Archive | August 2013

Lesson #3 – Writing Chapter History and Program Description

Greetings from GrantLessons! The Burners are moving through town on their way to create Black Rock City for a week. Burning Man has a colorful history. The most interesting element there is no trace that the city even existed for one week after it ends until it returns next year.

Now, we are off to our third lesson. Assistance Leagues across the country each have their own history. It is important to collect the facts. The facts need to demonstrate a solid and energetic nonprofit ready to serve its community. When one is completing an online application there often is a limitation of words/characters. I construct the chapter history in a Microsoft Word document and use the “word count” feature to determine the number of words or characters in my draft. I don’t use two spaces after periods when I am writing the material. You do not need to indicate that the chapter is a 501 (c)(3) corporation. The history does not need to include the mission since grantors specifically ask for that in their requests for information.

The history should include the date the chapter was established and its affiliation with National Assistance League. Next one can indicate the number of philanthropic programs that are supported by the chapter, the number of members and the number of service hours contributed by members in the last fiscal year. One can then start with the date and name of the first program and then in one sentence explain whom the program serves. The writer then proceeds to follow the same format for the rest of the programs. At the end, the writer refers the reader back to their website. After the draft is completed, be sure to have several people read it for accuracy, clarity, spelling errors and correct use of grammar. The writer then saves the document to Dropbox in a separate folder.

Writing a program description is a separate document and provides a more in-depth description each of the chapter’s programs. I have found that some grantors want to know a little about each program that is administered by the chapter and its auxiliary. Other grantors only want information about the specific program that is included in the application. I find that many of same rules apply as described above, such as, not using two spaces after a period. The writer needs to determine the program start date. The description should include outcome specific data. For instance, the statement could read, “In 1984, Assistance League® of Reno-Sparks started Operation School Bell® dressing over 40,000 children since its inception. Over 200 volunteers help with the program each year, which is done with the cooperation of the school district counselors and our local bank”. The writer can also reference the number of service hours spent in administering the program during the last fiscal year. After the writer has an editor proof the document it again is put in a separate folder in Dropbox, called “Program Description”.

Your homework for this week is to review your chapter history and program description documents and place the final copies into your Dropbox folders.

The smoke is continuing in northern Nevada which means the history for Black Rock City this year will not only record the level of dust but will also include the presence of smoke as well. I am still praying for rain and all the firefighters!

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie


Lesson # 2 – Saving Documents to Dropbox

Greetings from GrantLessons! Fires are burning everywhere here in the West. We still have smoke rolling in from the American Fire. We had a great Grants Committee meeting today. It really is fun to watch a team develop over time. Well we are off to our second lesson. Today we are talking about how to save a document to Dropbox.

Last week the homework assignment was to gather up the documents grantors require when we are doing grant writing. Our goal is to capture these documents into a file that we then house in Dropbox. Here are a few tips I learned over time. When you are saving a Word or Excel document be sure to save it in the lower version, as a .doc or an .xls file since it the documents are saved in newer versions some members will not be able to open them up.

You will have to scan documents, such as the financial audit and the Form 990 to a portable document file, commonly known as a “pdf”. These are usually fat documents, in that they are 30 to 33 pages long. First, be sure that your treasurer has given you a “clean copy” of the Form 990. Here is where you can have a little chuckle with the treasurer. I now get both documents from our treasurer on a thumb drive each year.
These fat documents can cause a problem when they are uploaded to the online application. Once you have the document as a pdf you will need to reduce the overall size of the document. Often these documents are in MB (megabytes) and they need to be reduced to KB (kilobytes). Stop in and see your administrative services and have a chuckle with her, she can help. And if she can’t ask your children or grandchildren 😉

Your homework for this week is to get all the required documents scanned and saved into the appropriate file type. Next week, we will discuss how to write a chapter history and a short description of the chapter’s programs. Remember there is a lot of information on our blog website at

If you are like me, you are saying a quick prayer for all the firefighters out there.

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

Lesson #1 – Dropbox

Greetings from GrantLessons! My grandchildren went back to school this week. It was a short summer for kids here in Reno since we are starting a new school year calendar. We at GrantLessons are starting a new school year as well. We have decided to reorganize our approach to the blog. Each week for the next 25 weeks, we will provide one lesson on how to go about setting up a team to write grants. Follow along and do your homework and you to will be able to obtain more grants for your chapter. Come along the ride should be fun!

The first lesson is on Dropbox. Dropbox is an online file management system. Yes, it is up there in the sky somewhere. What Dropbox allows you to do is to save documents so that other members of your team can access them. You can all work from home to write your grants at the same time and access all the documents needed when you need them. I have a favorite saving, “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance”.

You access Dropbox by going to . It is a free service unless you store more documents than 2GB (don’t worry that is a huge amount of space) You earn more space as you invite new members and they join from your invite. Dropbox places an icon on your computer desktop. There is also an application for your iPhone. There is a short YouTube video on the GrantLessons Blog under the video tab titled “Getting Started with Dropbox”. One member will be the administrator who will invite others to join the Grants Folder on Dropbox.

Once Dropbox is set-up and you have established your first folder, you need to populate it with subfolders. Grant applications always ask for the following documents: IRS Determination Letter, Mission Statement, Audited Financials, Organization Budget, Program Budget and Program Description. You will need to establish a separate subfolder for each. In addition, start a subfolder called applications. Your homework for this week is to set-up Dropbox for your Chapter’s Grant Committee. If you already have Dropbox with folders you can step to the head of the class. 😉

Next week, we will discuss how to save a document into Dropbox. If you need help be sure to keep asking your family, friends or other chapter members until you find someone who can assist you. Be sure to sign up your new grant members to the blog, get everyone on board to learn how to get more grants for your chapter.

Still warm here in Reno and we have a lot of smoke from fires a couple hundred miles away.

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

Last One on GuideStar/Giving in the US/Jing

Greetings from GrantLessons! Welcome to our new followers! All the fancy cars are in town for Hot August Nights. So, I like to get out of town, I am on the road again, what a fun summer, up in the Northwest with my grandson before school starts up.

GuideStar is now done and we were able to obtain the Gold GuideStar badge without much additional work. You can see it by checking our website at . Again, I just want to reiterate how important it is to complete your chapter’s profile so that funders can find you on Guidestar.

Here is some news that will encourage you to get part of the action! This year Giving USA reported that $46 BILLION in foundation dollars were granted to non-profit organizations in 2012, increasing by 4.4%. Not only that, corporate funding increased by a whopping 12.2%!

Have you ever heard of the program Jing? Jing can be found at . I have been using it for years and it is free. The always-ready program that allows you to instantly capture images off your computer screen — then share them with anyone. Jing is a great tool for adding basic visual elements to all of your online conversations. Have you ever seen something on your computer screen that you want to share with your grant colleagues? Jing is the answer. My Grants Committee Chairman is laughing right now because she now knows how I get all those screenshots to her.

I am having fun today, it is nice that I can program the blog in advance. By the way if you are getting this on your iPhone or email, be sure to drop by at and check out all the references that are on the website.

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

This entry was posted on August 7, 2013. 1 Comment