Thursday, November 25, 2010

Painful realities dealt with at Rebuild Afghanistan Summit 2010. See,
New YouTube Video from Two-Day Grant Writing Retreat with Dr. Drew. See,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

One of Dr. Drew's Former MBA Students Makes It Big In Fashion

When I met Peter Rhima I could just see the energy crackling out of him. I'm not sure everyone in the MBA program at Hope International University knew how to deal with him. For me, I immediately saw him as a pure genius, the sort of energetic and creative soul who would make a big contribution to the world.

My predictions regarding Peter Rhima have come true over and over again. He now has his own fashion line called Urban Republic Clothing.

One of the things that Peter did which I like to teach is that he did much more that just create a line of clothing, he created a whole larger story and romance to go along with the look he was creating as a designer. Like many charismatic leaders, he relies on tradition and then gains extra power by taking massive action in situations which would frighten and hold back other people. He is also well rounded and well-versed in technology.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Tribute to My Late Father: Richard C. Drew, Sr. (1926 - 2010)

My father passed away this week and I thought it would be appropriate to share some comments that would be comforting for my father’s siblings, his wife, his children and his grandchildren and – perhaps - his great-grandchildren. He is pictured here on the right holding the hand of his younger brother Albert Drew. He died peacefully on July 20, 2010.

1. For His Siblings: He was born in Michigan in 1926. This is the same year that welcomed Queen Elizabeth, Andy Griffith and Marilyn Monroe. While my father was in elementary school, he endured the economic disaster of the Great Depression and after high school served in World War II in the U.S. Navy. As I said during his eulogy:
He had two siblings: a sister, Marilyn and a brother, Albert. His family moved to California in 1933 and his siblings always struck me as contemporary Californians while Richard was much more of an import product of the Mid-West. I know he valued their time together as a family…and spoke tenderly about a trip he made to Redmond, WA in 1985 when they were last all together.
If you want insight into my father’s childhood, I recommend you check out the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. My father identified with the main character, Ralphie, a nine-year old Hammond, Indiana boy whose fervent Christmas wish was to receive "…an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time." (The thing which tells time is a sundial.) Ralphie, of course, continually hears the refrain: “No, you’ll shoot your eye out.”

2. For His Wife: Richard met my mother, May, and they got married in the 1950's. From the photos of their early married life, you can see that they were an ideal 1950's couple. My mother is extraordinarily beautiful and you can tell that being married to her was the best thing that ever happened to him.

3. For His Children: My earliest memories of him include kissing him as he came home from work. I still remember the smell of his after shave…and the love and affection he had for me. I remember him, at the height of Cold War, stockpiling materials for a nuclear bomb shelter in the garage including wood frames, army water tanks, military food rations and burlap bags. Because of time constraints, I could not fit this into his eulogy, but I meant to say:
It goes without saying that he loved his job as a CAL-OSHA safety engineer and later as a top manager. When I saw him at work I was introduced to a whole new world of power and authority, a world in which opportunities for devoted public service were supplemented by lunches with his colleagues at Italian restaurants with fresh sawdust on the floor or by visits to cafeterias that looked like movie sets complete with colorful lights, waterfalls and California-themed dioramas.
Politically, he was an ardent anti-communist, a Goldwater fan, and early Reagan supporter. My father took to Scouting – especially its religious values and code of character - and was remembered for it for many years. He raised money and took us to National Jamboree where we saw Bob Hope perform. He was active at the district level and had the number one Boy Scout Camporee Troop in 1976.

4. For His Grandchildren: Later in life, he was a devoted grandfather who loved hosting the grandchildren (seven in all) at his house in Big Bear for the holidays. Remembering how much fun I had as a child playing around the Newhall house, I’m sure it warmed Richard’s heart to see his grandchildren happily running around the same hunting grounds.

5. For His Great Grandchildren: My father’s great grandchildren will undoubtedly learn about him from YouTube videos, blog sites, and genealogy charts - all freely available on the Internet. They will find he represented a proud tradition of American values and patriotism, a tradition extending all the way back to the Civil War and the American Revolution.

Nothing was more moving to me, at my father's funeral, than the final moments when a naval officer handed a folded U.S. flag to my mother and said: "This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation as an expression of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service."

I expect his great grandchildren will see a profound link to our nation’s heritage in my father's life and in his love for God, country and family.

There is a special on-line obituary for him at which includes a beautiful photo essay illustrating his life, career, and rich family connections.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Guest Book for Richard Drew – Online Guest Book by Dignity Memorial (Dr. Drew: My dad passed away this week.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fundraising Insight from Steven Levitt the Author of Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics

I stumbled over an interesting article in the July 2010 issue of Money: an interview by David Futrelle of Steven Levitt, the University of Chicago professor who applies the tools of economics to surprising new topics. His bestselling books include the popular Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics. He is the co-author of these books along with journalist Stephen Dubner.

I was particularly interested in the portion of the interview in which Levitt discusses why people are so stingy. His politically incorrect comments are worth studying:

In your new book you argue that people are probably even more selfish than we think.

It's complex. The percentage of income people give to charities is on the order of 3%. Research my colleague John List is doing suggests that even when people do give, they don't give willingly except when someone's watching. He's looked at how people react when a person comes to the door asking for a charitable contribution. When he tells people in advance that there will be someone coming at a specific time, people either aren't there or don't open the door. Social pressure is behind a lot of contributions rather than altruism. If you and I were on TV and you'd just won the lottery and I asked you to give some to children in Haiti, you'd have a very hard time turning me down. But what if I sent you a letter in the mail making the exact same request?

I've never really thought about this before - in a systematic manner - but Steven Levitt's comments definitely match my personal experience that social pressure is one of the uncomfortable facts of life regarding fundraising. As a grant writer, however, I think I think of myself as being in a less high pressure arena. Nevertheless, when I write a grant, I am thinking about how I will make the corporate, foundation or government reviewer feel guilty if they don't approve my grant request.

I do this by playing up the hardwork apparent in the grant, the careful planning that has gone into organizing it, and playing up the quality of the research which shows that an innovative solution is at hand for a powerful, previously neglected community problem. I'm also an advocate of getting on the phone to communicate with the funder ahead of time so that they know you are a real person and that your feelings will be hurt if they reject your grant application.

Understanding the hidden social pressure in grant writing will definitely help you improve your success at this seemingly "low pressure" fundraising technique.

If you want to check out the blog he and Dubner participate in on the New York Times website, see

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Visit to Clinton Library

Weeks Ahead of Your Deadline: Understand Why Small Breaks Cost You Big Money

As a management consultant, I've come to believe that most people underestimate how costly it is to indulge even a small break in mental concentration.

I learned this valuable lesson while I was writing my award-winning doctoral dissertation. In contrast to most of the other graduate students, I made it a habit to work every day on my thesis - and not just focus on it on the weekends.

The problem with the weekend warrior approach to writing is that it takes a couple of hours each weekend just to remember where you were at mentally and theoretically prior to breaking off from your work. By writing every day, I saved valuable time because I did not need to invest additional time in warming myself up mentally to do my writing.

My normal procedure then, and still now, is to start by editing what I've written the day before. Then, I launch into writing fresh materials following the rule of NEVER rewriting anything the same day that I write it.

In addition, I understand that the same principle applies even to short breaks of just five or ten minutes.

Once my concentration is broken, it takes a bit of a time wasting struggle to get back to writing. This is true if only because I need to get back into the emotional spirit and energy of writing on behalf of a client.

Although I cannot shield my work from all interruptions, I have benefited by doing what I can to bring them to a minimum. For example, when I'm working on a grant application, I do not answer the phone; I do not check my e-mail. I shut the door and hang a sign on it that my wife created to remind me to say hello during my breaks. It says:

"MAN WORKING - Tricia: Please do not disturb me. I'll come chat with you when I take my break. Love, John."

I have also found that it works for me to write late at night when there are not as many people sending me e-mails or trying to connect with me by telephone. All in all, I think it's wise to select the office for the grant writer very carefully with an eye for... peacefulness, quiet, isolation, and tranquility.

At its highest level, grant writing is not a standard business procedure. To do it right, I think we will need to be much more sensitive to adapting the grant writer's physical environment so that it is a much better match with the functions essential to implementing this sort of high speed writing.

Accordingly, I think a fresh look at the physical environment of the grant writer will result in happier grant writers, happier clients, and happier results for everyone.

The Best Advice I Ever Received: Spend Time Like Money

What's the best advice I ever received? While I was teaching at Williams College in MA, James MacGregor Burns - the Pulitzer Prize winning historian - told me to "spend time like money."

Implementing his practical advice, I've revised my public speaking to reflect the simple, chronological perspective that informs how I apply lightning fast grant writing to benefit our non-profit clients.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Spoke at the Neighborhoods U.S.A. Conference in Little Rock, AR. Here's a 30 sec. highlight video. See,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Video by Matt Kresling: Seventeen

Before we had Google, a grant writer needed to have careful listening skills and the talent of a professional journalist. In my case, I had an unfair advantage in becoming a grant writer because of my experience as a journalist at Hart High school in Newhall, CA. While I was still in my teens, I enjoyed the unusual opportunity of writing a weeking column in the Newhall Signal regarding what what going on at my high school under the 1960s sounding title, "Hart Happenings."

Ironically, I enjoyed the process of creating a weekly column so much that I'm still sort of doing the same thing 35 years later as an adult. I've never gotten over the thrill of seeing my words and ideas in newsprint. In fact, the thrill has outlasted my subscription to my local newspapers here in Orange County, CA.

At any rate, I've discovered this new video by one of my favorite artists, Matt Kresling. I thought you'd enjoy his little YouTube video and draw strength from your own days as a student journalist exploring a career as the next Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Write the Grant First and Then Do the Research

Every once in a while, I'm surprised at the power of my own techniques. Recently, I was putting a grant application together for a new client with a new potential funder. Following my usual strategy, I started writing the client’s application without doing any research – except, of course, interviewing a staff member and a Board member.

As I wrote the application, I quickly figured out that the funder had in mind much more narrowly defined project that what I was expecting ahead of time. In other words, my efforts to answer the funder’s questions had given me a much more precise understanding of exactly what the funder was willing to pay for in terms of a model grant program.

Ironically, I was already about 3/4 of the way through the first draft when I noticed the funder’s own website had a lot of the information I was looking for regarding the proposed grant project. If I had scanned the funder’s entire website beforehand, I do not think I would have noticed - or paid much attention to - the valuable information posted there, information that was immediately relevant to my client’s grant application.

Since I was already writing the first draft of the client’s application, I was hypersensitive to the exact information I needed and it just jumped out at me when I flipped to the funder’s website.

I think you will have this sort of time saving experience too if you give this technique a try. Often, I find I do not need to do the all extensive research I anticipated once I actually look at the questions posed in the actual grant application paperwork.

Moreover, the client’s staff experts can often quickly provide me with the most relevant research - once they have read a draft and understand the internal logic of the application. In a world of severe time constraints and limited rationality, I think it is usually a waste of time to ask the client to figure out the fundamental issues of significance by reading the funder’s guidelines. I have found the client’s staff can often be more helpful if they respond to a fully established rough draft of the full proposal.

Best of all, I think that if you do your research second, you will sometimes find you already know more than enough to write a tolerable solicitation document. With this technique, I have been able to avoid losing valuable hours and minutes researching things that may - in the end - have nothing to do with my client's proposed project.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lightning Fast Grant Writing Tips: Give Your Charity an Advantage by Starting on Your Budget Early

One of the most important things I like to teach in my Lightning Fast Grant Writing Workshops is the suggestion that charities should start working on their project budget right away.

Too often, charities work on their budget at the last minute. They will only focus on the budget after they have written much of the grant which is odd, when you think about it, because the grant writer would have a better idea of what to write if there was a realistic budget to work off of...

Ironically, busy grant reviewers will often skim (or not read at all) the text of the charity's grant application and instead turn to the budget to make an informed decision about whether the charity has a clear enough plan and a realistic understanding of their proposed project. In this context, it is easier to understand why a strong, detailed, accurate budget will always give an agency an unfair advantage over its competition.

One of the best ways to get started on your budget is to work off of a copy of an existing, winning budget. You can obtain copies of winning budget examples from other agencies, off of the internet, or from your own agency's previous grant applications.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Couple of Great Ideas for Researching Grant Possibilities

My aim is to speed up the process of winning grants. This means that I like to bring fresh eyes to the grant writing process and place my stress on techniques that make it easier for you to move decisively and quickly when it comes to researching funders and preparing applications for them.

One of the ironic things about teaching "grant writing" classes is that a lot of the success you experience is actually due to "grant researching." Accordingly, it is important to know where to look for funding for your project.

In my experience, people who dive into the Internet searching for grants are quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available to them. I like to simplify things by recommending the three most important sites I use to get information about potential grant opportunities.

I turn to the Foundation Center in New York for information on corporate and foundation grants.

I turn to the federal government's special site for federal grants.

And, finally, I look to another site for full information on potential scholarship applications.

With these three sites at hand, you'll have about 90% of the resources you need to find grants for yourself, your clients, or your non-profit agency. Also, please don't forget that it is okay to ask other for help. In a fix, I like to contact the staff members of your Congressional representative for your district or your city manager's office for assistance.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Keep on Keeping On: Don't Get Spooked By a Bad Economy

As you may know, Tricia and I are enjoying a good year economically. Although she was laid off in March 2009 - and is still looking for work - our grant writing consulting business is growing nicely and producing more than enough to keep us afloat. Nevertheless, these are dark times for our U.S. economy.

As you can see from the private employment chart above, this particular recession is much worse than previous recessions from the standpoint of overall employment numbers. The good news for grant writers, however, is that foundations are still required to give away 5% of their assets no matter what. Even if the charity doesn't have enough money for staff, it usually has enough money squirreled away to cover the cost of a grant writing consultant to help them put together a series of winning grant proposals.

Moreover, there are a lot of people making a lot of money. Government employees are doing well. Certain sectors of the economy are taking off even as other portions of the economy slide. The danger kicks in only when you allow yourself to get discouraged and stop trying with your soliciation efforts, grant writing, and normal follow-up activities. No matter what, tough times don't last...but tough people do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Making Sense of Political Turmoil: The Grant Writer's Role in Politics

After the Scott Brown win in MA, I think it is normal for grant writers to wonder about the nation's political situation and ask how it affects them and the charities they work for as consultants or employees. The first thing I like to point out is that I have won federal money from Democrat administrations and Republican administrations. Despite what people say, I've found the federal government contests to be some of the most fair, easy to access, and reliable grant money to obtain on behalf of charities. As far as I can tell, the reason the federal government is fair is that control over it changes frequently enough that rules have been established to prevent the worst forms of political abuse. In addition, there is a great deal of attention focused on federal grants. This high visibility will also protect you from the worst abuses of partisan politics. Finally, federal grants are generally idea driven. If you have an idea backed up by research, then I think you will be fairly surprised by how well your idea gets funded. Despite all the political hype, the quality of your ideas does matter and fresh programs based on the latest research will always have a profound advantage.

Monday, January 18, 2010

One of our new clients, DonateGames is getting a ton of publicity in Orange County. See,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For Charismatic Leaders: The Book Preceeds the Charismatic Power

I just finished reading a touching book by Bryan Nash, called "A Phoenix Rising the Defining Moments: The True Story of a Child's Triumph over Abandonment and Abuse." Bryan's story touched my heart, in large measure, because he is the same age as me and because I know that the experiences he describes as growing up as an abused child in Orange County, California ring true.

I remember what it was like to feel the February 9, 1971 earthquake rattles through our home in Newhall California like a freight train running through the front yard. I've been in a couple of earthquakes since then but never anything like that.

Today, Bryan is using his book to call attention to the plight of children who age out of the foster care system without the normal tools to find work, settle in apartments, and maintain the financial security needed to become a safe and secure member of society. This task is not all that easy even for those of us who have reasonably loving parents.

Like George Washington or Mahatma Gandhi, Bryan is starting to discover that having a book published opens doors for him and attracts followers to his charity and larger cause. Also, I think the practice of writing out your life as a book has a certain healing impact on the individual psychologically. It allows them to reframe their life in terms of their present success and their aspirations for the future.

Although I make a living as a grant writer, I can't help but think that the founders of charities would be greatly advantaged if they set aside time each morning to work on writing out their life story. In the end, this simple practice might be more important to the financial success of their charity than anything I can do as a grant writer.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Quick Overview of Foundation Center's New Mapping Capacity

For a long time now, I've been sold on the advantages of subscribing to the services of the Foundation Center in New York. This year, their Professional-level services gives you access to the Foundation Center's latest tool, the Map of Cross-Border Giving. I checked out their webinar and I can see that the Map of Cross-Border Giving will be a powerful tool for me as I teach workshops on grant writing because it illustrates U.S. grantmaking to non-U.S. recipients.

The Map of Cross-Border Giving is limited to the top 30,000 grants totaling more than $8.5 billion.

This new feature should be particularly helpful to those of us presenting seminars on grant writing. For example, you will be able to show your clients and your students:

•See grants from U.S. grantmakers to non-U.S. recipient organizations.

•View grantmaker data from independent, community, company-sponsored, and operating foundations as well as corporate giving programs and grantmaking public charities.

•Filter your map view by fiscal year, grantmaker type, or giving based on recipient type, primary subject, or type of support.

•Mouse over a country to see the total dollar amount and number of grants awarded, along with the number of grantmakers and recipients giving and receiving funds. (In my experience, this is particularly useful in illustrating the uneven distribution of grants - particularly for countries in the Middle East.)

•Change your display options to see grantmaker or recipients lists, and then click to see descriptions of the grants awarded to recipients in each country.

This tool is also useful for illustrating the concentration of grants from places like the Ford Foundation. To get started, log in to FDO and look for the Map of Cross-Border Giving box on the left, then click the "Visit Map of Cross-Border Giving" link.