The Importance of Mission Statements in Grant Proposal Writing

Posted by on Feb 9, 2016 in grant writing | 0 comments

(Written by Jeannie Majercin)

For this week’s blog posting, I want to introduce a very important component of a grant proposal that is sometimes overlooked or underestimated. I have been writing grant proposals for over three years and without fail, almost every funding agency has requested an organizational “Mission Statement”. Whether it is presented in a question on a grant application or a requirement in a narrative, funders want to know the mission of the organization requesting funds. Why is the mission statement so important? All nonprofit organizations must develop a mission statement; this represents the guiding principles of the organization. For example, I provide grant proposal writing services for an agency whose mission is to help adolescent girls make healthy life choices through empowerment, education and support. All of the organization’s programs and services are designed to accomplish this mission statement. When the director, board members, staff, and volunteers deliver services, create curriculums, or alter/expand their service model, they are each guided by this mission statement.

Funding sources request a mission statement because this informs them regarding what the requesting agency is dedicated to achieving. The mission statement is sometimes requested in response to a stand-alone grant application question, but is usually included in a request for organizational background information. The funder will often ask for the organization’s mission, history, population served, and major accomplishments in this background narrative. It is important that the history and accomplishments match the mission of the organization as funders want to see that your agency is working towards achieving the stated mission. This is not something to be taken lightly when completing a grant proposal. Conveying an organization’s mission and the activities that are routinely undertaken to achieve that mission are just as vital as outlining a particular project’s objectives and goals in a grant proposal. Never ignore all of the details about your organization that a funder requests; and providing a mission statement is one of the most important details that will be utilized by a funder in determining whether or not to award a grant.

From the grant writer’s perspective, a mission statement is a useful tool when determining if your organization’s project fits within a funder’s focus areas for grant awards. A funding agency always lists the specific areas where they make grants; these may be broad categories or more specific. One mistake that grant writers (and requesting organizations) routinely make is trying to adjust a grant request to match these stated funding categories. This is a slippery slope that can lead to organizations misrepresenting their services or drifting from their true mission. While it may seem tempting to stretch your project’s focus areas in order to receive funding, this will ultimately prove to be a huge error. Not only will it place the agency in the position of lying to a funder, but it also forces the requesting agency to possibly drift farther and farther away from your organizational mission. This may ultimately result in weakening an organization’s capacity to deliver quality services and ability to successfully secure future funding.

I hope this blog post proves helpful,

Jeannie Majercin

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Tips on Grant Writing – Finding the right funding source

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in grant writing | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

Sometimes the agency with which we are working knows what funding source they want to use for the proposal we will be writing. An agency helping people in need that is active in grant proposal writing often has a known set of funding sources they seek to tap when the time is right. At other times, the agency with which we are working will not know of an appropriate funding source. In this situation, the responsibility of finding a good funding source for the project idea may fall on our shoulders.

It is very important that we match the purpose of the agency with which we are working with the purpose of a funding source. One of the best ways to compare purposes of our agency and a potential funding source is to compare mission statements. The closer the mission statements are, generally the better fit between the applicant agency and a funding source.

If the overall mission statements are not close, that is sometimes ok, as long as there is a strong intersection between the purpose of the proposed project to be discussed in the grant proposal and the mission statement of the funding source. Finding the right funding source for our planned project involves a type of matchmaking, and to receive funding, there must be some type of shared purpose.

When should we begin searching for a funding source for our project? Although there are tens of thousands of funding sources out there, and it may seem that finding an appropriate funding source will be easy, the task is sometimes difficult. I encourage the funding source hunt to begin at least two months before serious writing on the proposal is planned to begin. One reason to begin the search before proposal writing begins is so that our writing can be custom-designed to the guidelines provided by our selected funding source.

Where should we look for a good funding source for our project? The Internet can be a fine source for finding an appropriate funding source. We might start simply by typing in key words. If we are seeking a grant for a project to help young people stop smoking, the following terms would be appropriate.

“Youth stop smoking grant”
“Youth tobacco addiction grant”

If one of the above approaches does not work for us, we could become more general in the descriptive words we use, and here are two examples.

“Youth addiction grant”
“Youth health grant”

Of course, the broader we are with the terms we use, the wider the search, and the more issues not directly attached to our topic that will emerge.

If you have access to software that searches funding sources by topic, this can be very helpful. Examples of types of software include Foundation Directory Online, GuideStar, and GrantStation. Libraries in large cities and at some universities often have one of these services (which involve paid subscriptions).

I hope these ideas are helpful. Finding a good match with a funding source is very important and contributes to our likelihood for funding.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Tips on grant proposal writing – an upcoming series

Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

This blog is on both social entrepreneurship and grant writing, but over the last 3 ½ years of its existence, most posts have focused on social entrepreneurship. Since grant funding is so important for most nonprofit organizations helping people in need, I would like to spend more time on grant writing. One of my colleagues on this blog, Jeannie Majercin, and I are starting a series of posts that focus on some tips to be successful in grant proposal writing. We shall be alternating posts for this series, and we expect this series to last for several weeks.

We aren’t going to any book or other resources for ideas to share. We each are drawing on our experiences in grant proposal writing. There is no telling what ideas might pop up, and I am interested to see what topics we select. My hope is that we will hit on some topics that are typically not discussed in books or articles on grant writing. My hope is that some truly unique ideas will be discussed, ideas that may bring some new approaches to those of you who are currently engaged in grant writing. And for those of you who have not yet begun grant writing, I hope these ideas will give you some valuable insight for when you begin writing.

Next week, I will post my first tip. Then Jeannie will have the following week. We shall alternate weeks. I have several ideas swirling through my mind for the first issue I will select, but I haven’t decided yet. They all sound good to me, but I will need to decide on one. I will do that soon, and I will have a post ready for next week.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Report on a possible youth mentoring program in Arkansas

Posted by on Jan 20, 2016 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

People who have been reading our posts may recall that I have occasionally shared progress on my hope to help people in north central Arkansas start a youth mentoring program for lower income young people. Fishing is a big part of the culture in this area, so my idea is to use fishing as the fun activity around which lower income youth and adult mentors interact.

One of the important steps in starting social entrepreneurship projects is being sure that local people support our project idea. I don’t live in this area, but I visit occasionally to fly fish in the White River. So I am familiar with the area, but I am an outsider. Being an outsider can be a problem, of course.

Over the last 18 months, I have tried to be in contact with several people in north central Arkansas about this youth mentoring idea. Most were not responsive. Where I have found the strongest local support is among fly fishers in the area. Over the last 7 months, I have had 4 meetings with a small steering committee composed of fly fishers, and our last meeting in early January was especially encouraging. I would like to file the following report.

In this meeting, for the first time, we invited one representative from the Board of Directors from each of the two main fly fishing clubs in the area. We shared the ideas for the possible youth mentoring program, and there was lively positive discussion. The two people representing the fly fishing clubs were very supportive of the idea. The representative of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited will share the ideas at their next meeting. The representative of the North Arkansas Fly Fishers will do the same at their next meeting.

In addition, one member of our steering committee volunteered to contact the local youth probation program, and another person volunteered to contact a local community youth center. They will be asking about possible referrals if we decide to start this program. Another member of the steering committee volunteered to contact some of his friends to ask about them possibly becoming mentors. Although a couple other events occurred, the above are the major accomplishments.

The main reason I am sharing my experience with this possible project is to share my “ups” and “downs”. The path I have walked with this project has not been smooth or straight. Last summer, I was about ready to walk away from this project idea when a chance contact was encouraging. That contact kept me going, and at this point I am cautiously hopeful.

One step at a time. Sometimes the steps are slow.

Patience and humble persistence are virtues.

As more meetings occur, I would like to share whatever happens with this youth mentoring idea.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Keith’s 8 week no-travel grant writing course starts Feb. 11, 2016

Posted by on Jan 13, 2016 in grant writing, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

I would like to use this weekly post space to announce my next distance-learning grant writing course delivered through Fort Hays State University. Students receive a book I wrote, a DVD with video presentations of me explaining some of the most important issues in grant writing, opportunity to interact with me and ask questions, a syllabus with a study schedule, and frequent notes from me pointing out important ideas students are studying. In addition, students take a comprehensive test at the end of the course, and those who score 70% or higher receive a Certificate in Grant Proposal Writing. The cost is $175, and I am told by my students that this cost is much lower than other equivalent courses in the United States. My university and I are committed to keeping costs low to allow more people to become grant writers.

I have been teaching grant proposal writing for about 30 years, and I have taught about 2,000 students. My students have brought in millions of dollars in grants to help their communities. I am happy to share what I have learned with others who want to help generate grant funds to assist people in need. Helping others help people in need is what drives me to continue this work.

The main issues addressed in this course involve how to write powerful parts of grant proposals. These parts include:

Title page
Abstract
Statement of need
Goal
Objectives
Procedures
Budget
Qualifications
Evaluation
Sustainability
Dissemination
Sources cited
Appendix

If you know of anyone who might be interested in this training, would you please share the existence of this course with them? More information and a link to register may be found at

http://www.fhsu.edu/sociology/university-grant-writing-certification-program/

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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In search of a cause

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

I am involved in several causes that involve helping people in need. However, I seem to always have my antenna up trying to understand what categories of people are in need wherever I travel. Right now, I am in northcentral Arkansas, where I occasionally come to fly fish for trout in the White River. So when I heard on the radio that Arkansas is the number one state in the nation for elderly people who are food insecure, this got my attention.

For three days, I have been thinking about this issue as I have gone about my daily tasks. I have searched for information on the internet, and I have identified two key nonprofit organizations that are involved in the issue of Arkansas elderly who are not certain about having food for meals. One is a cooperative out of Little Rock, a long way from where I am now. The other is the Area Agency on Aging, and they have a regional office only about 15 miles from where I am. I plan to stop by that office some time soon to collect more information on their activities with food insecure seniors.

I am not fully clear on what I am doing. Other than my vacations, I have no extra time to take on another project. However, I am drawn to this issue. I am curious about possible innovative new initiatives that might more effectively assist seniors in need. But it is often difficult to come up with an innovative idea that will make a meaningful contribution.

In my Internet search, I have become very impressed with the cooperative in Arkansas that is attempting to reduce food insecurity, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, which seems to be a large, well organized initiative. This organization helps coordinate several other nonprofits that seek to reduce food insecurity in Arkansas so that resources are efficiently used, and efforts do the most to help the people in need.

It is my understanding that part of the problem for seniors who are food insecure is that many don’t admit that they need assistance because of their pride in self and independence. I understand and greatly admire this independence! I suspect that many of these seniors are in rural areas of Arkansas.

Are you similar to me? When you hear of a category of people in need, do you find yourself thinking about how to help? Sometimes we come up with good ideas, and sometimes we don’t. Having an interest in helping is very important, and we need more people working on innovative ideas to help others in need. One small step at a time.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Reflections on CNN Heroes

Posted by on Dec 30, 2015 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

Opportunities to help people in need are all around us. In our busy lives, if we are able to slow down and look at any community, we will find people in need. We recently posted four straight weeks of profiles of CNN Heroes because we believe these people labeled as heroes are excellent examples of projects that show what normal, everyday people can do when they have a drive to help others in need. I greatly appreciate CNN, the television network, for starting this project to recognize some of the millions of people around the world who have started projects to help those in need.

One point that fascinates me is that we don’t have to start a big project to be a hero. We might choose to start a small project that lasts only a limited time. Anything we do to help others in need is a big contribution.

One of my colleagues on this blog site, Jeanne Majercin, selected four CNN Heroes from 2014 about which to write. Thank you, Jeannie, for the great selections. I would like to list below the issues addressed by the four CNN Heroes she selected.

– A project  in the U.S. to assist children and their families as they deal with the difficulties of losing a loved one

– A project in the U.S. for at-risk youth to teach responsibility through working with horses and other farm animals

– A project in Guatemala to help youth express themselves and find their passions in life by participating in activities such as dance, music, photography, and juggling

The above projects involve direct services delivered to humans. Jeannie also selected a project that relates to the physical environment and one of the wild creature residing within it.

– A project in Kenya to reduce habitat destruction and help preserve lions as a part of the natural environment

These four projects illustrate diversity in the types of projects that have been created to help people and our physical environment. In each case, the people who started these projects were simply living their lives when an idea hit them.  These people came to feel passion about their idea, and they took one step at a time to begin their projects. I am certain that, although they have become CNN Heroes, at no time did they think about becoming a hero. I am certain that they were doing “what they felt they had to do.”

This is a characteristic of highly successful people – to have the drive to focus on an issue of importance to them. In the case of social entrepreneurs, that focus is on helping a category of people of interest to them.

As I write these words, I think about the many other people who have innovative ideas on how to help others in need. If you are one of these people, I encourage you to continue thinking about your idea. Maybe at some time in your life, you will start a social entrepreneurship project. Although you will not be seeking “hero” status, to me, you will become a hero if you help just one person with your project.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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