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Posted 6/28/16 at 12:42 PM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

The Truth About Grant Writing

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We’ve all heard that line “You could get a grant for that!” Or even seen those late night commercials advertising how easy it is for you to get grant money to start your business. We get phone calls and emails from people who have been told “The Gates Foundations has millions they want to give away; you just have to ask for it!” or the ever popular “minorities can get millions in grants to start a business!” Don’t be fooled and don’t get swindled by pie-in-the-sky promises. With nearly 20 years of experience in grant writing, we have worked with many ministries and nonprofits to secure grant funding; however, there are some caveats to that.

Many have come to us with a distorted view of foundations and the grant funding market. And, unfortunately, many nonprofits are taken advantage of because of this illusion. With that being said, it’s time to address the truth about grant funding, and empower ministries in their pursuit of this illusive capital.

“The [Insert High-Profile Foundation Name Here] has millions they’re just dying to give away!” We hear this line a lot with all the various high-profile foundations: Gates, Warren Buffet, and others. The truth is that while they do have a large funding pool they are not handing money out like confetti at a ticker-tape parade. Bill and Melinda Gates created the foundation because they wanted to invest in positive changes for the world. The foundation is designed to help successful nonprofits grow, and because they have a prominent name, they get multitudes of applications which means securing funding from them is highly competitive. The best opportunity for most organizations is foundations in their community. FULL POST

Posted 6/16/16 at 11:12 AM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

The Keys to Grant Writing Success

Recently Nonprofit Pro featured a blog from Leigh Kessler where he relates fundraising to the marketing he does for Charity Engine. He recounts a story about a great promotion he was doing at a conference that ended up having little engagement: "In a pre-screened target audience of more than 4,000 people who literally spend every day asking people to give them money for their organizations, I only could find 1 percent to take mine!" Through this experience he reminds us that as fundraisers, we must be diligent and have well planned and executed strategies. These are the heart of fundraising in general but they are crucial to a successful grant writing strategy. But what does a well planned and executed strategy look like?

With grant writing, there are a few key areas that, if done well, will lead your efforts to success or, if done poorly, will lead to failure.

Before even starting a grant writing strategy, ensure you have a fundable organization. Even the best developed application to the best matching funding source is going to be a flop if your ministry is not well-organized. Do you have clearly written by-laws? Do you have a diverse funding base? Do you have a professional and polished website? What about your marketing material like brochures and newsletters? Do you have a carefully tracked budget? It is crucial that you address your ministry's fundability before approaching foundations for support so that your efforts are more likely to be successful. FULL POST

Posted 2/19/16 at 1:40 PM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

How big is BIG? And why does it matter?

Whether you are a seasoned grant writer or just starting your first application, there is one trap that seems to catch every writer. I have termed it the big BIG trap and it seems to catch one of our clients (or even someone in our office) at least once a month. (One more reason to have several people proof read your application before mailing it). It looks innocent enough, and may read something like the following, “With an ever expanding population, and over 12% of residents unemployed, Johnstown NY has a tremendous need for federal assistance.” On the surface, the sentence is fine. I have used statistical data to back up my request and stated my need. But what does the sentence really mean? How much is the population expanding, 1%, 2%, 5%? How often? What is the population now? How much is 12%? And how does that track with the state of NY unemployment rate? Or how about the national rate? From that sentence, can you tell me if 12% is a high rate? Or how many people are unemployed? So, exactly how big is BIG?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Because I can guarantee you the person reviewing your application will ask. When writing a grant, particularly when talking about statistical data and needs assessment, it is far too easy to speak in general terms even when using exact data. A well written grant has the ability to describe your organization, program and needs in a way that enables the reader to understand what you are doing and have a very clear image in their mind. If the reviewer can’t understand your need, why should they fund your application? FULL POST

Posted 11/5/13 at 3:04 PM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

Christian Capitalism

Are you familiar with the Parable of the Greedy and Mean Investor?

Perhaps you know it as the Parable of the Talents which is what most people reference. The Parable of the Talents told in Matthew 25:14-30 is one of my favorites for so many reasons. One reason I love this story so much is because, like all of the parables, there are a variety of nuances in interpreting the story. Another reason is because the verse, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" is a verse I keep at the forefront in my life. I try to guide all of actions by asking if this is how Christ would respond as my life expires. Lastly, growing up I had such a distorted and confused understanding of this section of scripture when I called myself an Atheist. Like many other Atheists and Agnostics, I saw a God that I did not want to know and that I knew would reject me even if I did tried to please Him.

Allow me to summarize...

Jesus describes a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more talents. So also, the one with two talents gained two more. But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. FULL POST

Posted 11/4/13 at 2:28 PM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

STOP Watching Churches Die

As a church growth and funding consultant, I receive phone calls and emails weekly from desperate and dying churches, and the question that I refrain from asking each of them is, “Why did you wait so long to do something?”

Are you watching your church membership wither away? Just watching… a very long and drawn out death… slowly draining away the last bit of energy and resources. You may know the main problems causing decline… you may even know the solutions. But by delaying action, solutions now sometimes seem like big problems and problems like simple solutions. So instead of digging out… you avoid conflict, dig in on the causes, and hasten the death toll. The youngest are the first to fall off… babies, children, teens… and then the heartbroken and devastated families perish with them. Buildings begin to empty, banks move in and start to foreclose in record numbers, but still nothing changes. Sadly, this is the state of many mainstream Protestant churches in America!

In recent years, churches have steadily declined in health due to an overall trend toward declining attendance, aging membership, and a steady decrease in giving. A Barna study on “How to Increase Giving in Your Church” shows that as of 2010, more than 25% of churches have average weekly attendance of less than 50 and nearly 50% have less than 100 people in weekly services. More than 80% of congregations note that the current recession had a negative impact on finances. According to the real estate information company CoStar Group, church foreclosures increased fivefold from 2008 to 2011. Overall, only 3 to 5 percent of those who donate money to a church tithe (give 10 percent of) their incomes. Clearly, many American churches have floundered in their effort to stay relevant, solvent, and vital as communities shift culturally and struggle financially. FULL POST

Posted 8/24/13 at 11:23 AM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

Love the Unlovable

Next week I will have a post titled “How to Stop the Violence and Reclaim our Children” that will be much more detailed and specific but I wanted to get this quick, more personal post out today.

With all of the violent incidents in the news the last week or two I wonder how contributive it was that so many national leaders from politics to the news media to Hollywood to athletes were so quick to excuse the behavior of Trayvon Martin as justified and condemn the behavior of George Zimmerman as racist? Are they encouraging young people to fight back against imaginary acts of aggression? Against racial injustices that are not really there? When they fight back against people who never fought first they are seen as attacking… this feeds the racism that our leaders say they are trying to stop. The race baiting is feeding a greater distance between the racist, creating greater animosity, and causing each to see the other as evil or criminal or stupid or some other terrible thing.

It is so easy to discard the people we see as evil, criminal, stupid, unlovable, addicted, uneducated, lazy... useless. It is easier to discard them as trash than to try and understand them… to try and love them… to try and love them… and to try and see the world how they see the world. It is so much easier to hate them than to love them. FULL POST

Posted 8/20/13 at 4:38 PM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

Get Equipped to Secured New Donors

Has God ever given you a BIG job to do but then you try to convince yourself that God changed His mind? Maybe you tell yourself it was your own mind talking and not God speaking to you… when you know it was the Lord telling you it is time to move.

I know this has happened to me. Has it ever happened to you?

Those of us working with ministries, nonprofits, and churches I think sometimes face a somewhat similar situation. You're getting ready to meet a donor to ask for a gift. Then you talk yourself out of asking. Why? You come up with seemingly solid reasons why you should hold off on asking, but should you? For Christians, I think it is important during these times to listen for what God would have us do in these moments.

In addition to prayer, there are some practical techniques we can use. I just watched a video I thought you might like that deals with this very issue. Marc Pitman (aka the Fundraising Coach) talks about preparing to ask a donor for a gift.

He has some great examples of how to prepare for a donor meeting so it goes much smoother. Check it out:

I hope this video proves to be a useful resource for your ministry, and if you have questions about developing funding for your ministry, Contact Here-4-You Consulting toll-free at 866-437-3481 for information on how we may serve your ministry. We look forward to hearing from you! FULL POST

Posted 6/19/12 at 11:30 AM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

Immigration Decision Creates a Constitutional Crisis

Washington Times’ reporters Seth McLaughlin and Ralph Z. Hallow noted the "muted reaction on the ground” concerning the “immigrant decision” announced last week by President Obama. [‘Immigrant Decision Gets Muted Reaction’, June 18] This is an indictment of our citizenry and stems from a profound lack of understanding about our country’s founding documents and the role of each branch of government.

Our Declaration of Independence acknowledges that, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed." Accordingly, we formed a government with three co-equal branches of government, as explained on the White House website:

To ensure that no person or group would amass too much power, the founders established a government in which the powers to create, implement, and adjudicate laws were separated. Each branch of government is balanced by powers in the other two coequal branches: The President can veto the laws of the Congress; the Congress confirms or rejects the President's appointments and can remove the President from office in exceptional circumstances; and the justices of the Supreme Court, who can overturn unconstitutional laws, are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. FULL POST

Posted 5/21/12 at 9:04 AM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

It is National Small Business Week – My Journey!

I want to thank all of the small businesses out there who are willing to take risks, work hard, make sacrifices, and do what so many other people are not willing to do.

I have been self-employed most of my life. When I did work for someone else I worked in small business in management positions.

I started working when I was 11 years old delivering PennySavers (weekly Newspaper) in NY. When I was 12 I added a Daily News route (daily, morning delivery) and then a Daily News (daily, afternoon delivery) route a few months later.

By the time I was 14 I was working as a dishwasher in a restaurant and when I was 15 I started FT work doing HVAC work having already dropped out of school.

When I was 18 I helped start an indoor amusement park and was the senior facility manager. At this point I went and got my G.E.D.

When I was 22 I started a cleaning and window cleaning business while I was going to college for my Associates Degree.

After college I ran several nonprofit agencies and the Program Director and then the Executive Director before starting my own Consulting Company in February of 2000 when I was 29 years old. This business now has several staff members and has served clients all over the United States and in about 20 foreign countries. I have a 2nd business investing in real estate as a partnership with my brother. I am responsible for raising my paycheck as well as those of my staff. I am responsible for my own retirement, my own health benefits, and any other benefits. FULL POST

Posted 4/20/12 at 9:18 AM | Dr. Jeffrey J. Rodman

Growing a Friend to Be a Friend and Donor to the Ministry

It can be quite complex to balance a friend relationship simultaneously with a donor relationship. Sometimes a donor relationship becomes so friendly that making the bigger asks become difficult and awkward. Other times a relationship starts with a friendship but you also have a keen awareness that this friend is a potential major donor to the ministry. Like good friendships, donor relationships are built with trust, respect, truthfulness, courtesy, honesty, sympathy, joy, love, and a shared understanding of Jesus as the hope of the World. There is no greater shared interest than that of a Shared Lord and Savior.

The challenge is to make this good friend, apart from your personal friendship, a friend of the ministry. Grow this friendship with the ministry in the same ways you grow personal relationships: with a shared passion in Christ as the foundation, building trust, respect, and confidence will flourish.

Below are some ways to cultivate a friend of the ministry relationship that springs from an existing friendship or relationship. This is addressed in three phases: before any gift, growing smaller gifts to larger giving, and maintaining a friend of the ministry.

Before any Gift - Introducing your friend to the ministry is the first step to assess the potential for this relationship to grow and flourish. Assuming there is a high level of compatibility, the friend of the ministry will need to be educated about the ministry. Start by inviting them to visit the ministry and to attend special events, meetings or conferences relevant to the ministry. Show them promotional materials; mail your newsletter in a personalized envelope and with a personalized note; provide them with a copy of privileged communications about future plans, campaign development, strategic planning and ask them to provide input and suggestions. FULL POST

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