Nonprofits: Because You’re Worth It!
This may seem a little out of my realm, since I’ve mostly done reviews for various television shows, films, comic books (etc), but since I was presented with an opportunity to share my experiences with nonprofits in another class, I could carry it on over to my blog for editing and publishing. After all, the semester is winding down, and life lessons are to be had.
Over the past semester, I have worked with two nonprofit organizations. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks’ (BBBSO) goal is to pair children facing adversity with positive, adult role models to change the children’s lives for the better, forever.
When one of BBBSO’s employees moved on, Katie Davis, the CEO, immediately pulled me away from the marketing/communication aspect of the job and had me start applying for and researching grants. Before BBBSO, I had never written a grant; I had never even read a grant for that matter. Fortunately, Katie lent a guiding hand and I built off grants BBBSO applied for in the past. After this experience, I can suggest two valuable tips:
1) Be Concise
2) If they ask for a specific word count (i.e. less than 1,000 words), you reach that mark, no matter what.
This means making every word count. With every sentence, the person reading your grant needs to be able to understand why the organization is worth it. Basically, with grants, you’re a L’oreal girl and you better make them believe it.
I can’t call my grant writing a success yet; getting one approved doesn’t outweigh the several BBBSO hasn’t heard back from yet. But I certainly have my fingers crossed that will change.
Working with the other nonprofits was an entirely different and less satisfying experience. After meeting with representatives from two organizations, my teammate, Kaitlyn, and I decided we would complete three things: 1) a logo for an upcoming event 2) brochure revisions and 3) a reconstruction of the website.
The first nonprofit provided us with an excellent contact. As we worked on the logo, she used our time wisely, replied to our emails in a timely fashion, and told us exactly what she wanted.
The finished product:
However, Kaitlyn and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed when we saw the finished product. Part of the logo was missing and we felt we could have been more creative with the design. Of course, we learned a lesson the hard way: you can’t choose what an organization uses – you can only make suggestions.
We then started trying to communicate with the other nonprofit. Earlier, we had requested additional photos and information for the website and brochures. We were in the homestretch with nothing to work off of. I was used to receiving a reply within a day; with this nonprofit, our contact rarely replied within a week. At this point, even though we may complete the brochures, we have come to the realization that our third goal, the website renovation, will certainly not happen.
The real difference between BBBSO and the other nonprofits lies in the fact that BBBSO utilized my time and skills effectively. Communication was such a key tool here; even simply answering an email or phone call within a couple days instead of a week could cause a giant leap in our progress. It seems so simple, but it certainly makes the difference.