Thursday, January 15, 2009

#70: Grant Writer, Don't Research

EFF says Cory is a superhero and they mean it;...Image via WikipediaI really like this tip from Cory Doctorow, co-editor at BoingBoing, and a prolific writer. It further refines something I do when I finally settle down to write.

Locus Online Features: Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction: "Don't research
Researching isn't writing and vice-versa. When you come to a factual matter that you could google in a matter of seconds, don't. Don't give in and look up the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, the population of Rhode Island, or the distance to the Sun. That way lies distraction — an endless click-trance that will turn your 20 minutes of composing into a half-day's idyll through the web. Instead, do what journalists do: type 'TK' where your fact should go, as in 'The Brooklyn bridge, all TK feet of it, sailed into the air like a kite.' 'TK' appears in very few English words (the one I get tripped up on is 'Atkins') so a quick search through your document for 'TK' will tell you whether you have any fact-checking to do afterwards. And your editor and copyeditor will recognize it if you miss it and bring it to your attention."
When I'm finally writing, all my research and data gathering behind me, I just write. FAST as I can. (No editing, either. Just write.) When I come to something I have to look up, even in my notes, I type a question mark or two and highlight.Then I keep writing.

The yellow highlighting makes the points that need attention later stand out, but the action of highlighting takes me away from the keyboard. I wonder if I can use TK and highlight all the TK's later with a "find and replace."

I'll try it out today. I just finished a big YouthBuild grant last night (I don't need to remind those of you working on it that today's the deadline!), so I'm cleaning up and playing today.

BTW, Corey's whole article is worth reading. I can't imagine writing without Word, though.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

#69: Should Grant Writers Appeal to the Right Side of Their Brains?

This is an image taken from a typical PET acqu...Image via WikipediaRecently Scott Flood posted about appealing to both sides of the evaluator's brain.
Anyone who has ever prepared a grant application for a nonprofit or for-profit organization would probably tell you that it’s a left-brained process. After all, there is usually a lengthy list of elements and questions that must be addressed in a specified length and a particular order. Given that “order” is one of the left brain’s favorite words, it’s no surprise that the left-brain crowd is adept at gathering all the information and putting it in its proper place.

But the people who view developing grant requests as a wholly left-brained process are missing what separates very effective and memorable grant applications from the ordinary ones.

That something is the right side of the brain....

The key is recognizing that there are also two sides to the way people think, and addressing both of them....
I heartily agree. In fact, in sales they argue that we make our decisions based on emotions and then use the facts to justify them. You need to create an emotional commitment first.

I work very hard to appeal to both sides of the brain. It isn't easy within the given space constraints. Take the YouthBuild grant I'm working on today -- seems like they take more than 20 pages to ask the questions than the
20 page limit they give me for answers.

How to do it?
Well, the first place to focus on -- the need section. I try to paint a picture of the need that brings all those statistics alive.

How do you appeal to the right side of the evaluator's brain?

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Limits on Exec Compensation in Grant Applications

337/365: The Big MoneyImage by DavidDMuir via FlickrNow, here's a clause in an RFP that I've never seen before. This is from an OJJDP Gang Prevention RFP that came out this past week. I guess if Wall Street had to give up their bonuses, nonprofit managers have to make sacrifices, too.

Limitation on Use of Award Funds for Employee Compensation; Waiver. No portion of any award of more than $250,000 made under this solicitation may be used to pay any portion of the total cash compensation (salary plus bonuses) of any employee of the award recipient whose total cash compensation exceeds 110 percent of the maximum annual salary payable to a member of the federal government’s Senior Executive Service (SES) at an agency with a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System for that year. (The salary table for SES employees is available at This prohibition may be waived at the discretion of the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. An applicant that wishes to request a waiver must include a detailed justification in the budget narrative of the application.

To save you time, here's the link to the Salary Table No. 2009-ES The maximum compensation for a Federal Sr. Executive Service with a "Certified SES Performance Appraisal System" is $177,000. So, if any of your executives are paid more than $194,700, don't charge any of that compensation to your proposal budget.

My clients are all wishing this was relevant to their compensation! Oh, well...

We'll probably see more of this. Do you think it will be applied to Federal contracts in the for-profit sector?

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year to All

May 2009 bring better times --

- a new president

- a better economy

- a warm circle of friends and family

- new things to learn and share

and many things to celebrate

Thank you for all your kind words and support.

Ruth Wahtera
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