higher search engine rankings because of your comment writing effort.

I was once a restaurateur in the 90's in a very small town. I asked my employees to move their cars to the front of the building to make it look as if we were busy with customers. It made sense because who would want to patronize an empty restaurant? Who wants to be the first to take the risk of eating in an establishment apparently with no loyal clientele. Red flags go up everywhere especially if it is the dinner hour and the parking lot is empty.

Who wants to read a blog appearing to have no readers? No one, that's who. Brazen Careerist has over 57,000 readers. You think Penelope might have something valuable to say to her readers? You dang Skippy she does! Even if she doesn't the numbers are high enough to warrant her penning an off-beat article occasionally even if it alienates a portion of those big number of readers she has corralled. 

They will forgive her and come back to see what outrageousness she is into now. Those liking the off beat nature of her blog will tell others about it and Voila, new recruits show up even if she sent some running for the hills.

I write everyday, well almost everyday to keep my juices flowing. If only every few days a comment would come my way to validate my existence, my creative juices would flow like the River Jordan, at least for a few days more.

Happiness is only in love stories experienced for the first time. Today I will settle for being interesting.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sailing into Thankfulness

A woman who treats me special has always been my goal.

There is a myriad of things I want to do. We know not what the next day may bring. I like to quote one of my favorite movies, DUNE, the one directed by David Lynch back in the 80's. It was pure corn but I still love it.

The Celestial Navigator, an alien transported in a big black box with the ability to see into the future, stated emphatically: "I see plans within plans...I was not here." He looked similar to a large living anus.

I too, see plans within plans. It reminds me of columnist, Sidney Harris, he was always discovering pieces of interesting information about a completely different subject, searching for information on a topic he was writing about for his daily column, STRICTLY PERSONAL for the Chicago Daily News. He would ultimately write about the discovery of whatever, instead of the original subject of the piece under investigation.

When it comes to being thankful there is no limit to the enormity of the subject. I am thankful for the heroes decorating the edges of my small world. My UPS guy, the man behind the counter at my local wine shop, the lady who tells me to have a nice day where I get my morning cup of java and she means it, the dude at the dumpsters (recycling center) who says what a beautiful day it is, all make my daily life a whole lot better. I am very thankful for their thoughtfulness. I actually detour to one of those places when I am having a not so great day.

FAST COMPANY has an article, Two Little Words, in their most recent issue that got me thinking about this subject. Saying "Thank You" even when not exactly called for, changes the quality of the air around us. Attitude has a way of painting the color of us all a brighter shade.There are many of these people in our lives deserving of our gratitude throughout the year, every day. Though each is forgotten with an encounter with the very next person you meet.

How true!

There is a woman in my life who always treats me special. I can enjoy wine and even whine about most anything when I am with her. She seems to see inside my soul. She is a soothing balm of electric loveliness to my heart and my very being. I am completely undeserving of her attentiveness. I am a better person because she is in my life. There is not enough room in this blog to write my love letter to her here today.When it comes to being thankful for the joys in my life, her face fills every position in my album.

Those people I mentioned a few moments ago, are important beyond even what they represent. Taking the time to be kind is a trait I should spend more time cultivating. These folks do it in such a way that it makes every day a little bit better.

I am thankful for those in my life that love me. I am thankful I have so many to love.

This time of year when some how it seems easier to express love and admiration for those around us is not lost on us as a people. At least this time of year it is more excepted to give a damn, expected to lead to kinder words and deeds to strengthen us as human beings. When we argue and disagree more than we love, it is time to declare the Christmas Season has arrived, if only to ask ourselves to look deeper into relationships as a goal for living.

I have become a fan of  "Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist". I love her originality and her way with words. She writes like someone sitting next to me when I need a friend for loving conversation. Her column is a constant heads up for the joy of thankfulness. Even when she seems to be whining about something, there is a thread of hope in her every brazen word. Her critics say it is mere acrobatics to attract readership numbers. With over 57,000 readers I see little reason for her to stir the quagmire to gain a larger fan base.  I am thankful for her dedication to her readers. Thanks Penelope!

My plans within plans are to see more of what I hide from my own eyes. I want to know why we care so much about what has so little importance to our growth as a species. Waves of huge emotional response are available to us all. We need only add a piece of the tsunami we preach, then tone it down to the soothing sounds of a Walden pond to attract the beauty and love of others.

This may be corn personified; but I have a positive sense for the future and I'm sticking to it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Music is Known by the Company it Keeps

I heard some Carlos Santana on Saturday. I was playing a friendly game of pool with some close friends. While I was preparing to shoot I said,” how many notes does it take for an individual to recognize the distinctive sound of Carlos Santana's guitar?”

Two out of the three said, “one or two notes and I know if it is Carlos wailing on his guitar.”

What quality of his musical mastery creates single notes on his guitar so instantly recognizable to his fans? Is it his precise phrasing between notes, bars or rifts? What ever it is, Carlos Santana's singular musical signature screams out loud whenever he plays his guitar, luxuriating in instant recognition.

Even more curious to me is Carlos being so recognizable inside a type of music, Latin influenced in this case. Even in itself is recognized as a genre of music from a certain part of the world standing for its own sake, before adding Carlos Santana to the mix. The rhythm and beat is such that I at least know it as the Latin sound minus the influence of Carlos Santana.

There is a Latin sound.

I believe many would agree that that is true. A certain rhythm has us moving to the beat, even before we recognize a particular piece of music we may actually know by name, by Carlos or even an other musician. The music is distinctively south of the border, Latino influenced, Hispanic in nature, music moving in a certain beat or cadence where we know what type of music we are hearing at the moment it begins playing.

Where did that recognizable beat, rhythm or type of music originate? If it was in
Latin America somewhere, what particular area of those countries can lay claim to fame of playing it for the first time. To me, Latin American influenced music is so distinctive; I can not imagine it coming from anywhere else. Though it does, it has and it will continue to do so. Can we agree that the roots of this particular sound and style of music originated in a part of the world where the romance languages are spoken now and in the past? I am speaking of Spanish in this instance. I believe French is considered a romance language as well but would Carlos Santana's music ever be mistaken for being French in nature? I think not.

As a particular type of music or sound that comes from it gains popularity, then I say it is easy to see where the influence comes from no matter what part of the world decides to continue the style adding nuances of an artist's own creativity. Though a new musical piece is produced, the style that influenced it remains to be Latin American in style.

Just for fun, say this style of music began in
Guatemala. Is it possible that in nearby San Salvador there is someone else picking out the notes on a guitar sounding strikingly similar to the chords and notes emanating from the guitar in Guatemala? Is this section of the world blessed with this about to be created sound connected in someway with an invisible array of collected consciousness? With each interpretation of a new rhythm style or method of producing unique sound somehow felt in the ethereal stuff that holds us all together?

Tough to put this in an easy to understand concept isn't it?

Why didn't music with a Latin beat originate in
Russia? Why didn't Polka music originate in Mexico? Why is London known for the birth of the Mersey beat in the 60’s? What exactly is the Memphis sound? Why is Philadelphia known for beach music?

I don't know! Do you?

Tossing these ideas around with three or four friends we came up with one common denominator that quite possibly connects the music to the location of any musical genre's birth. The types of instruments would have a great influence on the design of the music. Whatever materials were available at the onset of the music's so-called birth determined how the music would be played and how it would sound.

Maybe that floats for musical design or discovery from a long time ago. What about today's modern niche music? Since we're mostly discussing Latin music in a modern vein, I suppose that is somewhat true as well, though the electric guitar has been around over 50 years now. We have watched and heard the era of Rock and Roll morph into a hundred different sub pockets of stylistic sound.

So is Latin music a sub-niche of rock and roll? Well I personally don't think so, though to others it may be. There is a monotheistic sense of singular sound from the output of Carlos Santana's guitar. He took an instrument that has been through thousands of incantations and created a sound of his own. He is an original wrapper, no pun intended.

So if ancestrally music is, was and will be influenced by the musical instruments available at any given time, well I have talked myself out of agreeing with this hypothesis. If we took our study seriously, journeyed historically hundreds of years into the past, well then maybe there is a thread running through it that might convince me there is a base of substance to support it.

What makes more sense to me, then just the instruments is substituting the word tools for instruments. Now we can add the sound of the human voice, toss in an attitude, reflect current mores, add the depth of awareness of space in time and finally add musical experience with a sprinkle of acute awareness of what seems to work into the overall mix.

This is a fairly long diatribe to attempt to reconcile and correlate these same ideas with what works and doesn't work when adjusting and/or fine tuning the guts of applying for a foundational grant.

What the heck is he talking about?

I may be way off base here. I can say from even limited experience that what worked in the nearby past does not necessarily work yesterday and certainly not today in the world of writing grants for funders seeking a home for their dollars.

Do your own personal roots contribute to a substantial difference in how you state your case? When looking for support for your nonprofit, do you apply for grants only matching the thread running through your successes? Do you let significant dollar funders slip through your fingers because they aren't who you are used to approaching? What tools do you now possess in your grant writing arsenal that is just laying there gathering dust? What new ideas are hiding in that same box of tools waiting to be expressed in a completely different way?

Only readers around my age will know who Kiki Dee is/was in the musical world. Along with Elton John she expressed. “I got the music in me!”

When approaching funders’ requests for proposals, entering the mix of fund seekers, having your heart filled with music from the get-go is a pretty good place to start. Passion allows your audience to buy from you. They sure don’t like to be sold a bill of goods. Passion moves through an audience silently yet smoothly and effectively captures the crowd with a tune only you can play. Your distinctive sound overwhelms their resistance. The till opens and pours willingly into the needs and wants your non profit requires, growing and prospering.

You think there is no music inside of the foundation universe? Try a different tune; fill it with passion for your goal. I think you will be amazed at the response when you play the right notes. When the heart strings of any organization runs parallel to where a foundation wants to go, you will be playing beautiful music together.

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”  Practice, practice, practice!



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fear, for the Heck of It

The first time I stood in front of an audience my mind drifted to the physical act of hanging sheet rock on some stranger's walls. If you have never had the privilege of carrying 25 pound sheets of chalk glued together with stiff paper you have not lived life to the fullest.

The 4' x 12' sheets take two workers to lift and place into position. Once positioned a sheet is nailed to the 2" x 4"s behind them. This goes on for hours and hours, the carrying, the nailing until it is time for the pinnacle of pleasure, mudding and taping the seams and nail marks. This is done by mixing a mud like substance, using a trowel, wearing clothes you never want to wear again and walking around on stilts to reach the upper heights plastering the gooey concoction. Upon completion, if it ever comes, someone will paint the entire surface and all your hard work disappears for ever.

For me the art or function of hanging sheet rock is the worst possible thing I can imagine to do when I would rather not participate in the process at all.

Speaking in front of an audience is much more pleasurable than hanging glorious sheet rock. Today's survey says, "an individual would rather commit suicide than speak in front of a group of people."Seems a bit rash, don't you think?

Yet the first time I stood in front of an audience preparing to speak to my freshman English class at Oklahoma City University, my thoughts drifted to hanging sheet rock. It did not occur to me to commit suicide, though it would not have been a bad idea, I merely had not thought of it.

Somehow I made it through my entire 15 minute speech without collapsing on the podium or choking on my own fluids. My knees physically knocked against each other almost the entire duration of my speech. It wasn't until one of the listening audience laughed at one of my comments or gasped at the horror of the subject of my speech that my knee knockers subsided with their harmonious tune.

The topic of my speech was spelunking. Exploring the innards of caves was a topic I knew something about. It wasn't until feedback hit my ears that I was able to calm down and enjoy the actual delivery of my words. Probably a bit of exaggeration as far as enjoyment goes, my speech was reaching a conclusion and I knew my time was short in front of this group of jackals. When I finally finished,  prepared to tuck my tail under and hide in the back of the room, the unexpected happened. A member of the audience raised her hand to ask a question about the topic of my speech.

I was hooked for ever! I had stirred an interest in the subject of my talk and someone wanted more information. How cool was that?

Today I beg groups, civic organizations, fraternal clubs, political allies and any fund raising committee to allow me to speak in front of their membership for absolutely any reason that will give me a bully pulpit. Quite a reversal from my earlier days, don't you think?

Sometimes I look for speaker nets to learn new tips and tricks to apply to my own speaking prowess. As a rule, though not always I encounter the awful specter of FEAR being repeated throughout a direct marketing piece seemingly interested in helping me cope with the unteachable beast. I still get butterflies before I speak to a group of peers or unknowns, though I am no longer petrified at the thought.

In grant writing the same words seem to be prevalent. The idea of “Fear” follows any line of extroverted optimism seeking financial or other type of approval through speech or written application. Simply speaking, fear has no place in your role as a Grant Seeker.

The nature of being a fundraiser asks you to step out in front of every kind of audience you encounter. Naturally, fear rears his ugly head trying to get your attention. Focusing on the issues whether speaking to a group of would be grant funders or to an audience expressing interest for your cause is a reason for concern, not fear.

I am an Auctioneer. I take charge of my audience of interested bidders the moment I open my mouth. I have come to realize over the years, that the bidders are the ones with fear in their hearts. They are afraid of two things, both are fearful. They fear they will lose the deal of the century and at the same time they fear they will win the deal with too high of a bid. Fear of having over paid for the item kicks in, now they will appear silly to the rest of the bidding crowd.

When standing in front of a audience, about to give your speech, the audience assumes you are an expert in your field. When approaching foundations, large or small these groups assume, until you give them a reason to believe otherwise, you are an expert in telling your organisation's story. They expect, not from fear, you as a grant writer will tell a truthful story following the potential funder's guidelines to the letter.

If you veer from the path they request, fear should pop up in your mind's eye immediately. The fear will come from knowing you have not performed your duties to the best of your ability. Your fear can be avoided completely or stopped in its path by reverting to the correct path the funder requests of you.

I choose to be a fearless grant seeker. With every leap I take into the non profit arena I learn a little bit more about myself and my audience.

I know my limitations!

That last statement is not true. I don't know my limitations. I don't even know if I have any because I am willing to pitch my hat in the ring and see where the smoke settles. If I have done the best I can possibly do then I am content to move on to the next project.

Living without fear is one of the greatest joys of life. Considering the things one can be fearful about, writing a proposal for a possible grant funder is very small potatoes in the larger scheme of things.

So let's walk up to the plate, swing as accurately as we can and bring everyone on base home for the winning run.

Never let em see you sweat!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fund Raising: Ebay Auction Style

Veering off in different directions for the benefit of your client often portrays you as a momentary hero. Ride the wave as long as you can.

As a grant writer being on top of any financial need for your non-profit especially recognizing ones unforeseen by the casual bystander makes her worth her weight in gold. A grant writer's experience says to always expect the unexpected. When things go wrong the possibility of the occurrence has already been figured into the financial equation. Remember the rule of thumb, “Murphy was an optimist.”

A small shortfall can occur in almost any nonprofit's budget. Any number of unexpected expenses can upset finances during the budgetary year. Whatever program or project the organization you represent is funding always expect the unexpected and you will be ahead of the game. With experience many signals are telegraphed and recognized well ahead of any approaching catastrophe.

That last statement is probably just BS. As much as each of us would like to walk on water for our clients, we too are able to miss the hand-raising of slow motion, short term problems. Sometime there is not enough money to pay for unexpected expenses. This is especially true for smaller nonprofits unable to tap into some huge ready and waiting pool of emergency funding.

This suggestion is so simple, so easily accessible, so easily started that I hesitate to even mention it; but I will anyway. Sign your nonprofit up for charitable status at Ebay. That is all there is to it. is and has been the most popular auction style site on the net for many years now.

I have personally used Ebay's services to sell hundreds of items over several years. How much money did I earn? Well I did not actually earn any money, so to speak. What I did was get rid of items I no longer needed and put them into the hands of those who wanted them. Any money I realized after the auctions was always a plus. Everybody gets their cut from the sale of the items. Still after all is said and done, money went into my account that otherwise I would not have. Your charitable nonprofit will benefit from the entire percentage of the value of the donation with no risk involved.

If your charitable organization is not set up with ebay for donations, it is an easy and painless operation. Once setup your fund raising arm should notify your entire donating list of your organization's participation in the program. Short term financial needs could be satisfied quickly. Utilizing your membership's list of donors, leave no one out for notification. Send out press releases, post handbills, notify forums, facebook, twitter, even your Aunt Jane about the Ebay participation. Spread the word as rapidly as possible.

When an ebayer puts an item up for bid or sale, there is a section where a choice may be made to donate to a participating charity. In the A listings alone there were 1468 organizations set up for donations the week of November 1st. 10% of anything sold will be deposited into the nonprofits account. This is an easy process to establish hopefully inciting a tremendous amount of activity in a short period of time.

Go to If you are responsible for the funding of your organization simply sign up in moments. Get on the horn and notify everyone in your group to spread the word. You may find you have tapped into an excellent financial resource for almost no cost to your nonprofit.

So get ready to dispose of everything in your over flowing garage. You will have fun doing it and be helping your organization now and into the future with very little effort. As a grant writer you may even be a hero for a moment. After all, time loves a hero!

Translation: Go Ebay!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Armor Clad and Recession Proof

A grant writer suffers the same dilemma as any copywriter, fiction writer, financial writer or a paid writer of virtually anything. Doubt raises an ugly head and peers at all of us from weird angles.

With the elections behind us it seems to take a few days for things to settle down in our personal and working worlds. Were there any candidates up for election that gave you any worries about your future in the market place? Did you prefer one over the other for that reason?

It doesn't really matter what your answer is because the night passed and daylight has returned to either brighten our spirits or to darken the cloud above our heads. It is a matter of perspective. Is it the old glass half full or half empty syndrome? Not really; that pertains to relative volume. Here I believe it is a matter of the facts you have on hand verses the reality of the outcome.

I do sometimes feel as if I am clad in a suit of armor. The buzz word heard today and everyday for the past several years has been "recession." It is either here now, on the way, on the way out or non-existent. If you believe all the blogs, or at least the ones you are reading, we are deep in the sludge of misery. Even the larger foundations and corporate entities say they must cut back their funding to manageable levels.

The immense size of the nonprofit world is what scares me when I get stuck on thinking about the ramifications of it all. If the nation's resources are being hit so hard is there going to be enough to fund the causes that really need or deserve it?

I Think Not!

In times of perfect GNP growth, astronomical levels of giving and unprecedented spurts of generosity there is never enough to fund all the nonprofits that need a helping hand to complete a project or even exist on a daily basis into the near future. It is all relevant. Grant writers are no more immune now to the words, "sorry Charly maybe next time," than they have ever been before. There is never enough to go around to whom we think individually deserve the funds, now, before or in the future. It is the way it is!

We are not recession proof. Grant writers have never been recession proof anymore than the nonprofits they write for. As long as we wear our armor full pressed to our chests it is life everyday as we know it.  Some receive more funding in times of recession, some receive less. I do not have the stats but I would bet more Requests for Proposals are announced in times of less funds available than in times of plenty. It is the nature of the beast to want to offer smaller amounts of goods and services to a larger number of recipients.

My suggestion to my list of clients is to have 2 or 3 different boiler plate proposals on hand to submit to 30 to 40 different smaller foundations;  rather than compete with the multitudes applying for 2 or 3 huge grants. During such competition it takes very little to remove your nonprofit from the running. Forgetting to dot a few eyes or cross a few tees becomes ever so important in high dollar grant proposal applications.

Being recession proof is an impossible task. Being prepared while wearing your full body armor is always proactive in times of  downward dips as well as in times of extreme prosperity. Like the Boy Scouts of America has been saying for over a hundred years, "Be Prepared."

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Telling the Story

Sunshine knifed through a square of broken glass. The rays pierced my eyes one at a time. I shifted a few inches causing the blinding light to search for me on my pillow. The whiteness of the light seared hazy images into my groggy mind. Slowly reality was coming back; I was safely asleep in a cottage on the beach. The sun was my wake-up call.

Copywriters love to tell a story. They want to involve you quickly with a sympathetic character that may be just like you are.  Picture you waking up on the beach, forgetting the night before, soon to be reconnected with the day.

In my grant writing career which spans decades, not! I have developed the love for creating a fictional story which centers on the reason a proposal is being submitted; telling a tale to make a difference in the readers’ perspective of the same –o-same-o proposal submission.

Now I am not saying to completely fictionalize a story. I believe there is a defining narrative for your nonprofit’s existence. The Mission statement does not always tell the REAL tale. Summaries, biographies, past experience, funded projects and evaluations of how the funds were used previously do not usually include the story of why your organization is what it is.

Day to day operations get in the way. Following the guidelines to the tip of the edge is important, it is very true, but how do we get the uniqueness of who we are to sing a subtle note or two where otherwise our tune would go unheard?

The story of our nonprofit’s uniqueness is necessary if we are to gain a valuable edge of any kind. Keenly we must state the unobvious by bringing attention to a real story of need. One where the act of funding will change the face of the details to a completely different outcome. A story where everyone is cheering when the winner is announced.

The Winner!

Wow, how often do we hear the funder’s choices announced as the winners? Though that is exactly who the proposal writers responding to the funder’s RFP becomes.

Don’t you agree?

In one of Stephen King’s four part novelettes, there is an opening in one of them where the story’s location is in the entrance of a very well heeled men’s club. An exclusive club, offering chess, books, libations and mutual enjoyment to a highly successful minority of the upper crust. These men lounge, dine and sit in a luxurious glowing fireplace setting.

Upon entering this impressive club, one is greeted by the presence of a massive stone fireplace. Over the mantle is a large engraved metal sign. It simply states “It is not the story; it is the teller of the tale.

If a cover letter is not requested by the proposal’s guidelines, creating one may still be in your nonprofit’s best interest. Capture the heart and soul of your readers in the opening moments when you meet on paper. Tell the story with your unique personality which otherwise would never be heard. Through the entire proposal process much like repeating the refrain from a piece of popular music to induce a particular mood, return ever so lightly to your reader with a reminder of your beginning story.

Weaving the vein with your nonprofit’s total individuality throughout the proposal will have the funder not only remembering who you are but why they want to fund your cause.

Tell your story every time. You may discover a world of ears have been waiting to hear your tale.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Diamond in the Rough

I have been reading lately how valuable it is to write stories that warm the heart.

Want to have your readers fighting to get to your proposal when it is received?

The mundane remains exactly that when there is no magic assigned to it. Telling a story that sets your nonprofit apart from everything else a foundation receives is your task. Giving them every item they ask for is essential. Giving them more of your story that sets you apart is the difference between being funded or not.

Why not simply tell them your tale.

When does the simple become precious?

I wonder to myself as to when, the moment… when the simple, unloved and unprecious becomes the loved, the desired and the coveted?

Have you ever had something so precious, that immediately you had to devise a method to keep it safe from harm, protect its health, keep it from damage, prevent its loss or hide it?

Suppose a good friend gave you a loose diamond, a genuine sparkling diamond, nicely cut and valuable? Would you simply stick it in your pocket? Would you wrap it in tissue and place it in your wallet or purse?

You might if you had no other temporary means of protection. You could place it in your mouth; that would certainly protect it in many ways. Even if you swallowed it, it would ultimately return to you in a protected state.

I have a radio that I really find valuable for my needs. It is only a radio. It plays music, news and sports through a speaker or earphone. It operates on batteries or AC power. It tunes all the broadcasting bands, am, fm and shortwave. Its nothing really special but I am attached to it!

Though I believe that I am careful while using it, I have bent the antenna, broken the clear plastic cover that protects the digital readout, ripped the plastic stand that allows the radio to free-stand on a counter top and generally have rubbed away all symbols on the case that explains which button controls what operation.

I have caught myself being very protective of its survival. Even though I put in due diligence to protect it from further damage, it seems to want to be harmed a little bit at a time.

For example, I might place it in close proximity to where I am working on my car. I put it quite firmly into a spot where it will be the safest from any sudden movements that I might make. I put it inside a square empty box filled with old towels to support it from the bottom and side of the box. It lays on the surface of the cloth. The antenna, or what is left of it, protrudes from one side, allowing it to pick up what signals it can.

I work for hours cleaning my car. I decide I need a box to put un-needed items away for a rainy day. I grab the first one I see quite hardily, my radio not only leaves its protected cocoon but is launched into space, still playing of course. It isn’t until I realize what is flying through the air that I have forgotten where my radio was located.

The radio has any number of possible landing surfaces to end its short flight. It could gently touch down on the stack of moving blankets that cover three quarters of the driveway’s surface or it could attempt to destroy itself on the boulders and miscellaneous junk that are propped against one side of an oak tree.

Every detachable piece of plastic, battery and loose appendage is dispersed in a 360 degree radius from its out-of-control landing. The radio does not land on its six possible flat surfaces but on one corner on a point in a descending spiral. I didn’t know that plastic could disintegrate until now.

I walk slowly over to the rock pile. My radio is embedded in the stones. I am reminded of the obelisk from the film 2001, except my radio is silver, not black.

Well, Hi Ho Silver. I have often thought of my radio as a tough one, but this is testing its armor to the max.

I pull it from the debris, turn it over, its digital display is in permanent flash on and off at least indicating that the internal battery is still in place somewhere inside the electronic guts. A sigh of relief escapes me. It reminds me of an old VCR that has lost its programming.

Flash on…flash off…flash on…flash off.

I collect all the pieces I can find. I attach the remaining section of the antenna back on the radio. I slide two knobs back on their exposed stems, reinstall four AA batteries into their compartment and slide the battery cap back in position. I dust the radio off and make note of all the new cosmetic scrapes and scratches. I hit the on button. Music surrounds me from the little speaker. I am soothed and satiated for the moment.

Now what has all this got to do with protecting diamonds from destruction? Well…it’s all the same, don’t you think?

No matter what value we place on something or somebody, the level of value is often confused with where we place our allegiance. My radio for instance; it pleases me to no end to listen to any program or music that I desire, anytime, anyplace and at any time at my whim. It is what the machine ultimately provides and not the vessel that produces the sound. What I deem so precious and valuable is the gift the radio delivers to me in the form of companionship.

That the end product is in the form of music, news and sports does nothing to negate the reason I find it so desirable.

I must conclude that I often protect the wrong things and situations when I should be looking at the results of what we actually desire.

If I give you a diamond and you casually stick it in your blue jeans pocket; and as you do so you smile at me in such a way as to let me know that something truly special has taken place and passed between us; would it make any difference if I had given you a paper band from a five cent cigar and placed it on your finger?

I think not!

Especially if you smiled at me in the same knowing whimsical way, my protection mode, my loving need for your affection kicks in as if you had announced to the world your need for my attention.

Maybe we spend too much time trying to keep the things that mean the least. We may be comforted for a time, pampered for a fleeting moment, but when all the marbles have been counted, the only thing we have for ever is the love we share between us.

Kindness is a thing and it deserves our attention.

Have you ever purchased a new car? Then in the next few days of your ownership you begin to notice how many others are driving one just like it?

When we devote our attention to things, people and situations as a group, in mass it seems to draw our collected consciousness of the Universe to it. Thoughts become things. We should only concentrate on the best ones. Love like there is no tomorrow. Believe that the best is yet to come. Give it all your best intentions.

I know. Sometimes I am more of an imagineer than grant writer. I know that this helps me. I want tell the story they have been waiting to hear. Time always lets me know if  I was right or wrong.

What do you think?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blogging at the OK Corral

Every day I read something a little bit different than I am used to.

I discovered Penelope Trunk in my wanderings this morning, not that she has been lost or even reported missing. Penelope is the founder of Brazen Careerist. It is a career management tool according to her blog site. Business Week called her writing “poetic” in a review of her blog.

I read a few back issues, mostly the ones about blogging. I want to pick up tips in order to develop a larger audience for my own blog.

Being famous is always helpful when attracting anyone to your blog, website, book or musings of any kind. So what if you are not famous? What do you do?

It appears as if making links back and forth to those that appreciate or at least find some value in what you are writing about makes the most immediate sense. I have visited some blogs covered up in links. When the link opens up in a new window it is easy to track back to where you were. This is the case in Penelope’s blog. No matter how many outside trips I took, Penelope was waiting for me patiently. What a deal!

One link took me to a site giving me hints I might find a new position because I am a blogger. Companies now are not as concerned about a mundane resume as they are finding someone who sees the big picture. I have some age on me, though my credentials still do not include a Doctorate in some esoteric club of super achievers.

I can be me. I can express myself in my chosen profession through word pictures and conversations with strangers and with some folks not so strange. I like it!

In the grant writing world there is a myriad of levels of asking for, offering to give and matching the two of these together in the most symbiotic of relationships. Even the most successful of non profits have an identity crisis when it comes to instant recognition.

If a non profit with even great success is grant seeking in locations of unfamiliar territory, how does one blow Gabriel’s horn when there is not a blank on the application to express that information?

More creativity is necessary to stand out from the crowd, even if your non profit is the perfect match.  Knowing a million deer slayers in the crowd is always helpful. Making a few strategic phone calls before or after an RFP submission can’t hurt if you know the right people to touch base with.

Small foundations looking for small non profits with a record of success make more sense to me, at least for now in my growing stage.

It seems to make sense to apply to 20 or 30 small foundations on a yearly basis using 2 or 3 boiler plate proposals that fit their bill, than it is to put all of your eggs in one or two baskets so highly competed for, your non profit’s chance of funding becomes almost zero.

Penelope’s career is most interesting. Digging further into her successes I even discovered her failures. She puts it out there in plain English. Failure is okay now as it has always been. We learn by our mistakes and then keep on keepin on.

Grant writing can be a rich, rewarding, writing experience. Like any other professional path followed, the road is not easy. I think about the excitement I once had on a treacherous, dirt, mountain road. It was fear I experienced when traveling up that road, and I do mean up. It got steeper and steeper the further I pushed my 1986 Isuzu Trooper II. Reaching the end of that one-lane, no turn-around included road my heart was in my throat choking me. In first gear I loped up that mountain path having little faith my journey would have a happy ending. 

But end it did, with no way to turn around and go back in the opposite direction. Sitting there completing stopped with my brake and clutch depressed to the floor, my Kamikaze character kicked in. Slowly ever so slowly I backed up into the bank with death staring me in the face on the right. I made small corrections one at a time. It took me 15 minutes to complete the maneuver. When I was finally facing down hill once again I took deep breaths, wondering what I would remember as the most challenging on the trip.

 I proceeded with caution to the bottom of the hill arriving safely. Survival was still the name of my game. Though catastrophe could have occurred at any given moment in my trial, I continued along the road less traveled, by me anyway.

Writing to me is no different than my experience on the road that day. At times I am not completely sure of the safety of my actions; but I am always going to be in the game.

The fear and excitement I experienced on my uphill battle that day will not always show up in my writing. Though treading a ledge to express myself seems to bring the best out in my writing.

How about you?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writing Your First Book

I would like you to write your first book sitting next to me as I write mine.

I’m not going to tell you what to write about. You will make your decision in a matter of days. Since this is a blog about grant writing and the process of completing winning proposals, a topic falling somewhere within this may be the logical choice for your new book.

There are many ideas and subjects outside of the grant writing process deepening our understanding of the ritual even more. Different venues often add more layers of understanding to what ever we might be working on. We are peeling the onion, so to speak.

I am always interested in learning about new high-tech devices, toys and goodies or whatever your name may be for them. Somehow I got in the habit of haunting hardware stores. You gotta be asking yourself, where is this going?

The old-style hardware stores have bin after bin of nuts, bolts, washers, screws, nails and a thousand different fasteners designed to do specific jobs. I look at those little pieces to see which ones I can adapt for my fly fishing equipment. What gizmo will allow me a better experience and solve a simple problem the next time I take a fishing trip?

It forces me outside of the box I have become accustomed to living within. I look at those fasteners as an opportunity for design and invention. Maybe this seems not very serious. It is serious enough for me to approach it at a loving, passionate angle. I love to fish. I am passionate about the sport of fly-fishing. There is never enough time to fish all the wonderful locations I want to visit. So I have transmuted my desire to the hardware section. Here I am able to design, think and walk around my favorite fishing haunts even when I’m not there.

I regress. All great copywriters research every aspect of a product or service they wish to tout. Once they have discovered the core desires of the possible prospects, in other words who the audience is, the copywriter attempts to solve a problem the buyer has.

Once all this framework is laid down in her head, she leaves her office for at least a couple of hours to take a hike. She lets all the pertinent information gel inside her mind. She thinks about it while on the trail but not really hard. When she returns she puts her words on paper very rapidly. The words seem to flow seamlessly over the paper. Once she feels she has accomplished her task, she saves the info, reads it one more time and then off to the trail once again.

Any profession requires a quiet time to insure the knowledge and information the professional possesses has the opportunity to turn itself into something more than just a normal application addressing  a unique set of ideas or problems. Our minds have a way of working through the BS to get to the core reason we spend so much time earning the rewards we work so hard for.

We can’t win them all. We can win the majority of the time if I can be so bold as to say we have to "take time to smell the roses." When I was a kid I always reacted instead of surveying a situation, rather than having the answer develop in my mind over a period of time. I believe grant writing, copy writing and any other number of professions draws a fine line between merely adequately producing an end result verses taking the time to do the very best you possibly can in any given situation because you are so completely passionate about your subject and the process of resolving the question or problem that exists.

You want to be part of the solution...each and every time.

The big bucks are always paid to those who have done their homework. Am I old school or what?

Thanks for listening.  We’ll talk about writing your first book next time.

You’re next!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Catbird Seat, Part II

A recent acquaintance mentioned the trouble she has getting local donations for her nonprofit.

Funny how on some days I can solve every one's problems but my own. Is that true for you too? Immediately I said write a letter to a service club, fraternal group or any group that interests you. Offer to give a speech about your organization. Excitedly show the folks how busy you and your volunteers have been. Use pictures and words to show how much has been accomplished with so little. Explain in detail how much more could be done if there was only some local support your nonprofit could count on to make it through the year.

Service clubs such Rotary, Kiwanis, and Civitans never know from week to week if they will have a speaker. How about Toast Masters? Imagine using their platform to seek funding for your group. Isn't that like sneaking into the hen house and they don't even know you are the fox? They won't mind!

Don't think about what you will talk about for now. Pick out several clubs and send them an invitation to invite you to speak. Get ready as the response will probably be a bit daunting. These groups are starved for speakers, especially ones that have a message that needs to be heard.

Be sure to have a hand-out available for those wanting more information. Make it easy for your audience to donate. Have your non profit's website proudly listed on any sheets you pass out. Offer to speak to any other group or club members of your audience may also belong to.

Tell them what you are going to say. Then say it. Then tell them what you just said.

Be yourself. Stand up tall so they can see you. Speak up so they can hear you. Once you've made your point, sit down so they will still like you.

Seems so simple. Make the speech, rinse and repeat as often as possible, in as many locations as time allows you. 

Your community wants to support your cause. They want to become a part of it. Allow your audience the opportunity to become an integral part of spreading the joy of giving.

Don't forget to let your audience know you are grant writer. Every one listening to you speak has a soft spot for his or her own organization that needs exposure and help. Offer it proudly!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Speaking from the Catbird Seat

Speaking in front of the right group of people can do wonders for your future speaking engagements and for your career in general period.

It seems not to matter much which civic or fraternal organization you choose to speak to. These groups are starved for interesting speakers who enjoy sharing with them at such events. Too many speakers find it to be a task to be in front of a group instead of treating it as a pleasure. Which camp do you fall into?

Speaking for myself, I would almost pay for the privilege to deliver a few words to a captive audience. Unless I am just outrageously adamant about a topic the group finds deplorable to discuss in the first place, I am welcomed with open arms and grateful enthusiasm.

It doesn't take an audience long to discover the energy level of a speaker. Usually in the opening sentence many hints are dropped has to how these next 15 minutes are going to unwind. I love to joke about whatever particular group happens to be in any given audience. In fact, the less I know about a group's livelihood or type of expertise they possess the more time I put into researching who they are.

Discovering facts that I wouldn't have learned in just casual association, I am able to have a group laughing at itself as early as possible in the opening minutes of my speech. There is no better way to grab the attention of your audience then to immediately have them become aware of the fact that you have done your homework about who they are. I'm telling you the physical temperature will rise in the room when they recognize you are just one of them. They literally warm up to you, ready and willing to hear what you have to say.

At this point I am able to zip right into the subject of the reason I have been asked to speak at this gathering in the first place.  Now that may be a bit of a misnomer. Actually I may have solicited this organization because I want them to hear what I have to say. It may be days, months or even years before I hear any  feedback from the day's events. Though it is not always measurable, it happens in the background anyway.

Those minutes in time when you stand in front of any group, you are the expert on whatever topic you are speaking about. If you are the author of a book, you would do well to have it available at the beginning and end of your talk. Your audience wants to be part of your interesting slant on whatever it is you are speaking about. They will pass on your book to any number of future clients for you. Is there a better way to be the expert on any subject than to hand whoever you are speaking to, a copy of your book?

I think not. If there was any doubt as to your expert knowledge on your subject, those doubts have disappeared completely.

Want to be considered one of the top experts in your field of Grant Writing? You can be a local hero or possibly even a National one if you have the desire to see it through completion. We'll talk about this in the near future. Can you imagine how many doors this would open for you?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Talent Code, 10,000 Hours to Success

How often do you read a book that changes your life?

When you do, it is hard to pull back from the experience without sharing it with others. So often, my experience has been, the second I mention a book to a friend or associate I might as well have said this book is the kiss of death. Stay away from it. I could be wrong but so often their facial expression looks exactly like an evil sneer.

I hardly bring up the subject anymore, though my reading has become exceedingly vociferous. My old t-shirt I still wear at bedtime says,"So many books, So little time." Every year it has more meaning to me.

The book in question here is The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. It has been out awhile but I only discovered it for myself a few months ago. The spirit of the book still follows me where ever I go or whatever I'm doing. It sneaks up on me like a rift from a favorite piece of music. What I hear it my head are the good parts, the profound parts, the notes that ring my own personal bell inside my skull cinema. I play them over and over again, never tiring of the joy they bring me.

Does that make sense to you?

The book explores the relationship between deep practice and repetition of whatever subject, sport or desired talent floats your boat. The discussion becomes a bit technical and involves the introduction of a white matter we all possess in our bodies called myelin. It is actually a strand of fibers that becomes stronger as we improve whatever skill set we happen to be working on. As these strands of fiber grow and continue to be wrapped in solid material we become more adept at what ever skill we happen to be working on or toward.

As a child I was in the era of those who were born with a so-called natural ability of physical achievement that the rest of us were not privy to. It was said "he has a built in ability to play baseball...she has a natural tendency to play the flute...he is a musical virtuoso...she is a prodigy on the piano. Take that even over to today, so-called modern times..."he is an over night sensation...musically, spiritually, in books, in swimming, in the playing of the violin, in political savvy." All you have to do is fill in the blank _____.

All one has to do to become an over-night success, according to The Talent Code is be willing to focus your energies on what you really love to do. It requires at least 10,000 hours of  "Deep Practice" that allows you to learn and become more proficient in your skill with every mistake you make. That myelin material becomes stronger and stronger with every milestone you achieve in your quest for perfection.

As Grant Writers we too become more and more efficient in the way we process information. Learning from our mistakes makes us stronger every time we apply our skill set to a new Proposal or RFP announcement.

This may sound like old news. I say it is NEW to me. For the first time since I was a child I believe we are all equal in our abilities to achieve our dreams and goals. IF and that is a BIG IF, if we continue to practice our skills with a greater sense of ability achieved each and every time we use our strengthening set of skills. We too must put in our 10,000 hours and fail and learn from our mistakes, wrapping our myelin with corded strength.

Want to be the BEST at something? The corniest question of all is still the truest and best example of all Daniel Coyle brings out in his brilliant book.

"How to you get to Carnegie Hall?"  Well, Practice...Practice...Practice, of course.

It is still about 10,000 hours away, if you are just beginning your journey.

There is no such thing as failure when we continue to practice and hone our skills to almost perfection.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Be a Prospect Research Rock Star

"Which prospects have the highest propensity to give?" Wealth Engine is responsible for both the title of this blog entry as well as the quote above. I was looking at their ad moments ago from yesterday's issue of Philanthropy Today.

I visited their site and spent most of my time trying to find out what the costs are to tap into this Wealth Engine. I was unsuccessful as a casual clickster. If I laid out a considerable amount of personal and/or business related information I could receive a trial demo without cost.

One of the questions asked was donation level of my company, under 3.5 Million on up to 35 million and above. Wealth Engine's P2G program looks to be a real plus for high roller giver seeking.

The site states you can use Wealth Engine's program to identify the following information and I quote:

How can you use P2G?
  • Identify individuals for upgrade to higher giving level
  • Identify target gift ranges for upgrading current donors
  • Identify qualified prospects with highest likelihood to give
  • Develop segmentation strategy based on estimated giving capacity

This looks really interesting to me. You of course can do your own investigation of their site as I have done here. Now I have no tie to these folks what-so-ever other than their ad in my daily blog from Philanthropy-Today.

Being the age I am, the opportunity or even a small chance to become any type of a Rock Star much less a Prospect Research Rock Star instantly had me clicking the gorgeous ad. I am here to say that it is one effective little bit of ad space. It has me thinking about the power expressed in that iddy bit of landscape.

If prospect research is the Keyword for Wealth Engine's SEO, I'd call this a home-run for them, certainly in the placement of this little ad.

In my own little business I cultivate my clients as to their Mission and what match-making can I do in order to find the entity that wants to scratch their itch. I have no precise formula or secret code I am able to fill in the blanks with to achieve an instant match. Maybe Wealth Engine has it?

Is P2G the answer? Numbers of successful users, fans and followers will tell the story soon.

When it comes to pairing a nonprofit with the perfect funder aren't we all Rock Stars even if just for a moment?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seizing the Funding Moment

Subscribing to a few different philanthropic blogs and newsletters will always give you an edge.

Last friday, October 15th,  I received my afternoon copy of PND RFP Bulletin. Sometimes the serindipitious pops up when you least expect it.

Civil and Human Rights

Left Tilt Fund Invites Applications for Social Change Work
Grants of up to $20,000 will be awarded to nonprofits and individuals working to address the root causes of economic, political, and social injustice....

Posted on October 15, 2010
Deadline: October 25, 2010

I have a client who has recently received his nonprofit 501(c)(3) status.

He has been putting all or most of his own money into this cause. It is very heartfelt and he has personal ties to this small health center in a Latin American country.

The 20K offered would fund almost an entire year of operation for this small but extremely effective concern.

As you can see time is of the essence. There are many questions to answer but here is the caveat for this grantseeker. The mission of this would be Funder almost mirrors the needs of this grantseeker.

The following was taken from Left Tilt Fund's website.

"The Left Tilt Fund is a non-profit private social justice foundation founded in 1998. We fund organizations that address the root causes of economic, political, and social injustice through community-based organizing, education, legal advocacy, and other innovative means."
"Left Tilt is particularly interested in economic equality, civil liberties, prisoners’ rights, labor issues, racial justice, homelessness, the environment, the arts, and international solidarity work pertaining to Palestine, the Middle East, and Latin America."

"We strive to support a diverse range of social justice organizations, including those that do not receive funds from traditional sources. "

It is my goal to always take advantage of a situation like this. It would be easy to almost get careless, as this appeal matches the needs of the client so completely.

I'm approaching this as an opportunity to help my client make his dreams come true for this nonprofit. We are emphasising self-confidence and self-reliance through this process. We will be following the RFP to the letter burning as much midnight oil necessary to meet the 10 day deadline.

Wish us luck!