Our conversation with Janice Meighan about the Empowerment Dialogue approach

In our work, we’ve noticed that while there are a lot of resources out there for non-profit organizations, it isn’t always easy to find out who is doing what.

In the rest of the pond series, we feature people and companies who have solutions for small shop non-profits.

In our first installment, we connected with Janice Meighan who, alongside Ken Ramsay, leads the Empowerment Dialogue approach. This includes a book and training methodology for better fundraising conversations.

Image credit: Janice Meighan

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Aww, bummer! They have announced the recipients of the funds from the foundation to whom you applied and your organization didn’t make the cut. It’s a disappointing scenario that I’ve been part of many times.

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Hooray! You got the grant. Let’s do a happy dance and throw those dollar bills up in the air!

Now here are a few things you need to know before you start spending.

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Today’s article is part of our series on grant writing, one area in which Tiny Frog Strategies works with organizations to get from where they are to where they want to be.

When people find out that one of the things I do is grant writing, their face lights up and they grin broadly – and I know exactly what they are thinking and that I am going to disappoint them right away.

There seems to be this widespread belief that grant writing is like withdrawing money at an ATM, and that the grant writer knows the PIN. If I just answer a few questions and punch in the correct password, wads of cash will be theirs for the taking.

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“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain

We know you are probably on board with planned giving, or legacy giving, as we like to call it around here. Who wouldn’t want to fundraise at the lowest cost per dollar raised? Who wouldn’t want a sustainable source of revenue for the future? And who wouldn’t want to engage more with their donors, building a deeper connection and working with them to connect on what’s next for the future of your organization?

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It’s hard to tell how your earliest jobs will fit themselves into your overall working life. I had some of the usual teenage jobs, such as babysitting and a paper route. But one job, the one I could do in my bathrobe, led me down a path that still influences my work today.

And it’s all my father’s fault. (Or something like that.)

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Ahhh, January – that season of palm trees and swimming in clear blue water.

“Wait, what’s going on Julia?” you might be thinking. “I thought you lived in Canada, on the west coast of British Columbia, where there is the occasional palm tree in someone’s back yarn, but it always looks kind of sad and lonely and occasionally is dusted with snow.”

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The second year I was away from home working, my first real job after university, I had a moment.

I remember exactly where I was when it happened – I was sitting on the floor of my tiny apartment – the one I was so proud of because it was affordable and all mine – and I’d been tidying up, probably in preparation to go home for Christmas, but maybe because that’s how I seem to live my life – all my stuff explores all over the place and periodically I have to go stuff it back in place, reigning it in to some kind of livability.

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Today’s article is part of our series on grant writing, one area in which Tiny Frog Strategies works with organizations to get from where they are to where they want to be.

Just last week I had a past client call me out of the blue.

“Julia,” she said, “We need your help – I found this great grant, we’re a really good fit for what they want to fund, and we have a relationship with the funder – they already know about us and the work we do. The only problem is that it’s due in a week.”

“That’s tight,” I said, “But great, we’ve worked together before, so I know we can make it work.”

I spent some time gathering up the details of the application and assessing what they would need for a successful application. As I worked, I got more and more worried. There was a lot to be done, but they could still make it work. It did seem like a great opportunity, but…

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Today’s article is part of our series on grant writing, one area in which Tiny Frog Strategies works with organizations to get from where they are to where they want to be.

So here’s the problem: you need money for the ongoing core activities of your organization, things like paying staff, paying rent and buying toilet paper. Grant funders want to give money to activities that connect directly with your beneficiaries, like an innovative meal program or a new initiative with a local artist. You aren’t opposed to being innovative, but first you need to make sure there is toilet paper in the washroom.

Welcome to the ultimate catch 22 of being a nonprofit. The bad news is that this tension has been around for a while and is probably not going to be fixed any time soon. The good news is that your organization isn’t the only one who feels frustrated and others have managed to buy toilet paper AND try out new ways of doing things.

So let’s talk about how to deal with this problem.
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