Archive | October 2014

Duplicated versus Unduplicated Counts

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Today I am on the road taking a leisurely drive from Reno to Burbank, will be glad to see all my colleagues at Leadership Conference. ūüėČ

Let’s talk data a little more this week. Funders want to see unduplicated counts when they ask for the number of recipients. Chapters have to be careful that they are not duplicating their counts when they are reporting the number of recipients they help in a program. First, lets talk the difference between the number of recipients we help and the number of services we provide. Operation School Bell is straight forward in that the number of children dressed each year is an unduplicated count. We provide clothes for one child which is the service.

A program like Kids on the Block has the same group of children, who saw two puppet shows, the number of students is say 100 and the number of services(shows) provided is 200. If we say 200 students observed puppet shows that is a duplicated count since we are counting each student twice. An unduplicated count is 100 students observed two puppet shows each. Since there are so many teachers who are following this blog, lets use a school example.

Unduplicated headcount is the actual number of individual students enrolled. Students may be enrolled in one or more classes, but they are counted only once.

Duplicated headcount is the total class count. Students may be enrolled in more than one class and would therefore be counted in each  for each class, it becomes a duplicated count of students.

Grantors are interested in unduplicated counts so that they understand exactly how many individuals will be helped with the program. Be careful not to inflate your numbers and also be sure to distinguish between the individuals you are helping and the service provided.

Isn’t all this stuff fun? Next week¬†we will talk¬†about goal statements¬†for applications. Have fun with your Trick or Treaters! ūüėČ

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



Outputs versus Outcomes

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Weather is pleasant but much cooler and I am getting ready to take a road trip on my way to Burbank for the Leadership conference in November.

Let’s get a little deeper into data. In looking over applications and answering questions from followers, I find there is an increasing need from funders to use data and the prospect of data from their applicants in proving to the¬†IRS and their Boards¬†that their awards have been placed in the right hands to do the most good for their target audience. The target audience¬†are those recipients that their founder or board of directors desire to help with their funding. I know that this area of grant writing depends on our program chairs. Program chairs are busy with all the details of putting together the activities to pull off Operation School Bell, Links to Learning or a Food Pantry program. We must engage their help to design and collect reasonable data about their program. Funders want to know if your work is effective? Here are some guidelines for articulating anticipated results. First lets start by talking about the differences between output data and outcome data.


Simply outputs are the direct result of program activities. Examples include: number of children dressed, number of awards made to teachers, or number of over 60 income eligible seniors receiving food bags.


Simply outcomes are the benefits or changes that result from program activities. Examples include: percentage of decrease in bullying, percentage of participants who will graduate from high school, or percentage of participants who are able to age in place.

Chapters track outputs but find measuring effectiveness by outcomes more difficult to accomplish. A simple survey constructed to measure the program effectiveness is one way to measure outcomes.

Working with Program Chairs

For instance an outcome goal for a program could be 80% of eligible seniors will report that food bags assist them to age in place during the last year. In order to get the data, the program chair would work at developing a simple survey with three questions that ask the following:

  1. Do the food bags provide nutritious food that help me maintain my health?
  2. Do the food bags help me to stay in my home and age in place?
  3. Do the food bags allow me to have money to meet other obligations like buying medications or having a comfortable living environment?

After each question, a Likert scale is added. A four point scale including the following options is placed below each question:

  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Agree
  4. Strongly agree

Using a 4 point scale forces the respondent to choose one side or the other and eliminates the response I neither agree nor disagree. Add a few demographics to the survey like age groups and sex and you are ready to hand out the survey. This approach can be used with many of our programs. Do you think you do not have the skills to pull this off? You are afraid that you do not know how to analyze the data. Ask your membership you probably have someone who has done a survey before and even gets a kick out of heading up the survey process. This is powerful data when it comes to writing an application. It is a more compelling statement that  375 respondents out of 400 indicate (93%) they strongly agree that the food bags provide nutritous food that helps them maintain their health as opposed to 400 over 60 seniors were provided two food bags monthly.

Depending on when your programs are completed each year you may have already missed an opportunity to gain this information for your program this year. But, you need to think about working with your program chairs and others within your chapter to gain outcome data for your programs. Start today to think about how you can move your chapter to get both output and outcome data for your programs.

Is this something you are willing to discuss at your next Grants Committe, Program Chairs Committee, or Board of Directors. It is food for thought.

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



This entry was posted on October 22, 2014. 2 Comments


Greetings from GrantLessons!

Fall is in the air! The wind is blowing and the leaves are falling. I really love Fall especially the crisp days. I have always been a Google fan and found an article by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg to be quite interesting. The article is talking about their new book, “How Google Works”. The book explores the firm’s methods for success. The authors make three major points to their success.

Think Extremely Big

Many organizations in the days of quality improvement look for a 10% improvement in their work, Schmidt and Rosenberg encourage their employees to find a 10X (that is, ten times better) improvement. What would it take for your chapter to increase their grant writing by 10X? Would you need more training? Would you need more people to help research for grants? Would you need more people to write grants? Would you need to have more people provide back rubs when the dollars come in? Do you think you would fail?

Fail Fast

Schmidt and Rosenberg¬† encourage their employees to “fail fast”.¬† A failed grant opportunity allows the committee to learn from their experience. Are you afraid that you will put time and effort into a grant¬† or a corporate contribution and the chapter will be denied? Did you notice the “chapter” not you will be denied? First of all, one cannot take this work personally. When a chapter receives a denial there is an opportunity for the whole committee to learn. Schmidt and Rosenber strongly suggest that “Iteration is the most important part of the strategy”. I confess that I had to look the word iteration up, it means doing something over and over. Failing one time or even several times is no excuse for¬†not doing more research or writing more applications. As¬†I like to say, “Doing it over and over will hone your skills bringing success”.

Primacy of Data over Experience, Intuition, or Hierarchy

Schmidt and Rosenberg believe in data in order to make their decisions. Data provides the evidence for making decisions, not the previous experiences of a committee member, or the bright idea of an entrepreurial type, or because the chairman said to do it. Does you committee work as a team? Does the chairman allow all members to voice their insights and when possible the data to make their point? And speaking about data, has your chapter focused on getting outputs and outcomes from your work? More on this issue next week.

For now, it is October 15 and Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season is right around the corner. You really have time to research or write one more application before the fun starts with  children and granchildren; seasonal parties; vacations; and celebrating the work we do.

So if we think extremely big, fail fast, and tell your program’s story with data , we will be successful. What is your goal for the next month?

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

PS. The name of the book is How Google Works and it can be purchased at .




Frequently Asked Questions

Greetings from GrantLessons!

Beautiful weather in Reno, no smoke! Good day to drive up to Tahoe, just may do that!

Here are some frequently asked questions(FAQs) regarding the application writing process.

How do I save a document to Dropbox?

Answer: When you desire to save a document to Dropbox the first time, you must use “save as” which will open your list of files on your local computer. Go to the Dropbox icon and when you select it you will see the list of files established for your chapter’s Drobox. If you want to create a new folder, right click and a list of options comes up. Select “new” and give the folder a name, and open the folder. You can now save your file to that folder.

How can I grab small sections of information displayed on my screen?

Answer: You have just found information in a Form 990 that you want to share with your committee members. You can use Jing which is a free program from TechSmith at which allows you to draw a square around the data you want and take a picture of the screen. So instead of sending a whole document like a Form 990 you can just send the portion that you want others to see. You just copy and paste into your email, I find this does not work well with Yahoo accounts! I use this program every day.

Finding Funding Sources
How much should I request from the funder?

Answer: If you are applying to a corporation there is not as much information available to review. If you are applying to a foundation, simply go to their Form 990, which you can access through a free account on GuideStar. Towards the last of the document you will find a list of organizations and the amounts they received. Look at the nonprofits and find those that are similar to Assistance League. You are now better armed with data to make a decision.

How do I develop a good case statement or narrative?

Answer: Writing a compelling description of your programs needs to be done by a couple of individuals working together. In writing you want the funder to get a quick and concise picture of your program. So following the who, what, when, where, how format is a good way to start. What is the program? When was it started? Where is the program conducted. Who conducts the program? How does the program work? Lastly if you have outcome data about your program be sure to include.

How am I able to see all the data in the little dialogue boxes in online applications?

Answer: It is best to craft your response in Word and then cut and past into the dialogue boxes in an online application, especially for long responses. Also be sure to keep the working document used for future applications in Dropbox so you do not have to keep rewriting original material.

How do I get a copy of the online application for the files?

Answer: Prior to submitting an online application, there is a review option to ensure that you have inputted the data correctly where the whole application is displayed on the screen. Print the application at this point prior to submitting. Scan the document and save as a “pdf” in Dropbox as well as putting a copy of the working document in Word into Dropbox. You never know when you can use the information again!

When can I call and check on whether a decision has been made on my application?

Answer: Funders will often guide you as to when you can check to see if a decision has been made on your application. Do not call prior to those instructions. If you do not find a time element in your research, wait at least 90 days from time of application to making that call.

Committee Development
How do I get people to join the Grants Committee?

Answer: I wish I had the majic answer to this question? First, one needs to understand that it is not hard, writing federal and state grants are complex. Writing applications for foundation grants and corporate contributions is no harder than filling out other applications. Second, it is fun to make money sitting at a computer in your home. Lastly, when there are several people on the committee, the work can be distributed amongst many and no one gets overburdened. Have you ever thought of having a Grants Committee representative¬†presenting at one of your¬†chapter’s orientation meetings. Believe it or not that is how I got interested in doing application writing for the local chapter and working on the National Resource Development Committee. As one could say it is all Nancy’s fault that I¬†am doing what I am doing! ūüėČ

The name of the game is finding funders through research and then having others who are ready to complete applications using all the data saved into Dropbox. And doing it over and over and over. If you have other questions, select comment and ask away. ūüėČ

Know that your work is the start of being able to bring relief to those living in your communities that are in need and who are suffering. With that purpose in mind, you will find that there is a little added spring to a grant committee member’s¬†walk!

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

This entry was posted on October 8, 2014. 4 Comments

Corporate Social Responsibility

Greetings from GrantLessons!

So what is this “corporate social responsibility” thing? Let me step back for a second. By now, those that have been following this blog understand that I just like to figure out something I don’t understand. As I started looking at ways to find money for my local chapter’s philanthropic programs, I realized I was going to need a different approach to finding opportunities for coporate contributions than when I was looking for foundation grants. Let’s face it, we have three different databases that we can use to find grant opportunities that we have examined over the lst couple of years on GrantLessons: GrantStation, Foundation Directory Online, and GuideStar. We can simply look at a Form 990 for a public foundation and we have lots of information about them or their website. I have not explored them deeply for corporation data but I do not believe they have much to offer.

What is corporate social responsibility? Well I went to one of my favorite resources, Wikipedia for an answer. In a nutshell, corporate social responsibility is corporate philanthropy. Corporate contributions provides inkind and cash contributions as well as volunteer opportunites. Corporations make contributions to demonstrate support to the local community where they work.

But the big question how do I find out which ones may be interested in helping our chapter out? Corporate contributions are generally made to a community where the corporation has some presence. If for instance you have a large corporate headquarter in your community, bingo you have a big chance. Likewise, if you have a corporate branch in your community you still have a chance except not quite as big.

Corporate contributions have a different goal than public foundations, therefore, the information they ask for in an application is also different. Public foundations desire to give a certain small percentage of their wealth in order to avoid high taxation. Corporate contributions are made to buy local community and national support for their missions.

You have several options to find corporate contacts. First, a simply way is when you are driving around make it a contest with one of your passengers to look at billboards and identify corporations that have a presence in your town. Now I am talking about large national corporations, the local cleaner or florist will probably not have a corporate social responsibility policy. Now that you have your list, get some tea and several of your members together and go to the Internet and type in the name of the corporation and your local city name.

Once you get to the corporation’s website look for wording like “corporate giving, social responsibility, giving”. Be sure to look at the bottom of the page. When you find the link, read and determine if their is an opportunity for your chapter’s program.

Today I am having fun at my chapter’s thrift store.

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

This entry was posted on October 1, 2014. 2 Comments