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You may wonder what do grants, bequests, direct mail appeals, monthly donor campaigns, and social media outreach all have in common, and the answer is storytelling.

I was honored to be a part of the team that spoke at the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference in Orlando. You can probably guess that given the DH Leonard Consulting team’s sole focus and love for all thing grants, that I spoke about “Hooking Your Grantmakers with Your Stories.” (Side note: Looking to learn about grants and storytelling and why it is NOT just about where/how you share client success stories? Set up a call – let’s talk.)

But back to the conference…there were speakers and attendees from all aspects of fundraising. The energy was phenomenal, and what I found amazing was how all of the speakers were able to see and share threads between each session to their own. We could all see the connections of the specific way we use storytelling in our own corner of grant writing, bequests, or of direct mail, etc. and share common messages for all to digest and take back to their offices, colleagues and board members.

That being said, there are so many takeaways that my Mission Log was overflowing with notes and ideas, that I decided to boil it down to 5 tips that I think will help you regardless of what fundraising hat you wear, even if your passion is grants, just like me!

My Favorite 5 Tips to Help in ALL Nonprofit Storytelling from #npstory18

  1. Stories have the power to navigate internal silos and conflict. – Peter Drury (@seattledrury)

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Grant writing often involves big ideas and things we’ve never done before.  Involving multiple people. And multiple ideas. And conflicting ideas. This is why I traveled across the county to attend a Compression Planning® Institute.  I wanted to learn Compression Planning®. The formal definition of compression planning is: a visual brainstorming process designed to bring out a group’s best thinking and energy on a specific issue in an environment of fair play and equal participation led by a skilled facilitator.

 

And here’s how I can use it in my daily work as a grant professional:  1) Get clarity around an idea, quickly; 2) Get consensus around issues that are stalling the team; 3) Determine major focus areas for a project and; 4) delegate the workload.

 

While my first recommendation is to attend the Compression Planning® Institute, if that’s not possible in the short term, I’ve put together a few quick tips to help your next planning meeting inspired by the Compression Planning® model.

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05 Oct 2018

Conference Season: Straight Ahead

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It is that time of year…conference season! I have the pleasure and honor of speaking/presenting/teaching at 8 different events around the country this fall talking about my favorite topic…grant writing and best practices in our field including the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference and Grant Professionals Association National Conference.

Wondering what I’m talking about at the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference?

As I started to prepare this summer for the fall season and the numerous different topics I would be speaking on, I paused to talk with my team about what their individual approaches are to attending professional development events whether a half day session in their own community or a multi-day event out of town. Keep reading for their nine great tips for you to consider the next time you go to an event to ensure you have the best professional development experience possible.

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Stress Relieving Techniques During a Busy Grant Writing Season…

 

..or Why 2pm Chocolate is a Healthy Professional Coping Mechanism

 

We all know that in the midst of a busy grant season it’s important to keep self-care in mind, but we also know that this is typically the first thing to come off of our “to do list”. When deadlines are looming, self -care can be replaced with late nights and responding to the grant’s needs before your needs. Here are 8 easy, relatively quick  ideas to do a bit of self-care in while still meeting your deadline:

  1. Schedule a workout into your daily schedule. Get your endorphins flowing, reduce your stress level and get away from your desk for a bit. For more details on the benefits, check out: www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
  2. Ease up on the caffeine and ease into music. Spotify, Pandora, YouTube or any of these free streaming music site can be the soundtrack to a great grant as well as a relaxing experience: www.consumerreports.org/streaming-media/best-music-streaming-service-for-you/
  3. Stress relieving sites on the web. Here’s a compilation of relaxing sites to help you find your inner calm: www.hongkiat.com/blog/websites-to-keep-you-calm/ I found the 2-minute break site a great way to refresh and rejuvenate during a busy day.

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14 Sep 2018

How to Use Data to Tell Your Story

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Writing an Effective Demographic Statement for a Grant: How to Use Data to Tell Your Story

 

When I served as a reviewer on a federal grant panel, the vast majority of the applications I read were from communities I knew nothing about. The demographic statement was the opportunity for me to get to know the unique challenges and assets that the applicant community had and why receiving funding would enable them to address a community challenge. Think of the demographic statement as a postcard that provides reviewers with an overview of your community and lays the foundation for why the grant you are applying for would be of use to the organization/community. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when crafting your demographic statement:

 

  1. Keep your statement clear and concise. Just like a good postcard, it’s a snapshot of the community. Pay attention to your use of adjectives and making sure that whatever language you use that you have data to back up your statement.
  2. Use data from your field. Be sure to use data from colleague organizations/national advocacy group and cite current research in your issue area. If your organization has conducted surveys or commissioned studies, cite this data where appropriate and if space allows, include it as an attachment.
  3. Demonstrate historical progress/changes. Provide a context for how the issue you address has changed over the past 10 years. Explain any increase or decrease in service number and explain why. Compare, using data, yourself to other organization to show your need as well as your proven track record to address your issue area.
  4. Keep it current. Try to find data, surveys, or reports that are less than five years old. It’s okay to cite data that shows a longitudinal change in an issue but try and keep all citation dates within a five-year range of your grant application.
  5. If space allows, demonstrate your organization’s commitment to evaluation by outlining how you collect, track, analyze collected information and how you use this information to inform organizational planning.

 

Here are four helpful sites to help find pertinent data on your community:

 

Data can help tell your community’s/organization’s story. It provides the historical context, the compelling challenges and the opportunity for change. Using this information to frame your grant provides a solid foundation on which the rest of the grant sits and demonstrates that your organization stays current on changes within your field.


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