Keeping it Together

A Happy New Year to you. January 1, was the first splash into 2018 waters. Now, marking the new lunar year with Chinese New Year festivities will follow.

One more revolution around the sun. Most, during this journey, including sea otters who sometimes hold hands while they’re sleeping, have contingency plans for keeping it together on a personal or business level.

If you’re in nonprofit business, you may even be working on grant schedules for the next 18 months.

One of the biggest keys to success with grant applications is organization and it starts with framing a solid house for you and the funder.

A Sense of Order

Convey a sense of order in your application and you’re more than halfway to the goal line.

Why? Because it’s going to turn your process of working on an application into an enjoyable experience. It also invites the funder into a space in which you can show how you run your organization and how the project will proceed.

A Cordial Welcome for Your Letter

Whether you’re writing a letter of inquiry, starting a one-page application for $500, or you’re dealing with a million dollar capital project, the principle remains the same. Keep your approach aesthetically pleasing. To quote Florence Hartley from her 1860s Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, (Project Gutenberg), “Neatness is an important requisite in a letter. To send a fair, clean sheet, with the words written in a clear, legible hand, will go a great way in ensuring a cordial welcome for your letter.”

Many times, as the person writing or submitting a grant, you are the representative the organization or community is counting on to distill complex information into a succinct message that will translate into dollars. People are counting on you. Being organized will help you do that. No pressure!

Enjoyment Equals Success

One of my favorite authors who writes about a sense of order is Marie Kondo, author of Spark Joy—(Ten Speed Press, 2016)  Kondo writes about having a sense of order about everything from folding T-shirts to treating loose change as real money instead of a storage problem.

What does t-shirt folding and organizing closets have to do with grants? Kondo’s framing of de-cluttering goes beyond closet organizing. She begins her book by writing, “The tidying process you are about to embark on is not about decluttering your house or making it look neat on the spur of the moment for visitors. Rather you are about to tidy up in a way that will spark joy in your life and change it forever.”

Kondo’s words resonated with me as I folded T-shirts and set out to write The Grant Writing and Funding Coach—Target and Acquire the Funds You Need. Without exaggeration, grants are fun — yes, I’ll use the f-word, fun — in the serious world of grants, to construct an application is fun and they can be even more enjoyable to approve. They change lives and communities forever. Beginning with, and conveying, a sense of order helps you activate those changes.

Take a Pause to Organize Your Workspace

Take some pressure off by giving yourself room to breathe and think about your project. One of the first things you can do to take that pressure off is to define your space and time.

Before you put pen to paper or your fingers to the keyboard, step back and have a look at the space you’ll be working in for the duration of looking for funds and for grant writing. For some people, this is a few days or weeks. Others get the bug and continue on.

No matter the length of time, you’ll need a workspace that clears away any clutter you might have in your mind, on your desk, or in your files. Clear the decks. Get set for a healthy, prosperous new year.

If you’d like more information, tips and suggestions for organizing and preparing for successful grant proposals and schedules, please download some free resources.

Image by Joe Roberts. Wikimedia