Do You Need a Scary Identity Crisis to Improve?

How the Cattleman's Realization Applies to You

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Do you have a strong self identity as a grantwriter?  That may be getting in the way of you becoming a GREAT grantwriter.  Seem impossible?  Read on.

In this post, you’ll find out what ‘The Cattleman’s Realization” is, and how applies to you.

 

I was watching a documentary about the effects of a decade-long drought in Texas.  There’s only so much water to go around, and how it gets used and shared is complicated.

The documentary spent a few minutes detailing the plight of one Texas cattleman.  He ranched on land owned by his family for generations and had always wanted to carry on the tradition.  But the drought was making that option less and less viable.  The traditional ways of ranching weren’t working in an environment with less water.

He had to re-think the situation and find ways of dealing with the new reality.

So he began to look at why his business and his cattle weren’t doing well.  The chain of events he came up with went something like this.

The cattle weren’t doing well because they didn’t have enough to eat. Grass wasn’t plentiful enough.

He bought hay to solve that problem, but the business wasn’t doing well because he couldn’t buy enough hay at a reasonable price for the cattle to thrive.

Why didn’t the land he owned provide enough forage anymore?  It used to!

Turns out there were lots of reasons.  Sure, there wasn’t enough rain but there were other issues that were making the problem much worse.

For example, a certain type of cypress tree had taken over along the river bank that went through his ranch.  This cypress sucked up two to three times more water than what had been there before and the cattle couldn’t eat it, unlike the grass that used to grow there.

Further away from the river, grass was sparser as well because mesquite was using up lots of water, with its deep taproot and large network of other roots just under the ground.  Grass, with its shallow root system, couldn’t compete to get water.  It was also being “overshadowed” by mesquite—being killed as life-giving sun was being blocked.

The cattleman thought long and hard about what to do.  In the end, he realized that, in order to salvage his cattle business, and his livelihood, he had to change his self-identity.

No longer would he be a cattleman (at least not first and foremost).  No, instead he realized that in order for the livestock to do well, and his business to do well, and in order to save his family’s past and legacy for the future, he needed to be something different than “a cattleman”.

From then on, he was in the business of “raising grass”.

He realized what the core to the cattle business was and it didn’t have everything to do with cattle. Without grass, something that used to be taken for granted, nothing else would work.  Rain would be extremely helpful, of course, but he could do quite a lot to save his ranch by changing his focus from cattle to grass and taking action on his own.

Here’s the lesson for grantwriters.

We ARE going to face hard times.  What we do during those hard times may need to something unexpected.  We may need to stop “being” grantwriters.

Many nonprofits are experiencing difficulties right now.  Lots of reasons contribute to this—just like many reasons affected the cattleman’s livelihood in raising livestock.

Consider these questions:  What is sucking your “ranch” dry?  Where are your “cypress trees” and “mesquite” that are killing your “grass”?

Here’s that awesome idea I want you to consider:  Stop thinking of yourself as a grantwriter.

Maybe your current identity isn’t what’s needed right now.  In an era of diminished resources, instead of being a “grantwriter”, you need to think of yourself as a “marketer”, or an “advocate” for program ideas.

Where shifts in your identity or thinking do you need to make?

How would this shift your focus, even as you continue to write grants, even while continuing to work in your current position?  What else might you do, or what might you do in addition?

A marketer would paint a picture of a problem intense enough to evoke strong reader emotions in a grant’s needs statement

A marketer would be championing the value of particular interventions, including information into the section on “planned program”.

A marketer would emphasize how well an organization has solved problems in the past—a part of the capabilities and capacity section of most grant proposals.

An advocate knows that resources are in many places, including the government and political systems.  If there’s not enough “rain” in the form of grants, an advocate would be clearing the ranch of mesquite and cypress trees to increase water supplies.

An advocate puts the best case forward and constantly gathers evidence to bolster the case.  (Does your organization have strong evaluations in place?)

Advocates develop relationships with “rain-makers” even when rain isn’t needed immediately.

We can still “raise cattle” even as we “grow grass”—if we’re wise enough to see how they interconnect, and how you can’t do one, without doing the other.

Do me a favor—if this sparks some ideas in you, causes you to have an insight into how you can address a problem in your life by thinking about your identity in a different way, could you let me know?

You can do that by commenting below.  Also, please share this, as it might be just the insight someone needs to see today.  This idea doesn’t apply ONLY to grantwriters!

Let’s start some identify crises by understanding the value of a cattleman’s realization.

Learning From Grantwriters

You need more than skill!

[jwplayer mediaid=”786″]

 

While all grantwriters need to have skills related to writing, researching, conceptalizing, budgeting, and so much more, these are things that can be taught.

Go to any grantwriting workshop, and that’s what you’ll get.  The trouble is, if all you have are skills to write grants, I doubt you’ll ever reach the top ranks of the profession.

Yeah, sure, you may write a few successful grants on sheer technical merit–and more power to you!  But what you’ll be lacking are the elements that will keep you in the job,  improving month after month, grant proposal after grant proposal.

Click on the image above to hear my thoughts about what you MUST come to the job with if you are ever going to become more than a passable proposal writer.

Grantwriters’ #1 Problem and What to Do About It

My mother's advice just doesn't work!

 

Why don't you work ahead__ (rh.com)

When I was in college, I once told my mother how busy I was and what the work demands were.  Like mothers everywhere, she wanted to help, so she gave me the following advice:

“Why don’t you just work ahead a little bit every day?”

“Thanks, what a great idea!  Why didn’t I think of that?” was my unspoken thought.

When grantwriters tell me what their #1 challenge is, there’s sort of a similar dynamic—I’m told over and over again, that the most difficult challenge is that there’s never enough time in the day to research the grant opportunities from government and foundations, develop relationships with potential funders, research needs in the community, find evidence-based solutions to propose, work with program staff to ensure the plans made are realistic, coordinate budgets with the financial people in the agency, write the actual proposal, submit it on time, and do this on top of their other work.

I’m curious why this happens, but I definitely don’t ask them “Why don’t you work ahead?”

What I do ask, though, is what they do when the work can be crushing and the tendency to abandon “self-care” is strong.

Here are some of the actual responses I’ve received:

  • “I schedule my work in blocks of time.”
  • “Better time management.”
  • “Working a lot.”
  • “I carve out time weekend days to write grants.”
  • “Better communication as to why it is in their interest to give me the information I need.”
  • “Spending more personal time on grantwriting.”

These are short-term solutions, at best, as are many more that I hear.  But so often, it sounds like they’re just telling themselves to “work ahead”.

When this doesn’t work, it may lead to another case of grantwriter burnout, like the grantwriter who said “I’ve basically given up.” Or the one who admitted “I’m looking for another job.”

Other grantwriters tell me a different story, one that sounds more hopeful, and one that pulls in resources beyond just themselves.

  • “I work more closely with my CEO/mentor.”
  • “To talk with the different people to generate ideas.”

Sometimes, grantwriters have no one else in their organization to turn to for mentorship, or they feel that they don’t want to be vulnerable in asking for help from within their organization.

I’ve been in that spot, and I know how valuable it can be to have someone to talk ideas over with, or seek counsel from, or just get a fresh perspective from.  Even this can be hard to do, if you don’t have anyone you trust to be objective and knowledgeable.

You may not have ever thought to hire someone to be that person who coaches and mentors you, who can give you a clear critique of a current draft of a proposal, or just help you with information you might not know.

I could be that person for you, just as I have with many others.

Not forever, not for the long term, not even for very many hours.  But just enough to let you relax and talk over a few ideas, and to help you get over a particular stumbling block.

You don’t need a lot of help, or very often.  But you may need it now as grant season heats up again (as it always does in the Spring).

Aren’t you tired of facing the grind and the #1 challenge of grantwriters all on your own?

The fee is affordable and well-worth the hope and help you’ll receive.

If this is something you’d like to consider, email me at richard@richardhoefer.com .  We’ll set up a time to see if what I can do is what you need doing.  If not, no harm done.

Write to set up a time to chat—there’s nothing to lose and possibly lots to gain:  your peace of mind, a burden shared, burnout avoided, and, possibly, thousands or even millions of dollars for your organization.

What’s YOUR #1 challenge as a grantwriter or nonprofit executive?  Write and share!

How Can A Big Grant Be “Game-Changer”?

Despite the fact that government funding

 

CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO WATCH THE VIDEO:  Grantwriting 2 Minutes at a Time:  Game Changers

“Despite the fact that government funding has been hit hard, federal grants are still available and can be ‘game changers’ for nonprofits and their clients.” What do I mean by “game changers”? Well, it’s a matter of money. If you can get a million dollars or more over the course of three or five years, you are going to be affecting your organization immensely. And, really, what’s more important than that is the fact that you’re going to be affecting clients.

If you have a grant for 1 million dollars, over four years, that is $250,000 a year. I know organizations that have gotten grants of that size and they’re able to use innovative, evidence-based practices to change the lives of dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of clients over the course of that four year period. It’s astounding!

So, if you think about, you take someone who is an addicted homeless person and you get them off the streets and you get them clean and sober, what impact does that have on their lives? That’s a game changer. And if you multiply that by 50 or 60 people, think about the impact that has. THAT’S a game changer, not only for the individuals but also for the organization. They’re able to ramp up everything that they’re doing. They’re able to collect data and with that data they are able to go on to other organizations, foundations, and the public and say “Look, we have done an excellent job. We change people’s lives. Help us be the game changer that we’ve become.”

I’d like to invite you to download “10 Million-dollar Secrets from Master Grantwriters” from www.richardhoefer.com . This report will help you learn how to get more funding for your nonprofit and get one of those million-dollar grants for yourself.

Richard Hoefer
Excellence for Nonprofits

P.S. Post in the comments how a million-dollar grant would be a game changer for YOUR organization!