Monday, September 7, 2020

Looking Good: Understand the Ideal Charity Before You Describe Yourself

We have been fans of the James Bond series since we were kids in the 1960s. The genre, of course, was popular for many years and started out as novels by Ian Fleming.

James Bond was sort of the perfect guy, handsome, patriotic, intelligent, and able to handle himself in a fight. To blow away your funder, your charity needs to be something of an ideal too. The funders, after all, may have a stereotyped understanding of what an ideal charity looks like and then use this image to judge your strengths or weaknesses.

The solution? Understand what an ideal charity looks like and become one.

I'm not suggesting that you should live to the funder. In fact I think that is counterproductive . The people that run these foundations or government agencies that giveaway grants aren't stupid. They have their own sources of information including insight from your competitors so I don't think you can count on getting away with things that are untruthful .

Nevertheless you may get away with looking better than your competition by having a clearer understanding of what an ideal charity looks like . Basically in the ideal charity is a glamorous self-less problem solving machine that makes its community dash broadly defined path of a better place .

This means that is going to have some common features , features that you should talk about 80 have fun and features that you should probably add to your charity if you do not. Among these ideal aspects of the charity including adding it up to date profile on guide star or charity navigator . It is too easy for the funder to google you and see where you stand. If you're up to date on these things she looked old-fashion or perhaps like you really aren't paying sufficient attention to your charity and how does seem by the outside world. Remember, these funders are going to be embarrassed if they get the money and then one of their bodies: supper profile and find a pitcher not doing so good .

Next to an ideal charity should have a strong board of directors ideally filled with some of the Mo six else: wealthiest people in the community . You may already have a board like that but you've been to Cheyenne haven't been bragging about how incredible some of your people really are. Now's the time to start bragging .

It's also good to let people know that you haven't audited financial statement . These are important even for smaller charities. I can say with my four heart that could you pay the extra money to have an audited financial statement you easily get that money back by winning more grants .

It's also important to let the funder know that you have a strategic planning process that the charity just isn't moving from crisis to crisis . Your let people know that you have considered your strengths and weaknesses the environmental opportunities and threats and that you're moving rationally on the basis of a well thought out board approved a five year plan . The father doesn't have to know that this is a two page document that she created the day before turning in the grant proposal . Nevertheless that's a good idea to have a document like that in place. In fact it should improve your operations.

It is also important to put in some sort of equity diversity and inclusion statement . These things are rather far most and difficult to follow up on. Nevertheless the funder appreciates it if you put something like that in their . Also the funders are products of liberal and leftist educational institutions . Putting in this sort of skinheads to their politically correct preferences will simply remove one more excuse for them to toss your application out .

Finally, it is important that everything lines of this means that you have the right mission statement , the corrected vision for your charity , a crack team in place , the best possible solution , and the greatest possible need in the community to six . What she may not realize, however, is that all five of these variables can be adjusted . There's nothing wrong with changing your mission statement so it reflects what you really do , there's nothing wrong with identifying the greatest need in the community and then adjusting of other elements of your charity to address that need . If you have one solution that you're really get that there's nothing bad about shopping around in finding an appropriate problem just sat with that solution all that really matters, in the end, is the coherence of your charity . Another words everything he asks a line of all five of these things need to line up so that your charity looks like a smart well organized the machine .

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How to Use Your Cover Letter to Influence a Grant Reader

In the History Channel's new Grant miniseries, they report on the blunt philosophy of Ulysses S. Grant. "The art of war is simple enough," he said. "Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on."

If you want to follow his exploits they now have an interactive map of his key Civil War battles which helps you appreciate what he did to win the war.

Ultimately, I see his views as a call for considerable focus. The same principle applies in the less physical risky and dangerous arena of grant writing.

As a political scientist, I was always interested in how political consultants used direct mail to raise money and advertise their political candidates. As a grant writing consultant, I have adopted a lot of these same techniques to benefit the non-profit clients we serve at Drew & Associates. Many of the political consultant's best ideas were the result of early eye tracking technology experiments.

For example, it turns out that when someone opens a letter the first thing that attracts their eyes is the appearance of their own name. Consequently, I am very careful about having my staff double check the spelling of the recipient's name and also their title. My view is that if we make a mistake with the grant reader's name, then we immediately make a bad impression. If we get their name exactly correct, however, we will have used that initial millisecond of exposure to immediately win the trust and confidence of the reader.

This is why I refuse to issue letters of inquiry or cover letters that are simply addressed to generic appellations like "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam." I also use a Ms. or Mr. when I address the letter reader too. If the person's name gives me little indication of their gender, then I try to Google them to figure out the appropriate term of address. If they have a non-English name that I am unfamiliar with, then I will Google that too.

I also avoid using the generic term Grant Administrator or Grant Coordinator. Instead, I review the funder's website or research printout and address the letter to their president or chair. To make sure that I get the name exactly right, I will cut and paste it directly from the website.

It turns out that the next place a person's eye goes to when they read your letter of inquiry or your cover letter is your own signature. Try this yourself and notice how your eyes move over the next letter you receive in the mail. I also seek to leverage this initial bit of information too. If you have ever taken one of my grant writing workshops, then you will remember that I spend time teaching people how to create a professional looking signature. Too often, I have seen people labor over a grant application and then - at the last minute - undercut their own effort by signing the application or cover letter as if they just finished an increasingly rare third grade penmanship class.

Instead, I recommend signing quickly, like you are a doctor signing a prescription. The signature, by the way, should be done with blue ink. We use blue ink so that the reader understands that the signature is applied with a pen and not done with a photo image the same color as the text.

Finally, the folks who taught me about political direct mail always stressed the P.S. at the end of the letter. For some reason, people will scan the entire letter first, but then zero in on the P.S., or post script, at the end of the letter. To take advantage of that habit, I like to place the most compelling message regarding the charity and its project in the P.S. I rarely send out any letter of inquiry or cover letter without including a P.S.

P.S. If you follow these tips, you will be using the reader's most basic habits to quickly get a powerful first impression established in their minds in six seconds or less.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Grant Writing Meetings

I have been watching the new Grant miniseries on the History Channel. I recommend it.

As they write: "While nothing in Grant’s early life marked him for greatness, he now stands as one of the most brilliant military minds in U.S. history—credited with winning the Civil War and preserving the American Union. This map charts his progress and achievements during the nation’s most wrenching conflict." At the very least, the miniseries will remind you of the extent to which politics gets in the way of action.

In grant writing, we typically address the politics of grant writing by asking our clients to fill out a project innovator form and collect the needed documents. This is usually enough to identify issues that might get in the way of creating a winning grant campaign.

We have also found it essential to conduct a well-organized and impressive kick-off meeting for the client and their staff. Over time, I have come to believe that one of the most important secrets of success for a grant writer is learning how to conduct a powerful, influential and effective grant campaign kick-off meeting. This meeting can make a large difference. The reason is that grant writing is a team sport, not an individual effort. To pull together a winning grant application in a short period of time you need to use every technique at your disposal to win participants to your side. Without their earnest help, preparing a conforming grant application will be a slow, lonely process.

Along these lines, I like to run a tightly organized staff meeting when I get together with our Drew & Associates senior grant writers, research assistants, and marketing staff. Here are the tips that I follow myself to build a strong and effective team:

1. Punctuality: My meetings start and end exactly on time. In my experience, if I get sloppy about starting and ending the meeting on time, people start showing up late and failing to use our limited time efficiently. In my experience, no one shows up late.

2. Allow Time to Blow Off Steam: I start each staff meeting with an informal discussion that allows everyone to release their stress by sharing a little information regarding either their personal triumphs and/or struggles. We blow off a little steam too by talking about personal health issues, problems with children and loved ones, or the general madness and insensitivity of those around us. The aim of this portion of the meeting is to allow people to vent some of the tensions and concerns that might otherwise distract them during the rest of the meeting. An additional benefit of this portion of the meeting is that I can identify important clues about how our staff are doing and what--if anything--I need to be doing to make their personal and work lives easier.

3. Use an Agenda: I think it is important to distribute a written agenda at each meeting. The agenda starts with a quick report from each branch of our consulting practice - writing, research, marketing, and collections. We then move on to discuss old business followed by a discussion of new business. If someone wants to suggest an additional discussion item, I usually just add it to the end of the agenda under the category of new business.

4. Keep Meeting Minutes/Record Action Items: Someone takes careful notes at each meeting. My wife, Trish, is remarkably persistent in noting what I and my staff have promised to do to move forward on specific business issues. Later that same day, she sits down with me and goes through the list and we take initial action on each item while we still have the clarity and motivation to get the task done.

5. Foster a Culture of Openness: Although I am not sure that this last tip will help everyone, I do encourage our staff members to speak their minds, criticize me or my practices, or vent their frustrations to the furthest extent possible. To me, this is what it means to be working in a healthy functional consulting practice. At times, however, I do wonder how I got myself into a situation where I'm paying everyone in the room to find fault with me. The benefit, of course, is that I get fresh ideas, honest feedback, and I learn how to avoid serious mistakes. To me, the most dangerous thing in the world is to be surrounded by people who simply repeat back to you your own ideas. As I see it, I am paying for others' honesty and objectivity no matter how much I might be embarrassed as an individual.

6. End on an Inspirational Note: Finally, I like to end each meeting with my sincere thanks to everyone for their time and attention. I remind everyone that what we are doing has a profound impact on some of the most dangerous, urgent, and difficult challenges facing our nation. I think it is important to remind my staff--and myself--that in our society virtually all projects of great significance must first pass across the desk of a talented and insightful writer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

NOW Remote! Check Out All of Dr. Drew's On-Line Courses

Grant Writing Fundamentals (Remote Live)

NOW Remote - Learn this valuable skill in a highly interactive videoconferencing format from the comfort of your home. Join Dr. Drew in an invigorating and informative workshop created for new and experienced grant writers, executive directors, organizers, board members, community volunteers, and individuals who want to get a detailed look at the grant writing process. Dr. Drew will introduce you to all information needed for a successful grant proposal. You will learn how funding is announced, how applications are judged, and how to construct each element of a winning proposal. The techniques Dr. Drew emphasizes—including how to work quickly, how to create a winning message, and basic evaluation techniques—apply with equal force to small or large grants. Certificate of completion given to each participant who finishes the class.

Meeting: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, 2020

Course Fee: $144 includes material fee for handouts and booklet all due at registration.

Grant Writing Intermediate (Remote Live)

NOW Remote – Dr. John Drew presents this hands-on workshop as part of the Grant Writing series of classes. In it, he reveals the secrets of cashing in on grants for individuals in a new, innovative videoconferencing format. Unlimited by the boundaries of a classroom, this new class leverages all the benefits of modern technology to assist individuals seeking resources from corporations, foundations, and government agencies. Dr. Drew also teaches the skills needed to be successful in researching individual grants or educational scholarships. You will have step-by-step guidance on how to become a grant-writing consultant or to create a non-profit charity. John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a speaker, author, and consultant who has raised $52 million for non-profits.

Meeting: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 10, 2020

Course Fee: $144 includes material fee for handouts and booklet all due at registration.

Grant Research Fundamentals (Remote Live)

NOW Remote – Truly at least half of your success in winning grants depends on your skill in researching them. Accordingly, this class has been created for non-profit leaders and staff who need a detailed look at the technology and the practical tips needed to speed-up the grant research process. Participants will be introduced to:

  • Top websites for grant research including those provided by the federal government, State of California, and the Foundation Directory Online by Candid.
  • Useful websites for identifying individual grants for art projects, scholarly research, and college and graduate school scholarships.

This course has been redesigned for the on-line environment. It will now be easier for students to see grant research websites and other tools in action and simultaneously interact with the instructor.

Meeting: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 14, 2020

Course Fee: $144 includes material fee for handouts and booklet all due at registration.

Fundraising Fundamentals (Remote Live)

NOW Remote – Learn this valuable skill in a highly interactive videoconferencing format from the comfort of your home. Non-profits can win reliable support through grants, but they also need to know the most important basics about other fundraising methods. "I can’t teach everything I know about fundraising," says Dr. Drew, "but I can teach the six most important things I think will make the biggest possible difference for your success." In this workshop, an award-winning author, trainer, and consultant introduces simple proven techniques and strategies. Participants will learn how fundraising has evolved, how new software keeps track of donors and how to win individual gifts without the pressure of a face-to-face ask.

Meeting: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 5, 2020

Course Fee: $144 includes material fee for handouts and booklet all due at registration.

Praise for Dr. Drew’s Workshops

"Very informative, with positive energy transferred to the students."

"The course was very inviting. Dr. Drew was very clear and knowledgeable. He made it easier for me to achieve my goals and enjoy success in life."

"Dr. John Drew was very knowledgeable, invigorating, timely, and made learning interesting and clear."

"This was constant, good practical information. The first 15 minutes made the whole class worth it!"

"Dr. Drew is wonderful. He taught me a lot in a very short time."

"The course was very informative and gave me a good insight into what it takes to be a grant writer."

"This class was excellent and very informative."

"Great class. Thank you for offering it!"

"Yay! Great class!"

"Excellent-- I really enjoyed Dr. Drew. Best organized information."

"Dr. Drew has given me the tools to stay motivated and to move forward on my non-profit."

"Overall outstanding."

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Start of a Beautiful Friendship: How to Make the Most of Your Phone Calls with the Funders

I have always believed that an attempt at relationship building with a funder should always come before applying for a grant. The best way to engage with a funder is almost always a phone call. At the very least, the funder learns there is a real human being, a beating heart, behind the non-profit's application. The funder needs to be reminded that a real person will be both sad and hurt if the application does not receive fair and thorough evaluation.

It is useful to remember that while grants may come from institutions, the proposals get reviewed by real people. As I like to say in my workshops the reviewers are people just like us. They are not any brighter than us, but not any dumber either.

One good piece of advice is to do your homework ahead of time by thoroughly reviewing information about the funder. This practice helps to prepare what you will say and understand what you are asking for. This call is about beginning a conversation and—we expect—a relationship. Inappropriate reasons to call a program officer might be to flat-out ask if the foundation will fund your request or to ask questions that are addressed in the funder’s guidelines. Although, I have succeeded by doing both.

Appropriate reasons to call could include addressing genuine uncertainty about your organization’s eligibility, clarifying a confusing aspect of the application process, or even requesting a face-to-face introductory meeting. Demonstrate your intention to build a relationship. For example, you could ask for a meeting by explaining: “I know your foundation is concerned about XYZ in the community. We’re concerned about that too and have a plan to address it. Could we meet to trade ideas? I’d like to hear your perspective.”

Finally, it is okay to have the funder tell you no. If you are not a fit in terms of eligility, then it is better to find that out right away. There are plenty of other funders. 

Act Now! Amazingly SBA-PPP Loans Are Still Available

Our intrepid reporter, Eve Troutt, has been keeping track of the latest news about the SBA-PPP loans coming from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They say there are funds still left. Since small businesses have started applying, the loan amounts being given out are smaller than during the earlier distributions. 

Clearly, the SBA is processing more loans, but for smaller amounts. 

If a business has not applied yet, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce still thinks they should. Even better news is that they think there will be a fourth stimulus package which will have additional funds available for Paycheck Protection Program loans. Their recommendation is to get into the queue.

Applicants need to remember that the forgivable portions of your payroll and other eligible expenses start the day the PPP gets into the charity or church's business while the remaining 75% must be spent solely on payroll. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it is okay to pay your employees with the loan funds even if they are not actually working...even it the business or charity is closed. 

If you want to keep your people busy, however, you can use their efforts to help you learn how to order online, establish no touch deliveries, or figure out the new normal procedures per the local city and county guidelines. For some organizations, they may need to keep one employee working full time just to keep up with changing procedures. Organizations can also spend the loan on hardship pay and even give their employees small bonuses. 

To make sure things go smoothly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it is a good idea to document all orders or events which were cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

The only bit of bad news is that the IRS has ruled that funds used from this grant will not be tax deductible expenses on your 2020 return. Nevertheless, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is hopeful this may change.

Are there other resources out there to help you? They say: Yes! 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it still makes sense to consider the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) too. They were expanded due to COVID-19. SBA is currently processing the EIDL applications. They will provide an advance of up to $10,000. It will go into your accounts within three days. (They maybe a little slower than that, they caution.) 

"The first advance is a grant," writes Troutt, "the loan paperwork will follow. And yes, you can turn down the loan and still keep the grant. Even if you do not qualify for the loan, or eventually get a rejection notice, you may keep the $10,000 advance."

If you want Drew & Associates to help you apply for the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program or their Economic Injury Disaster Loans, please click on this link for more information. All it takes to get started is an initial deposit of $250. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Tips for Making the Most of the New Home Office, Part 3 of 3

For better or worse, I have worked out of my home for nearly my whole life. Out of necessity, I have learned some tricks for improving my productivity. Mainly, they all boil down to the necessity of staying in the zone - this is the happy, fulfilling moment when the day seems to fly by because you are concentrating so hard and so completely. It is actually easier to get into this highly productive state at home compared to at work. Nevertheless, you need to do everything you can to keep yourself in the zone.
  1. Don't answer the phone. Phone calls are a terrible distraction. The worst thing about answering them all immediately is that you teach your customers, lenders, suppliers, and employees to call you at the drop of a hat when things get tough. Surprisingly, if you are a little tougher to get hold of they can sometimes solve the problem on their own. I like to avoid answering calls immediately. Instead, I allow phone messages to pile up and then I deal with them all at once. 
  2. Don't do email first thing in the morning. Sadly, responding too quickly to your emails is also a great way to bust up your home office routine. It is better to batch those as well. I try not to even open up my email until later in the day. If you begin with your email, you will quickly find yourself doing less important tasks, generating additional unnecessary work, and distracting yourself from the work that really matters - meeting deadlines, closing deals, collecting checks. 
  3. Eat the frogs first. This means get your unpleasant chores done first. I number all my chores each evening or morning and then force myself to do the top one or two first thing in the morning. Usually, the call or confrontation isn't any where near as disturbing or as time consuming as I feared. I also feel great for the rest of the day because I know I accomplished something that was tough for me to do or say.  
  4. Use games to stop procrastination - remember you don't have a boss watching you any more or peers to inspire you. For example, to overcome call reluctance, I often find it helps to imagine that when I call someone I'm just calling their answering machine. 
  5. Take a baby step to get started. Another great gimmick is to just tell yourself you are just going to do something for five minutes. You will often find that once you are started you fall into the flow state and you work until the task is finished. 
  6. Leverage your advantages. Use all the resources around you to be more productive. Have your wife or children help with simple tasks. Make use of your assistants, co-workers, and others around you. Just because you are alone at home doesn't mean you can't be on the phone every hour checking up on people, assigning tasks, and leveraging the talents of others to get things done. 
  7. Bliss out. It is easier to be spiritual at home than in the office. Use this to your advantage. You have more ability at home to be serene, in the moment, and happy. You don't need to conform to useless social conventions. In fact, you have more time to meditate, feel the balls of your feet, enjoy the fact that you are alive. I know I am taking advantage of this COVID-19 crisis to improve my meditation skills. I'm noticing I'm seeing opportunities sooner and profiting from them.
  8. Don't wear pajamas. I think it is better to dress up for work at home just like you would at the office. Clothing is a psychological cue for you even if no one else notices it. I think people can tell if you are answering the phone in your pajamas. Don't do it. 
  9. Watch out for sound quality. Remember that small sounds travel when you work at home. More likely than not, the other party on the phone will hear the clatter in the kitchen, the flushing toilet, or the dog in the background. You need to be sensitive to these sounds and not allow them to impact your listener. This means no music during phone calls. No television in the distance. Above all, don't wash dishes or clean cabinets while on the phone with a client. They can hear the noises and know that you are distracted. 
In the absence of office peer pressure, you need to find other ways to make yourself productive. Creating a happy, calm, quiet atmosphere will go a long way toward allowing you to outperform your office self by making it easy to concentrate and harder to be interrupted.

Tips for Making the Most of the New Home Office, Part 2 of 3

Due to the spread of COVID-19 many of us be working from home. As I heard a friend say, "It makes no sense to drive one hour just to go from one computer screen to another computer screen."

Nevertheless, I think there is good reason to be cautious about the benefits of working from home. The only thing that makes the office more productive is peer pressure. It forces you to show up on time and leave on time. You are in a competitive environment and the social pressure for performance is immense. Without that social pressure your productivity now seems to depend on an almost inhuman level of self-discipline.

To be productive at home, you need something else to keep you working. For me, I've found it helps to get into the flow state. This is the state-of-mind where you happily work for hours seemingly unaware of your surroundings. Getting into and staying in the flow state is the principle behind all my specific suggestions for improving home office productivity.

If you follow them, there is a chance that you may be more productive than you would normally be in an office.
  1. Set aside special times for phone calls, writing, reading, and other work related activities. It is more efficient to batch these activities than to mix them up. Remember, the key thing is to get into the unconscious work flow state. If you establish the habit of doing certain activities on certain days at certain times of the day, then you will be more disciplined about following through. For example, at Drew & Associates I set aside specific times each week for introducing myself to new potential clients. Every Thursday between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. that is what I'm doing.
  2. Never rewrite anything the same day you write it. This is a huge productivity advantage. Too many people tear their hair out writing and rewriting the same sentence over and over again until it is perfect. You cannot write and edit at the same time and expect to be successful. Instead, write without rewriting whenever you do a first draft. Then only review it the next day when your mind is fresh. Sometimes you will find that the material you were agonizing over what actually pretty good. You were just being hypercritical during the drafting process.
  3. Make sure you have music in the background. It seems especially helpful to have familiar music which keeps part of your mind distracted while your higher mind focuses on getting the real work done. I have my own mix that I sued which you can see on YouTube. Using music to distract your wandering mind leave the rest of your brain the space it needs to concentrate. 
  4. I like having a beverage on my desk, usually coffee, often a Diet Coke. Getting up for a drink breaks the flow state that is the key to home office productivity. This means anything that keeps you in your seat longer is good for you. This means moving the coffee pot close to your desk, keeping a refrigerator in your office, or making sure you have a beverage when ever you sit down before your keyboard. 
  5. Go through everything in your office and reorganize it. Make sure the things you use the most are in the drawers or shelves closest to you. Things you use infrequently should be further away physically. It sometimes help to have an outsider help you decide which objects and which files should be closer or farther away. 
  6. Create a tight, brilliant filing plan. Be consistent in your labeling and organization of your file folders. I was reminded of the importance of internal organization when we helped charities apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans earlier this month. I was under stress and moving quickly. I saved a lot of time my setting up a system beforehand which put the key information I needed for a loan application all in one place. In a sense, orderly files are more important than brains. 
  7. Make sure you are happy at work. If you are feeling unhappy it is probably because you are doing something you don't need to do. Your subconscious will warn you. Your level of happiness is also a key indicator of whether or not you are in the flow state. Changing the task so that you remain happy is one of the secrets of staying in the productive flow state. 
  8. Use fans, air-conditioning and/or space heaters to maintain a consistent temperature. If you work at home you absolutely need to pay attention to your environment. Anything which makes you too hot or too cold will now be more likely to knock you out of the flow state. Ideally, your environmental temperature and humidity, if you can control it, should be perfectly consistent in your home work space. You need a stable environment if you want to be able to focus 100% on your work. 
If you rely on the same techniques which worked at your regular office, you most likely will fail at working from home. This is what a lot of people advice however. This is why they say you need to dress up for work, maintain consistent hours, check in with other people to be accountable. You are better off, in my view, to take a completely different tact and concentrate instead on doing something you could never do at the office - maintain a clean, consistent, uninterrupted state of productive focus. If you are having fun, then it is working.