RstephensonJR's blog

Leading With Strength

Much has been said about a shift in how we describe the communities we serve. Instead of writing a classic “problem statement” detailing what is wrong, or missing, we’re urged to write instead about what’s right--what strengths a community already has that it can build on. This “asset-based” approach doesn’t deny that work needs to be done, it simply affirms the resources and resilience that already exist.

Budgeting for Something Priceless

Don’t forget to calculate the value of volunteers who make the program work—drivers to take people to and from their destinations, corporate employees who show up to work with students. It’s important to present a budget that accurately demonstrates what a program actually costs, even if some of those costs are covered by volunteer work or in-kind contributions.

Stakeholders, Defined

There is widespread agreement that a proposal for a grant carries with it the aspirations and expectations of a lot of different people—our current shorthand is “stakeholders”—but sometimes we refer to them without thinking about who they really are.

The Ups and Downs of an Elevator Pitch

You meet a local business owner at the soccer game and you congratulate her for her kid’s inside touch and scissor kick. After the proud parental handshake, you’re walking to your cars and she asks “what’s your work?” Here it is—a chance to tell a local leader about your nonprofit. The only problem is that you’ve got to do it in about a minute or less.

Less May Be More

Great writers agree: it’s harder to write short than write long. Mark Twain said “a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. . .a five-minute speech will take two weeks to prepare.” Thoreau said “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”

Government vs. Foundation Grants

When it comes to applying for grants, most small to mid-sized nonprofits don’t have a lot of staff resources or a bountiful budget for consultants. The challenge is to decide what funding “suspects” are actually good prospects and to make choices about what to pursue. Often the decision is about whether to put more effort into public / government funding vs. private foundation grant-making.

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