Friday, February 20, 2009

Soup-Kitchen Accounting - NYTimes Op-Ed

MARSHALLTOWN, IA - DECEMBER 11:  Guests at the...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Did you read this op-ed column in the NY Times this week? As a grant writer and citizen, I don't know which I think is better -- make the bailout more like the government grant-making process for nonprofits or make grants to nonprofits more like the bailout.

Op-Ed Contributors - Soup-Kitchen Accounting - "Executives of banks that have received TARP cash have said that it is too hard to account separately for how they spend their federal dollars. Money is fungible, they argue, and therefore they cannot readily distinguish between outlays of their own resources and those provided by the government. But that’s the type of doublespeak that would get the head of a town’s homeless shelter thrown in jail. If bankers are unable to segregate cash by source and specifically account for expenditures, why are they in charge of banks in the first place? ..."

"...However, this is where additional practices common to federal financial assistance come into play. Before a charity can receive a federal grant, it must prepare a proposal outlining precisely what it will do with the funds. Bailout recipients should do the same, or at least sign contracts agreeing to spend the money in accordance with terms set forth by the Treasury and to refrain from certain types of expenditures during these troubled times."

Which do you like better? Easier terms for us or tougher terms for them?
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who'd Believe It? Forbes on Grant Writing

When I saw Forbes in my Google-Alerts for "grant writing" I should have known it wouldn't be about grant writers becoming millionaires. (Only the unethical ones, I guess.) But I enjoyed seeing Katie Krueger, grant writer, in a Forbes article about starting your own business when you find yourself unemployed.

Grant writing is a wonderful business for people with the right temperament. Every nonprofit needs grants written.

The new RFP for 21st Century Learning Centers in NY State actually recommends that you include the expense of a grant writer in your project budget to ensure future sustainability. That's a first, I think.

It May Be Time Now To Start Your Own Business - "Katie Krueger dreamed for years of starting her own grant writing business. She loved the idea of being her own boss, choosing her own projects and scheduling her own time. 'I wished I could be courageous enough to do it, but at the end of every school year I'd say to myself, 'Oh, I'll stay another year,'' she says."

Katie was let go by the school district she worked for and is now, according to the article, working quite happily in her own business.

Way to go, Katie. There are lots of independent grant writers out there to keep you company.

If you're thinking of working independently and have questions or just want some encouragement, let us know in the comments. And, if you have a story to share about going independent, tell us!
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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

#71: Simple checklists help grant writers save lives

HOLON, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 15:  An Israeli medica...Image by

Okay, so a checklist won't help a grant writer save anyone's life, except maybe their own, but this article on the benefits of simple checklists saving lives in the surgical suite reminded me that I haven't shared with you the simple lists I use as templates at the beginning of every grant.
The Associated Press: Study: Basic checklist cut surgical deaths in half: "Scrawl on the patient with a permanent marker to show where the surgeon should cut. Ask the person's name to make sure you have the right patient. Count sponges to make sure you didn't leave any inside the body. Doctors worldwide who followed a checklist of steps like these cut the death rate from surgery almost in half and complications by more than a third in a large international study of how to avoid blatant operating room mistakes."
I've mentioned before that I use Basecamp as my collaboration site. I've set up templates of to-do lists there that I then tailor to each grant and client, adding who's responsible. They look like this (these are images, no time to retype):

So, if checklists work for surgeons, pilots, and astronauts, I guess they're good enough for me, too.

Do you have a checklist you use? Tell us about it and how you use it.

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