I just came across what follows below in quotation marks. It touched me because I have had the great good fortune to experience the vulnerability trustingly shared as described by the writer, specifically in support group settings for more than 32 years now. I also relate to the essence of the message because my work for years has found me among people in nonprofit organizations where the prospect of mutual love and support for improving the quality of life is far greater than any other social context I know about. I am looking forward to the training program with a bunch of such folks this coming week. So it has gone, so it goes, as I experience my eldering by living one day at a time - but not alone...

"Throughout history, humans have needed each other in order to endure and move through crises without being broken by them. As our planet and our species confront unprecedented challenges, survival without support is virtually impossible.

Dizzying changes such as energy depletion, poverty, violence, climate chaos, homelessness, widespread illness, and the sheer harshness of day to day living, wear us down, make us vulnerable. It is one thing to navigate these challenges and quite another to try to do so alone. For what we are dealing with, we need massive amounts of support. We may be spending large quantities of time being resourceful adults, but within the capable adult resides a trembling child. We desperately need companions with whom we can share our feelings and dialog about our common vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability is tricky. We need to have safe places where we can be vulnerable, and at the same time, we need to be able to trust the people with whom we are exposing the child within. Vulnerability is also an enormous gift that we can give and receive with each other. It softens the heart and activates compassion. Revealing our vulnerability and receiving compassion in return is a healing salve for the soul.

Vulnerability brings people together in ways they might not connect in so-called “normal” times. I see this as one of the most extraordinary blessings in the dissolution of the old paradigm. In trauma and loss, we often find each other in a capacity and with a quality of compassion not possible in earlier times.

How do you need to be cared for today? Who needs you to care for them? Take some time to reflect on the connections you have formed in the process of societal unraveling. What further connections would you like to make? What gifts do you have to contribute?"

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Nonprofit Values Are Essential

It's hard for me to tamp down the feeling in my bones that these are perilous times for us here at home. So, among our options and responses, I sense that the often implicit values among nonprofits need be made explicit - so as to embrace the persistent justness of those in caring communities working together to improve the quality of their lives. If this makes sense to you, my book described elsewhere on this site was built with you in mind...    

Fiddling With A Vision Statement

Just saw this Vision Statement from a local biz, and must say it is impressive that this outfit cares enough to herald such a statement. Goes like this: "To provide, safe, professional tree removal and pruning by working with integrity, respecting customers, protecting the environment and fostering working conditions that encourage leadership, accountability and ownership.

Can't help myself. My gut told me to flip the presentation, so how about: To work with integrity, respecting customers, protecting the environment and fostering working conditions that encourage leadership, accountability and ownership by providing safe, professional tree removal and pruning. This way it seems clear to me that the work they do leads to impact on a broader scale by which they can ultimately be judged, and that they want to be judged  by more than the work they do. For me, restating it is akin to first things first...  

Good Recollection

Seen in local paper heralding big weekend, a blurb from our local federally qualified Health Center stating "Your Health Our Mission." Have to confess this pleases me. I served on the organization's board several years ago. During a facilitated training for new board members, we were presented the organization's mission at the time, that was, to deliver high quality services. Yours truly argued that this was NOT the mission, rather it was the means to delivering the mission that needed to be restated and embraced, that is, improved community health. 

You & Your Nonprofit

Could Benefit big time by wrapping your arms around Business As Unusual as the framework for seeking resources. From my book: "...you'll represent your organization as enterprising, resilient, and respectable, along with presenting far more convincing proposals for its support in a crowded, competitive marketplace for resources." 

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REDUX

To state the obvious, it's been a stretch since I mounted an effort to reach you out there. Well, I return with the conviction that we have plenty to consider if you make it your business to hang around nonprofits, feeling - as do I - that their potential for improving the quality of local community life is a matter to be fully explored and realized.

I'll resume my part of our dialogue by once again asserting that those of us devoted to a nonprofit need to be clear about what the organization's mission is - and isn't. AND, IT ISN'T TO DELIVER PROGRAMS, as so often articulated. More to follow...   

Wrong Question, I'm Thinkin'

Reading an intriguing print book about how nonprofits need to learn how to tell stories as part of how they go after financial support. Makes sense to me. However, the author mentions that in a first meeting with a nonprofit "client" - a term I have difficulty embracing because it connotes anything but a partnership that might be in-the-making - his first question is "What does your organization do? What do you solve?"

My first question would be, Why does your organization exist?    

ESTABLISHING MY BRAND

I am continuing, and will continue to work on absorbing what is needed to sell my little book with a big message for people in and around nonprofit organizations; and get it into their hands so they can put it to work strengthening those very organizations while and after building needed funding proposals. In this spirit, I have created a common frame of reference, with plenty of assistance, that is vested in the concept of a functional and funded nonprofit, taken from the title of my book, and embodied by the hashtag, #functionalandfunded, as well as my now renamed website: www.functionalandfunded.com, and business email: harveychess@functionalandfunded.com, and twitter handle @funcfund. Want you to know about my brand, yes indeed!

IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU AIN'T GOT YOUR IT TOGETHER

I consistently see so called conventional wisdom in the form of publications, electronic or otherwise, about how to go after, say, government grants - or foundation grants - or how to do crowdfunding. The emphasis is on how to fit what you're seeking - that would be money - to the requisites of the prospective "investor." This unfortunately is only part of what you need to consider in such a scenario. I'll put it this way. It doesn't matter how you nuance a pitch for funding, if your organization doesn't have its shit together. That's right. This is also why my book is titled FUNCTIONAL & FUNDED. I don't just show you how to pull your funding proposal together - though I am humbly persuaded that my approach is in a class by itself. I also show you how you will strengthen your nonprofit as you go through the building process. And, you emerge with absolute clarity about the core principles to use every time you make a decision to propose support from any type of funder, and this includes individuals. Your take away from my book: the tools to build a strong organization while you are building a strong proposal.  You can afford nothing less in these competitive times for pursuing assets for your nonprofit. 

MY VALUES, MY WORK

When first conducting proposal and resource development workshops many years ago I quickly came to understand that all the savvy in the world was inconsequential if people didn't want to spend their time learning with me.

So, I take comfort in the resultant ability to be useful when working with grant seekers, so called grant writers and grant makers in the public and private sectors. Whether working with those looking for grants to support non-profit organizations or making decisions to provide funding for such organizations, my credibility is based on my core values.

Here are some of the words that have shaped and comprise my values, have guided my efforts and, I believe, have helped me keep people in the rooms when and where we work together.

First, an excerpt from a 1990 article published by the Industrial Areas Foundation, titled "Standing for the Whole",

"We believe in what we call the iron rule: never do for others what they can do for themselves. Never. This rule, difficult to practice consistently, sometimes violated, is central to our view of the nature of education, of leadership, of effective organizing. This cuts against the grain of some social workers and program peddlers who try to reduce people and families to clients, who probe for needs and lacks and weaknesses, not strength and drive, not vision and values, not democratic and entrepreneurial initiative. The iron rule implies that the most valuable and enduring form of development - intellectual, social, political - is the development people freely choose and fully own." 

This is no less the case when applied to resource and proposal development, an area now and then populated by would-be experts.

Then this, from Robert Matthews Johnson in his wondrous book, The First Charity, written many years ago,

"There has been much talk about community in the past (25) years. There has even been, supposedly, a neighborhood movement. But darn few neighborhood people have been involved. Too much of the tone has been professional, entrepreneurial people speaking for others. Too many so-called community organizations have become too far removed from the issues that affect everyday life in communities."

His words, in no small way, were what motivated me to now and then assert in my work that "you are your proposal."

Finally, I was once asked to speak at a gathering of nonprofit reps on the subject of strategic alliances. This allowed me to emphasize my own values about the matter of mission clarity that I believe is essential if nonprofits are to be as valuable as they must be– but at times are not. Here's an excerpt from my presentation then.

"It seems to me that we need to clean up our own side of the street before we decide to cross it. If we don't understand and value the precept that our organizations exist to help our folks help themselves - by what might be any number of means rather than putting the emphasis on the process/the means, we'd best be careful interacting into alliances. Why double up the misguided?

As you might figure, I'm inclined to believe that the mission of nonprofits is not simply to offer participants high quality services, but also - and more importantly - it is to help participants help themselves. And, in doing so, to see to it that they attain some measure of success in overcoming what gets in the way of improving the quality of their lives. Fully participating in democracy, Bob Johnson would say it.  

Doesn't seem to me to matter if it's an arts organization or an effort to organize a bunch of people on the margins. Our work is ultimately justified by the successes of our participants. If we can get this straight in one organization, imagine what we might accomplish when we work together in a bunch of organizations."

It Is About How We Frame The Case...

We make do in out nonprofits, albeit fitfully, and predicate our resource development thrusts on a commonly shared, comfortably uncomfortable realm of mixed expectations between grant wielders and ourselves, fully aware that they do get money out the door, and somebody's gotta get some of it. And we keep plugging away to what avail? Seems to me it makes better sense to go back inside and take a look at ourselves, search for and get clarity about pursuit of mission and then, strengthened accordingly, look to give those with the assets (we could surely use to stay on the mission course) the opportunity to work with us.

BASICALLY...

The title of my book is Functional and Funded - The Inside-Out Strategy for Developing Your Nonprofit's Resources.

This is a book about an entirely different and potent way of developing funding proposals, an essential activity for every nonprofit.

The book is for anyone devoted to the care and sustenance of a nonprofit organization's mission.

People will read it because it flips typical funding proposal development on its head while adding in a healthy dose of uncommon sense. 

It is different than other books on this topic because you will be able to strengthen your organization before completing and after submitting your persuasive proposal in a very crowded marketplace for pursuing assets.

I am qualified to write this book because of many years among nonprofit organizations as a well regarded trainer and consultant, including my work with a variety of grant making organizations.    

And, you can order it by clicking on the book tab at the top of this page.

Changing Scenarios

The best looking funding proposal in the world will be meaningless coming from a messed up nonprofit; the worst proposal in the world somehow spilling out of a sold nonprofit is a wondrous misfit. My book and training focus on the concept that you can help build the latter organization while building the former proposal, and you end up with what is absolutely necessary in these days of intense competition for funds to support your grassroots mission-based efforts. 

Back At It, Wow!!

After three years away from the rooms - those filled with remarkable people from grassroots nonprofit organizations - I had the privilege to present my workshop on integrating organizational and developmental resources to 25 hearty souls in Sonora, CA, aided and abetted by Donna Wilson, her staff & volunteers at Sierra Nonprofit Resources and the irrepressible Marti Crane from neighboring Calaveras County. One of the terrific take-aways was that two organizations that had not worked together previously started the stuff of a collaborative effort to deal with local mental health challenges to be continued after the workshop...

Mission Statement Done Right!

Just came across this, and it is righteous, right on: "When people think of our organization, they think we feed the hungry. But that's not who we are. The food is a tool. What we're doing is empowering people. The mission has always been to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities." Dambetcha! (Facebook Redo again)

Mission Statement Done Right...

Just came across this, and it is righteous, right on: "When people think of our organization, they think we feed the hungry. But that's not who we are. The food is a tool. What we're doing is empowering people. The mission has always been to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities." Dambetcha!

My Business As Unusual

Seth Grodin, apparently a marketing guru: if you can't state your business in eight words, you can't state your business.

So, here's a try:

My business as UNUSUAL frames your funding proposal$...

SEO Descriptor

In A Nutshell: Harvey Chess, skilled as a grant maker, grant seeker, and trainer offers exceptional tactics and strategy to secure diversified resources for your nonprofit organization.

Scaredy Cat Mission Statement

"We invest in people through community action."

Interior scream "no!" when I read it. 

Working with what's here, I'd change it to We ensure community action by investing in people (to bring it about.)

Of course, the statement is in need of a clear definition of the term, community action. Nonetheless, seems to me that the definition of success here, aka the end result, is action in the community brought about by the people in whom the organization invests, not just the business of investing in them. One could invest in folks 'til the cows come home, but if there is no payoff at a community level, what's the point? Or change the mission statement...

Gearing Up...

Sonora Training later next month. So good to be back with my peeps! Too, everyone gets their own copy of my book to use & re-use after we finish our two days. And the host organization makes a few bucks for doing their part to make this a success.