Our thoughts and prayers are with the families in Newtown, Connecticut.
I do not like a playboy either,
They’re sleek and tan,
Yet do they neither,
Grab my heart with style and flair,
O’r grant writers I lust and stare.
Trust babies hold least appeal,
In spite of spending zest and zeal,
Their swank lank tan,
With age departs,
It’s grant writers who steal my heart.
Let’s face it, a good meal can be turned into a great one with the right dessert. Admit it, you deserve something extra special now and then. Desserts can pamper your inner sexiness and here are ten good reasons why.
1) Tiramisu is like an approval letter in your mouth.
2) Crème brulee is like a tough-shelled client who’s really sweet underneath.
3) A banana split is one of our new years resolutions – it’s there, eat more fruit!
4) Chocolate decadence cake keeps us awake for those late nights.
5) Strawberry shortcake is perfect for editing drafts.
6) Apple pie a la mode is like an excellent collaborative.
7) Whipped cream is good on a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.
Sharing a gourmet dessert with that special Grant Writer to complete the perfect meal is sexy.
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Nick kept running up the escalator until he reached the last person between him and the sunny exit above, a pretty young woman. Nick stopped beside her and smiled, she returned his smile batting her chestnut eyes playfully. They engaged in light conversation. Nick’s plan was to walk out of the Metro arm in arm looking for all the world like a couple. These men wouldn’t be looking for a couple. He stripped off his coat turning it inside out to black and draping it over his arm. He then drew his hair back in one motion and fastened it into a ponytail. As Nick and the woman reached the top of the escalator, Nick offered his arm to the woman with a casual comment about always tripping off these things as a kid. She giggled at the familiarity and took Nick’s arm.
The plan working so far. She agreed he’d accompany to the building where her appointment would begin in ten minutes. As the couple emerged from the tunnel into the frosty morning air, he and the girl stepped quickly right up the sidewalk. Nick snuck a quick look left between the north and south Metro entrances where he expected the other man to be. Sure enough there he was standing beside a long, black town car trying to keep watch on both exits. His phone rang and he picked up. Nick turned and escorted his new friend up the street, keeping an ear behind for running steps following, they never came as the couple turned the corner ne looked back once and the two men were now huddled together at the exit he and the girl had just left.
A block later Nick left the girl at her building and he hailed a cab and jumped in happy to on his way to see Boris. “Pentagon” and the cab lurched forward. Nick had time to think now and he ran through the morning’s events. None of it made any sense. His phone rang, “Damn, Tony” Nick muttered to himself, he pushed the screen to pick up the call.”Nick here” “Nick, I’m waiting for you here, I thought you were coming in at 9” Nick knew he didn’t have any meetings this morning with Tony but it always took him off guard when Tony did this stuff. “Uh…I don’t remember a meeting…” “HA-HA-HA, got you again Sorrento, you’re an easy mark.” “Oh, yeah, that’s it Tony, you’re too quick for me, especially before I’ve had my coffee.” “Yeah-yeah it’s the coffee. So when am I going to getting the next grant draft?” “Well, something came up this morning. I’ll have it to you by 6 tonight.” “Hey, you were supposed to have it here by noon. I’m no night owl remember?” “Yeah I know, sorry Tony, can’t be helped.” “OK,OK, you all right Sorrento?” “Yeah Tony, I’ll explain later.” “All right Nick but no later than 6, I’ve got blank tapes waiting for you.” “Yeah, I bet you do” It occurred to Nick that only a couple of hours ago his biggest problem was Tony’s tapes. “All right Tony, catch you later.” The phone clicked off. Tony could see the Washington Bridge ahead, next stop Virginia and the Pentagon. Nick hoped Boris would have some answers.
Visiting with the ophthalmologist this morning gave me lots of time to think, especially since I saw him for all of about 30 minutes of the 2.5 hours I spend there – mostly in the waiting room with old Time magazines and old timers (where I am headed soon myself).
I thought about how hard it is to see sometimes even with your eyes open. I keep reading that social media is about connecting to people and listening. But did I see what I needed to do in order to grow my social network? No. Did I listen? No. What I did was start blasting out useful (to my thinking) information for my loyal and (NOT) growing audience. I struck out into the Twitterverse blinder than a bat.
In trying to see how to navigate the Twitterverse, I am trying to make sense of the denizons of it. There seem to be various camps:
Camp 1 – Socialites – People who joined Twitter to have conversations with people and to connect socially.
Camp 2 – Celebrities and Narcissists – People who joined Twitter to communicate with their fans or constituents.
Camp 3 – Mother T’s – People who joined Twitter to rally people to a social/charitable cause.
Camp 4 – Trumpsters – People who joined Twitter to build a business through networking and promotion.
Camp 5 – Martha’s Brigade – People who joined Twitter to share information about their specialty.
Camp 6 – TechMarketers – People who joined Twitter as social media experts for the purpose of “conquering” this new media.
Camp 7 – Bandwaggoneers – People who joined Twitter because they thought they should. These people got bored after ten tweets and abaondoned their accounts.
I’ve done a few of the things that are suggested in posts about how gather followers but given the narcissistic and groupie-laden philosophies of some of the camps, I can’t see that they have any interest in following anyone.
Here are a few (some less than honorable) strategies that seem to be getting me more followers and none of these are on the lists I’ve read.
1. Suck Up– Look for people in your field who have something interesting to say and then blog about it and then tweet about the fact that you blogged about it. Vanity sells on Twitter. Works best with Celebrities, Narcissists, and Trumpsters.
2. Kiss Butt– Look for organizations like yours that have large followings and tweet about something they do well. Organizations like good virtual ink and tend to RT and say thanks. Works well with wannabe Celebrities, Trumpsters, and Martha’s Brigade.
3. Join Twit Chats – Conversations where you can add value get you followed. Social networking is available on Twitter, but it’s harder to access only posting tweets. This is where you’ll find the Socialites of course.
4. Post Pictures– People love pictures and will RT those they like. It’s the way to get past the 140 character limit too (1,000 words). Not really a target group here with the exception of photographers who are Martha’s Brigaders who’ll want to tell you how poor your white balance, there’s artifacts, there’s no focal point in the photo (hey, I just point and shoot lay off all the jargon already!)
5. Post Constantly– I find that when I post a lot my numbers go up but the very minute that my frequency drops or I don’t tweet for a day or two, the numbers drop. I guess someone is listening after all. Socialites only like this if they want to talk to you, Celebrities and Narcissists aren’t listening to you anyway, Mother T’s will listen if you’re talking about how much to write on the check, Trumpsters listen if you’re buying, Martha’s Brigade listens if you’re in their specialty, Tech marketers listen to measure you and figure out the next BIG thing before anyone else (problem is it won’t be created by the listeners, it will be created by those leading the conversation), Bandwaggoners have already moved on to the next Big thing.
I’ll keep working at Twitter because I know it drives traffic to our web site which is the basis for being involved at all. Does anyone have any other methods I can use to increase my followers?
Grants are often applied for to renovate a program or to implement a new and shiny program model. Sometimes grants are submitted by an agency with a faulty foundation; perhaps the agency’s accounting is poor, their administration is weak, or their program leadership is unskilled. Grant writers need to highlight the organizational strength of an agency to give reassurance to the grant maker that the proposed program can and will be implemented properly.
There’s a house in midtown nearby that has undergone a major renovation recently. An investor bought it and for a number of months the place was surrounded by a chain link fence as construction took place. New windows were installed and a new front porch was constructed. Lots of work went on within the house too. After all the inner improvements were made, the fence was removed and the landscaping was redone.
I noticed that there were the remnants of an old Bermuda lawn which had been worn to stubs by all of the construction traffic. I assumed that before a new lawn was laid the investor would roto-till the soil and get all the Bermuda out. I was shocked one day to go by and see workers unrolling the new sod right on top of the unprepared yard. I knew that within two or three years, the Bermuda would overtake and ruin the beautiful-looking lawn.
The foundation of the new landscaping is corrupted and faulty. Seeing how the landscaper lay the new lawn made me wonder what other shortcuts the investor had taken in the renovation. Where else would the eventual home owner be surprised as hidden faults emerged and revealed themselves?
A grant writer’s job is not to write as if to lay sod over a faulty landscape. A grant writer’s job is to describe the strengths of the agency which illustrate how the grant will properly implemented. A strong agency will have data that supports the implementation of new programs.
Grant makers seek applicants that bring strength to the process of grant implementation. A strong organizational foundation positively demonstrates capacity to implement and assures grant makers that the new program won’t be corrupted by concealed flaws.
Some people don’t think they need one, but they often end up regretting it later, you know. Using one gives you the confidence you need to really let go and focus on what you want to focus on. It also makes it more likely that you’ll have another successful opportunity in the near future.
Google Adsense that gives you code that you embed in your site to display google advertisements. It didn’t pay me well – but it paid Google well – so I took Google ads off my blog. I figure if I ever get really popular, the advertisers can come ask me for space. Until then, I am not allowing Google to earn another dime from my blog.
I got wiser to Google when I started using Adwords here at work. Adwords are ads you build that Google will place on sites using Adsense. Adwords ads cost money and you pay whenever someone clicks on the ads. You choose keywords you want to advertise toward. Maybe you’ll choose “goat food” because you sell goat food on your web site. You want people searching for the term goat food to find your site.
So you want your ad to come up on the first page (on the right column) each time someone searches for the word goat food or you want it to appear on other people’s goat food web sites who use Adsense. Google assigns a value to the term goat food that you pay per click. If someone clicks on your ad, you pay the price per click that Google has established for that keyword. I’ve paid from about .40 to $1.25 per click. But I’ve seen clicks that cost a lot more than that. The person who owns the web site where these ads are placed gets a small fraction of that money. I used to get a penny, two, maybe three for ads on my site that got clicked. Google takes the rest.
Adwords & Adsense work well for Google. The owners of the web sites do all the work to place the Adsense ads on their sites. The Adwords advertiser does all the work to create the ads that are placed on web sites in anticipation that these clicks will turn into sales. Google does no work to create or place the ads.
Google’s work was to create the search engine, and two automated online systems; 1) Adsense that enables web site owners to place a Google money machine (ad server) on their site, 2) Adwords for advertisers to create ads that web site owners place on their sites and which Google places on their search web site.
Google is the ultimate middle man. In reality, Google skims almost 100% of the gross for perhaps 5% of the work. Google’s overhead is a matter of keeping their search engine relevant and the Adwords and Adsense sites running. Google does not even “sell” advertising, no sales force is needed.
Google is leasing space on millions of web sites using Adwords and Adsense at pennies on the dollar. It’s a brilliant business model as long as web site owners don’t wise up and dump Google. It took me several years to wise up. The business model is sort of like land owners all over the country saying that Google can set up billboards on their land. Google collects $1,000 -$10,000 a sign per year from advertisers and pays the landowner 1%. The land owner even has to build the sign! Internet land owners are eventually going to wise up and ask for a higher percentage or say get lost.
Google ads don’t make anyone rich but Google.
A grant writer who lacks self confidence in their writing is doomed to mediocrity or failure. It’s evident when someone writes how confident they are about their narrative. Grant Writers are writing persuasive technical narrative and to do so one must be self confident. There are any number of things that can lead a grant writer to lose confidence about a grant they’re writing.
Here is my top ten list of things that erodes my self confidence when I sit down to write a narrative.
1. I have either not read the RFP comprehensively, or I do not feel that I grasped it.
2. I have questions about the RFP that are unanswered and the granting agency either refuses to take questions or their staff is unavailable.
3. I have not spent enough time with the client to flesh out the program they want funding for.
4. I am short of time to write.
5. I am distracted by outside influences and personal problems.
6. I am unable to get needed signatures, letters of support, or MOU’s in a timely that that allow me to fully focus on the narrative.
7. I have not organized all components of the grant and feel at loose ends.
8. I am dependent on others to provide narrative information and they are slow to provide it.
9. I am having technical difficulties with my equipment that could threaten the writing process and/or digital files.
10. I have had one or more grants declined recently.
Using a positive voice in writing grant narratives is vital to convey ability and competence. Readers scoring a grant written with a confident voice feel secure that the objectives will be achieved. The grant maker seeks maximum assurance that the proposed project will be implemented and that it will successfully achieve the objectives. Confidence is fundamental to writing successful grants that are dependent on a positive, descriptive, technical narrative.
Confidence, now that’s sexy!
Ahh, it’s good to be a writer. It is a skill you get better at with practice and attention to detail. Over time my writing should improve, so my rising age is not a deterrent. If, for instance, I was a professional athlete in most sports, I’d already be a good ten years past being employable. Yes, even most professional golfers fade away by the time they’re 40. But as a writer, I can keep at it until I no longer have anything to say.
Writing is a good skill to have, it pays. It may not pay as much as a professional athlete. But may is not the right word, grant writing does not pay like pro sports. I’m not saying it should, it just doesn’t. The upshot for me is I need to keep earning over a lifetime. The money I am able to save isn’t likely to produce enough interest to support me in my old age. So long as I can write though, I can produce an income for many years to come.
So I look at working with a long view in mind. I have no intention of retiring, I have no hobbies interesting enough to keep me sane for twenty to thirty years of retirement. Writing is my main hobby, then computer graphics and photography. These are interests that keep me working and earning and I enjoy doing them even in my time off. I have trouble finding the time to do enough of any of them to satisfy me.
Yes it is good to be a writer and it’s good to enjoy what you’re doing. If you can do what you enjoy and get paid for it, stay put, because that’s your niche! That’s where I am as a grant writer, in my niche, nestled, and comfortable.
Now that’s sexy!
Freelance grant writing can be financially challenge or rewarding, it’s never in the middle. It’s never like that government job you’ve left, or that you may want to leave. The paycheck isn’t automatically deposited to your account on the first and the fifteenth of the month with all of the taxes, retirement, and government fees taken out.
Feast or famine is what your income will look like. Sometimes the feast is more of a snack but hey we take what comes our way and we eat heartily. Cash flow influences how you pay bills and what you can afford. There have been times when I must get creative about how I get things done and other times when I have failed to rein in a spending spree set loose by a fat check.
Here are some things to get organized in your head before you get into cash flow droughts.
- Establish your contracts to pay you some now and some later. If you’re working on a research project, then establish a monthly payment schedule.
- Set up a tax account where you can put a healthy percentage of each check where it can earn a little interest and save you from being short when your quarterly taxes are due.
- Pay off credit cards, as much as you can afford. I’ve found that I tended to live on those at times and so long as my work paid off later, I could pay them down quickly when the tide came in.
- Maintain your vehicle.
- Pay the entire year of vehicle insurance at once so you take that out of the cash flow equation for 12 months. You also save money on fees they charge for spreading it out.
- If you have an evaluation project, spread the payments out over the year so it helps your cash flow. You may want 50% up front, then 24% in January, 25% in June. Or, you may want to have the 50% come in March before taxes are due.
- Build things into your contracts where you can that provide you with materials or services you need to do the work.
- Build up a cash reserve by setting aside a pittance. Easier said than done, I know from experience! I also know that if you get used to setting aside a pittance, it’s easier to add to that as you get into the habit and as extra money comes in.
Cash flow is one of the biggest challenges facing a freelance grant writer or any business person for that matter. It’s tricky and agencies may be slow in paying, slow in approving contracts, and paperwork gets lost. You must do your part to ensure that the wheels of each bureaucracy grind as smoothly as possible by submitting invoices promptly, accurately, and to the right person. Make friends with the people in accounting because when a payment is slow, and your cash flow is low, there are no better people to know!
Positive cash flow, now that’s sexy!
My alarm clock has an annoying feature, the volume of the beep increases the longer you ignore it. I’ve set it for 4am so I can hit the road to a client 1.5 hours away. It’s cold and foggy outside and while I know I’ll arrive an hour and a half early, I want to beat the traffic that will turn a 1.5 hour trip into a 2.5 hour nightmare.
So my screeching alarm forces me to click the switch down and I stumble through the shower and dressing, grab the briefcase and computer and I’m outside blowing steam into the frosty air. It’s dark and none of the lights are on in my neighborhood.
An hour and a half later, I sit in a local diner half listening to the old men poke fun at each other. A group I see every time I’m there, probably meet later in the day for beers at the Moose Club or the VFW. I imagine that they must meet every morning for bacon and eggs – and probably have for 30 or more years since their kids grew up and moved on.
I drink too much coffee, eat my breakfast, read the local paper for anything newsworthy that may be on the mind of my client, and use the lavender-scented restroom. There’s a doily and shell-encrusted knick-knack on the top of the toilet. Someone cares enough to make people feel at home – someone’s home.
Off to meet with my client for a couple of hours, then on to another one and hope to be done by 3PM to beat the traffic home again, or it’s going to be 7 before I get home. Life on the road as a freelance grant writer.
Now that’s sexy.
Grant research is a grind, no way around it but there is information in the IRS Form 990 that can save you some time and effort when identifying sound grant prospects. The IRS 990 forms are rich sources of information and they’re public documents that anyone can look at. Here is a short video about some important things to look at in a 990 form.
IRS Form 990 – Now that’s sexy!