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Special Guest – Karen Kwan “Grant Writing For The Arts”

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Listen in as Karen Kwan shares her secret tips for arts organizations seeking grants. She also discusses how storytelling can make a powerful difference.

Karen Kwan specializes in institutional giving and grants management, having served as an independent grant writing consultant and development staff at various non-profit arts organizations in Silicon Valley, including San Jose Repertory Theatre, Bay Area Glass Institute, Palo Alto Art Center, Dimension Performing Arts and California Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and raised over $5.5 million in the past six years. Karen joined Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA) in May of 2010 as its Institutional Gifts Officer.

Click on the black circle/ white arrow below to hear the 16 minute episode.

Listen to internet radio with GrantWhisperer on Blog Talk Radio

Three Ways To Improve Your Persuasion Skills

Monday, June 20th, 2011

If you’re a grantwriter it stands to reason that you’ll need to sharpen your communication skills. You’ll be called upon to write clear, accurate, error-free proposals. But there’s one other communication skill that isn’t frequently mentioned in job descriptions. The skill of persuasion.

Who's Lives Will You Change With This Project?

Persuasion is the ability to influence, to win over, and perhaps change somebody’s mind.  In the world of grantwriting, you may see how this capability would come in handy. You want the grantor who is reading dozens of proposals from other organizations to be affected by your proposal and your cause. Ultimately you hope to sway them to say yes.

But how do you persuade others?

1.    You convince them that the project serves a pressing need in the community.

Identify specifically what the need is, whom you’ll serve, and how you’ll fill the need. Remember to tie this to your mission.

2.    You ensure them that trusting your organization is a good investment.

Tell them about your track record of implementing your mission to serve the community. Briefly highlight your history in the community, notable partnerships, and any other facet that lets them know you’re a responsibly managed organization with strong community support.

3.    You urge them to action.

Give a compelling case of why this can’t wait. What are the consequences or who will be impacted if you don’t gain their support? Tell them what you need from them to put the project into place. Give them a visual.

Ethics and Grantwriting

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Ethics includes a person or organization’s moral principles, values, and philosophy.  As a fundraiser and grantwriter, it is imperative to conduct oneself in a professional and ethical manner.  Consider the following:

1. You represent your organization.

2. You represent your organization’s organizational values.

3. You affect your organization’s image and reputation.

4. Your practices and your behavior affect your organization’s ability to raise funds.

Practice the profession with integrity.

At all times you must strive to demonstrate professional and ethical practices.

For grantwriters that means you should practice accountability in the way you present your organization in your grant proposals. Ensure that you inform potential grantors with accurate information, a truthful history, real accomplishments, and correct budgets, etc.

Do not exaggerate. Do not mislead. Do not lie.

Do not cover up information that would make a funder turn you down.

You also need to demonstrate sound accounting principles and practices.

Manage the gift acceptance process. (A gift acceptance policy or guidelines can define the steps your organization follows to receive and record grants and contributions).

Inform donors about the use of their funds. (Some funders will ask how their funds were used; some grantors require a written report after the funded project has ended). Some might not ask at all, but you should certainly let them know the results of the project.

Practice accountability by adhering to donor intentions.

You can only spend grant funds in the manner allowed by the approved grant proposal; or the instructions that came with the check; or, if you want to change any elements of the funded project, by approval of the grantor. (It’s important that everyone involved is on the same page regarding how the funds will be spent—BEFORE you submit the grant application)!

Five Rookie Mistakes To Avoid

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Listen to internet radio with GrantWhisperer on Blog Talk Radio
Common errors can prevent your organization from winning a grant. Learn what traps to watch for and avoid. The Grant Whisperer will show you what to do for success. Click on the arrow above to listen to the 16 minute audio episode.

A Dose of Inspiration…

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more, you have succeeded in life.

John Quincy Adams

Charity Auction Lessons from a Princess

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

The most talked about hat at the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton sold at a charity auction for $132,000! While thousands balked at the hat, worn by Princess Beatrice, apparently the princess had a philanthropic plan up her sleeve. As an ambassador for Children in Crisis, the princess auctioned the hat, created by Phillip Treacy, on EBay and watched as the bids continued to rise over the ten-day bidding period. The proceeds will be split between Unicef and Children in Crisis, an organization her mother, Sarah Ferguson, helped found.

Princess Beatrice's Famous Hat (right)

Do you have a charity auction in mind for your organization? Are you planning the traditional and familiar, or will you add an unusual element to your event? Well, if we take the lessons learned from Princess Beatrice, here’s how to hold a successful auction:

1. Offer something unique,

2. Strike while the fire’s hot,

3. Get fabulous publicity

How did the princess respond to the winning bid? “I cannot believe the amazing response to the hat, it has its own personality, and I am so happy that we have raised the most incredible amount of money and can make an even bigger change for the lives of some of the most vulnerable children across the world. I am so lucky to be nearly finishing my university life and I know that this money will help make it possible for others to do the same,” Princess Beatrice said.

Royal Fundraising Advice from Sarah Duchess of York

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

In honor of the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, I thought I’d add a bit of royal flavor to this blog by sharing fundraising lessons I learned from a former princess.

I had the pleasure of hearing Sarah Duchess of York speak at the Association of Fundraising Professionals international conference in Seattle.  In case you didn’t know, the duchess has been involved with several charities in Britain and internationally.

Sarah Ferguson Foundation

The Duchess really had that charisma and regal quality about her. She started her talk off with humor telling us that she married the Queen’s handsomest son. 🙂  Sarah, Duchess of York, said to the audience, “you can make a difference if you have passion and understanding.”  She told us to speak from the heart for our cause. (How real is that? Doesn’t the Grant Whisperer frequently advise you the same?)  She urged the room of fundraisers to follow-up with donors and to be sincere.  You don’t have to be royalty to recognize sound advice when you hear it.

Japan Struck By Massive Quake and Tsunami

Friday, March 11th, 2011

The 8.9 Friday earthquake and resulting tsunami has devastated Japan, leaving hundreds dead, thousands homeless, and enormous damage in its wake. Aid relief is already underway. And organizations have stepped up to provide a means to accept donations for the disaster victims.  You can help support emergency relief efforts by donating to one of the many organizations listed on the Network for Good web site. The American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and the Salvation Army are among those providing immediate emergency assistance.

Japan Quake and Tsunami

I’m impressed by these organizations ability to swiftly mobilize resources and emergency services to those affected by this horrible disaster. I’m also impressed by the swift means to announce and collect worldwide donations. This natural disaster fundraising works like a well-oiled machine and is crucial to getting the needed aid to the disaster zone. As the drama unfolds, the death toll is expected to rise. Read more about the quake at the Fierce Planet web site.

Tie Your Grant Proposals To The Funder’s Interests

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Yes, your organization’s mission is vitally important. We’ve discussed that your mission is why your organization exists. Your mission also guides organizational decision-making and it gives the organization a sense of direction. In other words, just about every activity your organization engages in has to do with furthering your mission. Just as every communication out of your organization has to do with your mission. And naturally, every grant proposal you write has to do with supporting your mission. Do you see how your mission drives everything? So knowing how crucial YOUR mission is, I now ask you to consider your FUNDER’S mission.

Animal Shelter

That’s right. Your potential funder’s mission is vitally important, too. Why? You can have the most wonderfully written grant proposal ever submitted, but if it doesn’t match the funder’s interests and mission, your wonderful proposal will be rejected. The reason they can’t fund projects that don’t match their mission is because the reason THEY exist, or their funding priorities exist, is to fulfill THEIR mission—just like your organization. The lesson here is to be sure your grant proposal matches the funder’s interests, priorities, and mission. You’ll be a step closer to winning a grant award.

What I Learned Today About Fundraising

Friday, February 18th, 2011

I attended my local Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) meeting to hear Rebecca Tseng Smith talk about donor-centered fundraising. She offered many amazing tips from her many years of experience in fundraising for major universities. Rebecca currently works at Stanford University. The most interesting thing she pointed out were the top reasons people give to charitable organizations:

1.     To give back to society

2.     A strong belief in the cause

3.     To make a difference in the world or to change the world

4.     Their religious beliefs

5.     Tax considerations

6.     To continue their family’s tradition of giving

Rebecca Tseng Smith

The above motives are in the order of the most popular with giving back to society at 88%. Rebecca mentioned that the majority of these top motives have nothing to do with us. However it was our jobs as fundraisers of our organizations to tie our requests for support from individuals to these top motivators. In other words tie our requests to the donors interests. Now that’s something I’ve been saying in the arena of grant writing. Let’s continue this discussion in my next post.

Guerilla Grantwriting Tactics

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Are you fed up with grant request rejections? Are you at a loss how to improve your chances of winning grant funding? Are you ready to throw in the towel? Don’t give up! You’ve come to the right place. The Grant Whisperer will reveal secrets for grantwriting success. So if you’re ready to kick-butt, take names, and smell victory, then it’s time to get busy.

Kids in School

Pull out your most recent rejected proposal and let’s take a look at it. We won’t talk about the visual appeal of it today. I’m more concerned about the content. Did you write with confidence, with clarity, and with specifics? Did your writing seize the reader? When a grant writer drones on, and beats around the bush, and makes vague statements, it’s difficult for a grantor to see the impact they’ll make by funding your proposal. Look again at your paragraphs of description and see if there are opportunities to specifically show the grantor how you’ll make a huge impact with their grant support. Articulate your passion for what you do. These are what grantors need to see.

For more on this topic, I dedicated two episodes of my BlogTalkRadio show to Guerilla Grantwriting Part I and Guerilla Grantwriting Part II. They are available to listen to at any time.

How Stories Can Strengthen Your Grant Proposals

Friday, February 4th, 2011

If you haven’t yet visited my Blog Talk Radio Show, this is the week to do it. Special guest Andy Goodman visited on the February 2nd episode to talk about Storytelling the Next Big Thing. He talked about the 6 categories of stories and how you as fundraisers and grantwriters could use each type of story in your organization to advance your mission. Now for those of you who have been reading my book, Grant Writing 101, you will notice that I wrote about some of these same topics that Mr. Goodman points out, although I didn’t refer to them as stories.  But he presents it differently and I like that. It is always good for you to hear things presented another way until you hear the explanation that grabs you and causes you to say, aha, I get it!

Storytelling As Best Practice

But Mr. Goodman also points out stories that are not in my book. For example, he talks about the ‘Creation Story’, which is the story of how your organization started. It’s the spirit of your organization and it’s vibrant history. These are compelling stories to gather, and as effective as his other stories not only for advancing your mission, but also for grant writing. Click here to listen to the program.