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01/28/09
Grants for Libraries - Thinking Outside the Bookshelves Part 4
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN, GRANT WRITING
Posted by: Jon @ 6:27 am

Q. What are the three things grant applicants can do to better their chances of receiving funding?

A. Compartmentalize. Be specific. Avoid asking for general funds to do general things or operational tasks. View your agency like a department store and asks for grant funds to support the efforts of one of those departments. Grants are about requesting a specific amount of money to address a specific problem with a specific solution that will help a specified target population.

Second, don’t view grants as financial band aids. Few grants are awarded to participants who are running out of money, are victims of budget cuts or are in the red because of some kind of finacial mismanagement.

Third, view grants as seed - or start up - money to be used for starting up an existing program expanding an existing program that will continue long after the initial grant period expires. Funders don’t want to think that the only way your program will exist as long as they keep throwing money your way. So, for example, if you are asking for grant funds for a new technology lab – your ask would be greatly enhanced if you could tell them: we have a roster of volunteer experts to maintain the equipment, furniture has been donated, we have another donor who will pay for software site licenses, and we have a list of volunteers who will staff the lab and make sure equipment is used properly. All we need now is the money to buy the computers and hardware and we’re off and running. Funders love to be the last piece of the puzzle.

Q. Why are you at ALA this year?

A. We’re convinced ALA attendees will find the book of interest on three levels. First, as a book that fills an unmet need; that is, its approach is offbeat, easy-to-follow and accessible to all. It doesn’t read like a textbook nor does it feel like it’s written in a foreign language that can be deciphered by only a select few. One of the most common pieces of feedback we get is, “I didn’t know the subject of grant writing could be so entertaining.” On another level, attendees will find the book of value for their own cause. Who at this conference isn’t looking for additional funds and supports for their special project or program? And if everyone here is applying for the same grants, then who is going to stand apart from the pack? How are you going to beat your competition? Reading RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE will help answer those questions. Third, this is the way for attendees to help other nonprofits and worthy causes in their community. Put this book on your shelf and promote it as a resource that makes a process known only by an elite group of grant writers available to every one.

4461 comments
01/26/09
Grants for Libraries - Thinking Outside the Bookshelves Part 4
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN, GRANT WRITING
Posted by: Jon @ 6:25 am

Q. You promised to share “three reasons your past grant proposals may not have been funded.”

A. We just talked about one of them. In my book, I devote at least three chapters to the concept of collaboration with the basic theme, “collaborate or die.” Funding agencies frown upon applicants who try to make a go of it alone. You are expected to collaborate with new partners in new ways. Ultimately, the process of coming up with a fundable concept is really the process of building a new, or expanding an existing, collaborative. Second, most applicant don’t do their homework; that is, research funding agency guidelines to determine exactly what type of programs they do and do not fund. All this information is available in the application and guidelines. Third, they don’t apply. Seriously, most applicants don’t win awards because somewhere along the way they throw in the towel and don’t bother to apply. Understandably, the process can be daunting. But that’s why we published the book, to offer people a step-by-step guide to coming up with a winning concept and then applying for funds in a way that’s going to beat out the competition.

Q. There’s that word competition again. Many don’t apply because the competition is so great and it’s just a crapshoot.

A. It’s only a crapshoot if you write crap. Seriously, I’ve been on the other side of the desk, reading and selecting grants, many times and I can tell you that 80% of submission are sub-par. Why? Applicants haven’t thought it through. They don’t get it right before they write. So, while you may read that for any given grant there may be , let’s say, 200 applicants for five grant awards, I can tell you with great certainty that maybe 40, at best, will be seriously considered. Then, another 25% of those don’t align with the funding agency’s guidelines. Now we’re down to 30-to-1 odds. More than 20% of those will not qualify for technical reasons such as nonprofit status, geographic locations, etc. Now we’re down to 26 and I guarantee more than half of those will be weeded out because their applications lack one of the seven key components to a winning grant applicant. I call those Jon’s Almost World Famous Seven Cs and they are the core of my new book. Now it’s down to 10-to-1. And those ten applications are all excellent candidates to be seriously considered for funding. But then it’s out of your control and – as I say in the book – “in the hands of the Grant Gods.” What we can control is getting to the “seriously considered for funding stage.”

More about this in the next Blog and in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 In Competitive Grant Awards.

3711 comments
01/23/09
Grants for Libraries - Thinking Outside the Bookshelves Part 3
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN, GRANT WRITING
Posted by: Jon @ 6:22 am

Q. Now that we have the concept where do we find grant money?

A. One place is all the usual suspects. Most governmental agencies and libraries are bombarded with announcements about grants. Then, you can easily occupy several days by searching the Internet for “grants,” “grant resources,” “grant funds,” etc. Also there are many grant writing firms that compile ListServs about upcoming grants and they are happy to have you on their emailing list. These are usually update and reliable. Just keep in mind they also want you to become overwhelmed, give up and hire them to do all the work. My experience with library staff is that they don’t think outside-the-box, toward more untraditional grant sources.

Q. For example?

A. I’ll give you three.

After school funds. These are some of the most lucrative and consistent funding streams flowing into communities right now. And with a new administration on the horizon, there’s talk of this money being doubled. So what I’ve done in the past is partner up local libraries with local after school programs and had them submit joint applications. After school participants can make regular visits to their local library for reading groups, research, to help out staff, to use technology – and any other number of limitless activities.

Second, corporate sponsorships. Most large corporations have local and/or national community giving divisions. And what I’ve learned over the years is that for some reasons schools and libraries seldom apply. They see themselves as government entities and corporations only giving to the private sector, and that’s not true. Often the application process to these corporations is very simple and the awards long-term and generous.

Third, technology grants. Again, the mindset of many libraries is to apply for money from those grants earmarked technology for libraries only. That is too limiting. There are many other sources. Let’s go back to education grants again. Libraries can partner with schools and say “you help us get money for new computers and we will put all your reading and math programs software on our library computers so students and families can access them at any time. ” It’s a win-win for everyone involved. I guess what I’m saying is that libraries shouldn’t limit themselves to grants that they think are exclusively for libraries only.

Think beyond the bookcases, reach out to new partners. Be creative. Come up with a new concept. That’s what wins grants.

More about this in the next Blog and in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 In Competitive Grant Awards.

3570 comments
01/21/09
Grants For Libraries - Thinking Outside the Bookshelves Part 2
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN, GRANT WRITING
Posted by: Jon @ 5:18 am

Q. So it’s not about the writing?

A. Make no mistake, funding agencies expect proposals to be clear, uncluttered, easy-to-follow, concise and compelling – meaning persuasive and creative. They don’t give bonus points for big words are technical jargon and they certainly aren’t impressed with anyone who tries to come across as a professional writer. It’s all about the concept and how well the applicant documents a need and how creatively they will address those needs through the proposed program.

Q. Where does one who has interest in applying for a grant but has never done so begin?

A. They can begin by not making a mistake made my most applicants, focusing on finding where the grant money is and then throwing together a program that they think will win them some of that money. Instead, they should begin where most professional grant writers and grant winners begin – with a concept or an idea. And that seed of that concept germinates from need. At your local level, determine a specific need, discuss why that need is currently not being addressed, come up with a specific solution and ask for a specific amount of money to help fund the activities that will lead to that solution. That’s the concept – and that should be the first step.

More about this in the next Blog and in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 In Competitive Grant Awards.

3366 comments
01/19/09
Grants for Libraries: Thinking Outside the Bookshelves - Part 1
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN, GRANT WRITING
Posted by: Jon @ 10:14 pm

After completing an interview for an article for the upcoming American Library Association Mid-Winter meeting this month in Denver, I thought the content would be appropriate to anyone with a good heart and a good cause.

Q. What can you offer attendees beyond what the ALA Website offers, which has an entire section devoted to “Grants and Fellowships.”?

A. The ALA site, and others like it, do a great job of offering a comprehensive list of traditional grant resources. And most applicants think that their primary task is to solve the mystery of where the grant money is and follow the guidelines, fill out the application and roll the dice. Unfortunately, “most” applicants don’t win. That’s because they don’t get it right before they write. The critical factor is not to find out where the money is. Instead, it’s coming up with a program and proposal that’s compelling, competitive and creative enough to stand out from others and matches the vision of the person or place that’s giving out the grant money. All this should occur before any actual writing begins.

Q. Writing – the W-word – not all of us are professional writers or technical writers, so how can we compete with professional grant writers?

A. You don’t have to be a professional grant writer. You don’t have to be able to afford to hire a professional grant writer. You just have to THINK like a grant writer. And that’s what my new book is about, demystifying the whole grant research and writing process so anyone with a good heart and a good cause can tap into some of the $500 billion dollars in grant funds that’s out there each year. The book revolves around a topic we all love and are experts in – movies. I incorporate my background as a professional screenwriter and teacher to show how the FUNdamental principles of storytelling and screenwriting can be applied to the process of telling the story of your grant proposal. It’s all about the concept and strategizing – work that should take place before any writing begins.

More about this in the next Blog and in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 In Competitive Grant Awards.

15788 comments
11/19/08
HAVE AN EFFECTIVE PLAN FOR INTEGRATING BEST PRACTICES INTO YOUR PROPOSED PROGRAM.
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 6:37 am

You’ve researched them, found them and interrogated best practice models. Now, how do you apply what you’ve learned from them into your proposed program? Many ways, here are a few examples:

Training: Put some money in your budget to hire some of their staff to train yours. Or, ask to use, or pay for, some of their training materials.

Curriculum: Find out what curriculum they use successfully and use it in your program. In your proposal, use this as a selling point — it’s been proven successful. If the best practice model created their own curriculum, negotiate a fee for replicating their materials.

Consultation: Consider paying one of their staff to serve as a consultant to your program in your start-up year. It sure helps to ride with someone who knows all the bumps in the road. And it’s a strong selling point too. Or, invite one of their staff to serve on your Advisory Board.

Evaluation: See if you can hire their Evaluation Coordinator for your project. Evaluation Coordinators usually work on dozens of projects at the same time so there is no exclusivity factor. Short of that, see if that Evaluation Coordinator or someone on her/his staff will consult with you in the design of your evaluation component. Again, a big selling point in your proposal.

Proposal review: Hire one of their staff to review a draft of your proposal. They have keen insight into what the funding agency is looking for. Also, chances are, they have experience as proposal readers in the field and have an experienced, object eye for important details.

More about this in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grant Awards.

3411 comments
11/18/08
BEST PRACTICE MODELS – MORE KEY QUESTIONS
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 6:32 am

What is their relationship with their funding agency? What aspects of the program were program monitors most concerned about? Least concerned about?

What about the program’s project outcomes? Were their initial expectations too high or too low? How many of their objectives were achieved? What would they do differently to achieve those objectives in which they fell short? If they were to do it all over again, which outcomes would they change and why?

Budget tips are also a biggie. How did their PROPOSED first year expenditures match up with their ACTUAL first year expenditures? Would they do their budget differently? How so?

Now we can hear some of you asking, “ARE YOU CRAZY, YOU’RE ASKING THEM TO GIVE AWAY THEIR SECRETS?!!!!”

The first part of the answer is yes I am crazy - I chose grantwriting as a profession didn’t I? But that’s beside the point.

The second part of that answer is that programs are often mandated to share their successes with upstart programs and disseminate the results of their program to anyone who can use the information. It’s part of the requirements of executing the program as set forth in the RFP.

Third, staff from these best practice models are not in the cutthroat soft drink agency where formulas and recipes for success are well-guarded and billions of dollars of profits are at stake. Instead, you are talking to NON-PROFIT, HUMAN SERVICE agencies who (we hope) are in the business of helping people and the programs and agencies that serve them. These are generally very giving, sharing people who are flattered that you think enough of them and their programs to inquire about them.

More about this in the next Blog and in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grant Awards.

38785 comments
11/17/08
DETERMINE WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IN A BEST PRACTICE MODEL BEFORE YOU START LOOKING.
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 6:31 am

This is as simple as finding out what works and, equally if not more important, what doesn’t work and why. But whether you visit best practice models in person, talk to staff on the phone, read about them in books and materials, here’s some suggestions on key aspects to study and questions to ask:

What would they do differently if they were starting-up their program all over again?

What is their ratio of staff and or staff/volunteers to clients?

What curriculum (if applicable) do they use?

What is the leadership structure of their staffing? How has that changed over their history and why?

What type of training and professional development activities do they find more useful than others? Who does their training? How much time is each individual staff required to devote to training?

How are stakeholders involved in the governance of their program?

How do they incorporate the use of volunteers?

What has the program found most effective in their efforts toward self-sustainability after their current funding runs out.
How is their evaluation component designed and how is it used to improve their program on an on-going basis?

More of these very important questions in the next Blog and more about this subject in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grant Awards.

3595 comments
11/14/08
WHERE TO FIND BEST PRACTICE MODELS?
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 6:30 am

In RFPS where they refer to them in the instructions or have an appendix that offers you websites or phone numbers of programs or agencies.

On the Internet where you have to be careful how it is determined that particular site is a best practices model. The U.S. Department has a “clearinghouse” where best practice models are listed.

At bidders’ conferences where staff from best practice models are often asked to speak or are there to hand out materials and answer questions.

At major colleges or universities whose various departments are hired to conduct evaluations and determine best practice models.
In your community where you can get a first hand look at a program in operation. These can be found through various city and county government websites.

The funding agency who, if you simply call them and ask for an example of what they consider a top program near to your area, will usually gladly give you several to choose from.

In books and textbooks written about the area of your proposed program. Often authors will cite examples from best program models or, at the least, cite several in their bibliography.

Try to find best practice models that serve a similar target population as yours, in a similar environment (rural, urban, etc.), and with approximately the same budget.

More about this in the next Blog and in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grant Awards.

3365 comments
11/13/08
BEST PRACTICE MODELS
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 6:27 am

A very famous movie director of a very famous re-make released last summer responded to an interviewer’s question about the newer version being quite similar to the original version by saying, “we didn’t re-make it, we re-imagined it.” And we couldn’t even see his attorney’s lips move when the director said it.

In designing your program, you should do a little “reimagining” of your own based on what’s out there, what’s being funded and what’s working. In grant writing, what’s working is called a best practice models.

Best practice models are those programs that have operated successfully over a period of time. Successful, in this case, means that they have met their objectives, exceeded expectations, innovated new ways of delivering program services more effectively and economically, have documented their process, have scrupulous financial practices, are self-sustaining and set a standard to which all new and existing programs are compared.

Studying other successful programs and applying what works for them to your population and situation is perfectly acceptable and, in fact, expected of you.

So this week’s blogs are about where to find these best practice models, what to look for, and how to apply them to make your proposal or program better.

Studying and observing best practice models is a key to excellent grantwriting. But most grant writers don’t have the time. Most grant writers feel they are already experts in their own area. Most grant writers will look at best practice staff input as just another cook in an already overcrowded kitchen. Most grant writers will find better areas to budget their money.

But remember: most grant writers don’t win the grants they apply for.

More about this in the next Blog and in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grant Awards.

3507 comments
10/24/08
#5 Helpful Tip For Grant Applicants
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 7:19 am

5) ASK NOT WHAT THE FUNDING AGENCY CAN DO FOR YOU BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR THE FUNDING AGENCY

Taken from the “Bill Of Writes” in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE, this is an important concept that 99% of those new to program design don’t understand—nor do 98% of those with some experience. Although, 100% of the time this is the concept that often means the difference between winning and losing. Keep in mind that the funding agency has an overall plan they intend to implement on a larger scale beyond the scope of your local area. They have invested time, resources, expertise and money putting together this gigantic programmatic puzzle of service organizations with one core purpose—to help realize their vision. The goal of your program design and grant application is to become a piece of their puzzle. The funding agency is not interested in how you plan to create and solve your own puzzle. Instead, by applying for funds, your proposal should demonstrate how and where you will help make the funding agency’s vision a reality by making your program a reality.

In no way do I offer up these suggestions as a means to guarantee winning a competitive grant. The final decision is in the hand of the ‘Grant Gods’ and is based on their mission, politics, geography, other funded programs and many other issues. What applicants can control is making their applications more competitive and compelling, and ultimately more fundable in the eyes of the funding agency.

More about this in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grants.” www.SandyPointInk.com.

4654 comments
10/23/08
Helpful Tips For Grant Applicants #4
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 5:14 pm

4) REQUEST SUPPORT FROM A PERSON NOT A PLACE

This tip is relevant to local and foundation grants. Like it or not, who you know, with whom you’ve built relationships, and whom you’ve schmoozed on the funding side plays a key role in the grant-making process. The test for this lies in your cover letter to an application or in your letter that directly requests funding. Is your salutation addressed to a specific person (that’s excellent) or to a group or generic job title (e.g., “Dear Selection Committee)?

More about this in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grants.” www.SandyPointInk.com.

The fifth of the five most helpful tips I give grant applicants will appear here tomorrow.

3471 comments
10/22/08
Helpful Tip #3 for Grant Applicants
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 7:10 am

3) DON’T PLEAD POVERTY OR POSITION YOURSELF AS A VICTOM OF POOR FISCAL FORESIGHT

Too many applicants see grants as a financial band-aid, a quick fix to problems that will replenish funds lost because their existing agency/program experienced unexpected cost overages due to poor management or overwhelming operating expenses. No investor, which is really what a funding agency is, wants to gamble money on an entity that does not know how to manage their money. On the other hand, if the community you serve was recently a victim of an unexpected crisis, then that is extremely fundable. In terms of program design, a crisis is a recent, unforeseen turn of events, setback, or an act of nature experienced by the population served by your agency or program. And, even if your program, agency or community does not have the resources, it needs to immediately address this crisis. Without this crisis, all you will be requesting is funds for current operations or duplicative services, something most grant writers do—and odds are that most applicants don’t win competitive grants.

More about this in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grants.” www.SandyPointInk.com.

The fourth of the five most helpful tips I give grant applicants will appear here tomorrow.

3674 comments
10/21/08
Helpful Tips For Grant Applicants - Tip #2
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 7:08 am

2) COLLABORATE OR DIE!

Ultimately, the process of designing an excellent and fundable program is really the process of building a new, or expanding an existing, collaborative. Too many applicants for grants merely describe what they’re already doing with the same partners they’ve worked with for years. Instead, funders want to hear about new and improved ways applicants plan to collaborate for the specific proposed program they are proposing. And, they’re looking at how each new partner will take the proposed program to the next level.

More about this in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grants.” www.SandyPointInk.com.

The third of the five most helpful tips I give grant applicants will appear here tomorrow.

3698 comments
10/20/08
Five Most Helpful Tips For Grant Applicants
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 6:58 am

On November 15th, more than 125 communities and 50,000 people around the world will participate in National Philanthropy Day® (http://www.nationalphilanthropyday.org/), a special day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – have made to our community. This year marks the 23rd anniversary of this special day.

While Americans give approximately $300 billion to nonprofits and charitable causes each year, this year’s National Philanthropy Day will also be the springboard for many nervous discussions about how current economic downtrends will negatively impact giving and the ripple effect it will have in the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits are impacted in four ways.
1. Endowments and foundations that award grants to nonprofits rely on interest compounded from their substantial financial reserves. Depending on the source, annual interested earned by these funds is down 15-30%.
2. Fundraising events rely on individuals writing checks. Who do you know now that is not in recession-mode and cutting back their personal expenditures?
3. Most nonprofits also rely on some form of competitive government grants. Those governmental funding agencies are also looking for places to cut and many intend to cut back on the quantity and amounts of grants they issue.
4. For nonprofits, while trimming back budgets and options is standard operating procedure, the demand for their services is on the increase.

I’m getting three times the usual number of phone calls and emails from both established and upstart nonprofits. And this time they’re not just looking for funding opportunities they are fighting for survival. There is no doubt that the business of giving is going to undergo a systemic shift. Competition for grant funds will be more fiercely competitive. Those who work with and for charities and nonprofits need to be braced to react to those shifts. Here are the five most common tips he gives to those preparing a grant proposal :

1) REMEMBER THAT MOST GRANT PROPOSALS ARE LOST BEFORE THE ACTUAL WRITING BEGINS

Program design – that is, doing your homework about the funding agency and the critical need for the program in your area and then strategically planning a competitive and compelling program – is the first, and most overlooked, step that needs to take place before the actual writing of the grant occurs. This program design process takes a good or above average grant idea and structures it into an excellent program design that wins grant money. Those applying for grants need to retool their gray matter; that is reverse engineer the way they’ve applied for grants in the past. They need to get it right, before they write.

More about this in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grants.” www.SandyPointInk.com.

The second of the five most helpful tips I give grant applicants will appear here tomorrow.

3252 comments
10/13/08
Over and above = funding
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 12:13 pm

Most of the lauded grants I’ve been a part of involved the collaboration of two or more agencies that had never worked together. In some cases, we were cautioned by experts that, in no uncertain terms, such an outside-the-box collaboration could not be done. The intention here is to make clear a point that is so important it could be a matter of life or death — for your program design:

Ultimately, the process of designing an excellent program is really the process of building a new, or expanding an existing, collaborative.

Most applicants are satisfied with describing their existing collaboration. I’m suggesting your approach to each program you design should be:

This is our new and improved way we plan to collaborate for this specific proposed program;

This is how we intend to collaborate over and above what we’ve done or are already doing; and,

This is how each new partner will take our program design above and beyond what we’re already doing.

How important is this? As I say in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE (go to www.SandyPointInk.com or click on the link to the left): “COLLABORATE OR DIE!”

3336 comments
10/02/08
Marketing Messages That Matter
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 1:33 pm

Nancy E. Schwartz is a marketing and communications consultant in New York and the author of “The Nonprofit Tagline Report”, a report that spotlights some of the nonprofit world’s best tag lines and highlights ways in which organizations can use tag lines in their marketing. Ms. Schwartz is also the author of Getting Attention, a blog that provides information about marketing and communications for nonprofit leaders.

A great program title and a tagline is also critical to a grant proposal’s success. What is a great name for a program? No one knows, really. Some compare it with what a Supreme Court Justice said about obscenity, you’ll know it when you see it. I think it’s slightly different with a great program name, you’ll know it when you feel it. What I mean by “feel” is that a great program name just clicks. Fits perfectly. Inspires. Seems so simple, so easy. Personally, I get goosebumps when I hear a great program name or a title—that’s my gauge. I also get jealous. If it’s someone else’s great program name I hear or read, I mutter to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

While a great program name can’t be defined because it is so subjective, there are common characteristics of great program names to consider. These are explained, along with a process to come up with a great name and tagline, in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Planning Process Used To Win More Than $385 Million In Competitive Grant Awards. Go to www.SandyPointInk.com or click on the link to the left.

Ms. Schwartz recently studied the tag lines of more than 1,900 organizations to identify some of the nonprofit world’s most effective messages. As part of her research, Ms. Schwartz found that seven in 10 nonprofit groups rate their tag lines as poor — or do not have tag lines at all. So what makes a winning tag line? Why are they important? And how do you create a tag line that makes others remember what you stand for? Ms. Schwartz will answer these questions — and many more on Tuesday, October 7, at 12 noon, U.S. Eastern time in an on-line discussion sponsored by the Chronicle Of Philanthrophy. This event will also be archived for later listening.
http://philanthropy.com/live/2008/10/marketing_messages/chat.php3

3903 comments
09/30/08
The Reader/Scorer
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 6:20 pm

When you think of the funding agency staff considering your proposal for funding, think of them as the “Reader/Scorer,” not just the “Reader.” That’s because grant applications are not merely read, but are competitively scored against other proposals from programs or agencies just like yours. Your program will never be judged solely on its own merits but instead on how it measures up against others. Using a rubric, a Reader/Scorer tabulates scores your program design in a number of different categories. These scores are then tallied against your competition.

Although it may be called something nice like “an application process” or “an invitation to apply for funds,” make no mistake, grant writing is fiercely competitive. No mercy. May the best grant proposal—with the highest score—win.

Read more about this in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $285 Million in Competitive Grant Awards. Available at www.SandyPointInk.com. Or click on Sandy Point Ink in the left column.

7258 comments
“Artfully Sell the problem”
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN
Posted by: Jon @ 6:09 pm

In the book, Entrepreneurial Megabucks: The 100 Greatest Entrepreneurs of the Last 25 Years, biotechnology pioneer Ronald E. Cape brilliantly described how he generated support and backing. His crusade was to prevail upon others the idea of developing genetic engineering to combat world hunger and incurable diseases. The way he did this can best be described in four words: “artfully selling the problem.”

“Artfully selling the problem” also describes the process of program design: identifying a problem (or need) in search of a solution and making that seemingly worst situation seem solvable. Your program design should impassion and persuade the Reader/Scorer. In this case, persuade means to sell. And what are you selling? Not just the fact that your proposed program has a critical need for their support, but that your proposed program’s critical need for grant dollars supersedes that of all the other competing programs seeking support for the same grant dollars.

Most grants fail to win awards because in addition to not adequately identifying a solvable problem or need, they fail to turn negatives into positives. That is, they fail to artfully sell the problem.

Read more about this in my new book RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $285 Million in Competitive Grant Awards. Available at www.SandyPointInk.com. Or click on Sandy Point Ink in the left column.

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